One of the most exciting times in the theatre-making process is the audition phase – watching enthusiastic hopefuls enter the stage and (hopefully) dazzle you with their talents. While this time in the creation of your art is no doubt exhilarating, it can easily derail into a stressful situation if you fail to prepare, or can’t find the right talent.

To mitigate the risk, On The Stage offers seven insider tips for running smooth and successful auditions.


Clearly outline your requirements

Smooth auditions all have one thing in common: everyone is prepared – especially the actors. And the best way to prepare actors? By giving them the tools they need to succeed. Long before the audition doors open, outline your requirements and materials in the clearest way possible.

Telling actors to prepare a monologue is fine – but giving them exact time limits and suggested subject matter is better. (You wouldn’t want someone performing a four-minute comedy piece for Les Mis, right?) Telling performers to prepare a song is fine, too – but giving them the precise number of bars and/or suggested songs or pitches is better.

Bottom line: The more specific requirements you give, the more likely you’ll find what you’re looking for … and the more likely you’ll have confident, moving auditions.


Utilize materials that will challenge actors

If you want further control over your auditions, require specific materials to be read, sung, or performed. Avoid scenes directly from your chosen musical or play, but pick excerpts that are well-aligned to your subject matter, and adequately showcase the breadth of emotion you need. 

Additionally, if you choose specific songs for auditionees to perform, these should match the tone, pitch, emotion, cadence and skill level of the hardest songs in your musical. Seeing how actors respond to challenges will be eye-opening in the casting process.


Understand what you’re looking for 

You should have organized, well thought-out character breakdowns and requirements for your leads before auditions begin and any actors ors take the stage. By having established deal breakers and prerequisites for the people you’re looking to cast, difficult casting decisions will be made easier. 

And while a little black and white is good in the process, you should always keep an open mind as auditions progress. It’s OK to change your mind if the right person moves you, after all.


Stay organized

No matter how many auditions you have, you should come prepared with an organizational system that will help you remember even the smallest of details about each person you see. Ideas to stay organized include:

  • Utilizing an audition sign-in sheet that requests important contact information for all auditionees. 
  • Ensuring you’re filming all auditions to review later – especially if you’ll be encountering a lot of people in a short amount of time. 
  • Using a casting sheet – This will log detailed personal information on each actor – from height and eye color to vocal range and dance ability. On the casting sheet, write notes during auditions, especially intangible characteristics the camera may not catch. 
  • Sticking to the schedule  – Make sure to plan ahead for breaks and snacks. Also, don’t let actors run over their allotted audition time. 
  • Prep headshots/resumes – if you’re requiring all actors to bring physical headshots and resumes, make sure they’re organized well and stored in a safe place. A convenient (and green) alternative is having all actors send high-resolution, digitized versions to a specific casting email address.

Keep it professional

While many love the excitement of the casting process, it can also be incredibly stressful for everyone. A way to mitigate that stress is by keeping feelings out of the audition room and staying professional until the last actor leaves the building. Ways to achieve this include:

  • Practicing the way you’ll interact with those who are auditioning – it’s OK to use a script when introducing yourself and giving feedback.
  • Working diligently to keep your expressions neutral during performances. If you plan to clap after a performer is finished, ensure your reaction is the same across the board – even if you’ve just witnessed what you think is a life-altering performance. 
  • Giving clear and concise direction and feedback if you want an actor to take a scene or song again.

Have a back-up plan … or plans

Sometimes, things just don’t go according to your vision … and that’s OK! If you don’t feel you’re getting the best reactions or work from those auditioning, make sure you have a back-up plan and additional materials in your back pocket. 

Having this back-up plan will help you in a couple of ways. First, you’ll likely breathe new life into the audition process and further motivate and challenge your actors. Secondly, a strong performer will be able to go off-script and pivot – and being able to witness an actor’s resilience and ability to improv will likely help you in your casting decisions.


Tap all your networks

If you want the best talent in your audition room, make sure you’re spreading the news of your show far and wide. Ways to get the word out include: 

  • Tapping community partners Make sure you’re utilizing your networks to get more people at your auditions. Have community partners hang fliers in their places of business, or have them reach out to more contacts to spread the word.
  • Harness social media – You should be advertising and cross-promoting your audition dates and times all across your social media platforms. Ensure you’re checking comments for any questions/concerns from potential auditionees. 
  • Create targeted email blasts – Your digital contacts shouldn’t just be sitting in an Excel sheet on your laptop. Make sure you’re sending out well-timed emails to these contacts, and keep messaging brief and to-the-point. 


If you’re right on the cusp of audition season, or are just looking for a little help to elevate your theatre, On The Stage can help with its all-in-one technology platforms. Book a personalized demo and get started today.

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