It’s knowing that you have something to offer….It’s believing in yourself. –Joe Mantello
Joe Mantello spoke about auditions with Carol de Giere during a backstage interview at the Gershwin Theatre in New York City. The award-winning director helmed the hit Broadway musical Wicked, the Assassins revival, and many other shows.
Carol de Giere: What’s the biggest mistake people make during auditions?
Joe Mantello: I think the biggest mistake people make in the room is not being relaxed. What I’ve learned being a director, which I didn’t know as an actor, is generally a person walks into the room, and they’re in the zone of what we’re looking for or not. And quite often the best person doesn’t get the part.
I always tell every young actor that I know, try to be a reader. Come in and watch auditions, because when you’re on the other side of it, you see fantastic actors come in and not get the part because they’re two years too old, or they’re too tall, or any number of reasons. I always encourage people to come in with the attitude of: This is what I would do if I played the role. This is what I bring to the table. I hope you like it. If you don’t, see you next time.
Too often I see actors trying to second guess what the team or the writer or the director are looking for, and so they are not really in their skin, they are projecting something else. They need to walk in and go, “Hello, how are you?” And win confidence sort of saying this is my take on the role at this point, do you have any adjustments? And sometimes if I see a person is great and they’re going off in another direction, I’ll give them an adjustment and see if they take it. (more…)
Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Godspell, Pippin) has been involved with Broadway and film casting decisions for over thirty years. Although he no longer witnesses the early stages of auditions, he always participates in final casting decisions for new musicals or prominent revivals.
He also sees dozens of shows every year on Broadway, off-Broadway, and in developmental readings. He’ll sometimes choose cast members for his own developmental readings based on performances he has seen, as was the case with Kristin Chenoweth whom he chose as “Glinda” for an early Wicked reading.
Here he answers questions from performers about auditions. (Used with Stephen Schwartz’s permission). [Photo – Stephen Schwartz in concert with Debbie Gravitte, Scott Coulter, and Liz Callaway)
I’m an aspiring music theatre actress and I have an audition for a performing arts university and I really want to be accepted. This sounds naive but I was wondering if you could give me some advise as to what you would look for if you were auditioning people? Are there any things I could do to make my audition stand out? Do you know anything that would be helpful? Thank you so much, Sera
In his answer, notice that he emphasizes being natural and appropriate.
The art of auditioning is, as you know, not something that can be fully discussed in a brief email. There are books written and classes taught about it. But briefly, I would say the following…what you most want to do is to present who you truly are and to show your skills to their best advantage. Here are some ways to do that: (more…)