Tips for Theater Auditions

The art of acting is essential to the audition process and there’s many books and many classes you can find on “how to nail the audition.” The advice I’ve pulled together for this post are things that I’ve gathered over the seasons and focuses on the logistics and expectations of the audition.

Picking Your Audition Material

We only require actors to prepare one monologue and they may additionally prepare 16 bars of music to be considered for the musical. Sometimes, actors ask for more advice on what they should perform. We have a lot of shows in our season that range from classic to contemporary, so picking one monologue to represent yourself for the entire season can be intimidating!

The shortest answer is “show us your best work.” Really. Especially if this is your first time auditioning for us or if you think you fit a variety of different characters, bring in something that is in your favorite style or makes you feel the strongest.

The longer answer is, try to research the shows and characters and find material that fits what you would like to be considered for. We post a full character breakdown for each role in the season online. Each character is described in detail so an actor can begin to become familiar with them before the audition.

And if you want to be considered for a Shakespearean production, definitely do a Shakespearean monologue!

Musical Auditions

The most successful musical auditions are short and sweet. The actor is very familiar with the material and has their music clearly marked for the accompanist. (Not sure how to mark your music? See examples here and here.) At the start of the audition, the actor and the accompanist take a few moments to talk about the tempo of the song, they review the start and stops, and the actor may describe which beat the accompanist should join in if the song starts without the piano. Then magic happens and the actor nails the 16 bars!

We strive to provide a quality accompanist for our first audition days. We’d prefer to hear you with an accompanist, however, if there is not an accompanist available for your appointment time, you can sing acapella. We do not provide CD or bluetooth players to play backing tracks.

Always, always, always, please be respectful to your accompanist.

Printed Copies, Please!

Please bring us two printed copies of your headshot and resume. We use them to organize who is coming to callbacks. I’ve seen directors spread out all of the headshots on the table at the crucial moment when the casting decision is made. Eventually, they are sorted and stored as a record of everyone who came to auditions, people that are included in our understudy pools, and actors that are hired for the gig or considered for future roles. Arriving at your audition with printed copies of your headshot and resume ready to go is the first step of a long process. This is why it’s so important to have up-to-date headshots and resumes. Long after the audition is over, this is the paperwork we will look at to remember who you are.

If you’re new to the audition scene: The standard format for the headshot and resume is a 8’’x10’’ photo and a one page resume, preferably with the resume cut down to 8’’x10’’ and stapled or glued to the back of the headshot.

Audition Form and Understudying

Be ready to fill out an audition form when you arrive for your local appointment. It’s important for us to know about any potential conflicts you may have with the schedule. There’s also a place on this form to indicate if you are interested in understudying. This is a great opportunity to introduce your work to our theater!

In the event that an actor is unable to perform in a show (due to illness or emergency situations), the understudy will be asked to perform the role because “the show must go on!” Understudies have multiple rehearsals to prepare themselves for the role and are welcome to shadow additional rehearsals to observe the process and take notes for their role. Understudy opportunities are only available to non-union actors and require fewer rehearsal hours, but they must be able to perform with very little notice.

Electronic Devices

For all the advantages technology provides, there are some hindrances too. We don’t advise looking at your phone for your callback sides or for your accompanist to work from. The screen is too small; the actor would spend more time reading from the phone than looking up and out for their audition. It also makes the actor seem unprepared. Only work from a large iPad if you are as comfortable with it as you would be a paper copy.

The Waiting Game

There are a lot of different personalities and energies in the auditions waiting room. It’s a limbo between perfect calm and shaking nerves, not to mention all the emotions that are about to be performed. Some actors need quiet, while others need activity. (I need coffee, laughter, and calm.)

During Orlando Shakes local auditions, actors tend to quietly wait in the lobby for their appointment, but we do provide a room for stretching and warming up if you need to be more active. Please be mindful of your surroundings while waiting for your appointment! We have a very active building and you may encounter patrons on the way to see a show, including adorable elementary school children at the theater for their first time!

What Happens Next?

We see approximately 700 to 1000 actors each year for auditions. That’s an amazing turnout and we certainly see a wide range of talent, so we want that number to continue to grow! Unfortunately, I can’t guarantee that you will hear back from us after the audition. It’s simply not possible to get back to everyone and sometimes the casting decisions aren’t made until months later.

We try to make our auditions as welcoming and worry-free as possible. It’s our goal to see as many actors as we can and that each of them has an equal chance to work for this wonderful company. See you at auditions!

Paige Gober is the Company Manager for Orlando Shakespeare Theater. As the auditions coordinator, Paige schedules all of the personnel and resources for the auditions, creates the audition notice, and manages all of the actor appointments. She is also a stage manager for Orlando Shakespeare Theater and the Garden Theatre. She likes vanilla iced coffee.

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