How to Prepare for Your Next Musical Theater Audition

Article Image
Photo Source: Pexels

To really nail your musical theater audition, you need time to prepare. But balancing a busy life and a career can make finding that time difficult. And, with auditions popping up on short notice, it’s easy to feel stressed, under-prepared, and, as a result, less effective in the audition room. Here are five things to do before your musical theater audition so you’ll feel less hurried—and ready to be your best when it counts.

Make sure your book is ready.
Having several songs organized, rehearsed and ready to perform beautifully does wonders for your peace of mind and your audition. Songs in your book should be age and type appropriate, showcase your strengths and reflect who you are:

  • Choose at least one “standard’ song from the “Great American Songbook”: Rodgers and Hart, Harold Arlen, Johnny Mercer, Jerome Kern, etc.
  • Choose another song from the “Golden Age”: Rodgers and Hammerstein, Irving Berlin, Lerner and Lowe, etc. One should be a ballad and one an uptempo.
  • The same goes for “contemporary musical theatre” songs: Ahrens & Flaherty, Tom Kitt, Robert Lopez, David Yazbek, Stephen Schwartz, etc. Choose at least one uptempo and one ballad to start.
  • You’ll also need at least 2 “pop/rock” songs. Many shows require you to sing contemporary commercial music (CCM) and this trend is here to stay. CCM is non-classical music that includes jazz, pop, blues, soul, country, folk, and rock styles.
Choose the styles you love to sing, that show you and your voice at your best and are right for the shows you’re auditioning for. For pop/rock shows I suggest choosing actual songs from that genre rather than a song from a show of the same style. If you’re auditioning for “Rock of Ages,” for instance, instead of singing from “Rent,” choose a classic rock song. Knocking the real thing out of the park makes a better impression than doing it with a musical theatre equivalent.

Choose your clothes the night before.
Discovering you have nothing to wear 30 minutes before you have to leave is great if you enjoy having your blood pressure spike. It’s better to choose your clothes and press them the night before your audition so you can just put them on and go the next day.

Pack a “diaper” bag.
Long ago, moms figured out that, if they were going to have a successful outing away from home with a baby, they’d better bring along a bag containing everything their baby might possibly need while they’re out. I learned this the hard way when I foolishly took the baby with me to run some errands without one. It was not pretty.

As an actor, you should have an “audition diaper bag” you can just grab on your way out the door that has everything you might possibly need for your audition. Photos, resumés, business cards, audition log, hairbrush, makeup, breath freshener, umbrella, water, a snack, something to write with, something to read, etc. You get the idea. And don’t forget to pack your book before you turn in for the night so you don’t leave without it in the morning.

Make a morning checklist.
The night before your audition, make a list of the things you’ll do and how long each will take from the moment you wake until the moment you leave. For instance:

  • 8:00–8:30 stretch/workout
  • 8:30–8:45 shower/shave
  • 8:45–9:15 light breakfast
  • 9:15–9:30 vocal warmup
  • 9:30–9:45 get dressed
  • 9:45–10:30 travel to audition
  • 11:00 audition time!

Set two alarms.
Setting an alarm is smart. Setting a backup alarm is smarter. Power outages happen. Cell phones die and so do phone chargers. Why risk it?

In short, think ahead and set yourself up to succeed. Successful auditions are made before you even set foot in the audition room. If you’d like a little help choosing songs for your book, be sure to grab a copy of my free guide How To Choose The Perfect Audition Song.


The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

Author Headshot
Philip Hernández
Philip Hernández is an audition coach and working actor in New York City. He uses his 30 years experience on stage and on camera to teach the real world skills you need to book the jobs you want. His students appear on Broadway, in regional theaters, national tours, on television, and in film.
See full bio and articles here!