Auditions can also be one of a scariest parts of the theater process. Even seasoned pros can find it the worst part of the job. So let’s dispel some myths about MCT’s audition process and hopefully keep those nerves at bay so you can come and join our MCT family.
Myth #1: MCT doesn’t want new people
We hate when we hear this one! From the outside, theater can seem like a clique. But I can tell you, the MCT Board is committed to bringing new people into the fold. That means actors, directors, volunteers, tech crew; any aspect of theater that you would like to try, we are here to help you do that.
Going to an audition is the first step to getting on our stage. If you don’t make it the first time, don’t be discouraged. There are so many facets to casting a show, and every director does things a bit differently. More often than not, it has nothing to do with you personally and everything to do with things over which you have no control.
I, personally, have a vision (or multiple visions) of what I want the show to look like when I step into auditions, but these are always shattered by the people who walk in the room. I will see someone take a reading in a completely different direction and love it. For me, it is all about the people who audition and how they are going to fit together in the show in the best way possible. It is sometimes not traditional, but it always turns out amazingly well.
Some directors wait until they see the talent that auditions to solidify their vision. Joe Galbo, director of the upcoming Drop Dead!, has this to say: “My directorial vision for a show is never complete until after the first table read and I see what the actors are contributing. My pet peeve are performers that don’t audition for fear that a show is precast. The shows I exclusively produce and direct are ALWAYS open auditions. I am proud to have debuted many successful actors that claim that they could never get roles in other shows.”
At MCT, we try to be transparent about the roles available. Open auditions are the rule; however, sometimes circumstances require some pre-casting. In our audition announcements, we put what roles are available. Most of the time you will see that it is everything, but sometimes it’s not and then you know how to manage your expectations.
Myth #2: auditions are scary
This might not be completely mythical, but also not necessary. Maribeth McCarthy, director of the upcoming cabaret night, says “For me as a performer, auditions are one of the scariest things to go through and I do everything in my power to alleviate that fear for someone else.”
At the Audition
Once you know what to expect, it is less scary.
Most auditions run like this: You walk into our building, fill out an audition form outlining what part(s) you would like to be considered for, what previous experience you have, and giving us your contact information.
You will be given a part of the show to read, called a side. You will read the side for the director once. They may give you direction and ask you to read it again, but not always. Rarely, you will be asked in the audition announcement to bring a monologue to perform. If it is a musical, the audition announcement may ask you to bring a song to sing, and there may be a dance audition if appropriate. In case you couldn’t tell, the audition announcement will give you all the details you need to know what to expect.
Some auditions are a bit different. For A Midsummer Night’s Dream, we all came into the room together and read with each other and played around with the different characters. I thought it was fun, hopefully it wasn’t too stressful for the actors.
After the Audition
Once the director has cast the show, they will call those who have received parts. You will be asked to accept the part. You may ask questions, that is fine. It is important to know that casting has been done very carefully considering all the people who came to the audition. It’s like a big puzzle. So it is very important that you are honest on your audition form and that you are honest when you accept the part. The whole cast and crew are counting on you! We all know things happen. However, if you accept and then decline, it causes a lot of problems for the whole production.
Those who have not been chosen will receive either a phone call or email from the director. Once everyone has been contacted, the cast list will go up on MCT’s website and social media and you can begin sharing how excited you are the the upcoming show!
How should you act at an audition? It is important to be yourself, and to be kind. You want to be the kind of person they want to work with. I was once given the advice to act as if you are at the audition five blocks away; you don’t know who the person behind you in line at Starbucks is, and if you are mean to the barista, they will remember. One time the casting crew was staying in my hotel; I made sure my audition started as soon as I left my room!
Nerves can take over, but I urge you not to let them get the best of you. Make sure you perform your side, song or dance, don’t just go through the motions. We can tell when you’re phoning it in! Being confident is great, but if you are arrogant (even if it is a defense mechanism for the stress) it can be not such a great vibe.
Maribeth agrees: My “pet peeve is when people come in acting like they already have the part. Now this can be taken two ways. I love to see confident people who believe in their abilities. But that is quite different from someone who walks in and has an air about them that they deserve this and this silly audition thing is just a formality. Be respectful of each other’s time, and leave a great impression, on both sides of the table. Above pretty much everything else, be kind to everyone else auditioning. “
Everyone at the audition is in the same boat as you. They may act confident, but everyone gets nervous at an audition.
The show’s production team wants you to succeed. No one wants to see you fail. It is fun as a director to see new people with new perspectives; it makes for a richer production.
Myth #3: it’s too late for me
It is never the wrong time to start acting if you have the desire! MCT exists to give opportunities to those who want to be part of a stage show. Take a look at the audition announcements as they come out. If something strikes your fancy, give it a try. We really do want to see you on our stage.
I am reminded of a wonderful line in a bio by our own Barb Davis: “Little did Barb know nine years ago as she went to her first audition, how many opportunities would come her way.” We are so glad Barb took that firsts step, and we want you to find out the joys of theater just like she did!
(And that goes for every member of a production team. If you want to be backstage, work with props and costumes, direct a show, or write a show, drop us a line: contact us)
How do I find out about auditions?
Now that you are excited and ready to go, make sure you keep an eye on our website (you can subscribe to our blog to get news sent to your inbox) and our social media for audition announcements. We try to announce auditions between three and five months before a show opens. We can’t wait to see you on our stage!