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Audition Suggestions

Parents of AUDITIONING students, click above for further information about the audition process.

Considering auditioning? Excellent! There are no strict rules when auditioning for a director, a group of directors, and/or producers for a production. Use common sense and courtesy as your guiding principles. I have compiled some valuable insights that I have accumulated throughout the years which may aid you. If anything is unclear, do not hesitate to consult with me. Keep in mind that these are merely suggestions, although they have withstood the test of time.


It is crucial to comprehend the following: We are seeking individuals who work well as part of a team. Opportunities for personal recognition and self-appreciation can be found in various other arenas. Please refrain from indulging in such behaviors here.


The most crucial advice is to simply attend auditions and enjoy the experience! Those who do not participate in auditions will not be considered for a role – this is the one guarantee I can offer.




Select material (a monologue) that you feel comfortable with and that will enable you to bring a dynamic character to life on stage. The local library, particularly the one at Madison, offers a wealth of plays that contain monologues. Avoid choosing a monologue from the play you are auditioning for. If you come across a section of the play that is slightly shorter than desired (for instance, 1 to 2 minutes), consider removing the interrupting dialogue of other characters and assessing if it still remains logical and playable. Are you ready to get to work? Take the time to read the ENTIRE play. It may seem like a task, but reading full-length plays in one sitting typically only takes about an hour and a half. The experience of reading quality plays is truly remarkable, as it allows you to gain a deep understanding of the character you will be portraying and how they fit into the play's world.



You may be familiar with the monologues that surface when you search for "monologues for men" or "monologues for women" online. While it is permissible to use a "generic" monologue or one sourced from the internet, it is generally recommended to find a monologue from an actual published play. Many internet monologues often resemble stand-up comedy routines, which may be acceptable in certain contexts but fail to demonstrate your ability to create a multi-dimensional character with emotions, thoughts, and dreams. Unless your goal is to portray a "stand-up comic" or a "generic person," it is best to avoid generic internet monologues.


If you have a resume and headshot, please bring them along. However, if you do not have them at the moment, there is no need for concern. You can develop these materials as you progress. If you are unfamiliar with what a "headshot" is, do not worry about it.



Avoid monologues that contain vulgar or hateful language at all costs. While dramatic monologues are acceptable, they should not compromise your image or that of your character by appearing bigoted, violent, or sexually inappropriate. Such monologues may be suitable within the context of specific plays, but for auditions, they are distracting and do not effectively showcase your abilities.



If you are auditioning for a comedy or musical, search for an upbeat or clever monologue. It is unnecessary to strive to be hysterically funny, but find something light and effortless that you can work with. For drama auditions, feel free to choose a monologue that allows you to explore a spectrum of dramatic emotions.


MAD Drama monologues typically have a duration of 1 to 2 minutes.



It is advisable to select a monologue that does not require the use of numerous props. The use of one or two simple items, such as a handkerchief or an object relevant to your character, may be acceptable. However, it is best to avoid props whenever possible. Setting up an entire scene or dealing with numerous props may not be feasible within the given time constraints. If needed, a chair will be provided for you if your character is required to sit during any portion or the entirety of your monologue. Sitting on the floor is acceptable if it aligns with your characterization. However, lying down fully may be challenging for projection and visibility, so it should only be attempted if absolutely necessary for your character portrayal.



Please do not bring your script on stage. The ideal approach is to fully memorize your monologue well in advance, whether that be days, weeks, or months in advance. If you are concerned about forgetting your lines, you may bring your script on stage as a last resort. However, it is strongly recommended to avoid doing so to the best of your ability.



When selecting your attire, it is not necessary to resemble the character in your monologue or the play you are auditioning for. It is best to be yourself. However, here are some tips to keep in mind:

- Avoid clothing with visible writing, as it can be distracting. Opt for clothes that do not draw attention away from you.

- Avoid wearing ripped, torn, or excessively messy clothing, as it may convey carelessness and sloppiness.

- Choose comfortable clothing that allows you to move freely without any hindrances.

- It is advisable to keep jewelry to a minimum.

- Low heels are recommended.



To present yourself in a professional manner, it is recommended to "slate" before beginning your monologue. This involves the following steps:

1. Just before starting your monologue, briefly greet the audience with a "Good morning/afternoon/evening."

2. State your name clearly, ensuring proper pronunciation.

3. Clearly mention the role you will be performing and its source, indicating the play and the author.




Select a song that showcases the strongest and most secure parts of your vocal range, avoiding those that push your voice to its limits.



Find a song from a Broadway musical that aligns with the tone of the audition. Opt for an uplifting, high-tempo number for comedic musicals, and consider a more moody ballad for musicals with darker dramatic tones. However, refrain from choosing a song from the specific musical for which you are auditioning.



It is advisable to steer clear of pop songs for several reasons. Pop songs tend to be less suited for "acting out" or portraying a character through singing. Additionally, the sound and purpose of pop songs often differ from that of Broadway songs. Keep in mind that casting directors associate the recording artist's sound with a particular song, making it challenging to outperform the pop star who popularized it. Singing a pop song may also cause you to sound like a subpar cover band singer.



Many actors focus solely on their singing during a vocal audition, neglecting the fact that a song from a musical serves as a sung monologue. Each character singing a Broadway song is conveying emotion. Therefore, it is essential to demonstrate expression through your body, face, and voice. Avoid standing motionless and vacant while attempting to perfect your pitch. A performer who genuinely expresses the song, even with minor vocal imperfections, is more captivating than a perfect voice delivering an emotionless rendition.



Choose material that corresponds to the age range you can convincingly portray. While it may be acceptable to explore characters older or younger than yourself, avoid narrowing your focus too much, as it may limit your opportunities.



Select material that exhibits positivity rather than offensive or cynical themes. Steer clear of songs that touch on hate, suicide, sexual orientation, or parodies to avoid potentially insulting or unsettling anyone. Choose a song that you genuinely enjoy singing and showcases a positive aspect of your personality.



Typically, a 16-bar snippet or approximately 60 seconds is the standard length for auditions. Avoid complex narrative story songs that would be challenging to summarize in such a concise format. Strive for a cut that delivers a punchline or conclusion, even if you don't utilize the full 16 bars or 60 seconds.



Avoid songs with repetitive melody lines as they may not effectively demonstrate your vocal range and abilities. Using the same few notes repeatedly in your 16-bar cut can be underwhelming and give the impression of limited skills.



Be cautious with songs closely associated with a specific star performer. For instance, the song "People" will forever be linked with Barbara Streisand. It can be challenging to compete with star performers when the director listening to your audition has strong associations with a particular rendition.



Present yourself authentically and avoid trying to portray someone other than yourself through your attire. However, it is advisable to adhere to these tips:

- Avoid clothing with visible writing, as it can be distracting.

- Refrain from wearing ripped, torn, or overly sloppy clothing to maintain a polished appearance.

- Opt for comfortable attire that allows you to breathe freely without distractions.




No prior knowledge or experience required. During dance auditions, we focus on evaluating your movement proficiency and ability to learn choreography quickly. We also assess your attentiveness and responsiveness to instructions. If you listen closely and make an effort to perform the steps provided by the choreographer, you are likely to succeed in a dance audition.



We highly recommend taking advantage of any workshops offered by MAD Drama before attending the dance auditions. These workshops can give you a competitive edge when you participate in the actual auditions.



Avoid wearing clothing with prominent writing. Comfort is essential for the auditions. Opt for sweatpants, t-shirts, and comfortable shoes. It is best to avoid wearing jewelry. Bringing a spare set of clothes will allow you to change out of sweaty dance attire, saving you from having to go home or spend the entire day in uncomfortable clothes.



This is perhaps the most challenging phase of the audition process, even more so than searching for a suitable monologue. It is at this point that you may feel the most powerless, as your fate for this specific role is now beyond your control. Before leaving, ensure that you are aware of where the call back list will be posted. Once you return home, avoid becoming consumed by stress related to the audition. It is common for actors to overanalyze every aspect of their performance and agonize until the cast list is released. However, it is essential to resist this urge. In some cases, there may be a day or two between auditions and final casting.

If you are called back, be prepared to collaborate with other actors in scenes from the play and possibly even audition for characters you may not desire. Nevertheless, it is important not to let stress overwhelm you before the cast list is posted. Remember that it is beyond your control, and if you are not selected, it does not imply that you are a poor actor. MAD Drama is full of talented performers like yourself, and roles are exceedingly competitive. If you are not cast, refrain from becoming upset with anyone, including yourself. It is perfectly understandable to feel sad and greatly disappointed, but do not succumb to feelings of rejection. Casting decisions revolve around "acceptance" rather than "rejection." Take a moment to reflect on this concept. Therefore, if you are not cast, now is not the time to assign blame to anyone, including yourself. Keep in mind that in theater, it is possible to invest numerous hours in preparation, auditions, and strenuous call back processes without ultimately being cast. Such is the nature of this art form and the audition process. Do not allow this experience to negatively impact your emotional well-being. Instead, proudly contribute to the production in other capacities and prepare for future opportunities.


If you are fortunate enough to be cast in the show, congratulations! However, remember to be considerate of those who may not have been selected for a particular production. Take the time to genuinely congratulate those who were cast.


Q. Who is eligible to audition?

A. Any student currently attending James Madison High School can audition.


Q. Are roles predetermined or assigned in advance?

A. No, all roles are open and will be filled by the actors who best suit the role. The selection of upcoming shows and seasons is also not based on the individuals in the department.


Q. Does being a Senior give you an advantage?

A. No, being a Senior does not give you an advantage in casting. However, Seniors may have acquired additional skills and experience over their four years which can enhance their auditions. Underclassmen simply need to find ways to outshine their Senior counterparts. Casting decisions are ultimately based on the strength of the audition, the requirements of the script, and the suitability of the actor for the role.


Q: I was called back for a major role but ultimately not cast at all. What happened?

A. It can be disappointing, but sometimes multiple actors are being considered for a single role. If another actor is chosen for that role, it does not mean that you will automatically be considered for another role, as those roles may also have multiple contenders. Therefore, it is possible to be called back for a lead part but not be cast in any role.


Q. Do you have to be enrolled in Mr. Henderson's Drama class or the International Thespian Honor Society?

A. No, enrollment in these classes or the society is not a requirement. However, it is important to note that without the foundation provided by these classes, we may not have enough time to teach the necessary skills on the spot. Acting skills, audition techniques, and other essential knowledge are taught in these classes. In the case where two students equally fit a role, the Madison drama student will be given preference. Additionally, seniority may also be a factor in such cases. Non-drama students who are cast in significant roles may benefit from considering enrolling in a Madison drama class in the future since such opportunities may not present themselves often.


Q. How can I sign up for an audition?

A. You can sign up for an audition time online. Detailed instructions will be posted outside the Black Box Theatre. Please prioritize filling the earliest available slots.


Q. What can I expect at the audition?

A. Upon arrival, you will be asked to complete an audition sheet, which should be submitted to the Stage Manager. It is important to inform us about any potential conflicts you may have, i.e., dates when you will be unable to attend rehearsals or parts of rehearsals. Having conflicts does not exclude you from being cast. When it is your turn, you will be called to the stage. Introduce yourself clearly and proceed with your prepared piece or seek instructions.


Q. What criteria are considered during the audition?

A. We are interested in getting a general impression of you, paying attention to your vocal projection, stage presence, range of movement, and emotional expression. We want to see and hear what you are capable of and how effectively you connect with the audience. Performing a monologue allows you to demonstrate emotion, vocal abilities, memorization skills, purposeful movement, and the ability to create the illusion of "now."


Q. What are you specifically looking for during the audition?

A. We are primarily looking for actors who fit the available roles in the script. Additionally, we consider how well an actor's qualities align with the other actors who fit the available roles, as chemistry is crucial to the overall production.


Q. What should I keep in mind while auditioning?

A. Enjoy the experience and show your enthusiasm for performing on stage. Move confidently and deliberately with purpose. Project your voice clearly, ensuring every word is audible even to those in the back row. Take your time and stay focused, remaining in character regardless of any unforeseen circumstances. Forgetting a line is not a tragedy; stay calm and continue in character.


Q. I struggle with stage fright. What can I do?

A. Stage fright is common for everyone, even those who appear unaffected. Embrace that nervous energy and channel it into an intense and motivated performance. Allow it to drive your character's actions and emotions.


Q. What happens after the audition?

A. Callbacks will be scheduled, and participating actors will have a second audition. These sessions can run late, so be prepared with homework, snacks (to be consumed in designated areas), and patience.


Q. What are Callbacks?

A. Callbacks provide an opportunity for the Director to assess which actors are best suited for specific roles. Typically, actors will read from the show script during Callbacks.


Q. What if I cannot attend the Callbacks?

A. It is crucial to contact Mr. Henderson immediately (once the Callback list is posted) to discuss your availability. Not attending Callbacks may impact your chances of being effectively cast. If you must leave Callbacks early, please inform the Stage Manager, as accommodations may be possible. Planning for transportation home after the session is advisable, and fellow cast members are often helpful in this regard.


Q: How will I be notified of my casting?

A: A list of the cast members will be published on this website, as well as on the call board outside of the Black Box.


Q: If I am not cast in an acting role, can I still contribute to the show?

A: Absolutely! You can volunteer for any of the various technical crews involved in the production. Please feel free to sign up for any role that interests you.

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