What MT PROs say you should and shouldn’t sing

A few weeks ago, one of my wife’s students told her that counselors from a recent summer program said she should try to find obscure songs that no one has heard before for their musical theatre college auditions.  I couldn’t disagree more!  However, its not me that you should listen to.  Its the people who do the casting for Broadway shows and MT department faculty, although I do fall into the later category, so maybe my opinion does count :).  Here are a few quotes:

“Pick material that you have a strong connection with.  Be cautious of picking material that is way outside of the standard rep.  The auditioners will spend their time trying to figure out where they have heard it and not listening to your audition.” – Raymond Sage, musical theatre voice faculty, Penn State from I got in! by Mary Anna Dennard

“You don’t need to come into the auditions as a professional since we are not looking for finished products.  We look for people who we feel have the potential to be molded into professional performers.” – Mark Madama, associate professor of musical theatre, University of Michigan from I got in! by Mary Anna Dennard

“Please, please, please do age-appropriate material.  Your youth, vitality, energy, and passion are your strongest selling points.  Aubrey Berg, chair of musical theatre, Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, from I got in! by Mary Anna Dennard

“Careful of singing material by up-and-coming authors. If the folks in the room have never heard of them, then the danger is they will focus more on the materials than the performer.”  Dave Clemmons, Clemmons-Dewing Casting from Old, New, & Broadway: A Young Performer’s Guide to Audition Rep by Paul Christman – The University of Oklahoma

“Actors are almost always trying to figure out what we want.  They are almost always wrong.  That’s a game you can’t win, and you’ll make yourself crazy trying.  Come in the room, be who you are, and do what you do.  And we’ll help you every step of the way.  We want to help you get this job.  And at the end of the day, it’s just a job.  We’re putting on a musical.  This is not world peace.  As we take notes during auditions, “He’s cool” or “He’s charming” or “I like him” is some of the highest praise.  It’s not a life or death situation.  Don’t treat it like one.” – Stephen Kopel (casting for Spring Awakening, American Idiot, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson), from Rock the Audition by Sheri Sanders

“Women in particular have a misconception that they need to blow you out of the room with their song.  And nothing is more tiresome than listening to someone scream a song at you for two minutes.  It’s our job to find out if you can sing that high note, but first, please, let us get interested in you as a person.” – Carrie Gardner (casting for Spring Awakening, American Idiot, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson), from Rock the Audition by Sheri Sanders

“I want to know what you’re all about.  I want to know who you are, and what your point of view is, not how high you can scream.” – Stephen Kopel (casting for Spring Awakening, American Idiot, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson), from Rock the Audition by Sheri Sanders

NOTE:  No one ever said this was easy.  Just like a world class painter will spend hours for many months crafting a painting that you may only look at for 30 seconds to a minute at a museum, the successful musical theatre performer will also spend hours doing the background work on each audition piece.  Even though you only get 30 to 45 seconds to perform each song, its your background work that will set you apart.  ~Matt

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