Audition Preparation: De-Stress with Four Steps

This was published last year, but it’s a good refresher if you’re doing auditions.  So here it is again slightly updated.

For a singer auditions are like death and taxes.  You can’t get around them.  If you want to perform you will inevitably face auditions.

Auditions are basically job interviews.  What are some things singers will audition for?  Solo in choir, part in the play, lead in the musical, American Idol, singing contests, state fairs, school scholarships, community, semi and professional theater, record labels to name a few.

This piece will cover audition preparation often overlooked especially by newbies.  Specifically, music theater audition forms, resumes, head shots, and sheet music notebook.

Theater Audition Forms

To minimize distractions and decrease stress before you arrive for the audition, download the audition form off the theater website or call the box office and have them email you a copy. Fill it out completely before the day of the audition.  Why?  You will increase your peace of mind and you will appear prepared.

Here is a sample of an audition form.  Audition Handout Form-Christmas Carol

This one is being used by Centerpoint Legacy Theatre, in Centerville, Utah for their Christmas 2012 show, “Madison Square Garden Christmas Carol”.

General Information

Read it completely and fill out the requested information.  Make sure it is neat and easy to read.


If you are new to performing, you could use this area to list your experience to date or if you have experience you can attach a resume.  More on resume’s later.  Even if you are new to theater you should include any performing you’ve done. Never done a show before?  That’s OK.  But what about school or church plays or choirs. What about dance, voice or acting lessons?  List those in the experience category. Do you play an instrument?  Can you do gymnastics or tumbling? Include it!


Be honest with the directors about scheduling conflicts.  If you are not able to attend rehearsals or parts of the show list your conflicts. Double casting in community theater is common, so this is not a deal breaker.  Double casting means there are two people cast for each role and you alternate every other performance.

The worst thing you can do is get cast and then tell them you have conflicts and will have to miss rehearsals.  They will never trust you again.   List your conflicts, if any, and then talk to them about it.  They will respect you and whether cast or not, you will leave a good impression, and open the door for future roles.  Here’s an example of a conflict calendar supplied by Centerpoint Legacy Theater. Audition Calendar-Christmas Carol(1)


Honesty is always best.  Do list the role(s) you seek.  Don’t say you’ll take any role if you won’t.  It’s a big negative to say you’ll take any part, get cast, and then decide it’s not worth it to you and drop the show.  Do that and you may never work with that director again.  It’s perfectly fine if you won’t consider any other part than the one listed.

Once I auditioned for a show and said I wouldn’t consider any other role than what I listed, but they called me back for another role anyway. I could have turned them down and it would have been just fine.  However, I ended up doing the show because I was impressed with the director and it was a great experience.  But, don’t say you’ll take any role, then take one you’re not excited about and drop out.


If you have some experience it may be more impressive to include a resume.  Here is an example of a resume.

Acting Resume

You can also do a Google Search to find other theater resume formats more to your liking.  Make sure it is on quality white paper.

What do you do with the resume?  You staple it to the back side of your head shot.

Head Shots

Chuck Gilmore Color Head Shot

Chuck Gilmore

Chuck Gilmore Head Shot

Chuck Gilmore

A lot could be said about head shots.  For theater, it should be an 8 1/2 by 11 inch photo of your face.  Either black and white or color is fine.  Your head shot should be stapled to the back side of your resume, four staples, one in each corner.  A head shot is used by the directors to help remember who you are because they may be seeing hundreds of auditions.

That’s why you want the picture to be a good one, current and preferably without glasses so they can see your eyes.  A small pocket size picture makes it more difficult to see you, so the standard is the 8 1/2 by 11.

Above are two head shots I’ve used.  Below is the one I started using in 2011.  I probably waited longer than I should have but most of my work in theater is local and I’m known by the directors and producers.

Head Shot 2012


Sheet Music Notebook

In most auditions an accompanist provided by the theater will play the piano for your audition.  Your job is to make it easy for the accompanist. Remember, if they mess up because your music is falling on the floor, or isn’t easily read, the quality of your audition may suffer.

Place your sheet music in a notebook. Make sure the music is easy to see and read. Minimize or eliminate page turns.  Clearly mark the 16 or 32 measures where you want the audition accompanist to begin and end.  A red arrow next to the words, “start” and “end” will help the accompanist know what to play.  Greet them kindly and show them where you will start and finish.  Tell them if you want an introduction or just the beginning note.  Give them the tempo you want so they know how fast to play.

These Four Simple Steps will get Your Audition off to a Good Start

Before the day of the audition:

1.  Download and complete the audition form.

2.  Get your resume updated

3.  Staple your resume to your head shot

4.  Prepare a sheet music notebook and clearly mark where you will sing

Have all this ready when you arrive. It will de-stress your audition significantly.

Final Audition Tip

  • Call the theater and schedule your audition as soon as you’ve decided to audition. On the day of the audition show up 15 minutes early.  Then relax, do some deep breathing, and enjoy the adventure.  When you walk into the audition your preparation and composure will shine through.

Do you have insights or questions about audition preparation?  Feel free to add comments or other ideas you’ve found helpful.

PS:  Here’s a link for a great piece about auditions written by Erica Hansen for the Deseret News October 19, 2008.  She provides terrific insights from several area producers and directors.

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.

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