So there’s a role you’re keen to get, in a musical you love. The audition’s coming up and you’ve registered. You don’t want to botch it - so how can you put your best foot forward?
Song choice is crucial to success at the audition. Here are a few tips to help you make the right choice at your next face-to-face audition.
Tip #1: Have more than one song ready
When preparing for an audition, you should have about five songs that you can pull out of your hat at any time. These songs should be ones you know you can nail. They should be well rehearsed and memorised - lyrics and melody.
Reason being, at the audition, the panel may listen to your first song, maybe even your second one, then ask, “Do you have anything else?”
They may want to see more of what you’ve got to offer. You may not know exactly what they are looking for, but they might still be keen to see if you have it!
If you have some other options, you're ready for that question.
So keep your five best songs, in sheet music form, in the folder you take to auditions. (Nicely presented in a folder makes it easy for the piano accompanist as well.) Most professional auditions require you to have two songs prepared, in any case. But be prepared to whip out something else at a moment’s notice.
Tip #2: Prepare contrasting songs
It’s always good to front up to a musical theatre audition with one song that’s pre-1960, and one that’s contemporary. That’s your first contrast. Two contrasting musical theatre traditions.
The second contrast is character. Your songs should display two different characters. One might be Annie Ado with “I Cain’t Say No" from Oklahoma, and the other may be a reprise from Little Red Riding Hood from Into the Woods, for instance. Your songs should show the types of roles you’re capable of playing. So in your suite of songs, find characters that show a variety of virtues and vices.
For example, source songs for a character that is dominant, a character that is evil, another character that is vulnerable, another character that is neurotic, and another character that overcomes the odds. And bring your character to your song. Aim for at least two different energies in the two songs you bring on audition day.
Tip #3: Choose songs that are age appropriate
If you are twenty, don’t choose to sing an audition song where the character is sixty (like Norma Desmond, from Sunset Boulevard, for instance). Choose audition songs where you would be likely to be cast in the role.
Your performance should “make sense” to the audition panel. You don’t want to raise questions, like “Why is she singing that?” Don’t ask the audition panel to work too hard! You need to be believable from the word go.
Tip #4: Choose songs that are gender appropriate
You may love a woman’s song from your favourite musical, and sing it well, but if you’re a fella, choose a man’s song for your audition. And vice versa if you’re a woman.
We live in an age where gender fluidity in musical theatre presents a really interesting discussion - but if you are auditioning for a male role in a show, you need to show the panel that you can sing and play a male role. The same goes for women singing women's roles. Again, don’t make it hard for them. They want to see what you can do, for their show ( - not what you would do for your own personal concert performance). They are hoping that the next person who walks into the audition room is ‘the one’.
So if you are going for a male role, sing a male part. If you are going for a female role, sing a female part. As they watch you, they are imagining you as the character they are casting. The character’s gender is part of that. By all means, if you are auditioning for a cross-dressing role, or a specifically gay or a transgender character, choose audition repertoire that reflects this; there certainly are songs out there of this description, so it might work in your favour to have one of these up your sleeve if that's the kind of role you're going for. But the general rule of thumb is: sing to gender in audition. (Do what you like elsewhere!)
Tip #5: Choose songs you know you can achieve every time
Sometimes singers have songs they’re working on but haven’t quite mastered. There’s that high note, or that low note, or that difficult melody, that you can’t do consistently well.
At auditions, you want to show what you can do well. Choose songs you know you can nail every time you sing them. It may be tempting to sing something you’ve not quite mastered, in the hope that you’ll impress on the day - but the audition is your job interview. You want to put your best foot forward. So know your musical range, and know your vocal type. Then audition within that range and type. The audition is not the time to try something new. Your regular singing lesson is the place for that.
Tip #6: Learn how to cut your music
You won't always sing an entire song in an audition. Usually, you’ve got to be prepared to cut your music.Depending on the audition requirements (and make sure you familiarise yourself with these), you may only be required to sing a couple of verses and a chorus.
So when you sit down to look at your song, make sure you choose the section that will show you off. It may be where there’s a crescendo. It may be where the character is most emotional. It may be the verse that is most similar in sentiment to the character role you’re auditioning for. Select your section, and work out in advance how you are going to explain the section you want sing to the accompanist on the day. Make it clear by crossing out unwanted sections on the sheet music you will provide to the accompanist.
Tip #7: Prepare your character
Character is so crucial to selling a song in an audition. It’s not enough to sing sweetly and on pitch. You need to understand where your character is coming from and what they are trying to communicate at the moment they sing their song. So make sure you know your character’s journey to this point.
That will mean being familiar with the musical as a whole, and your character’s place in it. So do your research - your reading and listening. Then break down your song lyrics. Ask, “What does my character want here? What is his/her goal? What do they feel?” and “How can I bring these things to life in my face, my hands, my posture, my physicality?”
In other words, how will you tell your character’s story? How will you become the character as you sing?
This kind of preparation is as important as mastering the musical content of your song.
And finally... Tip #8:
Despite the song and dance requirements of the audition process, ultimately the musical theatre audition is all about the acting - it's all about the storytelling. You, as the auditionee, are the storyteller. So next time you sing, make sure you are telling a story. It's key to audition success.
These parameters are the important to bear in mind for professional musical theatre auditions, as well as auditions for musical theatre training courses. (To find our more about Perform Australia's training in musical theatre, click here.
For the emerging actor, being in a short film can be a way to gain experience, secure material for a showreel, and to be seen, with the hope of future employment.
Many short films are made on tiny budgets and rely entirely on the goodwill of all involved - student films among them. This blog is about the pros and cons of acting in a student film. Students in our Advanced Diploma of Performance often get to collaborate with student filmmakers as part of their training.
Here are some of the pros of being in a student film:
1. The experience
If you're new to acting, a student film usually allows you to experience what it's like to work on set, with lighting, sound and a range of personnel present.
2. Networking Opportunity
Being on a student film allows you to meet and make friends with the filmmakers of tomorrow. Just as student actors are interested in making contacts, so are student filmmakers.
3. Practising your audition and "meet and greet" skills.
Sometimes student filmmakers are just desperate to find actors - will take anyone! Certainly you may have to audition for a role, but sometimes in a student film, you can bypass this altogether. A student filmmaker may need to round up a number of characters and if you fit what they're looking for, you're in! So whether you have to audition or just apply, you get to practise these important industry skills on first contact.
4. Sometimes the part is written especially for you
If you're a friend of a student filmmaker, they may write a part in their script with you in mind. Not only is that very flattering, it's also a great opportunity for you to give it what you've got.
5. Getting a copy of the film.
You may be able to ask for a copy of the film that you can use to promote yourself. Make sure you ask permission, though, before you go posting someone else's film on social medial. Sometimes if a filmmaker is putting their film in a competition or festival, there will be an embargo on distribution prior to the event. Publishing it on social media may disqualify it. So make sure you don't rub anyone up the wrong way by making this mistake. Likewise, if you want to use an extract for your own showreel or website, make sure you ask first, and give credit to the filmmaker.
6. You can develop more confidence in front of the camera.
If you've not yet had a lot of screen acting experience, a student film is a fairly safe way to build self-confidence. The stakes aren't super-high if you mess up.
Here are some of the cons of being in a student film:
1. You'll work for nothing.
On the whole, student films tend to offer no pay for the time you spend. Sometimes there's no catering either!
2. The experience.
Sometimes student filmmakers take a very long time to make films. As they are in the process of learning their craft, it can take them ages to achieve what they want to achieve. Setting up lights, correcting sound levels, and doing re-takes can seem to take forever. Actors on student films can spend excessively long times waiting for student filmmakers to do the tasks that would normally take a professional a couple of minutes.
3. Film equipment used by student filmmakers is often unreliable.
Sometimes if they're borrowing equipment from their educational institution, student filmmakers are using equipment that has been through many hands. And because students are learning how to organise themselves, how to work with the equipment, and how to think through problems, sometimes they make technical mistakes. They accidentally delete important footage. Or a camera stops working. Or they don't make a back up of their material. Or they lose their SD card on location. These are all common fails of student filmmakers!
4. Sometimes student films are never finished.
If the reason you're acting in a student film is the hope that you'll get a good snippet of footage for your own showreel, you might be disappointed if you never get a copy. Like all other kinds of students, sometimes student filmmakers never finish and hand in their assignments! Films can be complex projects and sometimes a student filmmaker will decide they've chosen the wrong career and drop out of their course midway through a project. So in this instance, a film you were in may never see the light of day.
5. Roles may be limited
Lecturers in filmmaking frequently chuckle about the fact that student filmmakers love writing horror films - especially zombie films, but also films about dark social themes. So there's not a huge variety of material in the student filmmaking landscape. If you come across a student film that's quite different, you can be sure you've hit on something special.
So a student filmmaking experience can either be negative or positive - or a mixture of both. If everything goes according to plan, though, you may meet a great contact. You may have a fun time. You may learn something new. And you may walk away with a film as a memento of your experience.
Anxiety is the scourge of today's younger generation. And parents can have a tough time knowing what to do and how to help. Here's our CEO of Perform Australia, explaining how participation in the performing arts makes a huge difference in the life of a child. If you want to help your child with anxiety, get your child started in a drama class.
Sometimes drama class isn't the first thing parents think of when they're looking for something to help their child's development. But here are seven reasons why drama class is the best thing ever for childhood and teenage development.
#1 Drama helps kids make friends.
As a parent, it's always tough when your child feels they don't have any friends. This moment comes when they have a fight with their bestie, didn't find anyone to play with one lunchtime, or they've been subject to bullying. Unfortunately, these are the social learning experiences of childhood. But go to drama class - and your child develops a circle of friends outside the usual parameters. Not only that, the activities that take place in class are conducive to building friendships. Working on a script, creating a play or scene together, and discussion with classmates about stories and characters - all these encourage friendliness between class members.
#2 Drama develops self-confidence
This is a big one. Often kids come to us who are shy or anxious. But when they get to experiment on stage as a character other than themselves, they explore parts of themselves and their imagination they didn't know existed. Before they perform in a play, they may be very nervous - but once they get out there and do it, suddenly they feel within themselves they've achieved something. And it was fun. And it was creative. And they received applause. All of these things build self-confidence.
#3 Drama helps kids become more creative.
Children and young people are naturally creative - but as they get older, we tend to encourage them "not to be so silly". They have to grow up and learn to be responsible. And yet the World Economic Forum has for several years been saying that creativity is one of the three top skills needed in the contemporary workforce. So often we feel a little conflicted about play and creativity. When you allow children to participate in a drama class, you are actually providing a place for their own creative exploration. When human beings are creative, they flourish. Plus you're giving them a headstart on future work skills they;ll need as they mature. They're learning how to preserve their creative spirit.
#4 Drama helps kids become more empathetic.
With so many different voices in our world today, and so many conflicting opinions, it's important that human beings show empathy towards one another. The ability to stand in another person's shoes, and understand them, and feel for them, is something that happens naturally in drama class. Every time a child tries on a new character in their script, they are invited to imagine themselves from that character's point of view. They are asked to think outside themselves - and bring those thoughts into themselves. That's where empathy is born.
#5 Drama develops communication skills
So much of our children's time is spent in engagement with screens. They're losing touch with their bodies. Communication involves the whole self - body language, voice, eyes, and mind. Drama, with its imaginative movement exercises, its adoption of character traits, it's emphasis on exploring emotion, and its performance experiences, helps children to communicate in a holistic way. In working with words and scripts, they become more articulate. In embodying a character on stage or screen and adopting postures, voices and gestures appropriate to that character, they become more naturally expressive.
#6 Drama builds team skills
In Australia, sport is central to society. As well as health benefits, sport provides opportunity for kids to work as part of a team. But did you know - drama does exactly the same thing? Students of drama learn to support other members of their ensemble, work on a performance project together, complete warm-ups and movement exercises together, and learn how to resolve conflicts together. So if you are looking at what activities your child needs in the coming year, realise that drama will achieve many of the same outcomes as sport - plus a whole lot more.
#7 Drama creates precious memories
What's interesting about working with adults in the performing arts - whether they come to us to do a qualification, a leisure course, or whether their employer forces them to do one of our corporate programs - is that they will often describe formative drama experiences they had as a child. More often than not, these are extraordinarily happy memories. Being a shepherd in the school nativity play. Being in the ensemble of a school musical. Being spotted by a teacher and encouraged to pursue acting. Heck, even playing a tree! Participation in drama creates previous memories, and why? Because drama engages our hearts as well s our minds. Drama makes us feel like we belong. Drama taps into our creative spirit. Drama allows us to explore things we normally wouldn't think about. All of these aspects work together to imprint vivid memories that stay with us for a lifetime.
I'd say it's time to enrol your child in drama classes, don't you?
A New Year is always a good time to review your goals as an actor, and make some plans.
You may have good acting technique, stage presence, and a look that's amazing on camera - but if you don't take steps to actually build a career, no one's going to find out about what you've got to offer.
Any acting school worth its chops will train you not only in acting technique, but also in how to find professional gigs. At Perform Australia, our qualifications have significant components on sourcing, auditioning for and creating your own work.
Or, if you want a tailor-made plan for your own advancement, you can have an interview with us to develop a personalised career plan to get started.
In the meantime, here are some extra tips on getting your career under way this year.
1. Update your CV. Not your employment CV, your performance CV! This is a list of all your roles and productions, the production company you were with, who directed them, and when. For ease of reading, classify each item under 'Film', 'Television' and 'Theatre'. Make sure the most recent items are at the top of each list (as they occurred, in reverse chronological order). Add any training programs you've attended, and list the tutors (this is your chance to name-drop!).
2. Update your assets. You should have two types of asses: first, your headshots, and second, your video assets. Head shots should be digital so you can easily upload them or flick them across to a director with any audition application. Your photos should look like you, as you are now. If you have changed your appearance (radical change of hairstyle or colour, beard or no beard, gained or lost significant weight, etc.) then it might be time for new photos.
Your video assets are clips of you acting. In the past, the 'show reel' was a 2-3 minute video of extracts from various film projects you've been in. While these are still useful in securing an agent or work, more and more the industry is tending towards clips and self-tapes - that is to say, a single audition tape designed for a particular audition. Reason being, the audition panel doesn't have time to watch you doing a multitude of different roles - they want to know right now if you can play this role - the one they're casting right this minute. So it makes more sense to have a monologue of you in a dramatic role, and one in a comedic role on hand. And if you are planning to crack the American market, you need to record the same thing over again in with a solid American accent.
3. Set up your social media. You need to be seen on every important platform - not just as yourself, but as an actor. If you don't already have accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn, you need to be there. Your showreel needs to be up on Youtube. New platforms come every couple of years, so make sure you are abreast of the changes, and be an early adopter, rather than slow to gather followers in those places.
4. Expand your contacts list. Check out local networking events in the film and theatre industry. Reach out to local production companies with your CV and headshots. Do a workshop and meet other actors. Then make sure you connect with any new contacts via social media, phone or email.
5. Make a plan for how you're going to find auditions and apply. Auditions are effectively job interviews for actors - where you meet and greet, demonstrate your skill and the panel decides whether or not you're right for the job. There are numerous ways to find auditions - following casting directors on social media, joining relevant subscription services, and of course, word of mouth. It can help to keep a log of those jobs you've applied for, as well as the contact details of significant people you've met in the course of auditioning. Going for as many as you can increases your likelihood of getting a job!
But before all these - you need actor training! Have you started yours yet?
Find out about our Certificate in acting here.
Find out about our Musical Theatre Certificate here.
Find out about our short courses here.
Find out about our programs for children and young people here.
Are you a musical theatre lover? Then you'll want to check out these Christmas musicals!
Dr Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas
Based on the children's book of the same name, this musical with book and lyrics by Timothy Mason and score by Mel Marvin first opened in 1994 in Minneapolis in the US. It later transferred to Broadway and became the first musical to run 12 shows a week, pushing Schwartz's Wicked off the charts as the top-grossing musical in December 2006.
Songs include: I Hate Christmas Eve, Whatchama Who, You’re A Mean One Mr Grinch, and Santa For A Day
Elf The Musical
Based on the film starring Will Ferrell, this is the story of a young orphan, who as a child, crawls into Santa's sack and is taken back to the North Pole. Santa raises him as an elf, until one day the orphan sets off to New York City in search of his real dad. With script by Bob Martin and Thomas Meehan, and a score by Matthew Sklar, it's a family favourite.
Songs include: Sparklejollytwinklejingley, I’ll Believe In You, World’s Greatest Dad
Nativity! The Musical
Written by Debbi Isitt and co-composed with Nicky Ager, Nativity! The Musical tells of teachers Mr Maddens and Mr Poppy staging a musical version of the Biblical Christmas story at St Bernadette's Primary. Things don't flow as smoothly as they'd like! It opened in Birmingham, UK in 2017 and has so far enjoyed three UK tours.
Songs include: Dear Father Christmas, Our School Nativity, Sparkle and Shine, She’s The Brightest Star.
Holiday Inn is a musical based on the 1942 movie of the same name. The musical premiered in Connecticut, US, in 2014. The libretto was written by Gordon Greenberg and Chad Hodge, with music and lyrics by Irving Berlin. The main character, Jim, leaves show business to settle down at his farmhouse, but he finds he misses song and dance. He's lucky to meet Linda, herself a talented performer, and together they turn the farmhouse into an inn with its own dazzling entertainment.
Songs include:White Christmas, Cheek to Cheek, Blue Skies, Steppin’ Out With My Baby.
Scrooge: The Musical
The book, music and lyrics of Scrooge: The Musical were written by noted musical theatre practitioner, Leslie Bricusse. Based on Charles Dickens' original story, the musical was adapted from the screenplay of the 1970 film Scrooge starring Albert Finney. It came to the stage in 1992 and has experienced a number of revivals since that time.
Songs include: I Hate People, Sing A Christmas Carol, The Milk Of Human Kindness, and I’ll Begin Again
Would YOU like to be in a musical? At Perform Australia, we have a
number of opportunities based in Canberra:
There’s a great little meme for actors circulating Facebook called ‘The Actor’s Iceberg’ shared by the Performer Stuff page. It’s a reminder that acting is not always what it seems. The image shows an iceberg, with the tip of the iceberg surrounded by social media, Oscars and awards, online references, money, cameras flashing and so on… but below sea-level are things like “study and training”, “patience”, “rejection”, “sacrifice”, “building relationships”, and ”determination”.
A number of our students and graduates have responded warmly to this little graphic – simple though it is, it does capture the life of the actor. What the public sees – the end result, the play or film and its publicity machine – is not the half of it. Acting professionally is work – and requires a high degree of self-motivation, personal preparation and stamina to get to that end point.
Several actors have chimed in on social media with things they’d add to the picture, or noted that rejection appeared four times below the surface. Several others emphasised “therapy” and its importance to the actor.
So why would an actor need therapy? Here are a number of ways counselling can offer help to actors:
Did you know Perform Australia offers actors coaching and counselling, with a specific empathy for their particular concerns?
But more than that, sometimes an actor needs some one-on-one attention in other areas. Auditions coaching, to build confidence and prepare for an important opportunity. Accents tuition, for your next role. Or perhaps some private singing training to improve your voice. Perform Australia can offer you assistance. Find out more here.
Theatre Games offers exercises & activities that can be enjoyed by broad range of ages & abilities.At Perform Australia, we practice these high-energy & fun-filled games to encourage clarity of thought, remain calm under pressure & connect emotionally & physically to the spoken world. These activities act as a warm-up to train performers to get ready to unleash their imagination & performance.
Students of Perform Australia
A simple yet effective exercise to bring everyone's focus at the beginning of every session.
The group stands in a circle and is asked to call out one number at a time. Sounds easy? Well, if two players call out a number at the same time, the exercise is stopped and needs to start over.
A fun-filled, physical activity that helps performers to connect their emotions with their character. It easily creates a drama lesson plan that will inspire each performing arts student.
The group forms a circle and each player gets a chance to play an emotion by coming in the center. The group gives the chosen player a specific emotion, that needs to be played by saying the word 'Spaghetti'.
Emotion/character-traits are as such:
Excited-spaghetti, Intelligent spaghetti, rock star spaghetti, cool spaghetti
3. Wink Murder
This activity focuses on promoting concentration and group awareness of all the performers.
The group sits in a circle facing each other and a volunteer is asked to become a detective. This selected detective is then asked to step outside the circle. Meanwhile, the group chooses a murderer from the group that the detective is unaware of. The task for the murderer is to kill the other players (victims), while the detective finds who the villain is.
These blog posts are written by Perform Australia staff.