I get asked this question a lot. People also often ask how to get lead roles. There is no magical switch you can flip to get a lead role, there is no trick to it. There’s several factors that go into it, the biggest of which is giving a good audition. I’m not an expert, I can only speak from my own experience, but here’s the best advice that I can come up with.
- I cannot stress enough how important it is to know what you’re walking into. Know the specific audition requirements and choose appropriate repertoire. Get the sides early (if you can, often you’re doing a cold read of a scene). Know which character(s) you want to audition for and know a little bit about them. Do a little reading on the show, know the basic idea of what it’s about. Even just reading the Wikipedia page on the show can help. Try not to walk in clueless.
- Work on your music/monologue with somebody. If you have a voice teacher, work on your song with them. If you have an acting teacher, work on your monologue with them. If you don’t, asking a friend for feedback can be helpful. Also, record yourself singing or tape yourself performing your monologue and watch it to critique your own performance to figure out what you have to work on.
- Do. Not. Procrastinate. Practicing. One of my professors recently said “Practice on every day that ends in Y.” Practicing every day is not always possible, but try to do a little each day and be as consistent as possible. Practicing an hour each day is a lot more effective than practicing for 4 hours the day before the audition. It’s less stressful, and repetition is the key to memorization. Aim to be ready a little bit before the audition, I find it makes me a lot more nervous to walk into an audition with a song I only finished memorizing the day before. Practicing doesn’t just improve the quality of your performance, it makes you more confident in your performance and can reduce audition anxiety.
- Prepare. The best thing you can walk into an audition with is good preparation.
- Dress appropriately. I typically wear something casual, but nice. Look presentable (and look like your headshot if you have to bring one). However, I find that its often a good idea to make sure you can move in whatever you wear to your audition. If you have to dance, bring a change of clothes AND any dance shoes you may need.
- Be friendly and polite. When you’re in an audition you’re not just trying to show that you’re a good fit for the role, you also have to show that you will be pleasant and easy to work with.
- Be early. To be on time is to be late. However, you’ll probably have to fill out an application or form of some sort and you’ll obviously need time to do that.
- Have everything you need. Copies of your headshot and an up to date resume, copies of your sheet music (one of which should be double sided and in a binder for the accompanist), any and all dance shoes you may need, etc. This is another part of being prepared.
- Warm up and stretch BEFORE you get there. Arrive ready to perform.
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