Ari Tulang's Tips for Your Next Musical Theatre Audition
INDONESIA MENUJU BROADWAY, an intensive musical theatre training program by Djarum Foundation and StudentsLive, finished its audition process on February 3th and 4th. After the audition, judge Ari Tulang shared audition tips on his Instagram, @aritulang_official.
Ari Tulang is an Indonesian choreographer, director, and entertainer with a career spanning decades in the performing arts industry. He was a member of the INDONESIA MENUJU BROADWAY judging panel alongside Garin Nugroho, Andrea Miranda, and Ufa Sofura.
In a 41-part Instagram story post, he shared tips (in Bahasa Indonesia) for attending a musical theatre audition, drawing from his previous involvement in other projects. This article is written with his agreement.
(Some points have been combined or expanded upon for a more concise read.)
1. Know what you are auditioning for
This goes without saying, but you must not forget to know what the audition is for: Lead roles? Supporting roles? Ensemble? Or workshop participants?
Make sure you are willing to put in the appropriate effort and dedicate your time before you register for the audition.
2. Understand what kind of performer the production is looking for
Keep in mind that judges are not looking for the most beautiful voice, superb acting, pretty face, or perfect figure. Instead, they look for people most fitting for the characters required for the show or program.
Understanding what kind of performer the production is looking for will provide you a great starting point to prepare for the audition.
3. Be disciplined in learning the audition material
Study, learn, and really immerse yourself into the audition material, be it the songs, script, or choreography. Manage your time well so you can truly prepare. With good preparation comes confidence.
4. Stay in good shape
Always be disciplined in keeping yourself healthy and fit! Make an effort to have a balanced diet, get enough sleep, and exercise regularly. Don't forget to do vocal exercises as well to keep your voice in tip-top shape.
Most importantly, keep a good hygiene standard. No one wants to deal with B.O. first thing at the audition!
1. Choose a song playing to your strengths
Upon signing up for an audition you are usually given a list of songs you can choose from.
Study the songs and pick the one(s) most suited to you, be it the vocal range required or lyrics that really speak to you. If you're an experienced singer, you can choose more technically impressive songs that can best showcase your vocal capability.
A judge or a casting director would know whether you're merely able to carry a tune or if you're a polished singer with hours of hard work under your belt. So don't expect to be able to wow the judge without regularly putting in the time to practice your singing beforehand.
2. Master the song
After choosing the song, try to really dissect it: what is the song about? what does it tell you about the character singing it?
Only by understanding the song can you give a soulful performance. However, be careful not to overact.
Furthermore, pay attention to how the lyrics are pronounced. Bad diction can indicate a lack of preparation.
3. Really perform the song
Most of the time, a musical part requires not only singing, but also acting (and often dancing as well).
When it's time for the singing audition, perform the song for the judges. Prove that you can sing well while acting and even dancing (if required).
Don't (only) memorize the script, understand it
When given a script to be performed, the judges don't expect you to memorize it perfectly; rather, get to understand the script you are given.
Break down the scene(s): Who are the characters involved? What happened? Where does it take place? And what mood does it convey?
After you truly understand the script, then you can bring it to life. Use movement, gestures, intonation, and everything else in your arsenal to express your character's emotions.
The ability to dance will benefit your career
Not every musical production requires extensive dancing, but actors who are used to dancing will have an edge in auditions.
As dancing is about understanding your body and the way it moves, dancers tend to have better flexibility, space awareness, and the ability to express themselves through gestures.
Dancers are also more likely pick up a choreography faster. This might influence a casting director's decision if they know an actor would need less time dedicated to learning a dance, thus allowing more time to polish the show as a whole.
1. Come on time
Or even earlier!
By simply giving yourself more time before the audition starts, you can acclimatize to the space and atmosphere you will be auditioning in. You can give yourself time to get into your ideal mental space.
And furthermore, you can prepare any additional task asked of you, be it administrative (filling in those forms take time!) or otherwise.
2. Get your mind in the right place
Auditions can be nerve-racking as you're face to face not only with the audition crew, the judges, but also fellow auditionees -- your competitors.
No need to play mind games with the other auditionees, just focus on yourself. Your audition is about you and nobody else.
And don't get intimidated by the judges. They want you to perform well -- it means they would know the strengths of each auditionees, making it easier to see how you might fit into the show.
3. Be courteous to everyone
Don't forget to smile and make eye contact when talking to people at the audition. It shows both confidence and sincerity.
'Thank you' can be a powerful word to make people feel more comfortable around you. Yet be wary of saying 'sorry' too many times as it might sound like an excuse.
4. Being nervous is normal
However, try to frame that nervousness as a motivation to stay focused instead.
To keep your anxiety level manageable, make sure you have sufficiently learned and prepared for the audition material.
5. Be prepared for on the spot performance
Often, the judges will ask you to perform a song on the spot. This is very important as with the limited time you're given to choose a song, it will show how well you know your capability as a performer.
Make sure you have a selection of songs, perhaps with accompanying choreography, so you are always ready to perform at a moment's notice.
If you're religious, make time to pray according to your belief before and after the audition. One never knows what doors God might open from the audition, even if you don't get the part.
To wrap everything up, Ari Tulang shared his personal mottos:
Discipline, discipline, discipline. Learn, study, understand, perceive.
Practice makes perfect. But do you want to put in the time to practice to be perfect?
Photos: Bakti Budaya Djarum Foundation and Ari Tulang. Additional free source images for illustration purpose.