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Audition Tips for Musical Theater

If you’re auditioning for a musical at NBYT—or just about anywhere else—you’ll probably be asked to sing, dance and act, and those might be in any order. You might be nervous thinking about having to do all of that, but so is just about everybody else! The important part is to be prepared, do your best, and have fun.

For acting, the director will ask you to read a few lines from the script. You’ll probably read with somebody else who is auditioning, and the director might give you some suggestions for different ways to try reading. If you have trouble reading a word or line, don’t be afraid to ask the director about it. Make character choices of your own, but also listen to the director’s suggestions! The director wants to know if you can take some direction and make some interesting choices. Remember that you’re performing, not just reading!

For dance, you and a small group may be taught a few short, simple steps by the choreographer. Then you’ll all be asked to repeat the steps. Just like the reading, the choreographer is looking for whether you can follow directions and how well you try. The choreographer also wants to see how you look when you’re dancing or moving. And remember: because you may be dancing, wear clothes and shoes that are comfortable.

For singing, you might be taught something short to sing or you might be asked to have something prepared to sing. At NBYT, we ask everyone auditioning to prepare at least four to six lines from a song, preferably something from musical theater. The song you pick should be right for your voice. (It should also be right for your age. It can be cute to sing something from Guys and Dolls, or trendy to sing something from Wicked, but you should be very well prepared and confident if you choose something like those. And it’s best to completely avoid things like the death scenes of Jean Valjean or Evita Peron.)

When you sing, there sometimes might be an accompanist to play music for you, and you sometimes might even be allowed to play pre-recorded music, but at NBYT we ask you to sing a cappella, which means without accompaniment. The music director will look for you to be loud, be on key, and be confident. If you can’t sing a song well, it may be best to pick something else. If you make a mistake, just keep going. And if the director tells you to stop, don’t worry that it’s because you’re bad—it’s just because they’ve heard enough to know your voice. Just like reading, remember that you’re performing and not just saying (or singing) words and lines!

Here are a few suggestions of songs you might sing. Each of them should be available to purchase online or to listen to on YouTube. These are just suggestions though. You’re welcome to pick one of your own.

  • Do Re Mi from The Sound of Music
  • So Long, Farewell from The Sound of Music
  • Consider Yourself  from Oliver!
  • I’d Do Anything from Oliver!
  • Happiness from You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown
  • Maybe from Annie
  • You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile from Annie
  • Not While I’m Around from Sweeney Todd
  • Home from Beauty and the Beast
  • Be Our Guest from Beauty and the Beast
  • I Just Can’t Wait to Be King from The Lion King
  • Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious from Mary Poppins
  • Chim Chim Cheree from Mary Poppins
  • Part of Your World from The Little Mermaid
  • Under the Sea from The Little Mermaid

After you sing the song you’ve prepared, you might also be asked to sing something from the show you’re auditioning for. The music director will give you the music and words and will likely play it once or twice for you first. If you’re asked to sing something you haven’t prepared or even heard before, nobody will expect you to do it perfectly. But we will expect you to try your best.

Overall, the most important thing to know for your audition are these:

  • be prepared
  • look and sound confident and enthusiastic
  • be entertaining
  • be loud
  • be polite
  • do your best

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