I might be the least qualified person to give any kind of tips about the Muni audition process. My time on stage started and ended on the Jacksonville High School stage after my show stopping performances as The Steward in Anything Goes (“All ashore who’s going ashore! All ashore who’s going ashore!” might be my least favorite line ever written and still haunts me to this day – thanks for nothing, Cole Porter) and as Pete/Slim/Tex/Buster/Hank/Tom aka one of the Canadian Mounties aka one nameless member of the men’s ensemble in Little Mary Sunshine.
As far as the Muni is concerned, I’ve been hovering around it as Theater Boyfriend/Fiancé/Husband to Craig Williams II since Summer 2012. Last summer, I took on my first staff position as Production Coordinator in Legally Blonde (I’m also Production Coordinator for Evita this summer and, y’all, don’t cry for us because our merch is gonna be fierce #EvitaSwag). Just a few weeks ago, I finished up assistant directing The Last 5 Years at The Hoogland Center for the Arts. What have I not done through these roles? Watched auditions or cast anyone in a single show. So, while I suppose I’m part of this Muni family… I ain’t got a clue about auditioning.
But lucky for both of us (‘cause this post would’ve ended at that gif otherwise), I do have a clue about eavesdropping on people who do know a thing or two about auditions. I’ve also imagined my own anxiety-ridden imaginary audition every year, so I’ve seen literally every possible and unrealistic contingency. So obviously, take all my
nosey sage advice, you little eager beaver, you!
Before auditioning, have a few practice auditions with people who will give you real feedback.
Don’t seek out people who are going to tell you how great you are. Find your most critical friend or mentor to try your audition material on and set the expectation that you want raw, unfiltered feedback – it’s better to get it before you’re standing in front of a panel of people who will be deciding whether or not to cast you. When you get the feedback, don’t take it personally – use it to make your audition better. If possible, seek out someone who has experience in auditioning or casting at the Muni.
Have a lifeline on standby for a call or text.
Auditioning is such a vulnerable thing to do. You’re standing in front of a panel of people you may or may not know super well and asking them to see you as part of the vision they have for the story they want to tell. As a result, you may feel a little anxious throughout the process. Ask a friend (or Mom or Dad) to be on standby if you need to text or call someone to get you pumped up.
Everyone around you has the same stakes.
Remember that everyone is there to audition – no one has been cast yet. You’re all in the same boat. If you have a moment, use it to encourage those around you. It’ll make you and the other person feel at ease and better about the entire process.
Bond with your fellow auditionees.
You may not have a ton of down time, but when you have a few minutes, bond with the people around you. Avoid the tendency to scroll through social media or otherwise disengage from those around you. Take a few minutes to get to know the people you might be spending a significant portion of your summer with.
Be upfront about your conflicts.
Don’t conceal scheduling conflicts you might have. Going on vacation the week before tech week? Involved in another show in town during rehearsals? Won’t be in town for the actual show? Tell the staff any and all conflicts. While some conflicts are deal breakers (like not being in town for the actual show), so many conflicts can be worked around. But the only way the staff can work with your schedule is if they know about your conflicts, so disclose away!
This isn’t American Idol (oh good grief, I am dating myself) – there is no Simon Cowell at the table.
Every single staff member watching your audition is hoping you are going to fill a need – no one is sitting their hoping you’ll fail. If you don’t audition well, that’s one less option they have for their cast. The entire staff is on your side and rooting for you. They want to cast you! Don’t forget that and let your nerves get the better of you.
There are no small roles…
Listen, it’s a cliche for a reason. Be open to various types of roles. Don’t limit yourself to “big” or “small” roles. Every single cast and staff member is an important part of telling the story of their show. Even in a low profile role or part, you will learn so much just by taking it all in… which can only help in your future theater endeavors.
Even if you don’t get cast in a show…
Don’t panic! You got this. But if you don’t get cast, remember that there is so much to do at the Muni. Work backstage, volunteer at the site, involve yourself however you can. So much work goes into the Muni magic every summer, and only some of that magic happens on the stage.
What do you think of these tips? If you’re a veteran Muniac, what tips would you add? Let us know in the comments!
J. Ryan Blesse is a published author, freelance writer, and marketing professional with a passion for storytelling. When he’s not reading or writing, he’s thinking about pizza, yo-yo dieting, traveling almost anywhere with his husband Craig, and/or talking politics with his main feline Grizabella.
All views and opinions expressed on The Muni Moment are those of the guest writers and do not necessarily represent the views of the Springfield Muni Opera.