Been There, Done That: My Real-Life Auditioning Experiences

Been There, Done That: My Real-Life Auditioning Experiences

In anticipation of my upcoming auditions for The Wedding Singer, I thought I’d share some stories from the other side of the table — my own auditioning experiences, both good and bad! And of course, every story needs a moral, right? Well, my morals also come with a lesson attached in the form of advice. Come on, it’s me… What else would you expect?!  🙂

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Story #1: The Epic Choice

In my first year of university, I auditioned for a production of The Caucasian Chalk Circle by Bertolt Brecht (an epic theatre play written by a German modernist playwright) with a monologue from Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. Ugh. I chose that monologue because I had been in Shrew previously and already knew the monologue. I fully admit that I took the lazy way out. The Shakespeare monologue was totally wrong for the Brecht production, and needless to say, I was not cast in the show.

This goes for song choices too. In grade 9, I auditioned for a production of The Secret Garden with a song by Jewel. Oh, little Kerry, how much you didn’t know back then. I still cringe thinking about that audition. That audition also was the reason I didn’t audition for another musical until The Rocky Horror Show in 2011. (I always maintain that had I been an Original Kid, I would have been a “play kid.” But don’t let that deter you. If you want to be in musicals, keep auditioning for musicals!)

Moral of the story: Select an appropriate audition piece. Choosing a good audition piece also doesn’t mean doing a Google search for “monologues for young actors” and picking the first one that comes up, or the one that seems the easiest to do. Choosing a monologue is a serious business. You want to select something that you can perform well and shows off your talent and thoughtfulness. And unless specifically instructed to, if you’re auditioning for a musical, choose a song from a musical, not a pop song.  

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Story #2: “To be… LINE?!”

My audition for Edward II was a miserable experience. I was auditioning for a crew of people I knew and had worked with previously, and went back to the trusty Taming of the Shrew monologue (luckily Shakespeare is an appropriate choice when auditioning for a Marlowe show) that I thought I knew backwards and forwards. Clearly I was overconfident. I didn’t give myself enough time to prepare, and “went up” halfway through my monologue — a.k.a., I forgot the rest of my piece and couldn’t recover. It was SO embarrassing. I was fortunate to still be cast in the show, but many people are not that lucky.

I think I’m going to retire that monologue. It just isn’t working for me. Anyway…

Moral of the story: Take the audition seriously and practice, practice, practice. Practice your monologue and song a LOT before the audition, especially if it’s a piece you’ve done before. Allow yourself time to review and get the words clear in your brain and your body.

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Story #3: Auditioning For The Mouse

When I tell people that I’ve worked for Disney, the first thing they usually ask is “What character did you play?” Unfortunately I’ve never been a character for Disney (the closest I got was getting to dress up for the DCL Halloween event) but I have auditioned for them a number of times. One particularly memorable experience was going through “ballet bootcamp” and having to learn a ballet combo in about three minutes. Seeing as I took ballet when I was five years old… that didn’t go very well.

I also remember one fun audition where I filled out the paperwork, had my height measured, and was sent home, since I wasn’t the right height. I didn’t even get to perform. *insert sad face*

Moral of the story: Sometimes auditioning just generally sucks. Believe me, I’ve been there. You have to develop a dragon-thick skin. It’s important that you do something nice for yourself after performing an audition. You did it! No matter what the outcome, you put yourself out there, and that takes guts.    

Be strong. Don’t give up. Keep auditioning!

* * * * *

Story #4: You Can’t Always Get What You Want

I auditioned for The Winter’s Tale (Western Summer Shakespeare), not knowing anyone associated with the production or even if I was eligible, as I wasn’t a UWO student. This particular audition was a whole different ball of wax because it was entirely cold readings (where you receive the script at the audition and read assigned parts, sometimes with other actors). I was gunning for either Paulina or Perdita. I thought I performed well in the auditions. I did get cast in the show… but not in the role I wanted. I received the role of Second Lady. My character had exactly three lines and no name.

However, it turned out to be a great experience, because I also got to be Fight Captain (which you generally cannot do if you’re cast into a leading role), which is right up my alley! I also got a killer costume, and got to work with some incredible actors, who are super-nice people to boot.

Moral of the story: You have no control over the outcome of the audition — you only control yourself, what you present, and how you react afterwards.

Once you’ve auditioned, the choice is in the director’s hands. You can’t control what part you receive, but you can control how you react to what you’ve been given. I could have been pissed off, or not accepted the part. But I knew it would be a good learning experience to work with a director, fight director and cast that I had never worked with, and it would be another credit on my resume. And remember, being in the ensemble is awesome. It’s a heck of a lot better than not being in the show at all!

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Story #5: Success!

I still consider my most successful audition to be for The Three Musketeers back in 2010. As soon as I found out about the production, I knew I had to be in that show. I borrowed a copy of the script to familiarize myself with before the auditions, and decided that the part I wanted to play most was Sabine, the younger sister of d’Artagnan, who disguises herself as a boy to travel to Paris to “meet a Musketeer and fall in love with one!” I knew that I’d have to have a knockout audition, so I tailored my monologue to the part I wanted to get.

I wrote out some character traits that Sabine possessed: young, tomboy, enthusiastic, energetic, mischievous, adventurous, wants to leave her home and travel to a big city. What other character was similar to her? I went with Jo March from Little Women. She was born in a different time period, but she has many similarities to Sabine: young, tomboy, adventurous, wants to leave her home and travel to the big city (in this case, New York City to become a writer). I prepared and prepared and did my audition, got a callback, and eventually got the part!

Moral of the story: Tailor your audition piece. This goes back to choosing an appropriate audition piece. You want to make sure you have a good answer if your director asks you “Why did you select that particular piece?” Make a thoughtful choice. If you want a certain part badly enough, be willing to do the work to earn it.

* * * * *

Do you have any memorable audition stories?
What was your best (or worst) audition experience?  Share them in the comments!

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4 thoughts on “Been There, Done That: My Real-Life Auditioning Experiences

  1. Let me add a few:
    1. Think about what the director is asking you to do and tailor your work to that. I lost a role in Toronto musical because I tried to be funny when the director wanted an mean ogre. I realized that later when I thought about it. I also wasn’t cast in a commercial because the director wanted a mean, nasty school principal, not the geek I portrayed.
    2. Try to find out if the director has someone in mind for a role and, if so, audition for something else. For one show, I wanted to avoid being typecast in one role, so I auditioned for a different role, against type. Result: I got neither role!
    3. Be positive. I once was asked if I could dance. I laughed and said “Not a step”, which is incorrect; of course I wasn’t cast. I should have said, “Give me a month and I’ll learn whatever you want me to learn,” which is much closer to the truth.
    4. If you’re auditioning for film, being loud and projecting your voice is often a negative. It took me many false steps to learn this.
    5. Having said all this, do you think I’ve learned from my mistakes? only a bit. I’m trying to convince someone that an “under 90” like me can play Puck!

  2. Tara Carroll

    I once had a depressing experience when I auditioned for a production of Twelfth Night. The director was a guy who I was friends with, so I was lucky in that sense to understand the kind of understand his introverted personality. He easily says/does things unaware that it can hurt other people’s feelings.
    It was a group audition and there were a few newbie girls who were very nervous. After the audition, my friend let’s it slip when discussing how he was going to cast the show, that because of the small number of men, all the men were guaranteed a spot and so were the small group who auditioned the night before.
    I left that audition not feeling in a good mood and my thoughts were with those poor girls. If they weren’t nervous enough, he goes a says something like that!
    I received a call from him to cast me in the role of Valentine. But due to my mood, I turned it down. Show didn’t receive many positive reviews, so I dodged a bullet there.
    I am still friends with this guy, despite he gets on my nerves sometimes. But I will never audition for him again.

    I just also want to thank you Kerry for story #4. I have recently been cast in a production of Macbeth. I have done the production before, playing one of the witches. I wanted to make a step up, and go for Lady Macbeth. I made a complete embarassment of myself when I received the call from the director asking if I would like to take the role of a witch. I didn’t know what to say because a) I was bummed out for not getting Lady Macbeth. b) I didn’t know how feel about playing the same role I’ve done before. I slipped out with saying “Yeah, I’ll come along to the read through.” It must have made me sound like the most unsatisfied person. But having time to think about it. I really want to have fun with this role, in the hopes I can step up from the previous production. Thank you for what you wrote. I plan to take that with me! 😉

    1. Hi Tara, thanks so much for your comment. I’m sorry to hear you had a miserable experience with Twelfth Night but I’m glad you’ve turned it around — sometimes we just don’t work well with certain people, even if they are our friends. I have people like that in my life too.

      I’m so glad you found my story helpful. That was the purpose of this post!

      Keep pushing forward! Best of luck with your theatrical journey! 🙂

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