Soooo it’s your senior year in high school and you’re antsy to get done and get out! Colleges typically focus on your 9th-11th grade academics, so motivation for the moment can be hard to come by. But your future depends on the decisions you make today (I know—you’re getting that message from ALL directions) so we’re developing a manageable timeline and checklist to keep you moving and help you be confident and prepared for regional and local college musical theatre auditions.
You’ve got a little time ahead of you, but don’t procrastinate or you’ll get behind. Part of the recipe for a successful audition is being confident and relaxed, and if you are always playing catch up you’ll end up uncentered, frazzled, and exhausted. Don’t want that. Here are a few tasks to stay ahead of the game.
Write a research paper. WHAT??? Not really. Well, sort of.
When looking for potential musical theatre colleges and programs, you do actually have to do some homework. A little research can open up options you might not have readily considered. But don’t be overwhelmed by the college selection process. It’s pretty simple if you get organized and are honest with yourself about what’s important.
To begin, list five things you want in the school or from your college experience. Examples include greek life, affordability, large or small size, distance to home, available majors, etc. You might list them in order of importance. You probably won’t find them all in one place, so it will help to know which are requirements and which are non-essentials.
Next, visit college research sites to see which colleges best fit you and your goals. Here are a few good ones:
Make a list of potential schools (I would have at least 20) and organize into these three categories:
- Reaches (highly competitive and possibly beyond your reach performance-wise, academically, or financially; will require you to really stretch yourself in one or all of these areas)
- Matches (a good fit for you on all accounts; will require your best, but achievable)
- Safeties (easy acceptance/admission requirements, some possibly without an audition; these are a shoe-in and should be easy entrance for your performance and/or academic levels)
Select and schedule college theatre auditions (get them on your calendar—in PEN).
Most of your college auditions are going to hit around January-February, so it’s wise to get them on your calendar now so you can plan around them.
There are two types of in-person college auditions: “unified” auditions and college-specific auditions.
Some theatre conferences and professional organizations have combined or unified auditions. The primary unified in the US are the National Unified Auditions. These allow students to audition for numerous university programs in one location. This can save time and travel and allow you to meet other students from around the world to get a feel for the competition in the industry you are entering. However, due to the large number of people being seen in a short time, you may not receive much personal attention and since these are often held at an off-campus location, you can’t see the campus or visit various departments while you’re there.
If your school isn’t a participant in the unified auditions, visit their college/university/conservatory website and navigate to the performing arts department. Often the audition dates will be posted there. If not, call or email a department head or advisor and request audition dates and/or schedule your audition. MARK THESE ON YOUR CALENDAR and keep them sacred!
Sharpen up those skills and wear that triple threat title well.
Hopefully you’ve been in several shows in high school and are currently in a drama class, school musical or community theatre production. It’s important to keep up your vocal and acting chops! And as if you aren’t busy enough, there are a few more helpful items to get on your already packed calendar.
First and foremost, begin working regularly with a voice teacher or vocal coach. This is one of the most important things you can do to prepare vocally and musically for your college theatre auditions. A vocal coach can help you decide on the best music for your range and give you valuable feedback that will help you avoid pitfalls later.
Secondly, try to enroll in a dance class. Even if you’ve never taken dance before, jump in. While your college audition may not include dance audition, know that your first semester of college will most likely involve a ballet class. You’ll want to at least be familiar with basic ballet terminology and positions and have some experience in memorizing combinations. If you have access to tap and jazz classes, it can only help to get familiar with these genres as well.
The backbone of all theatre is acting, so be sure to find an acting teacher or performance coach to suggest or evaluate a monologue and observe your musical audition as well. We must ALWAYS “act the song” and a seasoned teacher or performer can help you understand what the actor is feeling and communicating in the moment. They can clarify and steer you away from stock acting or overacting and help you be connected and authentic in the moment.
Finally, talk to local colleges and performing arts centers to see if there are any musical theatre audition workshops or masterclasses available in your area. Doing a trial run in a mock audition class (in a low-pressure environment) can give you valuable experience and feedback that can sharpen your skills for the real audition. There are organizations that host these types of workshops in large metropolitan areas such as California and New York. They aren’t cheap, but the opportunities to work with seasoned industry pros can help launch your college theatre career on a solid foundation.
- Acting Your Songs & Monologues – October 16, 2016, Los Angeles
- University of Michigan Campus Tour & Masterclass Weekend – October 29-30, 2016
- College Audition Intensive – October 22-23, 2016, New York
- Musical Theatre Audition Workshop – October 30, 2016, San Mateo, CA
- Broadway Artists Alliance College Audition Workshop – August 10-13, 2017, NYC