10 Audition Tips for Actors. (Updated 2020)

Sitting on the other side of the table is something that every actor should do.  It’s incredibly educational and inspirational because frankly, you realize that while there are lots and lots of people that call themselves actors, there are a much smaller group of Actors (and talent is only a small part of that definition, by the by).

Since so few Actors get a chance to sit where Producers and Directors sit, here are my 10 tips on how to have a better audition experience.

  1. Always bring a picture and resume. I don’t care if you have an Agent, a Manager, and a Momma Rose-style “mom-ager” who all promised to send it over.  You’re the one that won’t be remembered if you don’t have one.  A P&R is more than an American Express card.  It’s like a pair of shoes.  You wouldn’t leave home without shoes, would you?
  2. Haven’t memorized the material?  Don’t pretend you have. If you have sides, try to memorize them.  But if you can’t, it’s ok.  We’d rather hear the material as written with the papers in your hand than hear you make up stuff just to prove that you tried (and failed) to memorize the material (remind me to tell you about the time an actor added a few lines to a Tony Award winning playwright’s monologue to kill time while he tried to get back on track).
  3. Don’t make excuses.  I don’t want to hear that you have a cold, or that you have bed-head, or that your printer is broken.  Do your best.
  4. If I ask you to make a choice, make one.  I commonly ask the people auditioning for me to choose between two monologues, or I ask them to give me three song choices from their book and then I say, “which would you like to do?”  I want to learn what YOU are attracted to, and I also want to see you make a choice.  Don’t say, “It doesn’t matter.  What do you want?”  Actors have to make strong clear choices when developing characters.  I want to see that side of you in everything you do.
  5. Make your first 15 seconds count.  When you meet someone for the first time, don’t you make a lot of suppositions?  We do too.
  6. Be the 3 Cs.  Be comfortable, charismatic and confident.  Actors have to command attention.  They have to be the most interesting people in a 1000 seat theater.  Be someone that we want to get to know.  If you can do that as yourself, I know you’ll also be able to do that in a character.
  7. Don’t take the last audition times of the day.  Casting is not an easy process, and at the end of the day, a creative team is grumpy, tired and wants to go home.  The early actor gets the part.  (Another reason to be scheduled early?  You don’t have the rest of the day of actors to be compared to. I’m much more likely to call someone back that I see early because I have no idea what the rest of the day will bring.)
  8. Let us know where to find you.  Even if you have an agent, put an email address where you can be reached directly on your resume (For safety reasons, I’d suggest a separate email just for this purpose).  This way, if you ever leave your agent, or if your agent doesn’t get back to the casting director right away, interested parties have a way of at least sending you an inquiry. You don’t have to respond. Pix and Resumes sit in files for years.  You always want some piece of contact information to be accurate so someone can find you fast.
  9. Don’t start over.  Screw up?  Fight through it.  And it probably wasn’t as bad as you thought.  You’re more sensitive to it than we are.  An old voice teacher of mine used to say, “If you put a microphone on the inside of a Mercedes engine, you’d hear all sorts of sputtering and spitting, but from the outside, you’d hear nothing but purrrrrrrrr.”
  10. Always audition.  The best way to master auditioning is just like everything else.  Do it over and over.  You’ll get numb to the nerves.  You’ll be able to be yourself.  And you’ll get free practice!  I used to go to dance calls, because learning a dance combination at an audition is a free dance class (and I needed them).  Actors who get to work on sides with directors at an audition get a free coaching.

Remember, we want you to be great.  We’re pulling for you more than you can ever imagine.

Because a great audition, means a great cast, which means we’re one step closer to a great show.

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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.