Music Theatre Dos and Don'ts
It will help you if you think of this audition in the same terms that you would in approaching an acting scene – what is your objective for this audition?
- To convince the people you are auditioning for that you are exactly the right person they want and need for their program!
So how do you achieve your objective? What tactics will you use? Your talent is extremely important, but your choice of material and what you do with it, as well as the way you are seen at the audition, are important too.
- DO your homework.
- Know what the requirements for the audition are. If you are unsure, ask, by e-mail or phone, for clarification. The various schools across the country all have different audition requirements. Make sure you know what our requirements are. You will make a much better impression if you get it right. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!
- DO dress appropriately.
- For the dance audition you should have nice, real dance clothes – not ripped up leotards and tights, or sweats. If you don’t have them, invest in one nice outfit for all your auditions, and for the classes you want the audition committee to know you intend to take once you get in.
- Choose things that flatter you! Bring a variety of footwear, if you have it – ballet slippers, jazz shoes, jazz sneakers. At Florida State we will allow you to dance barefoot, if you wish.
- For the singing and acting part, you should change your clothes. Again – look nice! NO shorts, jeans and T-shirts, or sneakers. You don’t need a jacket and tie, or “party clothes,” but you want to look your best. You need to look as if you care about the audition. Besides you’ll have more confidence if you look good!
- Choose clothes that flatter you physically.
- Wear clothes that reflect who you are, but do keep in mind that you are auditioning for people who are closer to your parents’ age than your peers’ age, so stay away from anything too trendy or sexy.
- Wear clothes that you can move in – be sure your heels aren’t too high, or your shoes too clunky, or, for that matter, your pants too tight!
- DO present yourself professionally.
Think for a minute about the way you want to be seen at the audition. You need to be yourself. You need to be confident. You need to be friendly. Answer and ask questions cheerfully. Don’t be evasive or try to dodge questions about your training and experience. Always be honest. Remember that your audition is not just the ten minutes in front of the panel but includes everything you do from the minute you arrive. Your attitude is very important. All schools want people they think they can teach. Be confident – not arrogant.
- DO choose songs that show different styles. Florida State asks that you be prepared to sing four songs – two from the classical repertoire and two Music Theatre pieces. The two classical pieces can both be in English, or they can include foreign languages. They can include folk songs as well as art songs. The two Music Theatre pieces should include one ballad and one up-tempo. Particularly with the Music Theatre songs, make your selections as different from each other as possible, while still doing things that you can do. Ladies, if you can belt and sing legit, do both, but if you can’t, don’t try. DO NOT sing two songs from the same show. DO NOT offer two serious songs, or two funny songs, or two pop songs, or two songs by the same composer.
- DO keep your songs fairly short. Even though Florida State University does not have specific time limits for each song, we will probably have only about ten minutes to spend with each person auditioning. We will not have time to listen to all six and a half minutes of “Meadowlark” or 100 verses of “Oom-pah-pah,” or even all three verses of “Stars and the Moon”! That means that either you will be stopped, or you will waste precious time when you could be singing for us, in order to figure out a cut. Avoid long verses or numerous choruses.
- DO choose songs that show off your voice to its best advantage. Show as much range as you can, without taking risks.
- DO choose songs that are age-appropriate. No “Rose’s turn” or “I’m still here” – songs intended for singers MUCH older than you.
- DON’T do material that uses funny character voices, thick accents, or imitates a famous singer’s performance. We are interested in hearing your voice.
- DO choose songs that you love and that you want to share.
- DO avoid the songs that “everybody” is doing right now. These would include whatever selection books have just come out, as well as anything from Rent, even though Florida State does not have a list of songs that we absolutely will not hear. Other specific songs to avoid would be “Falcon in the Dive” or “Memory.”
- DO NOT sing a cappella. We prefer that you use our accompanist, but you may bring your own, if you wish. For the classical material you must use a pianist; however, for the Music Theatre songs you may use a CD or taped accompaniment.
- DO bring your music in clean copy, well marked for repeats, as well as any ritards or pauses, and in the right key. Please DO NOT bring fake books or chorus books with only the vocal line, or expect the pianist to transpose at sight.
- DO NOT choose material that has especially difficult accompaniments or, perhaps even more specifically, material that causes ensemble problems for the singer and pianist. Clear-cut examples would be “Everybody says don’t,” “Another hundred people,” and “Marry me a little.” You will not be able to rehearse with the accompanist before the audition.
- DO practice what you will say to the accompanist before the audition. You will need to point out where to start, any ritards, etc., and give a tempo. DO NOT do this by snapping your fingers. First, it’s rude; second, because you are nervous, it’s almost always wrong. Quietly sing a few phrases to the pianist. Say thank you.
- Our accompanists are excellent; if something does go wrong during the song, however, DO NOT glare at them or snap your fingers at them. (Pianists just hate that!) Either simply finish the piece, or, if that isn’t possible, stop and say, “I’m sorry – may I start again?” and go and speak privately to the pianist.
- DO think of your song in the context of the show it is from. If possible, read the script. If that is impossible, create your own context for the song. You should have an objective for the song just as you would for a monologue – why are you singing this song?
- DO personalize the song. Be sure that it means something to you. Know why you are singing it and who you are singing to. Bring a part of yourself to the song. That is what we want to see! In addition to listening to your voice, we want to see if you can act your songs. We are looking for your connection to the material.
- DO block your song. This does not mean full choreography. Since we have a dance audition where we can see your dance abilities, concentrate on the singing. On the other hand, this doesn’t mean that you can’t move at all. It simply means that you should plan your movement so that you know ahead of time what you will be doing, and don’t leave it to chance.
- DO time your monologue and be sure that you are under the two-minute time limit.
- DO announce your monologue by telling us the name of the play from which it comes. You do not need to tell us anything else about the play – no plot synopsis. Your 90 second time limit will begin after the introduction.
- DO smile and say thank you at the end of your piece, even if you are stopped, which you will be, if you run over the two-minute time limit.
- DO choose a monologue that is age-appropriate. The audition panel wants to see you do something honest and truthful, not a stretch piece.
- DO NOT do a monologue with a dialect.
- DO choose a monologue from a play, or perhaps a film. Be sure that you have read the whole play or film script.
- DO NOT choose a monologue from a musical. After all, the best monologues in musicals become songs!
- DO NOT choose a piece in order to try and shock the panel with bad language. On the other hand, some bad language is acceptable, if it is intrinsically necessary to the monologue.
- DO avoid monologues that are overdone, especially the “I brushed my hair” monologue from The Fantasticks, the “tuna fish” monologue from Laughing Wild, or the “Mr. Cornell” monologue from Star Spangled Girl. Even though we do not have an absolute list of pieces that we will not hear, just as with the songs, it’s simply best to avoid the ones that we are likely to hear hundreds of times.
- DO choose a monologue that you like, and that you have a connection to. If the comic monologue didn’t make you laugh when you read it, or the serious one make you cry, or get angry, or evoke some gut-level emotion, you will probably have a hard time getting anyone else to believe it’s funny – or serious.
- DO choose a monologue that allows you to make strong acting choices and that has levels. Be sure that you know whom you are talking to and that you have an objective – why are you telling them this?
DO NOT mime actions like entering the room, opening windows, or packages, etc.
You will be allowed to use a chair, if you wish, and any small props that you would like to bring, (i.e., a ring, a piece of paper, a letter), but no major props, please.
- DO NOT get too close to the people who are watching your audition. Don’t creep up on them. Give yourself, and them, some space.
- DO rehearse the monologue until you can’t possibly forget it. Do it for your friends, your family, your teachers, anybody who will listen to you. You’re going to be nervous, so this a way to give yourself confidence.
THE DANCE AUDITION
The dance portion of our audition is taught as a class. There will be a warm-up, a ballet combination, and a music theatre/jazz combination. The warm-up will be done by the whole class together. The ballet and music theatre/jazz combinations will be taught to the whole group and then performed in smaller groups of four or five. Students currently in the Music Theatre program will be there to help you. We realize that not everyone is at the same dance level, and we do not expect everyone to be able to do everything.
- DO try everything you are asked to do, but without hurting yourself! Do as much as you can as well as you can.
- DO keep your hair out your face.
- DO be supportive of each other in the class
- DO NOT chew gum.
- DO NOT sit down.
- DO be sure that you have looked at the earlier section about what to wear for this part of the audition!