Auditioning for Musical Theater: Tips, Rules, and Facts

Updated on September 9, 2018
vocalcoach profile image

Respected vocal coach and professional singer, Audrey Hunt lays it on the line when it comes to the responsibility of singing.

Auditioning for American Idol.  Kristin McNamara former student of Audrey Hunt.
Auditioning for American Idol. Kristin McNamara former student of Audrey Hunt. | Source

How to Nail Any Musical Theater Singing Audition

Performing in a musical can be an exciting and rewarding experience. However, some singers and actors miss this fun and educational opportunity because they fail the audition process. To make sure you are selected as a cast member you must be prepared. Knowing how to nail a singing audition for musical theater will give you that edge and assure you a “call back”.

Here are four tips to remember:

  1. Take every opportunity available and audition as often as you can. Even if you are not cast in a show, the experience of auditioning will make each time easier and you will get better and become more professional. You'll also have less fear during the audition.
  2. Once you have selected a musical that you want to audition for, begin to map out a step-by-step plan following the steps I've provided.
  3. You will always do better if you warm up your voice before you audition. Use selected vocal exercises designed to limber up the vocal cords and take you through your vocal range.
  4. Present a good attitude and be a good sport. If you're not selected for a lead role, accept any part you are offered. This is how you learn and grow. Give the cast an opportunity to get to know and like you. This is always a plus for a later audition.

Preparation is the Key to a Successful Audition

Prepare your material well ahead of your audition date.  The better prepared the less fear you'll have.
Prepare your material well ahead of your audition date. The better prepared the less fear you'll have. | Source

Five Tips to Help You Land That Audition

One of the most important steps you must take before you audition for musical theater is:

  • Make sure you are familiar with the musical. You will do a better job at the audition if you study the story or watch it on a DVD. The musical itself may be slightly different than the movie but at least you will be familiar with it. You will also know which part you want to go out for. Also, knowing the musical helps to give you more self-confidence during your audition. Check your local library for CD's or DVDs as well as youtube.com.
  • Never sing a song from the musical you audition for, unless you are specifically asked to do so.
  • Find a song that is similar to the musical you are auditioning for from another musical. This is a standard rule.
  • Show confidence. If you don't feel confident then pretend you are. You are in charge. Own the song.
  • The more you practice, the stronger your confidence will be. Leave nothing to chance. If you find that you run out of breath too soon then practice diaphragmatic breathing. Work, work, work until you get it right.

An audition is your moment to shine. Don't allow fear to rob you of success.

About The Musical "Wicked"

Seven Professional Rules for Auditioning for Musical Theatre

  • When singing, look just above the audience. Find a "spot" near the back wall and focus your eyes on the spot. Avoid looking directly into your audience. Practicing this exercise will help you feel more comfortable when you do go on stage.
  • Never glare at the pianist if you make a mistake or if he is not playing it the way you want. This is very unprofessional. Just keep singing and perform your song.
  • Sing with expression by using your body, especially your face but don't overdo. Avoid duplicating gestures and refrain from using too many arm movements. It can be distracting to the director and unless gestures are natural you will look as though you are trying too hard.
  • Keep your hands and fingers relaxed and don't play with your clothes or put your hands in your pockets while you sing.
  • This tip should be obvious. Do not chew gum or have a throat lozenge in your mouth when you sing.
  • Try not to ask if you can start over again if you make a mistake or don't like your performance. Your judges are very busy and get tired. If you sing a wrong word or if you forget the words, keep right on going. If you can't do that, just stop.
  • After your performance, give a nice smile and confidently walk off stage.

My Favorite Musical Finale Les Miserables

Three Tips to Follow Before You Audition

  • Be sure to make your call to schedule your audition date, and to make it at a time when you have little else planned. During the call, make a note of the information you will need such as where, when, the time and what you will need to bring to the audition. Find out if you will be singing, dancing or reading dialogue on the same day. If you need a monologue, be sure and memorize it – and do keep it short.
  • The worst thing you can do is to arrive late for an audition. Be at least 30 minutes early before your scheduled time, especially if it is an open audition
  • Bring your resume. If it is needed it must be only 1 page with your most recent headshot attached. Also, bring a copy of your music (not the entire music book). Make copies of your music and tape the pages accordion style to give to your pianist.

Broadway Tony Award Winner

4 Important Professional Tips For On Stage Performance

  • As you walk on to the stage, look and act confident by smiling and maintaining good posture. Keep the shoulders back and head held high. Be sure to take a good breath of air just before you sing your first word. Absolutely do not tap out the time or click your fingers for the pianist as you begin to sing. This is rude and makes you look ridiculous.
  • After you finish singing, smile as you give your bow or a gesture of thanks. It's also nice to include the pianist by extending your hand in his direction. Then, confidently walk off the stage.
  • The saying "Technique will set you free" is true. Study with a qualified teacher and learn all you can about vocal training. You will sing much better and your confidence will increase as you practice.
  • Finally, present a good attitude and be a good sport. Accept any part you are offered as an opportunity to learn and grow.

15 Suggested Audition Songs

I can't stress hard enough how important your choice of the right song is to your audition. Be sure you select material that compliments your natural singing voice. Always stay within your vocal range and choose a song that's fairly easy to sing.

I've selected a few possible songs for you to consider:

  • Matchmaker - Fiddler on the Roof (Female)
  • Camelot - Camelot (Male)
  • Close Every Door - Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Male)
  • Ol' Man River - Showboat (Male)
  • I Dreamed a Dream - Les Miserables (Female)
  • As if We Never Said Goodbye - Sunset Boulevard (Female)
  • Memory - Cats (Female)
  • Bring Him Home - Les Miserables (Male)
  • Don't Cry For Me Argentina - Evita (Female)
  • This is The Moment - Jekyll and Hyde (Male)
  • All That Jazz - Chicago (Female)
  • You'll Never Walk Alone - Carousel (Male or Female)
  • Oh, What a Beautiful Morning - Oklahoma (Male)
  • I Feel Pretty - West Side Story (Female)
  • Put On a Happy Face - Bye, Bye Birdie (Male or Female)

Hundreds of great audition songs are available. Once you’ve picked your perfect musical theatre audition song, remember the typical 16-bar and 32-bar cuts, and make sure your song fits appropriately.

Which of these is your favorite musical?

See results
Author demonstrates proper mouth position to project sound when auditioning
Author demonstrates proper mouth position to project sound when auditioning | Source

In Conclusion

Some of the happiest times for me have been performing in and directing Broadway musicals. I especially enjoyed working with the little ones; children who are receptive, hard-working performers.

One of the benefits of participating in a musical is the confidence factor. I've witnessed shy, insecure and unconfident people turn into confident, powerful participants through their experiences in performing night-after-night and weekends.

Those involved in musical productions become fast friends as well as a family unit. Support from the entire cast and crew runs high.

The audition process may be a little on the stressful side, however, being prepared and following the rules given in this article will surely help. I also recommend a healthy dose of "believing in yourself."

Questions & Answers

    © 2010 Audrey Hunt

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      • vocalcoach profile imageAUTHOR

        Audrey Hunt 

        4 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

        Jenna Olivett,

        I hope your audition gave you a good experience. Keep going to auditions and one day it will be like breathing. Thanks. vocalcoach

        Sunshine625,

        You go girl! I'll see you at the opry!

      • Sunshine625 profile image

        Linda Bilyeu 

        4 years ago from Orlando, FL

        I will practice these tips while singing to my favorite country music hits! :)

      • Jenna Olivett profile image

        Jenna Olivett 

        4 years ago

        Thank you so much! I will be sure to let you know how I do and I will certainly come back to you with any questions!

      • vocalcoach profile imageAUTHOR

        Audrey Hunt 

        4 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

        Songs from "Wicked" and "Les Miserables" are over-done. So is "Over the Rainbow." Other-wise you're okay. Stay with a song from a musical.

        Suggestions:

        Wouldn't It beloverly (My fair lady)

        Consider Yourself (Oliver)

        Meet me in St. Louis (Same Title of Movie)

        I,m gonna wash that man right out of my hair (South Pacific)

        Hey There (Pal Joey)

        Listen to these on you tube and select the one you like the best.

        Good Luck - vocalcoach

      • Jenna Olivett profile image

        Jenna Olivett 

        4 years ago

        And would you suggest maybe doing a song not from a musical? I was once told that was risky. Your advice?

      • Jenna Olivett profile image

        Jenna Olivett 

        4 years ago

        Are there any shows that you would stay away from? Songs and monologues that are overdone perhaps? I trust your judgement!

      • vocalcoach profile imageAUTHOR

        Audrey Hunt 

        4 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

        Mariah - I'm very pleased to hear that my article is helping you prepare for your role as "Eponine."

        She is one of my favorite characters in this brilliant musical. I wish you much success and please come back again. - vocalcoach

        Hi Jenna - Thanks for sharing your kind message with me. I'm very happy that you liked my advice. To answer your question - without hearing your voice it's impossible to suggest a song for you. But do choose a song that is very simple for you to sing and upbeat songs are fun for those auditioning you. I know, because I've spent years doing this. Be yourself, smile and have fun with your performance. Let me know how you make out. Glad to help you anytime!

        Audrey

      • Jenna Olivett profile image

        Jenna Olivett 

        4 years ago

        Hi! Loved your advice! I used it in my last audition a year ago. I'm going to try out for my school musical and hoping for a larger role this time. My voice is in the middle but very distinct I guess you could say. Can you give me any advice for a song to pick? Love the hub.

      • vocalcoach profile imageAUTHOR

        Audrey Hunt 

        5 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

        Indian Chef - I'm glad to see you here. Thanks for finding my hub awesome and for sharing. Makes me very happy"

      • Indian Chef profile image

        Indian Chef 

        5 years ago from New Delhi India

        Even though I can not sing to save my life, but i did find your hub interesting. Voting it up, awesome and sharing.

      • vocalcoach profile imageAUTHOR

        Audrey Hunt 

        5 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

        .. Anna - With correct technique presented to you by a qualified teacher - you absolutely can sing higher. So glad you like my hub. Visit some of my other hubs on singing. Thanks.

      • profile image

        AnnaB 

        5 years ago

        Do you think i could ever sing high like people in musicals do? Im not a very great singer but is it possible? What should I do? Oh and great hub.

      • Charlotte B Plum profile image

        Charlotte B Plum 

        7 years ago

        Yay! I really can't wait to read it - well, I always look forward to reading what you write about =)And I am just looking forward to finding out what your voice sounds like too! you are definitely a special person, my hubpages experience would feel different without you!

      • vocalcoach profile imageAUTHOR

        Audrey Hunt 

        7 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

        I am thrilled to see you again Charlotte. You asked me to write a hub on vocal warm ups and I am doing that for you. So glad you like my hubs and have been here to read this one too. I will be working on some you tube vocals after the first of the yr (you will hear me sing). :)

        Thanks Charlotte for your sweet support.

      • Charlotte B Plum profile image

        Charlotte B Plum 

        7 years ago

        Oh I really love these tips that you have here! I have missed seeing you online, so I thought I'd reread some of your older hubs since so many I read but didn't leave a comment. =) I would really love to hear you sing, vocalcoach, I can only imagine what your voice must sound like! =)

      • vocalcoach profile imageAUTHOR

        Audrey Hunt 

        7 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

        alocsin - So very nice to see you, and thanks for the link. I will be looking for your audition hub. :) vocalcoach

      • alocsin profile image

        alocsin 

        7 years ago from Orange County, CA

        Performing in a musical audition can also be a scary experience. Good advice here. I'll be link this to my audition hub.

      • vocalcoach profile imageAUTHOR

        Audrey Hunt 

        8 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

        epigramman - :-) You make me smile with my heart ( a line from one of my favorite songs)

      • epigramman profile image

        epigramman 

        8 years ago

        ..how do I nail an audition for being a big big fan of your hubs ..... well I guess I just did!

      • vocalcoach profile imageAUTHOR

        Audrey Hunt 

        8 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

        Bob - Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate your comments. Hmmm - experiences from my career. That's another story. Not a bad idea. Thanks so much

      • profile image

        Bob McSpadden 

        8 years ago

        Well written article. I rated you up.I would have enjoyed it even more if you would have used some specific experiences from your career. I'll bet you have some great stories.

      • vocalcoach profile imageAUTHOR

        Audrey Hunt 

        8 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

        Billy - Every high school has boasted a production of the Mikado :) It is my least favorite and rarely appears anymore. I am by the way, one of your admirers and a huge fan. Oh, that I could study the art of writing with you as my teacher. I send your articles to my son as he is interested in the topics you write about. Thank you for your comment and the rate up.

      • billyaustindillon profile image

        billyaustindillon 

        8 years ago

        A great hub - this gives a great incite to musical theatre - something I am afraid left me behind after my stint in the Mikado in high school. Great fun to watch great musical theatre though :) An awesome rate up.

      • vocalcoach profile imageAUTHOR

        Audrey Hunt 

        8 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

        I appreciate your comments. I am a newbie and eager to read more articles posted by my Hub Pals. And thanks for rating me up!

        More to come...

      • Green Lotus profile image

        Hillary 

        8 years ago from Atlanta, GA

        VC - Spoken like a true Broadway baby. I was one once upon a time. I remember the rule..show up for the open call at least two hours ahead of time and bring a good book and a portable tripod chair in case you have to sit on-line! Great advice regarding the show of confidence. Rated up! A warm welcome and I look forward to reading your hubs. Hope you'll consider posting a bio on your home page.

      • yellowstar2000 profile image

        Candice Collins 

        8 years ago from WestCoast Florida

        great hub! now to find an audition!

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