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Audition tips

Whether it’s your first time or your hundredth, auditions can be very stressful. Here’s some tips from Jazz Hands Director, Emma, on what you can do to show off your best in an audition!


Before the Audition

  • Think about what you’re auditioning for – what is the show you’re auditioning for? Is it a comedy? A musical? A tragedy? A romance? If you don’t know, do some research. Once you’ve done that, choose a monologue which you think will show why you’re perfect for this particular show. For example, if you’re auditioning for a farce, don’t choose a monologue from a tragedy. Likewise, look at the characters available to you. If you’re auditioning for a show where all the roles you’re suitable for (because of vocal range, gender, age or whatever else) fit into a specific personality profile, choose a monologue that will fit you into that profile. Speaking as a director, when you’ve seen 100 people in 3 days, all of whom are incredible, you have to find ways to narrow it down. Sometimes, it has to be as harsh as ‘I can’t see them in any of the roles available'.


  • Think about the length of your monologue – again, normally auditions are a long and gruelling time for the audition panel. They may have been sat there for 8 hours already and the last thing they want is to listen to something that’s 5 minutes long. Practise your monologue, time yourself, and if you run longer than 90 seconds you should probably think about making some cuts somewhere.

  • Play to your strengths – It’s all very well choosing something that is very fun and/or challenging to perform, but if you can’t execute it well then all you’re going to be showing the panel is that you have weaknesses. Choose a song or monologue that you know you can comfortably execute flawlessly so you have the best chance once all the nerves set in.

  • Make sure you’re as prepared as possible – this covers both audition materials and logistics. Do you know where the audition is? Do you know how long it’ll take to get there? Do you have a contact number/email in case you get lost? Will you need to warm up before you get there? Do you need to send sheet music/extracts to the panel in advance? Most of these questions are very easy to answer, but if you don’t do it before your audition, it can lead to needless stress and confusion.


In the Audition

  • Turn up on time – This goes hand-in-hand with the before-audition point on preparing, but it’s really important to make sure you arrive on time, or better still a little early, to your audition. The panel will often be super busy and over-booked so if you arrive late they might not be able to squeeze you in, and if they do they might end up running late.


  • Bring some water – the last thing you want is to have your throat dry up mid-audition and to not have anything to drink.


  • Relax – easier said than done because the formal situation of an audition can seem scary, but just remember that the panel members are only human (and in our case, students) and many of them have been in your shoes as auditionees to. If you slip up, forget your lines or anything like that: don’t worry, it happens to us all!


  • Use the space – you don’t have to do this, but if you’re given a bit of space to move around in and your song/monologue could use it then do! Be expressive, be memorable, perform your pieces the way you’d perform them if this was the opening night of a show.


  • Act Act Act – So many times when I’ve auditioned people for musicals, they act in their monologues and then seem to forget how to act during their song. When you’re onstage you perform all the time, so make sure that whenever you’re ‘performing’ to the panel, you give a full performance.

Fun Fact:

For Chicago, we spent  around

50 hours in auditions

and call backs!


After the Audition

  • Make sure to keep an eye on your emails – quite often when casting student shows, the lead roles get cast first, so that if someone has to refuse a role, other actors from other parts can be moved around to fill the gaps. Therefore, it is incredibly frustrating as a director/producer to be waiting on one lead actor to confirm a role before you can get on with giving out the other parts. Please keep an eye on emails and respond to you email as soon as you can!


  • Be accepting of the decision - again, speaking from experience, most of the time casting isn’t at all personal. Quite often you want to cast twice as many people as you have roles for but you can’t, so you have to go with your gut and just cast whoever you think will best suit the version of the production you want to put on. Therefore, if you are rejected from a show, don’t lash out - it will inevitably leave a bad impression which may backfire further down the road.


  • Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback – as per the OUDS welfare manifesto, all production companies should offer feedback when sending out emails post-audition, so whether they do or do not offer it, it is well within your rights to ask for some. The amount you may receive will depend greatly on the company in question, but it never hurts to have some advice for the next audition you go to.

  • Never give up – as I’ve said multiple times above, very often casting isn’t personal and it’s purely based on the roles available and the suitability of people for those different roles. Therefore, don’t give up, keep auditioning for everything and anything you can and you will eventually end up coming across the role you’re perfect for!



Miscellaneous Audition Advice

Dance Auditions

  • Wear comfy clothing – there’s nothing worse than showing up at a dance audition in a skinny jeans and flipflops. It’s impractical, gets in the way and will stop you from showing off your dancing to its best. If you’re not sure what’s best to wear then get in touch with the production team before the audition.


  • Bring water – always a good idea in case the dancing ends up more strenuous than you expected


  • If you have anything that the choreographer/leader of the audition needs to know prior to the audition (e.g that you get tired easily and may need more breaks than usual, or that you have a recovering knee from a previous injury etc) make sure you tell this person beforehand. This could be in-person or through an email, but that way the production team can discretely make sure you’re safe and taken-care of throughout the audition process.


  • Have fun – if you have fun then the panel will have fun and that’s what it’s all about at the end of the day. Listen to the person leading the audition, follow their moves exactly and try to enjoy it!


Fun Fact:

For A Midsummer's Night Dream,

we had to replay audio auditions up to 6 times

in order to make a decision, so it's definitely okay

for you to re-record!

Radio/Audio Auditions

  • It’s all about the voice – as you don’t have facial expressions and body language to support your characterisation you have to be super precise to make sure that all the energy is going into the vocalisation of the character.


  • Re-record if needed – If you’re being auditioned through audio files and therefore have the chance to re-record, make sure you take this opportunity. Listen to the recording and do re-record until you have something you’re happy with.

  • Think outside the box – think beyond the words of the monologue you’ve chosen. Where are the pauses, the breaths, the ups and the downs? An audio monologue can become so much more than just the words!

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