College audition time: musical theater

This week while preparing for a lesson with a particular student who loves her musical theater, I found myself exploring beyond the many beautiful songs in a style which of course, like in most other styles, ranges from the old to the contemporary. I started to think of what the audition process would look like for such a student. I love the music, and it was a requirement to perform some of it while I was in college, but it wasn't my emphasis, so I dug around.

I found some similarities, come audition time, with what most musicians must prepare with. The most important, your repertoire list: a menu if you will, that an auditor can select to hear you sing from. Include songs that fit your type but make sure these cover a variety of musical styles and time periods. This list might be one they ask for in the application itself. If not, I would recommend you contact your admissions coordinator and ask. It is better to come prepared than be surprised. If it's not a requirement, you may still choose to bring it with you. Here is how you should format it, unless otherwise requested:

  • Keep the list simple and in a format similar to a resume
  • Alphabetical in order by composer: Composer Last, First [tab] Song Title
  • Make a special notation for songs that you've performed. And asterisk or a [P] will work with an explanation at the bottom
  • Make sure you bring your music or accompaniment tracks

What should be on the list? Everything in your book. Even ensemble numbers that you've had a prominent solo in would be good to include.  If you have a huge rep list, however, you might consider taking out songs that are extremely outside your type. Other than that, any song you're still comfortable with should be fair game. Just remember, if you list it, be prepared to sing it just in case they ask.

Another question that might pop in your head is, what to wear?! In this I found a variety of answers from different professors, directors. Mainly, they want to see an honest representation of your own personal style. Dresses, skirts, jumpsuits, dress pants, button-down shirts, even nice jeans and sneakers are all acceptable. The consensus is that a suit jacket is probably too formal and a tie is not mandatory but, you can wear a tie or bow tie if, again, it suits your style. 

Note: remember this is all in relation to college program auditions. Different rules will apply when auditioning for a specific show, which brings me to my LIKE for the week:

Here's a fun YouTube video on "Beginner Musical Theater Audition Tips" by Katherine Steele. I like the way she summed it all up: be polite, be positive, be prepared. All of the above won't matter if you aren't also polite and positive. Enjoy! 

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