Unifieds. For those who have endured through these audition sessions, I tip my hat to you. It’s a stressful and hectic process which proves to be more fruitless than successful. But there are those times when the stars align and a unified audition goes so well, an offer of admission is made.
These are rare but I’ve seen them happen. More often, a student will come in and give a strong auditio that will, at the very least, put them on our radar as a strong candidate for admission later on. Then there’s the flip side, when we see a student give a lackluster audition that disqualifies them from consideration. It doesn’t happen in the majority, but it does happen.
While there isn’t a sure-fire blueprint for success to get into every school you audition for, there are definitely things you can do to help your chances in that room.
From my 10+ years of experience in college theatre recruiting, here are my tips to help make you stand out during Unified auditions.
Ask about walk-ins and ask early
Before arriving at Unifieds, in addition to having your list of school you’ve registered to audition for, you should also have a list of schools you’ll want to try to audition for via walk-in appointments. Many schools at Unifieds will allow walk-in auditions and will try to squeeze you in between appointments or right before or after breaks.
The important thing is to make sure you try to secure a walk-in appointment early in the day. I would suggest right after arriving at the venue, going up to each school on your list and inquire if they are doing walk-in appointments that day. Those who typically wait until later in the day to ask about walk-ins, it’s too late and all those slots are filled.
2. Have plenty of contrasting material ready to go
I’ve said this before, but it is vital for students to have multiple, contrasting songs and monologues ready for these auditions. For a myriad of reasons, a school might ask you if you have another piece to audition with, and you don’t want to disappoint. Typically this means they’re interested in you, otherwise they would have let you walk out of the room when you’re done.
I recommend having at least four songs and monologues contrasting in style and period. Do everything you can to stay in that room as long as you can and having a plethora of material can do that. Also, avoid dialects and do your more dramatic material at the conclusion of the audition.
3. Do your research into each school and ask thoughtful questions
In addition to the quality of your audition, something that really impresses educators is when you ask thoughtful questions about their programs which demonstrate that you’ve researched their programs. So do your research, look at their websites, ask questions about specific classes and facilities. Ask about previous performances they’ve done and current faculty. It speaks volumes for your preparation and professionalism and will make you memorable when they review candidates.
4. Know your schedule
There are going to be a lot of attractive schools at these auditions. You’re probably going to want to audition for all of them. So it’s important to remember what your schedule is and what you can fit in and what you can’t. So before you go asking for walk-ins, know what appointments you have around that time and make sure you can fit it in. If you’re late for a scheduled appointment, schools will not wait for you. They will push ahead with their lists and in some cases, they won’t go backwards. So be on time, be early to these appointments and don’t load yourself up to the point you’re cutting it close.
5. Check your tech before you walk into the room
Especially for musical theatre, sometimes there won’t be an accompanist in the room. So you might have to have your accompaniment on a speaker or other device. I see a lot of students who bring a blue tooth speaker or play it right from their phone. This is fine. My advice though it to make sure you’re checking your tech before you enter the room. This way your audition can go smoothly and seamlessly. There’s nothing worse then when your tech doesn’t work and it throws you off in a panic right before you start singing.
So do yourself the favor of being ready tech wise before you walk in the door.
Some other general notes I have for these auditions:
New York - Get there early and find a spot to sit in for the day. The hallways at Pearl Studios are cramped and people are literally walking over each other to get from room to room. So try to find a corner or somewhat secluded area to hang out in.
Chicago - Dress warm. Chicago in February is a chilly nightmare. So for those who have to sing or dance, take care of yourselves in that cold when you walk in and out of Palmer House. The venue is also a maze so make sure you map out your schools before your appointments begin.
Los Angeles - This is the best location to go audition at if you have the means. It’s a gigantic venue that is really well organized. Plus it’s warm. It’s also right near the airport so staying overnight might not be a requirement. Plus sometimes it’s best to be at the last audition session so memories of your auditions will be fresh.
Good luck students! (And I’ll see you there!)