Dear West End Producer: ‘What are the cardinal sins of auditioning?’
— Beth Hitchen – Grant (@thatposhone) January 15, 2017
Over the years, I have witnessed some triumphant displays of bad audition techniques. They have left me dazzled, dismayed and reaching for yet another bottle of Dom Perignon.
So let’s get straight on with a list of my audition advice:
• Don’t shake our hand unless we instigate – we don’t like sweaty palms, dear.
• Never go in for a kiss (unless you are exceptionally good-looking and my casting director is drooling).
• Wear the right attire. Something comfortable and loose in a movement or dance call, and something smart casual in a normal audition. Of course if you are no good at dancing then wear something tight to distract us.
• Always sing in your own voice – we don’t want to hear an impression of someone from the original cast recording.
• If we send you something to prepare, you don’t have to know it off by heart, but try to be familiar with it. We’d prefer to see you showing us some interesting choices than treating it as a line-learning exercise.
• Always stand facing the audition panel. You’d be surprised at the number of performers who spend their entire casting facing the wrong way.
• Smile. It makes a lot of difference. Unless you’ve got bad teeth. In which case, it’s best just to smirk.
• Don’t be afraid to ask questions. As long as they aren’t about my personal life.
• Never consume alcohol before a casting – we’ll be able to tell. The only time you’re allowed to do that is if you bring in a nice bottle of red for me as well.
• Be nice to the person letting you in and out – they are spies who are there to judge you. If you offer them chocolate and compliment them on their dress sense you are guaranteed a recall.
• Don’t lie about your credits. It’s a very small business and we’ll quickly find out that you haven’t actually been working on the new show at the National called ‘War Whores’.
• If we’ve asked you to sing a song from a specific genre please make sure you do. It’s a waste of time bringing in something that doesn’t let us hear your voice in the style we want.
• Never say “see you soon” as you leave – because the chances are you won’t.
• Avoid slagging off other directors or performers. We will usually know the people involved, and my casting director will often have slept with them – so they will be personal friends. Unless of course you have some prior knowledge that we actually hate that director, in which case be as rude as you want.
• Never, ever, ever, under any circumstances sing Let It Go – if you do we will let you go straight away, dear.
• Never say you can do something if you can’t. We once had a lovely boy who said he was an expert street dancer and would have been perfect for the role – but in his final recall, when we asked him to demonstrate, he danced like David Brent. He didn’t get the job.
• Don’t cry.
So, basically, be prepared: learn your lines, stand in the right place, don’t cry, don’t touch us, and smile. That’s all there is to it, dear.
Send questions to your dear agony aunt via Twitter @westendproducer
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