Archives for posts with tag: Milwaukee Generals

I’ve observed the Milwaukee Generals for the better part of twenty years now. The one aspect I’ve never opined on is the musical theatre auditions. I’m not of that world and don’t pretend to be. That having been said, I’ve noted some good, bad, and curious along the way, and wanted to add to some of the dos and don’ts of auditioning. But as I’ve already expressed, I’m not of that world, so I thought I’d ask some folks to weigh in who are of that world. Please note that while this article is about musical theatre auditions in general, it is also specific to the Milwaukee Generals. And as we have four different folk coming at these questions from different angles, there are bound to be some differences of opinion.

 

And for those unfamiliar with the process, the Milwaukee Generals are a day of auditioning set up and run by the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre. It is a chance for actors to be seen by over twenty theatre companies, in which the auditionee is given a four-minute slot to perform two contrasting pieces.

 

Here are the folks weighing in on this article.

 

Diane Lane

Diane is always at the top of the list when folks are looking for some vocal training. A gifted singer and comedian, she’s always the most watchable actor on stage. Diane has a BM in Music Education and an MM in Vocal Performance (classical singing). She also graduated from a Feldenkrais Method training (movement education). During and right after grad school, Diane was an apprentice and then a resident artist with several opera companies — this led to future gigs. Singing has always been her favorite thing.

 

Jill Anna Ponasik

Jill Anna is a force in every production she directs. Inventive, enthusiastic, and driven, her shows are a delight to behold. Though she was a super-shy, arts-infatuated kid, Jill Anna was fascinated by the process of art-making, be it visual or performing arts.  When she had to pick a major, she chose music, receiving degrees in music performance, but in both undergrad and grad school she would get reprimanded by her teachers for spending too much time outside of the department doing theatre and dance.  Jill Anna never thought she would work as an administrator, but when she moved back to Milwaukee in 2009, an opportunity at Milwaukee Opera Theatre appeared, and by giving it a try, she discovered that it was a much better fit for her than performing.

 

David Bonofiglio

I’ve watched David accompany the Milwaukee Generals over the last several years. A consummate professional, I’ve seen him bend over backwards to get it right for the auditionee. In the rare case where things go sideways, he’s unflappable, calmly halting the process, and doing his best to get the audition back on track. David received his undergraduate degree in piano performance from Cardinal Stritch University. He started working professionally as a pianist and music director in 2005, and has worked steadily in Milwaukee since then for most of the companies in town.

 

Paul Helm

Paul is a charming performer and accompanist with a million-dollar smile. He started playing piano when he was four – first by ear, then he took lessons. Paul kept training up until his junior year of high school, when schedules were consumed with numerous school groups and activities, yet he never stopped playing (a huge part of why he’s still doing it today). Paul caught the theatre “bug,” during that junior year, when he decided to audition for his high school production of Bye Bye Birdie. From there, he got involved with community theatres throughout southeastern Wisconsin, minored in Theatre in college (but majored in Mass Communication), and landed his first professional theatrical job performing in the chorus of the Florentine Opera in 1999. After graduating from UW-Milwaukee in 2002, he worked in Public Affairs at a medical college for about two years until he decided to pursue a “starving artist” life full-time in May 2004. Ever since, he’s led a successful career as an Equity actor, director, music director and pianist, both nationally and internationally. After calling Wisconsin home for thirty-eight years, he made the move to New York City in 2017 to further his career as an actor and musician.

 

 

Fletcher: How do you approach an audition where you are the accompanist? Or rather is the Milwaukee Generals a different beast? You don’t know what’s coming at you, so how do you prepare for such a thing, and how is it different than an audition for a specific show?

 

Paul: In general, I try to stay as knowledgeable and “current” as I can with the musical theatre scene. While I’ve educated myself extensively with the musicals of years past, I also try to stay up to date with the musicals of today. I’m a glutton for shows of the old-fashioned caliber, but nowadays, the Broadway scene is more contemporary, and I think it’s important to embrace that genre, especially when so many auditions I play for implore that kind of style and sound. It’s crucial that I continue to brush-up on my sight-reading skills, and the more informed I can be of the musical theatre world, both past and present, the more I will feel prepared with whatever piece comes my way.  When I’m playing auditions for a specific show, auditionees tend to bring in selections in the style of the show or by the same composer, and sometimes, even from the specific show itself. Again, I prepare myself as much as possible to be as familiar with the show, its musical style, the composer’s history, etc. before even entering the room. When it’s an audition like the Milwaukee Generals, the song spectrum will be much broader, so again, keeping my musical theatre knowledge as extensive as possible is imperative.

 

Fletcher: Diane, how do you approach an audition? Do you choose a number from the show you are auditioning for, or a number from another show that has similar characteristics?

 

Diane: I try not to audition! <Wink!> When I recently have, it’s been for a particular show, and I was asked to sing certain sections of the score. (Most Milwaukee music theater auditioners seem to request “32 bars of a song in the style of the show.”)

 

Fletcher: You say you try not to audition. Do you mean you don’t like to audition? I certainly don’t, and would always rather be called in to read for a specific part, or better yet, just be cast, but I don’t want to speak for you.

 

Diane: Because I’m not as hungry to perform as I was when younger, I tend to audition only when invited to sing/read for a particular role in a show — I haven’t done a general audition in years. (However, when I was starting out, I auditioned regularly and loved doing so.)

 

Fletcher: Jill Anna, what would you rather see? A song for this particular production or something else?

 

Jill Anna: If they want to sing a piece from the show, great! In a way, that makes my job easier. But there is value in offering variety as well. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong here.

 

Fletcher: Paul, how about you? When folks are auditioning for a specific show, do you think it’s better for them to sing something from that show, or choose a song with a similar flair from another production?

 

Paul: This has always been a constant debate, and I, too, go back and forth with my thoughts on this. First and foremost, I’m a big believer in an actor singing what they sing well. It is sometimes discouraged for an actor to sing a song from the show they’re auditioning for, often for fear of typecasting. However, if you rock at singing a song from the show, then by all means, you should sing it! For any audition, you only have the one chance to shine and promote yourself, so sing what will show you off. Unless the audition listing specifically says to not sing a song from the show, I would never be opposed to it. Still, I also believe singing a song in the style of the show can be a tremendous benefit.  Knowing that many others will sing a song from the show (often the same song repeatedly throughout the day), the actor singing a different song in the style of the show will stand out from the others. It also demonstrates that the actor is someone who prepares, which ultimately goes a lot further in the long run (i.e. professional, hirable, educated, etc.). But in the end, no matter what, the right choice in song is to sing what you sing best.

 

Fletcher: Jill Anna, you told me that you hate auditions and prefer other ways to get to know an artist, but when push comes to shove, how do you set it up in a typical audition process?

 

Jill Anna: Over time, it has occurred to me that the traditional audition process may not be the best way to build the cast for a production. So, when push comes to shove, we still don’t hold auditions at MOT. If we need to hear someone sing something, we’re usually able to get that done using Voice Lab. I only participate in auditions when I am part of a project for another organization or attending something like a general audition.

 

Fletcher: David, what’s your opinion on the selection for an auditionee?

 

David: Sing what is requested. If the creative team wants to hear the show, then sing the show. There are often specific qualities or abilities that we are looking for (the end of Chip’s Lament in Putnam, for example). If they ask for a similar style or composer, sing that.

 

If nothing is specified, sing something that shows your voice and its strengths. E.g. If you’re reading for Bobby in Company, then by all means sing a verse of “Being Alive” if you have it prepared. We’re going to hear you sing it eventually.

 

Fletcher: How important is the “acting” of the audition piece as opposed to a recital of the piece?

 

Jill Anna: I think it’s vital. Otherwise you’re not performing the piece, you’re just singing a song.

 

Diane: It depends on the auditioning company’s artistic values and the repertoire we’re singing, but, to me, investing deeply in the scene of a song almost always enhances the singing of it (and certainly betters the resulting performance). Short Answer: Seriously Important.

 

Paul: Extremely. In audition workshops, I constantly remind actors that a singing audition is a monologue set to music. While yes, we need to see the level of your musical abilities, it is just as important to see how you tell the story through singing, which honestly is often harder than a straight monologue. I believe that if you can convincingly act your song to the extent that I forget it’s a performance, that’s the kind of actor I want to work with.

 

David: In a general audition for a season or the Milwaukee Generals, fully staging the scene as if you are in performance isn’t helpful. What I want to see is if a singer knows what they are singing and what the progress of thought is for the character. What does the character begin the song and where do they end up? Don’t run around the room or gesticulate madly. Just show me with your voice, face and a few well-placed gestures that you know the internal movement the character makes during the song. I’m interested in your internal process and how you externalize it, not your ability to execute blocking.

 

Fletcher: Would you rather work with a singer that can’t act, or a non-singer that can carry a tune, but can act up a storm?

 

David: This is role dependent. Bea Arthur could barely sing, but she was a hell of a Yente. Some actors don’t draw an audience in with text work, but I’ll ignore that because they sound so great.  Casting is the dark art that compares the ratios of many factors until you find a ratio you think will tell the story best.

 

Jill Anna: Well, a fully integrated artist who can dance gracefully between the demands of singing and the demands of acting is ideal.  That said, I love working with casts who have a varied array of skills. Some may be expert at singing, others may be movers, some may be learning music by ear, but have a spectacular gift with spoken text.  The important thing is that we form a rehearsal group where we’re all using our individual skills to elevate the collective whole. So, to answer your question, I have no preference, as long as the artist is interested in expanding those capacities.

 

Paul: Tough question. Because music has been such a large part of my life, you would think I would prefer a singer that can sort of act. But going back to my answer to the previous question, what good is a song if there’s no story or meaning behind it? Sure, it may sound beautiful, or catchy, or become an earworm that you can’t get out of your head. But ultimately, if I’m pulled in by solid storytelling, I often don’t even notice that a note or two are pitchy, or any indication that the actor is not a trained or experienced singer. So, if I had to pick, it’s the non-singer that can carry a tune, but acts up a storm, that would be my go-to. In theatre, good storytelling is key. I can often work on better vocal habits with a non-singer than I can develop strong acting chops with a non-actor.

 

Diane: The latter, the latter, the latter. Even if we’re performing a traditional-opera stand-and-sing duet. (Let’s open our songholes to say something.)

 

Fletcher: Songholes! I love it! You train singers. How quickly can one really learn a new song?

 

Diane: It sure depends on the song, and how musically-knowledgeable and -experienced the singer is but a, say, Tin Pan Alley ditty, can be “learned” in maybe 15 to 20 minutes. (I think memorization involves returning to the piece several times a day [for a few days?] to keep finding out what we haven’t yet learned until the piece is completely remembered.)

 

Fletcher: Jill Anna, how important is the accompanist in an audition? What do you need or expect from them?

 

Jill Anna: In the types of pieces I do, the pianist is very important.  In fact, the pianist is sometimes the music director, so they’re experiencing what it’s like to work with that artist during their audition.  The top-notch audition pianists are ready for anything, and laser focused on supporting the singer-actor.

 

Fletcher: Diane, when auditioning, how specific are you with the accompanist? In the brief time you are given, and it really does seem brief, what specifics do you focus on?

 

Diane: I think Less Is More (I wouldn’t overload a pianist with information). Do let them know exactly how you’d like them to begin your song (sustain starting pitch? sustain opening chord? two-bar intro?) I think tempi guidance is everything. (I wish every singer determined/wrote a metronome marking at the top of their songs and, moreover, that every audition accompanist had a metronome on their piano. [I think it’s almost impossible for a singer to verbally convey their tempo to a pianist.]) Do make internal cuts 100% true and clear. PS: Please remove those plastic sheet protectors from your book. Highlighting any key changes and sudden/dramatic shifts wouldn’t be bad.

 

Fletcher: Have you ever gone off track due to you and the accompanist not being on the same page, and if so, do you know what went wrong?

 

Diane: These days, when an audition pianist and I aren’t in sync, it’s usually because I didn’t make my tempi clear to them. (Again, I dream of metronomes being part of audition rooms.)

 

Fletcher: As an accompanist in an audition, what kind of pressure do you feel to get it right? And what can auditionees do to help you out? I know there’s not a lot of time to confer, but what do pros get right that newbies could learn from?

 

Paul: I certainly feel the pressure, as I want to play my best for the auditionee so they can perform their best. However, it’s not always that easy. Some auditionees will bring in a song that they kick ass at vocally, but the accompaniment is much more complicated. And if I butcher that, it can certainly affect the auditionee’s overall performance. That’s not fair to them.  o to avoid that, I always recommend actors to bring in sheet music that is 1) clearly marked (a start, an end, and tempo or time signature changes throughout), 2) easy to access (put in a three-ring binder, or taped together to minimalize any page turns, if at all), and 3) includes chord symbols (the “cheat sheet” for any accompanist who may not be familiar with the song). If I need to sort of cheat my way through a piece that I’ m not as familiar with, at least I can keep the tempo and piece going with the added benefit of chord symbols. While it’s never required, be aware that it can only help the auditionee. If the accompanist is given these necessary elements in order to perform at his or her best, then the auditionee will be able to perform at his or her best. It’s a win-win. I also encourage auditionees to politely indicate tempo while chatting with the accompanist (i.e. tap the beats on your hand, sing a little of the piece to establish tempo, never snap the tempo, etc.) and to be courteous. Remember that the accompanist is there to help you and may be seeing the piece for the first time. And while there still could be a mistake or two from the pianist (certainly never intentional), don’t ever show your disapproval. Hence, it’s always important to rehearse your song with an accompanist before you audition, just so you’re not thrown any “surprises.” The accompaniment doesn’t always sound like it does on the cast recording.

 

David: I feel enormous pressure to help the auditionee get it right. I wish I could run through everyone’s cut with them, but there simply isn’t time. Also, the folks behind the table want you to be awesome so they can know they have a role cast.

 

To help your pianist, realize there IS some time to confer. It might feel like an eternity, but if your tune is the slightest bit unfamiliar to the pianist, take the time to walk through it. The most important information you can give is the tempo and style. Practice giving the tempo and feel of the INTRO, not your vocal line. When the pianist asks for your tempo, please do not say “The usual one.” You must know this information, especially with contemporary repertoire that not everyone knows.

 

Contemporary music theatre is very groove oriented and if I’ve never heard your tune, I’ll need help establishing what you want. I’m a piano, not a drum set and guitar, so things don’t always translate easily on the first pass. Say something like “This is in a moderate four (then tap or snap the tempo softly but accurately). The intro is Da, da DAADAA (approximate the groove by speaking it) and then I come in.” Where you stretch or change tempi is less important to mention. I’ll probably figure it out when we get there. If we don’t start well, we probably won’t end well.

 

When choosing rep, don’t choose cuts with multiple abrupt tempo changes. These are very difficult to make happen on the first pass.

 

Auditions are job interviews, not recitals. Find repertoire that best shows your voice and character ability. Don’t sing a song just because you love it on the cast album. Directors don’t want to hear the most obscure Pasek and Paul trunk song you can find. We want to hear something we can use to evaluate your storytelling ability for a particular production.

 

“If I Loved You” from Carousel continues to be one of the best choices you can make for an audition (male and female). I hear your range, acting ability and vocal quality. I’ve heard countless people sing it and it still shows me everything I need to know about someone’s musical theatre voice.

 

“Common” is not necessarily “bad”.

 

Fletcher: I’ve always been told that one is not supposed to sing a song acapella. Can you explain why?

 

Paul: Singing a song acapella won’t tell me how well the actor works with music. It’s easy to sing flat or sharp without an accompaniment. So, when this happens, I have to wonder if that’s because the actor is not a musician at all (accompaniment or not), or is it just because they don’t have music behind them to guide them? It’s also easy to go off tempo without accompaniment. When an actor sings freely acapella, I will have no idea what the actual tempo is and if they can stick to it. In short, an actor singing with accompaniment allows me to see the extent of their musicality, which can be difficult to decipher from an audition without.

 

Jill Anna: I have heard successful a cappella auditions. They are certainly possible. But if a pianist is available, that resource should be used. Working with the pianist demonstrates that you are familiar and comfortable with the song as a whole, not just your vocal line.

 

Diane: I don’t know why. I think that if you can start your song in its key (if this is important to the piece/audition), and maintain the piece’s key while you perform it, why not sing unaccompanied? (Flip Side: Singing a song a-cappella is not what’s actually gonna happen when you perform that song in its show. And all the auditions being accompanied, levels the playing field. Also, I think some companies feel requesting No A-cappella Auditions might discourage less-skilled performers from auditioning.)

 

David: I need to know if you can sing with an orchestra or band. It also generally indicates a lack of direct-able musicality.

 

Fletcher: I recently saw an auditionee accompany themselves on guitar. Related to my previous question, is this a bad idea?

 

Diane: If you’re doing a general audition for a company, and they’re planning on producing a show like Once or Pump Boys in the near future, accompanying yourself on guitar during one of your audition cuts can be a useful choice. But, ordinarily, I would not do this (playing an instrument while singing limits our acting choices).

 

Paul: It doesn’t bother me, to be honest. It shows their strong musicianship and skill level, and if the song has a folksy or rock style, it only can add to their performance. And it gives the accompanist a break! However, I don’t usually recommend accompanying yourself unless the audition specifically asks for it.

 

David: At a general multi-company call, I don’t think it’s a bad idea at all to show instrumental chops, if you are competent and aren’t weird about it. There are a lot of jukebox shows that call for actors that play instruments, especially if you are auditioning for companies that produce in tourist areas. If it’s at an audition for Sweeney Todd, it’s a terrible idea.

 

Jill Anna: That’s an unusual choice, and therefore risky, but if someone came in and played and sang well, and it made sense for them to be accompanying themselves on guitar…I would eat that up!

 

Fletcher: Is it better to go for that one really big note that you might not make, or to play it safe?

 

Diane: Show them what you can do really well versus what you’re still learning how to do.

 

Jill Anna:  Artists are aspirational.  Trying to do things we haven’t done before is part of what gets of us out of bed in the morning.  So I think aiming for that high note is serious and important business.  But an audition may not be the best environment to test one’s limits.  A strong audition song is something you can sing anytime in any circumstance.

 

Fletcher: I’ve seen any number of folk with perfectly fine voices (at least to my untrained ear) miss the high note and it’s always curious to me. Surely, they must know they can’t quite get there, so why pick that song? Or maybe they don’t know, and it’s nerves or something else that gets in the way. Any thoughts on that?

 

David: It’s best to select something that you can reliably execute so you don’t have to make the compromise in the first place. Everyone has an off day (weather, allergies, illness, bad luck) but you should have an audition book of a 4-6 tunes that you can sing perfectly at the drop of a hat, with minimal warmup. If a money note is only happening for you 75% of the time, don’t audition with that tune until its closer to 98%. Try different keys (this is cheap to do using Musicnotes). Sometimes a half step makes all the difference.

 

In an audition, I’m usually not against giving someone another run at a missed note if it sounds like it’s in there somewhere, but as a music director, I don’t want to cast someone who may or may not be able to execute a role reliably every night.

 

Sometimes it’s obvious that people have never recorded and listened to their audition cuts. Hope can be a dangerous thing.

 

Paul: Certainly happens more than I would like to think. I like to assume that it most often comes down to nerves, or perhaps they’re not fully warmed up, or they may be feeling ill. We’re all only human after all. Still, if those notes are not in your capabilities, whether it’s because they’re just not in your range, or your voice is not up to par for the day, don’t sing that piece. Again, you have that one chance to impress the auditioners, and if those high notes are going to come off as second-rate, especially with so many others also auditioning, what good will that do for your chances of getting cast? Truth be told, most auditioners can tell when a singer has “got it,” but is just under the weather. As much as I want to go in and knock it out of the park, if I’m not feeling those high notes today, I’m going to play is safe and sing a piece that’s solid and impressive. I’ll say it again: sing what you sing best. High, belty notes are not required. If you can do them to their full extent, go for it! If it’s not in the cards for you, don’t feel pressured to attempt it.

 

Fletcher: For a newbie, what’s the one thing you wish they knew that you’ve learned during the course of your career?

 

Jill Anna: That whether or not you are cast in a particular production has nothing to do with your worth as an artist.  In the moment, it may feel like the sky is falling, or you may think that you have “made it,” but it’s the small decisions, made day after day, for years at a time that build a career. Resilience is one of the most valuable skills you can hone, and you will use it often.

 

Paul: Be yourself. No question. In my early days, I thought I had to do what everyone else was doing, sound like everyone else, be just like everyone else. So fantastically untrue. What sets you apart from all the other auditionees is to just be you. What you consider your “quirks” may not be a bad thing in their eyes – it might be just what they’re looking for. The auditioners want to cast you, they want to witness your specialness. They are not there to see you fail; they want you to succeed. All the reason to just be you. While they certainly need to see the extent of your abilities, they also want to see what makes you unique. You are just as awesome as anyone else who enters that room, never forget that.

 

Diane: Since this blog post’s about auditioning, “Don’t Audition. Perform.”

 

Fletcher: Can you elaborate on that thought? Do you mean, don’t audition, do it through your work, or don’t look on an audition like an audition, approach it like you are in a performance?

 

Diane: I used to like to think of a general audition as a short, spontaneous concert event with a small, exclusive audience and a scrappy pianist and silly lighting, but I get to choose my repertoire, direction, costume/makeup. (Auditions don’t have to be completely awful abstractions of performing.)

 

Fletcher: Are there certain songs or shows that people should stay away from? I’ve seen certain monologues beaten to death, and I inwardly groan when they are introduced. I love me some Christopher Durang, but I never want to see a monologue from Laughing Wild again. Are there musical numbers that are just plain tired, or numbers that are generally reviled by the musical theatre community, or something along those lines?

 

Diane: There are scads of “Do Not Sing” lists of music theater songs on the Internet (but most of them also advise that if a song fits you like a glove, and you love performing it, you go audition with that tired song!)

 

Paul: You know, back in the day, when contemporary musicals were just starting out and on the rise, I heard my fair share of songs from Wicked, Rent and Avenue Q.  However, again, going back to singing what you sing best – if “Defying Gravity” is your money song, then I say sing it. Even if it’s a song that’s sung frequently, show the auditioners why you are singing that song. I’ll never be opposed to a song I hear constantly but sung magnificently. The one thing I will encourage auditionees to stay away from is songs that are negative (not to be confused with “dark”) or involve a fair share of profanity. Sure, if you’re auditioning for Sweeney in Sweeney Todd, I wouldn’t choose “Oh, What A Beautiful Morning,” unless the auditionee gave it a more menacing tone. Still, I always recommend leaning toward more positive pieces. Not in every case, and again, strive for that song that will set you apart from the other auditionees. If you’re auditioning for Chicago, chances are many of the other auditionees will sing “All That Jazz.” Not a bad choice, but unless that’s your money song, sing a song that the auditioners will remember you by.

 

Jill Anna: Oh gosh, not that I can think of.  Terrifically long, or wildly ambitious pieces may qualify for exclusion here, but I would encourage artists to choose freely from the resources that are available.  Don’t worry about whether or not the folks at the table will “like” the piece.

 

Other Thoughts

 

David Bonofiglio: Take the time to COACH your repertoire with someone besides your lesson teacher. They are important, but you need another set of ears that have casting in mind to listen.

 

Milwaukee is a difficult market to audition in. There aren’t many auditions for much of the year because companies aim to book their seasons in spring, so local actors don’t get to keep their audition chops up. Chicago and New York have dozens of auditions every day of the week, so it’s easier to remember that auditioning is just part of the business and the stakes often feel lower since another opportunity is just around the corner (being called in for your dream role notwithstanding).

 

I wish we could build a stronger culture of constant improvement. Dance classes, voice lessons, song coaching, text and voice work, true cabaret work, and on-camera classes all help keep chops up when you aren’t booked on a show. What seems to happen right now is that we make our own opportunities and put on a show somewhere, which is great entrepreneurism, but it doesn’t always help people with less experience to work with directors who will help them grow.


The 2018 Non-Equity Milwaukee General Auditions will take place on Monday, January 8, 2018, from 8:45am to 6:00pm, at Milwaukee Repertory Theater.  This is a locals only audition – only adult-aged, Milwaukee-based, non-union professional actors who do not require assistance with travel and housing should attend.

THE SIGN-UP PROCESS

We will again implement the lottery system used last year, due to the continued high demand for these audition slots:

• The lottery will be conducted for this year’s audition and waiting list slots.   There will still be an in-person component to this process, in order to maintain focus on local talent.

• Actors who auditioned in the 2017 Milwaukee General Auditions will not be allowed to do so in 2018.  Actors who auditioned in 2016 will be eligible to do so again in 2018.

• Actors enrolled in college or university and in their final semester of study before graduation at the time of the auditions will be eligible to attend.  All other student actors must wait until they meet this requirement.

• Actors born after January 8, 2000 are not eligible to audition.

On Saturday December 16, 2017 at 9:30am, interested actors will be able submit their respective Non-Equity Milwaukee General Auditions Lottery Entry Forms outside of Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s  Stackner Cabaret – https://www.milwaukeerep.com/Plan-Your-Visit/Directions–Parking/ – on the 2nd floor atrium of the Patty & Jay Baker Theater Complex, accessible via elevator or via the escalator near building security.

Lottery forms are available for download here in advance of these auditions, so that interested actors may download, print, and complete them in advance of the lottery day.  Paper copies of the form will not be made available on the day of the lottery.  Lottery Entry Forms must be downloaded, printed, and completed in advance.  Interested actors must also present a valid form of photo identification (driver’s license or state-issued identification is recommended) in order to submit her/his lottery entry.  In addition, please note that an individual is eligible to submit one Lottery Entry only, and only for oneself – entries made for other individuals will not be accepted.

Here are the specifics of the sign-up process that will take place on December 16, 2017:

•From 8:30am to 9:30am, Lottery Entry Forms will be validated and accepted.

•At 9:30am, the Lottery will take place.  Participating actors must be present to accept a slot resulting from a winning Lottery Entry.  If your name is called and you are not present, your winning entry will be forfeited.

•As winning Lottery Entries are drawn, that actor will have the opportunity to sign up for a remaining available Audition or Waiting List slot.  Winning entries will be processed in the order in which they are drawn.

There will be 10 Waiting List slots available.  Sign-up for these slots will occur in the same manner as outlined above once all auditions slot have been filled.  Obtaining a Waiting List slot does not guarantee an audition, but preference for any slots that open (due to cancellation, for example, at a later date) will be given to those actors on the Waiting List.


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The 2016 Non-Union Milwaukee General Auditions will take place on Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016, from 9:00am to 6:00pm at Milwaukee Repertory Theater. This is a locals only audition – only adult-aged, Milwaukee-based, non-union professional actors who do not require assistance with travel and housing should attend.

THE SIGN-UP PROCESS
We will again implement the lottery system used last year, due to the continued high demand for these audition slots:

  • The lottery will be conducted for this year’s audition and waiting list slots.   There will still be an in-person component to this process, in order to maintain focus on local talent.
  •  Actors who auditioned in the 2015 Milwaukee General Auditions will not be allowed to do so in 2016.  At this time, we anticipate that actors who auditioned in 2015 will be eligible to do so again in 2017.
  •  Actors enrolled in college or university and in their final semester of study before graduation at the time of the auditions will be eligible to attend.  All other student actors must wait until they meet this requirement.
  •  Actors born after February 1st, 1998 are not eligible to audition.

On Saturday December 19, 2015 at 9:30a, interested actors will be able submit their respective Non-Union Milwaukee General Auditions Lottery Entry Forms outside of Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s  Stackner Cabaret – www.milwaukeerep.com/Plan-Your-Visit/Directions-Parking–Hotels/  – on the 2nd floor Arboretum of the Patty & Jay Baker Theater Complex, accessible via elevator or via the escalator near building security.

Lottery forms are available for download here (.pdf / .docx) in advance of these auditions, so that interested actors may download, print, and complete them in advance of the lottery day.  Paper copies of the form will not be made available on the day of the lottery.  Lottery Entry Forms must be downloaded, printed, and completed in advance.  Interested actors must also present a valid form of photo identification (driver’s license or state-issued identification is recommended) in order to submit her/his lottery entry.  In addition, please note that an individual is eligible to submit one Lottery Entry only, and only for oneself – entries made for other individuals will not be accepted.

Here are the specifics of the sign-up process that will take place on December 19th, 2015:

  •  From 8:30a to 9:30a, Lottery Entry Forms will be validated and accepted.
  •  At 9:30a, the Lottery will take place.  Participating actors must be present to accept a slot resulting from a winning Lottery Entry.  If your name is called and you are not present, your winning entry will be forfeit.
  • As winning Lottery Entries are drawn, that actor will have the opportunity to sign up for a remaining available Audition or Waiting List slot.  Winning entries will be processed in the order in which they are drawn.

There will also be 10 Waiting List slots available.  Sign-up for these slots will occur in the same manner as outlined above, once all auditions slot have been filled.  Obtaining a Waiting List slot does not guarantee an audition, but preference for any slots that open (due to cancellation, for example) at a later date will be given to those actors on the Waiting List.

PREPARING FOR THE AUDITIONS
Audition slots will be 4 minutes long, and will consist of any two of the following:

  • One contemporary monologue
  • One classical monologue (preferably Shakespeare)
  • One musical theater selection – 60 to 90 seconds in duration.  An accompanist will be in attendance.

Please note that the actor’s introduction and any time necessary to communicate with the accompanist will count as part of the 4 minutes.  Please prepare and time your selections carefully, as actors who exceed the audition time of 4 minutes will be stopped.

Non-Equity actors should plan to bring 30 headshots/resumes. Actors who choose to audition with a musical theater selection and desire accompaniment should come prepared with sheet music.

Questions?  Please email Dylan K. Sladky, Artistic Administrator, at dsladky@milwaukeerep.com.  Due to the volume of questions, please allow two business days for a response.

All interested actors should visit this page regularly for information and updates.

COMPANIES EXPECTED TO ATTEND IN 2016 (updated Dec 4, 2015)
The Alchemist Theatre –
The Bunny Gumbo Theater Company –
First Stage Children’s Theatre –
Forward Theater Company –
In Tandem Theatre –
Lori Lins Talent –
Milwaukee Chamber Theatre –
Quasimondo Milwaukee Physical Theatre –
Renaissance Theaterworks –
Splinter Group –
The Third Avenue Playhouse –
Zoological Society of Milwaukee/Kohl’s Wild Theater –
(12 Confirmed)

 


Please note that the original posting date was incorrect.  The non-AEA Milwaukee General Auditions will be on Tuesday, February 2nd as opposed to Monday, February 1st.


Clark_Niffer_477_ret
WE’RE BACK!!!
And just in time for the Milwaukee Generals!!!
ACTING THE SONG WORKSHOP
with NIFFER CLARKE
and ANNE VAN DEUSEN
1602012_10202266565359052_1753392565_o

A Musical Theatre Workshop focused on refining performance and audition skills.

 

TUESDAY, JANUARY 6th
6:00 – 10:00 PM
$50.00
Splinter Group
3211 S. Lake Drive
To register, email
or call Splinter Group at
414-935-2207
– feel comfortable and confident with singing
– connect to and communicate the song 
– take risks and be in the moment 
– let go of tensions and self-judgment 
– master audition etiquette & procedures 
– understand qualities that further professional success
 
 
“You and your class have made profound changes in the way that I approach performances and auditions. 
I have so much more focus and confidence.”
 
“Studying and having the opportunity to deep dive into these pieces with your coaching made this a truly amazing experience for me. 
I took risks on stage that I’ve never taken before. And I have both of you to thank for the tremendous coaching and guidance!”
 
“A wonderful evening of discovery last night. 
You are a supremely gifted coach and helped me make some discoveries not only about my song but also about submitting to being in the moment.”

Rep 8

The 2015 Non-Union Milwaukee General Auditions will take place on Monday, January 19, 2015, from 9:30am to 6:30pm, at Milwaukee Repertory Theater.  This is a Locals Only audition – only adult-aged, Milwaukee-based, non-union, professional actors who do not require assistance with travel and housing should attend.

THE SIGN-UP PROCESS

We will again implement an in-person sign-up process for this year’s auditions.  However, due to the high demand for these audition slots, the following changes will be implemented for this year’s sign-up process:

  • A lottery will be conducted for this year’s audition and waiting list slots.   There will still be an in-person component to this process, in order to maintain focus on local talent.
  • Actors who auditioned in 2014 will not be allowed to do so in 2015. At this time, we anticipate that actors who auditioned in 2014 will be eligible to do so again in 2016.
  • Actors enrolled in college or university and in their final semester of study before graduation at the time of the auditions will be eligible to attend.  All other student actors must wait until they meet this requirement.
  • Actors born after December 20, 1996 are not eligible to audition.

On Saturday, December 20, 2014, from 8:00am to 10:00am, interested actors will be able submit their respective Non-Union Milwaukee General Auditions Lottery Entry Forms outside of Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s  Stackner Cabaret – www.milwaukeerep.com/Plan-Your-Visit/Directions-Parking–Hotels/  – on the 2nd floor Arboretum of the Patty & Jay Baker Theater Complex, accessible via elevator or via the escalator near building security.

Lottery forms are available for download from here in advance of these auditions, so that interested actors may download, print, and complete them in advance of the lottery day.  Paper copies of the form will not be made available on the day of the lottery.  Lottery Entry Forms must be downloaded, printed, and completed in advance.  Interested actors must also present a valid form of photo identification (driver’s license or state-issued identification is recommended) in order to submit her/his lottery entry.  In addition, please note that an individual is eligible to submit one Lottery Entry only, and only for oneself – entries made for other individuals will not be accepted.

Here are the specifics of the sign-up process that will take place on December 20, 2014:

  • From 8:00am to 9:00am, Lottery Entry Forms will be validated and accepted.
  • From 9:00am to 10:00am, the Lottery will take place. Participating actors must be present to accept a slot resulting from a winning Lottery Entry.  If your name is called and you are not present, your winning entry will be forfeit.
  • As winning Lottery Entries are drawn, that actor will have the opportunity to sign up for a remaining available Audition or Waiting List slot. Winning entries will be processed in the order in which they are drawn.

There will also be 10 Waiting List slots available.  Sign-up for these slots will occur in the same manner as outlined above, once all auditions slot have been filled.  Obtaining a Waiting List slot does not guarantee an audition, but preference for any slots that open (due to cancellation, for example) at a later date will be given to those actors on the Waiting List.

AFTER THE SIGN-UP PROCESS

In order to create a better understanding of how Milwaukee theater-makers and the organizations which they serve function, we will be hosting a Panel Discussion after the Lottery process for all interested actors.  This Panel will take place from 10:30am to 11:30am on Saturday, December 20, 2014, in Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s Stiemke Studio.  The following Milwaukee theater professionals have graciously offered to participate in this Panel Discussion:

  • James Fletcher – Artistic Director – Bunny Gumbo Theater
  • Brent Hazelton – Associate Artistic Director – Milwaukee Repertory Theater
  • Angela Iannone – Local Actor, Director, and Educator
  • Julie Swenson – Producing Director – Renaissance Theaterworks
  • Michael Wright – Artistic Director – Milwaukee Chamber Theatre

The Panel Discussion will conclude with a short Q&A session.

PREPARING FOR THE AUDITIONS

Audition slots will be 4 minutes long, and will consist of any two of the following:

  • One contemporary monologue
  • One classical monologue (preferably Shakespeare)
  • One musical theater selection – 60 to 90 seconds in duration. An accompanist will be in attendance.

Please note that the actor’s introduction and any time necessary to communicate with the accompanist will count as part of the 4 minutes.  Please prepare and time your selections carefully, as actors who exceed the audition time of 4 minutes will be stopped.

Non-Equity actors should plan to bring 25 headshots/resumes.  Actors who choose to audition with a musical theater selection and desire accompaniment should come prepared with sheet music.

Questions?  Please email Michael Kroeker, Artistic Associate, at mkroeker@milwaukeerep.com.  Due to the volume of questions, please allow two business days for a response.

All interested actors should visit this page regularly for information and updates:

COMPANIES EXPECTED TO ATTEND IN 2015 (updated 26Nov2014)

The Alchemist Theatre

All In Productions

American Players Theater

The Bunny Gumbo Theater Company

Cooperative Performance Milwaukee

Door Shakespeare

First Stage Children’s Theatre

Forward Theater Company

In Tandem Theatre

Lori Lins Talent

Milwaukee Chamber Theatre

Milwaukee Repertory Theater

Next Act Theatre

Optimist Theatre

Pink Banana Theatre Company

Renaissance Theaterworks

Rhode Center for the Arts

Skylight Music Theatre

Soulstice Theatre

Splinter Group

UPROOTED Theatre Company

The World’s Stage Theatre Company

Zoological Society of Milwaukee/Kohl’s Wild Theater

(23)

Please note that if you have any problems linking to the form you can do so here: http://www.milwaukeerep.com/RepGlobal/docs/mrt-2015-lottery-form.pdf


With the Milwaukee Generals coming up, what better time to get your headshot updated.  Check this out.

Fletcher

I’m offering a one-day headshot special especially for Milwaukee Generals.

Have you been wanting a session but haven’t saved up the dough yet? Need a headshot for Milwaukee General Auditions but you are on a tight budget? You are in luck! For one day only, on Saturday, January 25, 2014, I am offering Express Headshot Sessions for $169 + tax. Details available here:
http://tangerine-studio.com/milwaukeeheadshots/headshot-slam/


The Annual Non-AEA Milwaukee General Auditions

Take note: The audition slots were basically gone by 9:00 last year, so if you’re strolling in the door at that time, you’re likely to be disappointed.  If you want a slot, set that alarm early and get there by 6:oo am.  I know this is not a perfect situation, but Master Kroeker is doing his darndest to give everyone a shot.

Fletcher

The 2014 Non-Union Milwaukee General Auditions will take place on Monday, February 24th, 2014, from 9:30am to 6:30pm, at Milwaukee Repertory Theater.  This is a Locals Only audition – only Non-Union actors that do not require assistance with travel and housing should attend.

We will again implement an in-person sign-up process for this year’s auditions.  On Saturday, January 18, 2014, from 9:00am to 12:00 Noon, interested actors will be able to sign up in person for the 2014 Non-Union Milwaukee General Auditions outside of Milwaukee Rep’s Stackner Cabaret – (Directions)- on the 2nd floor Arboretum of the Patty & Jay Baker Theater Complex, accessible via elevator or via the escalator near building security.  Please note that the doors to the Milwaukee Center are scheduled to be unlocked at 6:00am, and are not under the control of Milwaukee Repertory Theater.  A line formed very early last year, and there is no reason to expect otherwise in 2014.

Slots will be available on a first-come-first-served basis – all slots will very likely be filled well before 12:00 Noon.  This span of time is provided only as an estimate of the time commitment necessary for this sign-up process.  Attendance on January 18 will not guarantee an audition slot.  Interested actors must present a valid form of photo identification (driver’s license or state-issued identification is recommended) in order to obtain a slot.  In addition, please note that an individual is eligible to request one slot only – requests made for other individuals will not be honored.

There will also be 25 Waiting List slots available.  Sign-up for these slots will occur in the same manner as outlined above, once all auditions slot have been filled.  Obtaining a Waiting List slot does not guarantee an audition, but preference for any slots that open at a later date will be given to those actors on the Waiting List.

Should there be audition or waiting lists slots available after this sign-up period, they will be made available via an additional in-person sign-up at The Rep’s administrative offices. Additional details will be announced on this page should any slots remain.

Slots for this Non-Equity day will fill quickly. Please plan accordingly.

PREPARATION Audition slots will be 4 minutes long, and will consist of any two of the following: 1. One contemporary monologue 2. One classical monologue (preferably Shakespeare) 3. One musical theater selection – 60 to 90 seconds in duration.  An accompanist will be in attendance.

Please note that the actor’s introduction and any time necessary to communicate with the accompanist will count as part of the 4 minutes.  Please prepare and time your selections carefully, as actors who exceed the audition time of 4 minutes will be stopped. Actors should plan to bring 25-30 headshots/resumes – please check the website listed below often for updates on the number of producers attending.  This list is subject to change at any time.

Actors who choose to audition with a musical theater selection and desire accompaniment should come prepared with sheet music.

Questions?  Please visit the website below for additional information.  For additional information, please email Michael Kroeker, Artistic Associate, at mkroeker@milwaukeerep.com.  Due to the volume of questions, please allow two business days for a response.

All interested actors should visit this page regularly for information and updates.

COMPANIES EXPECTED TO ATTEND IN 2014 (updated 04Dec13) Actor’s Craft The Alchemist Theatre American Players Theater The Bunny Gumbo Theater Company Cooperative Performance Milwaukee Door Shakespeare First Stage Children’s Theatre Forward Theater Company Great River Shakespeare Festival In Tandem Theatre Lori Lins Talent Management Milwaukee Chamber Theatre Milwaukee Repertory Theater Next Act Theatre Optimist Theatre Peninsula Players Pink Banana Theatre Company Renaissance Theaterworks Rhode Center for the Arts Skylight Music Theatre Splinter Group Theater RED UPROOTED Theatre Company Youngblood Theatre Company Zoological Society of Milwaukee/Kohl’s Wild Theater


The Milwaukee Generals are coming up.  Don’t let your resume get in the way of your audition!

F

Attaching your Resume to your Headshot

Your resume is your first impression.  Oftentimes it precedes you into the room…and it can make us hate you before we even see your face.  Here are some hateful things you can avoid.  Please note that I say all of this with a little love in my heart because these mistakes are almost always made by people who are just getting into the business.  How would they know?  Well they should have asked someone, but in case they couldn’t find someone or received bad advice, here goes.

The Bigger than the Headshot Resume

You’ve got an 8×10 headshot and you’ve printed your resume on an 8 1/2x 11 piece of paper and stuck it on the back.  Why did you not trim it down to size?  It’s now awkward and hard to file.  Take the time and make sure it’s neatly trimmed.  I know it’s a pain in the ass and I curse the fact that our headshots aren’t just 8 1/2×11, but that’s just the way it is.  Not trimming your resume just makes me think that you’re unprofessional, or were rushed, or are a slob, or are all of these things.  None of these things help you.

The Paper Clip Resume

You’ve used a paperclip to attach your resume to your headshot.  Invest in a stapler.  Your paper clip gets caught up in all sorts of things and has the opportunity to become dislodged ensuring that I’ll never see it or you again.

The “I’m Saving the World One Staple at a Time” Resume

You’ve stapled your resume to your headshot (congrats on graduating from the paper clip), but you’ve only used one.  Your resume is now flapping in the wind which is quite annoying.  Secure the damn thing!  And not with two staples either; break the bank and put a staple in all four corners.

The Bigger than the Headshot Resume which is Paper Clipped or One Stapled to your Resume AND is also Backwards

You’re a special kind of hateful.  You’ve made it nearly impossible to read your resume, thus defeating your audition.  I want to turn your headshot over and read your resume…quickly!  I don’t want to take extra steps to do so.  Special bonus if it’s also upside down.

The “I’m so Talented that I couldn’t Fit All of My Credits onto One Piece of Paper” Resume

Are you really that talented?  Is everything on your resume so important that you can’t possibly get it on one piece of paper, therefore you extend your resume to two or even three pieces of paper?  I’ve got two words for you: snip, snip.  There are actors in this town that have done hundreds of shows.  The idea isn’t to share every one of them, it’s to share representative roles.  Give me a wide variety of roles from the best theatre companies and/or the best directors.  Show me that you can sing and move and play Shakespeare.  If you’ve got that many roles get rid of your academic credits or the credits from the store-front theatre in Nebraska that only lasted a season that no one ever heard of.  And I’ve got nothing against Nebraska.  It could have been Arkansas.

The Proper Size Resume with the Wrong Size Head Shot Resume

Look, I get it.  Headshots are expensive and every few years the industry is telling us they want something different.  Matte, glossy, borders, no borders, black and white, color… Yup, it sucks, but that’s what you’ve signed on for.  I just received a resume with a headshot the size of a high school year book photo.  You know, the kind you get in the Gold package so that you have enough to mail out to all of your friends and family.  It was the size of a business card AND it wasn’t attached.  We had to ask the monitor to give us a little extra time so that we could pass them around separately from the resume.  What are we going to do with that?

And this is just attaching your resume to your headshot.  There are all sorts of other land mines to overcome in your audition, don’t let your resume be the thing that sinks you before you even open your mouth.

The Body of a Resume

So let’s look at fictional actor, Chris Fettle.  Chris is just starting out in his career, so it’s no surprise that there’s not much on it.

Chris Fettle Resume 1

Nothing much wrong here, but there could be improvement.  I don’t care that he doesn’t have much on his resume, but I do care that he’s not put down his directors.  And get rid of Actor.  We’ll just assume that.  We’ll see how Chris advances.

Chris Fettle 2

 

Here he is several years later and he has done a nice job in that I’ve got his name and he’s laid his theatre experience out cleanly.  I don’t think it’s a terribly good idea to put your address on there.  Once these resumes leave your hand you don’t know what’s going to become of them.  The most unscrupulous type of auditors (and I’ve never known this to be the case in Milwaukee) sell your information.  Don’t give them the ability to do so.  We’ve got the vitals, which is good, but it could be done in a more appealing manner.

On to the shows themselves.  Nice mix of shows.  There are a few classical plays on there and a couple of musicals.  He’s also worked at most of these places more than once which presupposes that they liked him enough to hire him back.  He’s got his college credits on there, which is just fine.  Assuming he advances his way in the field, he’ll eventually start working those out of the rotation.

The big thing I’m missing here are the Directors.  Who directed these shows?  That’s important information and must be included on the resume.

So let’s clean up Chris’ resume.

Chris Fettle 3

 

We’ve got rid of the address, the resume’s a little cleaner, and I’ve got the information I need.  Assuming I’m interested and I know a few of these people he’s worked with, I’m going to start making some calls.  So make sure you’ve actually worked at the theatres on your resume and make sure you’ve actually played the parts as opposed to simply understudying them.

This is Chris early in his professional career.  Let’s examine the possibility of where Chris might end up a few years from now.

Chris Fettle 4

 

Ack!  These are the resumes that absolutely drive me nutty.  What’s happened to our little hero?  Methinks things haven’t turned out so well.  In an effort to make himself seem really successful he’s bound and determined to fill every inch of space on his resume.  To do so, he’s decreased the size of his font making it even less likely I’ll be able to find the info I’m seeking.  He’s also left me no room to take notes.  What I can tell is that he’s only working at theatres and with directors once.  This leads me to believe that while he may be a good or voracious auditioner, things don’t work out so well in the actual productions.

Actor?  Really?  Again?  He cleaned this up for a bit, but now he’s back.  Let’s just assume I know you’re an actor.  Why else would you be here?

It may be helpful to others, but I’m only looking at you for theatre experience, I don’t care about your film credits especially if I’ve never heard of them and you’re playing extras.  That doesn’t tell me a thing.

Don’t tell me your age range.  Why would you do such a thing?  Let me decide what age range you can play.  All you’ve done is limited yourself and made the inference that I’m too stupid to figure it out for myself.

This is just me, but I don’t care if you’ve won an award.  What good does that do me?  It’s unlikely that I’ve seen the show in question and smacks of…something.

So to sum up

The Bottom of Your Resume

 

This is where most people put their Education and Training and their Special Skills.  Let’s deal with Special Skills first:

Special Skills

 

Special Skills should be…well, special.  Now look, I don’t think many people are going to win or lose jobs by what they put in this section, but sometimes we’re looking for a unique talent.  This section is also more likely to help you in a one-on-one audition where the auditor might have a little more time to spend with you than in a large group audition.

That having been said, putting quite ordinary things here makes me question your sense.  Let’s take a look at actual skills listed on people’s resumes:

Dancing (various)

Now I’ll get to dialects a little later, but I think with dancing you should be very specific about what types and how long you’ve trained.  Listing your teachers here is also a good idea.  And while this is a special skill, it might be more appropriate to list this under Education and Training.

Special Skills: Running, Quick Study

Running?  How does this help you on the stage unless you’re doing it the entire play.

Quick Study?  I hope so, but unless there’s a bunch of people putting “Slow Study” on their resumes, I’m not sure how much it’s helping you.

Driving Stickshift or Valid Driver’s License

This may be helpful in Film work, but I’m not sure how it applies to theatre.

Stage Combat

Just Stage Combat.  Not who taught you or what kind of Stage Combat you’ve had.  Did you throw a pie once?  Get hit by a spit take?  Get hit by a pillow?  I don’t know what this means and the fact that you didn’t go into more detail leads me to believe that you’ve had no real training.  This also might be better listed under Education and Training.

Flexibility

Um, okay.

Very Basic Juggling

Well then it’s not really a Special Skill, is it?  Every actor I know can juggle.  Unless you’re great and can juggle a knife, a bowling bowl and a shark at the same time, I’m not impressed.  Actually, if you can do that, call me immediately.

Craft Services

This would be interesting if I was looking at you for a commercial gig, but then I wouldn’t be auditioning you as an actor.

Computer Literate

This is not an IT position.

Motorcycle Repair

What do I do with that?

Lighting design

Great, but I’m looking at you as an actor.  Apply for a tech position at the appropriate time.

Can work without glasses

I certainly hope so, but this person auditioned without glasses.  Now I’m wondering if it was a lucky fluke that he didn’t bump into something.

Fashion Sensibilities:

Ah, hah, hah!

Comedic Training

What?

Water Skiing:

Being a water skier myself, I know just how unlikely this is to help you on stage.

And again, some of these things might be useful for a film audition, but then save them for that resume.

So what should go in this section?  I’ll try to list the things that I find useful or at the very least interesting.  And some that just make me smile.

Dance Training:

As I said this is a perfect thing to list here, but again, be specific.  What type of dance, where you took it and how many years you trained.  If you’ve trained all over the place no need to go into every class you ever took, just give us a representative idea.

Dialects:

I assume that any actor worth his salt can handle dialects.  Where we get into trouble here is when people make a long list of the dialects they’re proficient at.  Here’s one example:

Dialects- Irish, English (North Country, Upper Class), American (Standard, Southern, NY, Boston), Spanish, Arabic (Israeli, Palestinian, Persian).

It’s not that I doubt this person, but she might have better served by writing Dialects on request, or proficient in Dialects.

Do you play an instrument?  Many instruments?  Do let us know.

Are you fluent in a foreign language?  That might get you a job right there.  Sign language is also a useful skill to list.

Certified Actor Combatant:

Yup, let us know that and what you’re certified in: Unarmed, Quarterstaff, Broadsword, Rapier and Dagger.  Taking a weekend course or being involved in a single play hardly qualifies here.  Be honest about your skill level.  Also, if you’ve been the Fight Captain for a play, let us know.  It might not get you extra work, but if you’re cast it might get you a little extra pay.

Martial arts Training:

Always good to know.

Here is a list of things that I find interesting in a good way.  If the right part requires one of these skills, listing it might just get you the job:

Professional Circus Clown

Fire Breathing

Fire Juggling (bonus if it’s with fire sharks)

Unicycling

Bullwhip Cracking

Trick Roping

Aerial Circus Arts (trapeze, lyra, cradle, cloud swing)

And finally, here’s a list of things that really don’t have much to do with anything, but make me giggle and just might open up a conversation which allows you to reveal some personality and make a connection with the auditor:

Dolphin Sounds

Baby Crying

Happy Baby Sounds

Barking

Christopher Walken Impression (everyone loves a good Christopher Walken)

Excellent Whistler

Can walk and Dance conjoined to another

Chewbacca Impression

And the single best special skill I’ve ever seen listed; Mock.  You’ll have to get John Maclay to tell you about that.

Now if you list one of these things as a special skill, you’d best be able to produce.  Don’t put down Walken unless you can nail him.

Education and Training

 

This is a good place to name drop while getting some pertinent information across, but use this space wisely.  Some people will list every class they’ve ever taken and when all is said and done, this section covers half their resume.  Keep it short and sweet and relevant.  This section belongs at the bottom of your resume along with Special Skills.

Do you have a BA, BFA or MFA?  That’s relevant.  Did you take a weekend class with Anne Bogart?  Not so much.  There are very few things you can learn in a weekend that are going to qualify you to be proficient in anything.  Were you an intern at the Milwaukee Rep?  Put it down.  Studied theatre abroad for a year?  Mark it.  In the Company Class at First Stage?  Bingo.

And do include the teacher’s names.  Theatre is a small world and it’s likely that we’ve worked with some of these people in the past.  Now this is more likely to help you in a more intimate situation than the Milwaukee Generals; a situation where you have time to sit down and talk to the auditor.  And if they are thinking of hiring you they will call some of these people, so don’t lie.  An hour long intro to stage combat is not the same thing as being a Certified Actor/Combatant.  Just be honest here as elsewhere on your resume.

Obviously as you gain more experience you can begin working out your earliest experience.  The big things that matter here are Acting, Voice (and by this I also mean Singing), Dance, and Stage Combat.  Acting for the Camera is great to have, but again, save that for your commercial resume.  It won’t hurt to include your experience with Improv, Clowning and Mime work, and Textual Analysis, but I assume you’ve gotten some or all of that with any extended program.  Just make sure this section doesn’t start becoming the focus of your resume.

Now here are things that won’t help you, and they are things I’ve come across on actual resumes:

Acting: High School Drama Classes, College Level Theatre Classes:

What do I make of this?  I don’t know who taught these classes or what they consisted of.

Numerous Drama Courses through school:

See above.

Voice and Speech: Several classes.  My career involves my voice.

Oh really?  Several classes?  How does that help me?  And I certainly hope your career involves your voice, but how does that info make me want to cast you?

Shakespeare & Company Weekend Intensive:

I’ve covered that sort of thing.

Be honest.  No one will hold it against you if you’re just starting out in this business and don’t have much to fill in here, but you’ll end up looking silly if you include a bunch of things just to make it look like you’ve done more.  Keep this part of your resume as clean and clear as the rest and you’ll be just fine.

Fletcher


We’re approaching the Milwaukee Generals once again, so I’m reposting some of my thoughts about that process.  Do with it what you will.

Fletcher

Having sat through the Milwaukee Generals for the last several years, I’ve come across all sorts of things that auditioners do which sabotage the work at hand.  While many of these gaffes seem obvious to me, that may not be the case with the often unseasoned auditioner.  To be fair, how does one know unless they are told?  I understand just how hard and awful the process of auditioning is having been an actor for the last few decades.  To that end I’ve decided to share some of the dos and don’ts of auditioning.  I throw in the caveat that these are strictly from my own viewpoint and that while they deal with auditioning in general, they are specific to the peculiarities of myself and the Milwaukee Generals.

 

I’m dividing this “tutorial” into three parts: The Introduction, The Headshot and Resume, and The Audition.

 

The Introduction

 

If you have the chance (and that’s a big if) take a peek at the room you are going to walk into ahead of time.  Auditioning is an intimidating thing and walking into a room blind is hateful.  Find out where the auditors are going to be sitting and figure out where you are going to sit or stand.  Find out if there is a chair available and what kind it is.  Nothing worse then preparing a piece that requires you to spin a chair around and sit on it backwards only to find that the only chair available has arms.  And for those of you new to the Milwaukee Generals, you are walking into a room to face a group of auditors in a horseshoe configuration.

 

If you walk into the room and you find that there are auditors behind you, you’ve come in too far.  Back up so that we can see your face.

 

Take your time introducing yourself and your pieces.  Know that we are furiously passing your headshots around as quickly as we can, flipping them over and pouring over your resume, and then trying to catch what pieces you are going to do and in many cases trying to jot that information down.  We see a great many auditions during the course of the day and it’s extremely difficult to keep them straight.  Give us a chance to remember you.  I’ll never fault an auditioner for taking his time introducing his pieces.  When in doubt, wait until the majority of us have finished and are looking back up at you before you begin your first piece.

 

Don’t undress in the room.  This is a rather new phenomenon that has started happening lately.  When you walk into the room, be prepared to go.  I don’t want to see you come in, and then slowly take off a coat, scarf, shirt or any other thing as you are introducing yourself.  That’s weird and distracting.  Leave that stuff outside.

 

This is for both your intro and exit; don’t apologize for your audition.  Look, you only get one shot at this, so no matter how poorly you’ve prepared or think you’ve done during the audition, do it boldly and with a smile on your face.  I can’t tell you how many people come into the room with the attitude of, “Uh, hi.  I don’t really know why I’m here and I’m sorry to waste your time.”  Conversely I’ve seen a lot of people who have finished a perfectly fine audition and then ruin it by sheepishly excusing themselves on the way out.  Don’t do it!  It sucks all of the energy out of your audition.

 

Generally speaking, goofy introductions and/or exits will fall flat and have a good chance of being irritating.  I know it’s a defensive thing, but just don’t do it.  Come in, smile and introduce yourself.  When you are finished, say thank you.  Resist the urge to ask us if we have any questions or if there’s anything else we’d like to see.  Trust me; if we have those questions we won’t let you leave the room until we know the answers.

 

Give us the info we need.  It has become fashionable of late to name the play your audition is from, but not the part; or worse yet, not tell us anything at all.  This seems particularly true of Shakespeare.  Don’t make it a guessing game.  Conversely, don’t give us too much information.  In most cases I don’t need to know the author and I certainly don’t need to be told that Hamlet was written by Shakespeare.  And I absolutely don’t need to know the specific scene or get a recap of what’s been going on leading into this scene.  While we are on the subject of introducing your pieces, proceed to do your pieces in the order in which they were introduced.  Different auditors are there for different reasons.  Shakespeare companies have less interest in your modern/comic piece and are waiting for the Macbeth you are going to do.  If you say you are going to do your classical piece second, do so.  They may use that brief period of time to scan your resume and see what other classical pieces you have done and where.

 

The one thing most people come up short on is the intro.  I spend a whole day with my students having them do nothing but walking into a room and introducing themselves.  This is surprisingly difficult and few people spend any time on that part of their audition.  People actually stumble over their names, forget what pieces they are doing, mispronounce the playwright’s name (which is just one more reason that info is unnecessary), mumble their info in such a way that we don’t get it or turn their back and drag a chair across the room while making their intro.  Enter the room.  If you are going to use a chair make a decision; either get the chair, pick it up and set it where you want it and then introduce yourself, or introduce yourself and then get set.  Trust me; we will welcome the extra time to look at your resume.

 

Unless we stand up and stick our hands out, no need to come over and shake our hands.  We’re going to see about a hundred people that day.  There are also upwards of twenty people in that room and you won’t want to shake all of our hands.

 

The Headshot and Resume

 

Look like your headshot.  It’s bothersome when you don’t.  You’re a little heavier than you’d like to be?  So what.  Maybe we’re looking for just that heavy person.  It’s going to be very difficult to remember you later if you don’t look like your headshot.

 

Staple or glue your resume to your headshot.  I can’t tell you how irritating it is to get a loose resume.  Or one that is paper-clipped to the headshot actually covering the headshot.  That might just make me hate you right then and there.  And take the time to trim it to fit.  I file these away and those odd sized ones just might not make it into my filing cabinet.

 

While we’re on the subject of attaching your resume, don’t attach anything else.  I’m really happy you’re currently employed with your one-man show, but I don’t want a flyer or postcard attached advertising said show.

 

Leave whitespace on your resume.  We’re doing everything we can to remember the interesting things about you in case we should want to cast you.  If you jamb-pack your resume from margin to margin we have no room for such notes.  It also makes them hard to read and smacks of desperation.  “Look how much I’ve done!”  We don’t need to know everything you’ve done and if you have stuff on there from twenty years ago you might think about some judicial editing.

 

Use a decent sized font.  We’re at this all day and  in my case, my eyes get tired.  If you give me an 8 point font I’ll want to throw your resume in the discard pile then and there.  Also, weird or funny fonts piss me off.  It just adds an extra hurdle where I don’t need one.

 

There is a somewhat uniform way of setting up your resume.  Feel free to diverge, but just know that doing so will increase the likelihood that I won’t be able to find the info I’m looking for.  At the top should be your name and under that your vitals.  Height, weight, eye color, hair color, telephone and email address.  If you are a singer you may want to put your vocal range.  Do not give us your address.  In this day and age that simply isn’t safe and every now and then you send your resume to an unscrupulous person who turns around and sells your resume to other places.  Don’t include your age or tell us what your age range is.  That’s our job and why would you want to limit yourself that way?  Likewise, don’t include the dates of your productions.

 

Below your name and vitals should come the body of your resume which is your stage experience.  There are four things I want to know here: the theatre you worked at, the show you did, the part you played and who directed you.  Set them up in neat columns so that I can easily scan through them.  Don’t be afraid to list multiple shows with one theatre, that’s a good thing; that says that you worked at that theatre and they liked you enough to ask you back.  I am very leery of the auditionee that has 30 theatres listed and has only one show at each of them.

 

Below the stage experience section should be your education and special skills.  Still in high school?  It’s okay, we won’t hold it against you so don’t be ashamed of it.  Tell us where you went to school and who some of your teachers were (those names may open a conversation), but leave your GPA off.    I’m not really interested if you took a weekend class here or there.  Special skills should be special.  I don’t know how special having a driver’s license is.  Fire eating is more impressive (although at this last audition every other person had that listed) and I certainly want to know if you can speak a foreign language fluently.  I assume a good actor can learn dialects, so for me I don’t really care.

 

You may have a lot of film and/or TV credits; you may have a lot of directing credits.  I don’t care.  In this day and age you should be able to have several different resumes at your disposal.  If you are coming to the Milwaukee Generals, cater your resume to your clients, which are almost exclusively theatres.

 

Have enough resumes.  We don’t like sharing.

 

Don’t lie on your resume.  You will be busted and then you lose all credibility.  If you took a weekend class don’t make it sound like you received a degree.  If you took a beginning improv class don’t say you are part of the troope.  We know, we always know.

 

The Audition

 

So now we come to the heart of the matter.  First know that within the first ten or fifteen seconds we know if we like you or not.  Sometimes we’ve already made up our minds during the intro.  That’s just the way it goes.  Knowing that, limit the length of your pieces.  They really should be no longer than a minute a piece.  I spent one whole afternoon timing auditions.  I would look down at my watch when I started to lose interest and it was always between 55 and 65 seconds.  Even if you’re great, going beyond that is too much.  This past year many people were going over three minutes and that was just for one of their pieces.  Leave us wanting more.

 

Pick pieces that are superb.  Good is not good enough.  Good will be forgotten.  Knock our socks off!

 

In picking your pieces be very selective.  If you choose something offensive it is likely to offend and turn off at least a few people in the room.  Have a really good reason for picking a piece.

 

Don’t do stand up.  I’ve never seen it work and theatre is not stand up.  I’ve also never seen a piece that someone has written for himself work.

 

Contrast your pieces.  That doesn’t mean that one has to be modern comic and the other classical dramatic.  You can contrast two modern funny pieces and I will be quite delighted.  But standing during one and sitting during the other is not contrast.  Show us two different sides of yourself and hopefully those are different than your introduction.  Remember that your intro is a chance to show us a different side of yourself that will be contrasted by your two pieces.  Prove that you can act.

 

Don’t do serial killer monologues.  They are overdone and not usually all that interesting.

 

Don’t find a monologue in a monologue book.  They generally aren’t very good and they are overused.  Nothing like seeing the same bad monologue four times in the same day.  Read plays, lots of them, and find something that speaks to you.

 

People bend over backwards trying to find the obscure Shakespeare piece that no one has ever seen.  In doing so they generally pick something from one of Shakespeare’s lesser known plays.  You know why they are lesser known?  Because they’re not as good.  You know what I’ve never seen?  Someone audition with “To be or not to be.”

 

Don’t try to memorize pieces the week of.  You should constantly be working on monologues and finding new pieces and the only way to do that is to constantly be searching for them.  Actors constantly seem surprised when an audition is coming up and they have no material prepared.

 

Don’t wear anything that is more disturbing or more interesting than you.  I’ll spend the whole audition wondering, “Why did he wear that?” instead of watching your audition.  Look nice, but make sure you are comfortable and can move around.

 

Your pieces should actually be scenes in which you are engaged in some kind of action as opposed to telling us a funny story.  I want to see your struggle, not you charming me with a funny anecdote.

 

Fell free to use me as your point of focus.  Not everyone is okay with that, but I generally am.  However, if you stand two feet in front of me and confront me, you’re going to lose me.  I’ll still stare straight at you and be the best audience I can, but I’m no longer really watching you.  I’m beginning to wonder if you’re crazy enough to jump the table, and others in the room are concentrating on the same thing.

 

After you are done with a piece do not say scene.  Worse yet, do not wave your hand in front of your face and say scene.

 

Do make your transitions clear and clean.  Do something, usually a physical move, to let us know one piece has ended and the next has begun.  Of course if they are highly contrastable pieces, that shouldn’t be a problem.

 

If you have an emotional piece and are able to go to that place, good for you.  If you end that piece and take a long time coming out of it and composing yourself, showing us just how hard that was, I will no longer love you.

 

If you get off to a bad start ask if you can start over.  We will always say yes.

 

No props.  We’ll see the letter in your hand if you are invested in your scene.  And never, ever, ever…NEVER! bring a gun into the room.  Especially not one loaded with a half-charge blank which you then hold to your head and pull the trigger.  Sigh.  It now needs to be said.

 

 

 

And that’s my spiel.  I’m sure other things will come to mind and I’ll update this from time to time.  I also welcome observations from other auditors whether they agree with me or not.  Know that during the course of my stumbling career I have made many of these mistakes myself, and it was only because some kind person took me in hand that I got past them.  Be bold and good luck.