The Callback List was posted and you’re prepared to come for the designated time. Or ARE you? We want to take some of the guess work out of your callback experience and help you navigate your time as best as you can.
When you arrive, you’ll check in and receive a name tag. Place it on your chest by your shoulder so that the artistic team does not need to search for it. You WANT them to know your name and to remember you, so make it easy on them. After you’ve checked in, you should find a place by the wall to put your personal items then move to the center of the room and begin physically stretching. The dance portion will be first and you’ll want to be warmed up. The Director will call everyone to order, pray and give instructions for the day.
REMEMBER!!! You are auditioning from the time you arrive to the time you’re dismissed. The Artistic Team is watching not just for skill demonstrations, but how focused students are and how quickly they recover from mistakes. By observing a student’s learning process & work ethic, they are better equipped to cast them where they will be set up for success.
THE DANCE AUDITION
Typically, the first hour of the callback is dedicated to the dance audition. The Choreographer leads that time. First, they’ll teach a group dance to everyone in attendance. They’ll have you line up in rows according to height so everyone can see. Most often, they use a full company song from the actual show as the material. This not only helps them when it comes time for rehearsal (and a chorus is already mostly learned by the cast), but it also gives the student a chance to learn the style and demonstrate energy within the show context.
Once the dance is taught, the Choreographer will gather students in groups of 4-6. Each group will be invited to come out to the center of the room and dance the song excerpt. They will be asked to “find windows”; meaning that 2-3 students line up in the front of their group and the remaining students fill in the second row by positioning themselves in “the windows” of the front row students.
Those that are part of the DANCE ONLY group will dance first so that they can get to range checking with the Music Director before they are dismissed.
Here are some things to keep in mind and try to incorporate into your dance audition:
1.) When the Choreographer is teaching the dance, they will review sections before moving on. They want everyone to feel confident, so you can expect that they’ll show it and break it down several times.
2.) Time is limited though, so stay really focused and try to learn quickly. It’s okay to ask questions, but make sure you really pay attention so that they don’t have to answer the same question multiple times. Be mindful not to ask your question though until you’re sure they are not going to review anymore. If they’re still in review mode, your question will probably get answered during their instruction.
3.) When other groups are dancing, it’s okay to “mark it” on the sidelines. This is a technique of mental review and super small motions to help you remember the dance until it gets to be your dance time.
4.) You should mimic the style and energy and expression that the Choreographer demonstrates. They know how they want the character to be portrayed and likely are performing it themselves with that character in mind. So, do you best to lift your knees to the same height as they’re showing, use your arms in the same way, pull out the facial energy that they show. This attention to detail helps in your efforts to advertise yourself for the show for which you’re auditioning.
Students that are called for the FULL DAY will be asked to read from the script and sing from the score. The Artistic Team will have divided students into potential character groups and will schedule the time according to their discovery needs. Students will move back and forth between the two rooms (Music & Drama) depending on what the team is looking for.
When asked to cold read, jump up enthusiastically, get the script, and take a second to look it over. It’ll be up to you to read with appropriate character expressions and create energy with your scene partner. Things that will help you do that:
1.) Understand the objective of the scene. What does the character want to accomplish? If you don’t know, ask the director.
2.) Understand the context of the scene. Where in the story does this scene occur? This will help inform the character arc and help you make choices.
3.) Understand the relationship in the scene. You’ll want to know who you’re in the scene with so that you can make appropriate physical choices. Parent & Child interactions are different than Friend interactions which are different than romantic interactions.
WORD OF ADVICE!!! When you’re feeling uncertain about a character choice, go BIGGER. The character probably wants something a little stronger and if you have the courage to take it there, it’ll slip right into place and feel way more comfortable. Fight the urge to withdrawal and self-protect. Also, Directors prefer students who risk and make big choices. It’s far easier to direct them to back off than it is to direct them to keep getting bigger.
When you’re in the music room, the Music Director will teach you a snip-it from a song. You’ll probably learn alongside others, then be asked to sing the excerpt individually. Do your best and stay focused. This is where your pre-audition preparation really is noticed. It save the Music Director so much time in instruction and allows more time for auditioning if students come in with the material learned, or at least really familiar. Keep in mind that:
1.) The song may be in a different key than the one you’ve practiced with. This may cause you to not be eligible for a certain role. It is good to challenge your range and continue to grow as a vocalist, but if the character demands are outside the range of your “personal bounds of beauty”, you will not be set up for success for the duration of the show.
2.) There is more that goes into the casting decision than just having a lovely voice. Tonal control and variety in musical expression is important, but the demands of a show are greater than just having a good voice.
THINGS TO REMEMBER…
- IT IS NOT A COMPETITION. When running a race, you have one objective to meet (the finish line) and you can see easily how others are lining up beside you. You can size up and adjust your stride or your speed to get an edge on your competition. A theater audition is ABSOLUTELY OPPOSITE of this. There are so many factors to consider when casting a show and the Artistic Team alone knows all the criteria for each character. They consider not just what each student offered individually, but how those individual efforts relate to & compliment other individual efforts. Students have no way to gauge how other students are stacking up. Therefore, each student should just offer THEIR BEST.
- The show audition is not an isolated experience. Your involvement within the Journey community is important. Behavior at classes, if you have respectful exchanges with adults, positive parent committee participation, and personal integrity in relationships are often considered in casting. The theater experience is completely integrated. Directors want to work with students who take direction without arguing, who do not stir up drama in their social sphere, and who put their best foot forward. It is the artistic team’s job to protect the rehearsal process and produce the best end product possible. Therefore a pleasant and safe learning environment is absolutely vital.
- The artistic team is FOR you! They would never set you up for failure. This may mean that you do not get the role you want. However, they know where your current strengths will be best featured and where your skills will meet the necessary challenge for continued improvement. Trust them! They are praying and trusting the Lord to lead them to places where each person will be honored.
- Being invited to attend a Callback Audition is a privilege. Those that are invited to attend are given the unique opportunity to learn and grow in a way that is only possible by attending a callback audition. You may not be asked to sing, dance and act in all the ways you are hoping, but being there is so much more than just skill demonstration. They can be a sponge; soaking up the courage of their peers, the direction of the artistic team, learning what various team members prefer for future experiences, etc. Sometimes students are invited to attend because the artistic team wants to help them grow for future auditions. They know that the student isn’t quite ready to carry the burden of a lead role, but may be ready for it someday. They are making a long-term investment in the student.
Now that you’ve made it through the Callback process, the waiting begins. Wrapping up our AUDITIOINING 101 blog series will be Part 5: And The Cast List Please…