As a parent of an aspiring musical theatre major, I had no idea how competitive top and even B level college musical theatre programs were. Here are some tips that I have picked up during my child’s musical theatre journey.
Research Musical Theatre Programs
Not every college musical theatre program is alike so my first piece of advice to those young people wishing to break into musical theatre is to do your homework and research the various college and university musical theatre programs out there. I suggest beginning your research no later than the summer before your senior year of high school. Once you have researched the various college musical theatre programs you will want to whittle your list down to the schools that are your top choices and those that you consider to be “safety schools” or schools that either do not have an audition process or those that you feel very comfortable that you will gain admittance in. I was shocked to find that top musical theatre programs at schools like The University of Michigan or Penn State University routinely audition hundreds of talented young people each year yet admit as few as ten or twelve students. Musical theatre is an extremely competitive major.
Apply, Apply, Apply
Because of the highly competitive nature of musical theatre programs, experts advise that you apply to many schools, including a few that you consider to be safety schools. It is not unheard of for aspiring musical theatre students to apply to ten or more musical theatre programs. The national unified auditions, which are held each year in cities such as New York, Chicago and Los Angeles are excellent ways to maximize your time and to audition for multiple schools in one weekend.
Preparation is Key
Representatives from the top college musical theatre programs all say the same thing. Come to your musical theatre audition prepared. No one expects you to sing like Patti LuPone, but they do expect you to know your music. This means that those auditioning should know the entire song, not just the 16 or 32 bar cut they are required to sing for the audition. It is also important to know the context of the song within the musical. Don’t sing a song from a musical that you have never seen or at the very least read.
It is also vital to know the requirements of the school you are auditioning for. Many schools list specific musicals, songs or composers that you are not allowed to audition with. The same can be said for monologues. I suggest that the musical theatre student should make a spreadsheet with all of the schools he is applying to, the requirements of the school, the audition date and any pertinent information.
Hire an Audition Coach
One of the best decisions that I made for my child was to invest in hiring an audition coach to help him put together his musical theatre audition. There are many experienced coaches out there who know what college musical theatre programs are looking for. Hiring a coach to help with the audition process is typically money well spent.
Show Up for Your Audition in Top Shape
Preparing for your college musical theatre audition requires more than learning a song and monologue. Invest time getting your physical appearance in order. Exercise. If you need to lose a few pounds do this (safely) several months before your auditions. If your skin is acne prone, visit the dermatologist. Dress nicely and appropriately for the audition. Make sure your hair is properly styled and your makeup is flattering. Get plenty of rest the night before your Musial theatre audition. Eat a good breakfast and exercise in the morning.
Getting into a top musical theatre program is difficult even for talented individuals. Begin the process early and keep a positive attitude.