How to nail your musical audition

Even though the last three shows of this year’s musical were canceled due to the unfortunate outbreak of COVID-19, the work put in by the cast members, stagehands and pit musicians made the show last in the memories of those lucky enough to see it. 

If you were to ask any Cary or Fox River Grove resident what puts our high school on the map, a common reply would be the performing arts program. The annual musical is a huge part of CG culture, and if you’re one of the people in the audience, you may wonder, “How can I be a part of that next time?” 

While the audience’s attention is on the final product of the show, the first key step in creating it is the audition and casting process. If you want to be on stage next March, nailing your audition should be your focus.

Every year, students from all grades and experience levels dream to be a part of CG’s musical. However, numbers are limited, making the audition experience more stressful than one might think. 

The musical process begins in the fall when the directors choose a musical that best fits what they’re looking for. After Mr. Boncosky, the director, announces the musical, he makes audition packets available so students can prepare. Every year around 130 students audition for about 70 roles, which can create some anxiety for those seeking a part.

Mr. Boncosky said that the best way for students to manage the pressure and stand out in their audition is to use the packet to come in highly prepared.

“If someone were to come in and they are staring down at their music and are barely singing out loud while acting through it, not performing through it, then I go, ‘This is a musical theater audition,’” Mr. Boncosky said. 

“You have got to be confident and you have to have a clue about how you are presenting the song because this is not just a choir concert. There needs to be a little bit of theatricality, facial expressions, showmanship to it. 

“For the people who are prepared, who have an understanding of the role and the showmanship that is required, and then just have an appropriate tone for the role really makes them stand out to me.”

CG musicals have won multiple state awards in recent years, but audience members are unlikely to realize the level of preparation and skill that goes into a good audition. Musical auditions are actually a three-day process that requires students to demonstrate their theatrical skills.

Day one entails a vocal audition where candidates are asked to perform a pre-decided piece of music from the show. If you score high enough on that to earn a callback, day two consists of a dance audition. After day two, final decisions regarding leads are made and candidates up for main stage roles are called back for a final day of auditions that require the auditionees to act out the character.

 Seeing that the audition process is open to every single student attending Cary-Grove, the audition process is not just hard for those looking to join the musical, but also for the casting panel. No judge enjoys the hardship of letting anyone down, but with so many people looking for a spot, it is impossible to make everyone happy.

”If it were up to me I would love to be able to choose a show every year that can feature every single person who comes into the audition and does a great job,” play director Mrs. Whalen said. “Because I don’t know who’s going to audition I have to pick a show thinking I have options for each part.”

While the directors need multiple actors to audition who can perform each role, only one will be cast in it, so some students will inevitably be left off the stage. The great thing about CG’s theater program is that there are many ways to be a part of it. 

Whether you enjoy staging props on the stage or are into costumes or wigs, there is always a place for you in the show. With that being said, remember that if you come into an audition with heart, strong work ethic and confidence, anything can go your way.

“I am always thrilled by the number of students who are willing to put themselves out there and audition for a musical,” Mr. Boncosky said. “I am always marveled by the confidence. It’s all part of the learning process. Every audition makes the next audition better.”