In my last article, we discussed what to do in preparation for a musical theater audition. Here, I will follow up with what to do and what not to do once you are in the audition room. Let's pick up where we left off. You are sitting in the waiting room (not chatting with other actors, but concentrating on your material/getting yourself in the right head space for your imminent audition). Now, the audition monitor calls your name - you are up!
Before you enter the room, remind yourself to remain confident. You are an actor after all, your job is to be on stage. There should not be a trace of shyness as you enter the room. Your first stop is the pianist. Walk over to him or her and say hello. Give him your music and point out to him where you are starting and ending (this should be clearly marked ahead of time). Give him a sense of the tempo, so there are no surprises. Even if you think it is a common song they probably know, you must give him a tempo. Snapping your fingers in his face is not a good way to give the tempo, he will probably be offended. It is better to sing a little bit of the song for him quietly. You must also tell him how you will signal to him that you are ready to sing. You don't want him starting to play as soon as you get to the center of the room before you even have a chance to introduce yourself. I usually recommend a nod or catching his eye. All sorts of cues could be given though, depending on your song choice. However, make sure to tell the pianist what your signal to start will be before you leave the piano.
After you have left the piano, walk towards the center of the room. You definitely want to respect the auditors personal space here. Don't stand too close to the table, but not at the very back of the room either. Someplace in the middle should work well. Very politely and respectfully, introduce yourself to the auditors. A simple "Hi, my name is ____ and I will be singing _____" will be just fine. Then, take a moment to prepare yourself if you need it (by that, I mean a couple seconds, not a minute). You should try to do most of your emotional preparation in the hallway. When you are ready, give your signal to the accompanist that you are ready to begin.
As you sing your song, here are a couple of things to keep in mind. Try not to make eye contact with the people behind the table. If you do make eye contact, they will feel as if they are obliged to engage with you, and might feel slightly uncomfortable. They don't want to be your acting partner, but want to have the freedom to talk to each other about you, take notes, etc. A good rule of thumb is to look at the wall above their heads.
Make sure you make strong acting choices throughout your song. Don't forget that the songs are the way the story is communicated in a musical, not the time to listen to some pretty singing. Good singers are a dime a dozen in New York, but those who can communicate and move you with a song are few and far between. Make sure you have asked all of the important questions beforehand (who you are talking to, what your objective is, etc). Then, go for it! If you have done your homework, it will show. If you haven't done your homework, it will also show.
If the auditor cuts you off before you are finished, don't scoff. Always remain polite and respectful. Once you are finished singing, say a polite thank you, go gather your music from the pianist (don't forget it, that is embarrassing!), and leave the room. They may want to hear something else, in which case, they will ask you to sing another song from your book. Make sure everything that is in your book is well rehearsed. They may ask you a few questions about what is on your resume. Always be honest with your answers, or else you may get yourself into a sticky situation.
Once you have left the room, pat yourself on the back. You did it! I suggest keeping an audition journal and jotting down some quick notes on how you think it went. You should also make sure to get the names of the people in the room (it should be listed somewhere in the waiting room). Take note of their names in your journal so you can start getting familiar with who you have seen/who has seen you. If your audition felt like it went really well and the casting director seemed to like you, you may take note of that and show up for something again when you see his/her name.
Now that the audition is over and you have done some analyzing in your notebook, time to let it go. There is no bigger mental energy killer than obsessing about an audition. Try to put your energy and focus into the next audition. If you get a callback, amazing! If you don't, auditioning is always great practice, and you will get better at it each time you go into that audition room. Happy auditioning!