Audition season is almost upon us! With Spring Production Ensemble auditions next month and Summer Intensive auditions following soon thereafter, it is time to start prepping for your auditions of choice! Whether you are a company dancer, music theater performer, actor, or vocalist, there are specific guidelines for each type of audition that you should know about! Take a look at some of the secrets our directors are dishing out as we begin to enter audition season.

MATT NALL “A Vocal Audition”


Boston Conservatory

Penn State University

Carnegie Mellon University

Texas State University

Oklahoma City University

New York University


Cincinnati Conservatory of Music

University of Michigan

Pace University

Boston Conservatory

Carnegie Mellon University

Texas State University


“Audition attire has changed quite a bit in the last 20 years. Gone are suites and ties and formal dresses. I always say dress the way you think you look best. Jeans and a blazer, button ups and polo shirts are all fine. Girls shouldn’t wear anything too short or revealing but almost everything else is fine. If you have any concerns, bring the outfits to a teacher and ask for advice!”


“Every program will ist in their audition announcement what you should prepare. In general that will consist of: two 32 bar contrasting musical theater songs. One will need to be pre-1970 (Golden Age) and one post-1970 (contemporary). You should work with you private voice teacher to create a “book.” I always recommend having a ballad and uptempo golden age, and the same for contemporary. This will cover 95% of your auditions. The fifth piece in your book should be a “niche” piece. Something you like to sing that shows you off but isn’t necessarily a musical theater song. While 32 bars are generally used, I would learn each song in its entirety as well.”


“Some summer and most college programs require a pre screen that you can work with you private lesson teacher to film. Most of their requirements will be the same as listened about but with two contrasting monologues and sometimes a dance excerpt. At the actual audition you will go in and sing what you have prepared from your book: two 32 bar contrasting music theater songs. Occasionally they will ask to hear something else and you can let them know what else you have in your “book.” They will likely select that piece. A reminder that not all schools want 32 bars. It could be 16 bars, or a timed audition where you can do whatever you want for 2 minutes. If you have picked great songs then all those different requirements can be pulled from you repertoire.”


Pick a song that you will like (you will practice more!)

Change keys if you need to

Make sure it is age appropriate

Avoid songs that are overdone or linked specifically to someone (think “Let it Go”)

Do your own research… you can find almost anything on the internet!

Ask your teacher for help!


MATT BASSETT “An Acting Audition”


Carnegie Mellon School of Drama Pre-College

Boston University Summer Theatre Institute

Interlochen Center for the Arts

Emerson Pre-College Studio Program

Studio Theater Acting Intensive/Shakespeare Theatre Camp Shakespeare (keeping it local!)


Boston University School of Theater

Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama

University of Texas, Austin

Northwestern University

University of North Carolina School of the Arts

Tisch at New York University


“Business casual. The actor should feel comfortable and confident as they present their material. A heel is a great idea for both men and women – but not so high as to inhibit movement. Slacks are better than shorts and jeans (although a nice, new, crisp pair of jeans works). Button-down shirts and nice blouses are preferred (again, unless that t-shirt/polo shirt/long sleeve Henley is super nice and crisp). Dresses/skirts/pants of a decent length for women – again, a length that allows the actor comfort and confidence. Nothing wrong with showing off your legs, but no need to do is if it inhibits your work. For initial auditions, wearing something close to your headshot is great, so that the connection between you and the photo is easy to make. Similarly, wear something close for callbacks, if not the same thing, unless something else is specified (i.e. movement clothes). Patterns should be avoided, as they can distract from the work. Similarly, riskier clothing should taken under great consideration: does does that plunging neckline that makes you feel awesome showcase your work, or distract from it? Those tight, tight pants? Those ripped-up jeans? What matters most is presenting the best that you can DO as much as the best of how you LOOK. Ultimately, your clothes should support you throughout the process, so choose wisely.”


“Preparation is key. Memorize all monologues within an inch of their lives. The audition should be the 50th presentation of the material by the actor, at least. Run your pieces as often as you can, because anything can happen in that audition room and the last thing you should worry about is your next line. Practice out loud, with someone present. They don’t need to give you feedback everytime, just get the experience of performing your monologue(s) with someone watching is helpful. Rehearsal can be of the entire package, including slate (“Hi, I’m (YOUR NAME) and today I’ll be presenting (CHARACTER’S NAME)’s monologue from (TITLE OF PLAY) by (NAME OF PLAYWRIGHT) When working a monologue, develop understanding of who your character is talking to, what they want from that person, and the arc of the character in the course of the monologue (where they start emotionally vs. where they end). One minute monologues are fully capable of telling a complet, coherent story. Oh yea, and make sure your monologue is ONE MINUTE. 90 seconds at most. Time yourself and cut material that is not related to the immediate accomplishment of a goal by your character. It’s a long day watching auditions and the smart actors keep things short and sweet for the benefit of everyone.”


” For an initial audition, the student should expect a relatively formal setting. They are presenting their prepared material, as well as their professionalism within an audition room. They should be prepared to introduce themselves and make light conversation about where they’re from and they they’re interested in the program. For callbacks, they will likely receive an adjustment from the auditor. This can be an adjustment to the circumstances of the monologue in terms of setting, character, or goal. Take the adjustment and make it work for you and be sure to thank the auditor for it. The ability to make a change to your work quickly and with positivity is often the difference between booking and not. Be calm and pleasant: everyone knows you’re nervous because everyone is nervous. Breathe, focus, and show them why you’re awesome.”


Writing: Does the monologue tell a complete story of one character seeking something directly from another character? Is there dialogue dependent on the other character you can cut to simplify your story? If it’s a conversation, it’s not a monologue, so look elsewhere.

Source – these auditions are looking for monologues from published plays by playwrights. Television or film monologues are tied in the auditor’s memory to a single actor, frozen in time. Anonymous monologues from a. book or website lack the context of a full play that allows you to find the greatest specificity and depth of storytelling.

Fitness for the circumstances – Does the content of the material suit this circumstance? Are you looking to shock for shocking’s sake, thereby distracting from your talent? Shocking material can be used effectively if balanced with another monologue that shows a softer side of the actor, but it tough to reconcile on its own.

Character – is this a character you could play, down the road if not now? A smart actor picks material that an auditor can imagine them executing effectively. Think carefully about your type, based on age, background, appearance, and interests. You can present something folder if it fits within type, but age-appropriate should be the goal. This will show the auditor you know who you are and what you can do right now.

Fun – Do you LIKE this monologue? Is the prospect of saying these words over and over again until they lose all meaning a pleasant one? Can you have a good time doing this in a tiny rehearsal room for one person as much as doing it in a giant room for a hundred people barely watching? You want to choose a monologue that you can hang onto for years, so make it one you treat as an old friend.


SARA HART “A Music Theater Dance Audition”


Boston Conservatory

Oklahoma City University

Commercial Dance Intensive

Rockette Summer Intensive

MPulse, University of Michigan


Oklahoma City University

Cincinnati Conservatory of Music

University of Michigan

Pace University

Boston Conservatory

New York University


“Something simple and something classic. NEVER wear a costume. Dress in the style of the show, hinting towards a character or time period, but never in an actual poodle skirt! For summer programs or college auditions, tights are a must for me – it always creates a classic and polished look. A solid leotard in color that compliments your complexion and has an interesting neckline, back, or sleeve and invest in a nice solid black dance skirt. Here are two links for reference:

You cannot go wrong with this look! Bring all dance shoes. An investment in a nice pair of tan character shoes is also great advice (once your feet stop growing). LaDucas are the standard in the pre-professional and professional world:


“I tell my students the only way to get rid of a lot of your nerves before an audition is to DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Go to class regularly, research online, and stay on top of your timeline. There are so many ways to do this, but I will name a few based on specific categories:

Summer Intensive/College Programs: Study the program, check out alumni, watch previous performances on YouTube, read reviews, pay attention to the curriculum, be aware of your deadlines.

Shows: Study the show, read the script, know the characters, listen to the music, watch the choreography on YouTube, know who you are auditioning for (creative team names)

In general, make your auditions a priority. Do all of the research you can, pack your bag the day before, get plenty of sleep prior to the dance call, and eat a healthy breakfast for energy!”


“Many people behind a table, or maybe just one. It really depends on the audition. For a show, the first step may be to stand in a straight line while the creative team does a “type cast” cut. They will ask select dancers to stay based merely on their looks or previous working relationships with certain dancers and let everyone else go. This is not done at everyone audition, but sometimes necessary for auditions with hundreds of people. Next, the choreographer, or his/her assistant will teach a combination and expect for you to pick it up fairly quickly. You will split into smaller groups and perform the combination one or two times. You will perform the combination to a recording or most likely with a live piano accompaniment. After everyone has had a chance to dance, you will be asked to stay for a callback or released. These auditions can vary in time ranging from 10 minutes to all day depending on how much they would like to see. For a summer intensive or a college program, your audition may consist of taking a class, center, across the floor, and then a combination or a solo you have prepared.”


Pick a unique song. Choosing something outside of the box that doesn’t play on the radio all day tells the directors that you have spent some time making a solo one of a kind and interesting.

Choose something age appropriate – no inappropriate language or suggestions. This keeps the focus on YOU and your dancing.

Make clean cuts in your music. Pay attention to length requirements. Choose something that can be cut to have a beginning, middle, and end.

Work with a choreographer who knows you and has professional experience. Make sure that they also like the music!

Ask a teacher for help – do not submit a video without their approval.

Choose quality. Do not overextend the choreography if you cannot execute it perfectly. Simple is better than showing any kind of weakness! It is not about the “tricks” – it’s about the quality!


JACKIE DOHERTY “A Ballet/Company Dancer Audition”


Boston Ballet

San Francisco

Houston Ballet

Joffrey Ballet – Chicago

American Ballet Theater

New York City Ballet


Richmond Ballet

Washington Ballet

Orlando Ballet

Pennsylvania Ballet

Tulsa Ballet

Atlanta Ballet


Indiana University (Classical Only)

Butler College (Classical Only)


Gloria Kaufman University of Southern California

North Carolina School of the Arts

Cincinnati University (Classical Only)

George Mason University (Modern Only)

Point Park

Conservatory of Dance – Purchase college

The University of Oklahoma


Always check the audition requirements – generally it will be a flattering black leotard, pink tight, excellent fitting soft shoes that are clean, and pointe shoes that are also in good condition. Do not wear new pointe shoes, wear pointe shoes that are broken in and at peak condition.


Practice in all classes as though it is an audition make sure you have a good presentation when taking ballet or contemporary classes. For ballet programs they generally only want class so you need to have a good presentation for this.

If going for these top programs know that you are competing against dancers who will also be in ballet 5 times a week so keep up on your attendance and have a strong conditioning and stretching class outside of your regular classes.

Have a good interview ready in case any program requires it. Know why you like to dance, who your most inspiring dancers, choreographers and companies are. Have at least 3 of each. Know the directors of all the programs you are going for and make sure you have read their bios. That way you can know which way to navigate your strongest interview. If you are going for dance programs of companies know their repertoire and check who their resident choreographer is if they have one. On a daily basis watch something relevant to your art.


Full ballet class for summer programs. For college programs you need to check the website for requirements as they all differ. Solos as needed for some college programs. Quite often a ballet barre and modern center.


For solos for dance programs pick a style of choreography that shows yours strengths.

Make sure your music is interesting and the choreography is not predictable.

Make sure you know your music, choreographer and any motivation. Talk with your choreographer about these details.


Make sure all prescreen videos are watched by a dance teacher who can give feedback.

Wear makeup and a classical black leotard. Keep to the requirements.

Remember they have a lot of videos to watch so always start with your strongest side.


How to handle rejection?

Sometimes due to stage size limitations at certain venues, a director may need to limit cast size and will not be able to cast everyone who auditions.  We remain very sensitive to the fact that not getting cast may come as a big disappointment and would like to share some tips for parents we came across to keep the auditioning process fun and safe.  We encourage these “pep talks” before and after the audition.

1. Remind him/her that going to an audition is a success in itself!  Commend them on their bravery!
2. Encourage him/her to treat auditions as an exciting chance to sing, dance, or act.
3. Acknowledge his/her feelings of disappointment; redirect attention, and make it fun.
4. Let your child know that it is normal to go to dozens of auditions before getting cast.


How to handle acceptance?

Sometimes you may get the part, but your friend doesn’t.  Here are some ways to negotiate casting and friendships as this can tend to be an awkward situation.
1. First, Congratulations!  You should always be proud of a role and your successes.  Enjoy your time in the spotlight.
2. Remain confident that you earned the part.  Try to ignore any negative criticism or gossip that may come your way.
3. Keep casting conversations between you and your family in the privacy of our own home and/or between you and the director.
4. Encourage your friends and support them through their feelings of rejection.


Consider your timeline.

Remember to use your time wisely.  Procrastination will not help you land the part or the spot in the program.  Map out your own deadlines based on requirements. Asking yourself these questions will help keep you organized.

1. Is the audition in person or require a video submission?
2. If video submission is required follow this checklist

Make a list of their requirements and due dates
Pick your material with help from a teacher
Schedule studio space to rehearse material
Pick out clothing with help from a teacher
Schedule videographer (not required but encouraged for college auditions)
Schedule accompanist (vocal auditions)
Schedule studio space to film

3. If audition is in person follow this checklist

Make a list of their requirements
Gather material (either given to you or you choose your own)
Practice material!
Pick out clothing
Book transportation if you need to travel far
Arrive at the audition at least 30 minutes early