Auditions: Got a Call Back! Now What?

Reality check:  You will be lined up side by side with people seeking the same part. You will sing and they will sing. You will read for the part and they will read for the part. You may learn some choreography and then dance either alone or with others.

There will be comparison after comparison.  You will stand next to other potential cast members to see who looks good with who.  Are you too old, too young, too fat, too thin, is there chemistry between you and your cast members and on an on.  Sometimes it’s just a gut feel the directors get about you. There may be more than one call back as the directors narrow the field of potential actors. So what will help you succeed at the call back and get the part?

Focus on what you can control and forget about everything else.

Things you can control in an audition.

Preparation and Practice

If you decide a week before that you’re going to audition and you haven’t been preparing, here are the facts.  There will be people at the audition who have been planning and preparing for weeks, months and sometimes years to audition for the same part.  Obviously this varies with the level at which you are competing.  Professional and semi-professional will be different from community, city and school venues.  However, what doesn’t vary is that those who are most prepared will have an advantage.

The most prepared are those who are constantly working on their craft.  They’re studying voice, taking dance and acting classes.  They practice, practice, practice.  They are always auditioning, performing and improving.  You will be at a disadvantage if you are procrastinating improving your skills and abilities.

I’m not saying this to discourage you and there are always exceptions.  But most of the time the law of the harvest applies.  You reap what you sow.  If you invest in yourself and your improvement as an artist, you will have an advantage over those who are only thinking about it.

What about preparation for the show you are auditioning for now?

  1. Read the play and know the plot and characters.
  2. If you are called back for a specific part, but have not received sides or songs to use for preparation, you will not know what you will read or sing at the call back.  Get a copy of the script and find some possible  monologues and practice them.
  3. Learn the songs your character sings in the show.  You can probably guess which they’ll want to hear.  If you don’t have time to learn the song(s), be extremely familiar with them.  Practice before the audition so you can do it with emotion and feeling.  There are two links on the right side of this blog where you can research shows.  Find the songs and then listen to them on YouTube or buy them from I-Tunes.
  4. Warm your voice up before you arrive.  I prefer to warm up 30-60 minutes before I sing if possible.

Presence

  1. Be early.  Look your very best.  Smile and be warm and cordial to everyone, especially to your fellow actors.
  2. If you will be dancing make sure you have the appropriate shoes and clothes.
  3. Don’t make excuses for your voice, illness, hair, or anything else. It is what it is. Just do your best with what you’ve got today.

Attitude

  1. Be positive but not “PollyAnna-ish”. Put away all your issues and focus on the audition.  Don’t diss your fellow actors, but rather be encouraging and helpful.  Remember you are being watched from the moment you arrive till you leave.  If you are a jerk to people around you, you will likely not get cast.
  2. Be sure to project a desire for the part.  Directors sour on an actor who is called back for a part they said they wanted, only to act like they could care less about the part at the call back.  They don’t want you if you act indifferent.
  3. Be confident and humble. If you want everyone to hate you,  just brag about all your previous shows, or what good buddies you are with the director and producer. Let your audition speak for itself.  Even if you are not humble by nature, act humble.  You’re an actor, right?

Experience

  • One way to improve at auditioning is to prepare well and then audition.  Afterward analyze your performance and improve your preparation and performance the next time.  You must work to be prepared and to improve each time you audition.  Multiple auditions are meaningless if you aren’t continuously improving.

Things you cannot control that may help or hurt you.

Image

  1. I have a friend who auditioned for the Les Mis touring company and was cast.  She said in the first audition before anyone sang, they lined everyone up and dismissed 80% of the people. Why?  They were not the right height, weight, body structure, age, etc.
  2. I know of another actor who had a magnificent singing voice, definitely leading role caliber, but who was short, balding and a bit on the pudgy side.  Audition after audition  he out sang everyone, but never was cast.  After months of rejections, a friend suggested to him that perhaps his body type wasn’t the leading role image.  He auditioned for a character role in Lion King and was cast on the spot…and worked steadily in similar roles ever after.

Directors’ Vision

  • If the director sees the character a certain way and you don’t match the directors vision but other actors auditioning do, it’s likely you won’t be cast.  Don’t take it personally.  You just don’t match the director’s vision.  Yes you may sing, act and dance better than the others, but you don’t fit the director’s vision.

Directors’ Relationships

  • Every director wants to have a great show so they will cast people they believe will achieve that.  If there are actors they’ve worked with before who they know, like and trust, those actors have an advantage in the audition.  If you want to work your way into the good graces of the director, let them know you will take any role.  It may take several shows with the producers and directors before they have confidence in your abilities.  You have to decide if it’s worth it to you or not.

Competition

  • It doesn’t matter how experienced and successful the other actors are.  You have no control over that. Spend your energy on giving your best audition by focusing on the things you can control (see above).  In reality, every previous show, voice lesson, dance class, acting class, and audition helps your preparation. To compete well, you must focus on what you can control and forget about who else is auditioning.

Final Thoughts

Work on the things you can control when you audition.  Your confidence will increase, you’ll improve with each audition and eventually you’ll get cast!

Please feel free to share audition tips you’ve used to get the part!

About Chuck R. Gilmore

My personal singing journey from failure to success gives me a unique perspective and special insight into the problems you face as an aspiring singer. Everything from not being able to sing high notes to lack of confidence singing in front of others. Because I've solved them in my own voice, I know how to help you.

Comments

  1. My blog shares my experiences as a non-equity performer auditioning in New York. I just hope people can relate to my posts and / or appreciate that we’re all just trying to, as Tim Gunn would say ‘make it work’ . NY is tough, this business is tougher and sometimes it’s nice to know that we’re not alone in our struggles to ‘live the dream’ or in reality, just survive! Enjoy and leave a comment!

  2. This post was exactly what I needed to read. Thank you. I have a callback for Cosette in Les Miserables tomorrow and I needed a bit of perspective. I feel far more relaxed and confident after reading this post. Thank you for such a concise, pragmatic and rational breakdown.

    • Hi Holly: I’ve been out of town and just saw your comment. Congratulations on getting a callback for Cosette. By now you’ve probably already had the callback. I hope it went well for you and that you are satisfied with your preparation and everything you can control.

  3. Thank you for these words!
    I had an audition for les mis, at present from 136 auditions, I’m waiting to hear if I have been put on the call back list!! – suspense is killing me

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