Audition Feedback

May 19, 2009

In the past few weeks I’ve gotten to witness an awful lot of musical theater auditions. I’ve played piano for a few, supervised a few, and taught a string of master classes that are basically “working” auditions. And while I’m in the middle of a day of auditions, I often find myself trying to understand what goes through the heads of the people auditioning. I coach enough actors to know what they’re HOPING to project, and so often that’s just not what comes across the table.

One day recently I came home with a list of notes about the auditions I had just seen, and I wanted to share those comments with you. (Anonymously, of course.) And then I realized I’ve kept every audition sheet from every set of auditions I’ve done in the last ten years or so, and they’re filled with similar comments. So for your entertainment and, perhaps, personal growth, here are a few samples of the kinds of things we people behind-the-table write down while you’re singing at us. And I’m one of the nice and supportive ones, I promise.

(Disclaimer — these notes are from a variety of shows, auditions in both New York and Los Angeles. Sometimes a director or casting director had a completely opposite opinion from mine, which is why you might see my negative comments on someone who got a call back. What can I say? Casting is a team sport. And finally, no, I will never tell you who they are.)

First, the boys.

THIS IS WHERE A PERSON’S NAME WOULD BE. FOR NOW LET’S JUST SAY “MALE, 20s”:
Good pitch. Sweet, accurate, boyish. Lovely and sad. Made a good acting adjustment. Eyes crinkle up. Plays piano. Very musical. I like him but for not right for this show.

MALE, 30s
Androgynous version of the part. Has no sexuality at all.

MALE, 20s (got a call back)
Good instincts, green, needs coaching but I like that he’s real. Can’t focus.

MALE, 20s (got a call back)
high voice — is he straight? Gay? Can’t tell. Very “indicate-y” audition. Not enough air to sing lyrically. stylized but he’s connected and committed. Work session?

MALE, 20s
totally scary, I love him. lots of tension in his singing voice. not sure he can pull off “lyrical.” RUSHING. He’s the straight play version of this part. Can’t do it.

MALE, 20s (got a call back)
voice just gorgeous, closed eyes all the time, really prepared, sweet part of his voice is soft but has a solid F#/G. Musical, big acting choices.

MALE, 30s
great look but as strange as anything I’ve ever seen. Like a male Miranda. Totally affected. Can’t sing it.

MALE, 30s
A+ voice, good time, everything is perfect but he’s not unique. I like him but can’t tell who he is.

MALE, 20s
He is an un-singer. Boring. I’m asleep.

MALE, 30s
great musician, awesome performer but not an actor at all. Shame.

MALE, 40s (got a call back)
wildly energetic, no wonder he’s famous. great, fun, sensitive read. solid G on top.

MALE, 30s
Hello Las Vegas! I would buy his CD but he can’t act.

MALE, 30s (got a call back)
totally cute. Song was gorgeous. Knows how to get a laugh. I’m smitten.

MALE, 20s
one character’s voice, another character’s body. Now what? Might lack intensity.

MALE, 40s (got a call back)
sang down 1/2 step. Has overtones that make his voice sound higher than it is. THIS is the voice I was waiting for. Not a brilliant actor. Otherwise he’d be a star.

MALE, 20s
couldn’t listen to him all night. Is there a part for a mute?

MALE, 30s
voice is big but time is questionable. Acting feels summer stocky. I think he’d be a handful.

MALE, 40s
very physical vibrato, probably a baritone voice hidden under all that raspiness. Acting okay. Ehhh.

MALE, 30s (got a call back)
Fantastic instrument, appealing look, great actor. Is he too old? this probably isn’t his part. Cute dimples. Sexy in an ‘I Love Lucy’ kind of way. 1950s.

MALE, 40s (got a call back, got the part)
Well, he’s George Clooney, isn’t he? G# on top. More tenory than this part but of course he’s the top contender. Needs to learn the music.

And now, the women:

FEMALE, 20s
shrill, bland — why do I never like her?

FEMALE, 20s
pitch good but I have no idea what the song was about. elegant look, mature.

FEMALE, 20s
huge belty Evita voice. no middle ground.

FEMALE, 20s
Bea Arthur at 17. hilarious but limited.

FEMALE, 20s (got a callback)
beautiful, not so youthful, good acting choices. legit soprano — connected. has a maturity. check her belt voice. Love her. Smart audition.

FEMALE, 30s
too old to be singing this ingenue song, working too hard. there’s such better material for her.

FEMALE, 30s (got a call back)
voice of God! Can she act? Why can’t I tell? She’s quite a performer.

FEMALE, 20s
great, poised, smart, probably not this show

FEMALE, 20s
will be great in about a year. needs a director. good trashy look.

FEMALE, 30s
huge voice, slides off sustained notes. Seems unconnected to lyric. Sweet but unmemorable.

FEMALE, 20s
strong belt and nice mix. Probably too old for the part. Cute but maybe not spectacular. Vanilla.

FEMALE, 20s (got a call back)
she’s gifted. spectacular actress, so connected. just had throat surgery. See her again in a few months.

FEMALE, 20s
Does that pop slidey thing I hate. Belted when she should have mixed. Good adjustments, though. Has a sass to her.

FEMALE, 20s
Can belt for days. Lovely, round sound. Eyes looking to the heavens. Oh, wait — not an actress. Hate to lose the voice but she can’t handle the acting. Boo hoo.

FEMALE, 20s
cute, but long notes don’t go anywhere. Great Disney look. Quirky. Has a Judy Garland quality. Soprano is awkward. I want so much for her to be better. Ensemble?

FEMALE, 20s (got a call back)
glorious, tall, smart. well-connected. Made GREAT adjustments. Belted an E and it wasn’t shrill! Vibrant. Has that frowny thing…

FEMALE, 20s
Not as good as I expected. Looks like a mess, got flustered. Bad dress. Acting without thinking. Welcome to New York.

FEMALE, teen (got a call back)
Glorious young voice, clear in both ranges. If we go really young, she’s a great contender. Laura Benanti type.

FEMALE, teen (got a call back)
I love her. So much youth in her voice. Great actress. Director says needs more “beauty” in her sound. Work on rounding out legato lines, sustained notes.

FEMALE, 20s (got the call back, got the part. Shows what I know.)
trained, controlled, not beautiful, legit tone is pitchy at end. Tall. Time is a bit shaky. Not my favorite voice. Ensemble?

3 thoughts on “Audition Feedback”

  1. William on said:

    These are great, Georgia. Casting is one of my favorite parts of doing a show. It’s so cool to see your insight into the people you see. Thanks so much for sharing!

  2. Boris the Tortoise on said:

    I don’t think i say this enough, but i absolutely love you when you do these industry based blogs(and even when you don’t :).

    in school we’re constantly warned by our nazi-ish director/acting teacher about how we have to make an impression in such a short time and how it can be based solely on “the look” that the panel likes.

    It’s interesting to see how much your notes are your opinion of the person, sometimes more then the technical aspect of the persons audition.

    Quick question: What do you mean by “un-singer”?

    please always do these insights whenever you have the idea and the time (i don’t mean to sound pushy). It’s great to get outside input on stuff like this. I love getting to question or confirm what i’m learning. It’s like getting to pick your brain without asking you anything 🙂 Thank you

  3. Georgia Stitt on said:

    Ha — thanks, Boris! Un-singer translates loosely into “can’t sing.” Simple as that.

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