NYC Casting – Your Pathway to Stardom!
When you audition for an NYC Casting Director, you know you’ve hit the professional level. There are different kinds of auditions, all with different techniques necessary in order to succeed and book your role.
Of course, you need to know where to find auditions. Your best source is your agent, who receives notices not always available to the general public, and matches you to each audition. If you don’t have an agent, an excellent source is Backstage, an online source which allows you to pursue open auditions, and be listed on their database so casting directors can see you. There is a fee associated with both offerings, but it’s very much worth it to join, because you won’t find a lot of these auditions listed anywhere else, with the exception of an agent, and you get exposure you wouldn’t otherwise have.
You’ll find several different types of NYC casting auditions listed: the agented audition, the basic audition, the musical/dance audition, and the cattle call.
One thing they all have in common are the fact that you will need to introduce yourself and thank the director(s) and/or producer(s) following the audition without being intrusive. A simple “Thank you for your time.” will suffice. Additionally, don’t be overly elaborate in your introduction. “Hello, I’m _________________” is all that is necessary, along with what piece(s) you’re doing. “I’ll be performing _____________ from _____________” is as much as you need to say.
The Agented Audition
This audition is set up for you by your agent. Arrive at least fifteen minutes early, at least. They may have paperwork, but it’s likely they already have your headshot and resume from your agent. However, you should be certain to bring two of them just in case the auditioners would like a hard copy to reference.
You may have been emailed a side (copy, script) from your agent. If that’s the case, memorize it. You don’t want a piece of paper in front of your face while you’re auditioning. If you are given the copy at the audition, quickly memorize the first and last lines, so that you can do them without the script in front of you and let the auditioners see your face clearly for the first and last moments of your audition.
Don’t allow the fact that the other people reading for your part look very similar to you be disheartening. The auditioners have an image in their mind for how the actress or actor will appear, and you fit that image. Just make sure your NYC casting audition is the best you can make it!
The Basic Audition
In general NYC casting, every audition is different, but there are similarities between each type. For a basic audition, you could either have an appointment (especially if you are working with an agent) or you would have your name taken by the stage manager or whoever is sitting behind the greeting desk, along with your headshot/resume and information sheet if they have one.
If you have an appointment, you may need to wait about fifteen minutes to be seen, depending if they’re running on time. If you have signed up at the desk, be prepared to wait. NYC casting calls out to actors, and you may be surrounded by a surprising number of them. Don’t be discouraged when you see the competition.
Keep your monologue to under three minutes – fewer if possible. By that time, they should have a sense of your talent and be able to make a decision from what they’ve seen. Remember, always leave them wanting more, not looking at their watches wondering if you’ll ever finish.
The Musical/Dance Audition
This audition is similar to the basic audition, except you will be asked to sing and learn a dance combination. At an NYC casting level, the dance may be difficult. For these auditions, dress appropriately as for an audition, but make sure you can dance in it, or select dancewear in a similar color to your audition outfit, so that you’ll be remembered; a signature look, like long black hair or a goatee, is also helpful.
When choosing and preparing your song, you may be asked to do two contrasting pieces, sixteen bars each. NYC casting doesn’t usually require an entire song. In fact, it’s very rare considering time constraints. Sing your best song first, in case they don’t have time to hear the other. Make sure that your cut has a strong beginning and definitive end.
If you’re a kick-ass dancer, then more power to you, you triple threat! If you’re an actor who moves well presented with a difficult combination, be sure to look up and smile, no matter what your body is doing. At no point look down, even if you’re watching the choreographer, dance captain or another dancer while giving your audition. It’s a very obvious rookie mistake.
The Cattle Call
The anathema of all auditions, the cattle call is where a large audition notice goes out for a show, and hundreds of people come out. If you’re auditioning for an Equity show, be sure to give yourself plenty of time to stand in line. At one call for Les Miserables, people who arrived at 6 a.m. for a 9 a.m. call got numbers in the 300s. Over 800 people attended that day, and the director and casting director asked for eight bars of music. That’s not a lot of time in which to showcase yourself – 30 to 45 seconds, depending on the tempo of the song.
It’s important to stand out the best you can. Wear bright clothing, a scarf, a hat, something to set you apart from the other 800 people vying for the coveted role. Oh, and that Les Mis audition? There were no roles available; it was a required call by Equity. Still, there was always the chance you could wow the NYC casting directors and producers so much that they keep you in mind for when a role does open up.
When scheduling events after auditions, be sure to give yourself enough of a window so that if the director and/or producer is running late, it won’t affect your plans.
Be at least fifteen minutes early to any audition for which you have a time slot and use your best judgment on the more generic auditions. These tend to bring out more people, and you may find the auditioners run out of time to see people.
Most of all, have fun! Auditioning is an opportunity to perform. When you look at it that way, you’ll find you have less stress and apprehension when standing up before the NYC casting table and give it your all.