The actual process of auditions seems very easy, but when I started in New York I realized there are very specific audition rituals which I knew nothing about! As I see more and more of my friends move to the city and make
career transitions, I realized how frustrating it can be to learn how New York auditions ACTUALLY work. (Versus how it is portrayed on t.v.) So without further ado – here is MY personal guide to auditioning. rint as of that date.
How To Audition In New York:
There are five types of auditions: Equity Principal Calls (EPA), Equity Chorus Calls (ECC) for Singers, Equity Chorus Calls (ECC) for Dancers, Open Calls, and Submissions Calls. I will attempt to break down the procedures for each
Equity Principal Call:
This call is for singers and actors. The breakdown on the audition notice will tell you what they are looking for with regards to songs/monologues/length. As a rule, they are required to give you at least 32 bars of a song. The
general rule is to keep your audition under 2 minutes.
How to sign into and conquer an EPA:
The monitor will arrive at the EPA 1 hour before the call begins. (When the call is held at the Actor’s Equity Building, I’ve seen the sign in begin a bit earlier. The other audition centers it
will always be 1 hour.) The equity actors form a line in the order that they arrived at the audition center. When the monitor “opens the call,” 1 hour prior to the start time, each actor in line, in order, shows the monitor their
paid up equity card and selects an “appointment.” ”Appointments” are 20 minute time slots which you’ll share with several other auditioners. The monitor will hand you a card with your audition time on it. Hang on to this, you
will need to bring it back to the audition center at your appointment time. You need to be back at the audition center READY TO GO at least 10 minute prior to your appointment. (I’ve had monitors line me up 10 minutes before
my appointment!) When the monitor has lined up the group ahead of you, they will ask for all auditioners in your time slot to sign in. (Example all those in my 3:20 group my sign in now.) You will hand the monitor your headshot
with the resume stapled to it, as well as your audition card. (The card will have a few blank spots you will need to fill in, such as your name.) After all the auditioners have turned in their materials, the monitor will line you up
in the order they received your headshot, tell you who is in the room and what they are looking for in terms of song choices. (This information should also be on the monitors table, if you want to double check it before you
leave.) You then wait your turn. When the person before you has finished, you walk in, greet the people “behind the table,” hand the pianist your music if you have any, do your thing and sparkle like the star you are, and then leave the room. This concludes your EPA and commences you obsessive checking of auditionupdate.com.
*Occasionally there will be more equity auditioners than there are appointment slots. In this case, equity members have the option of being on the alternate list. (Sometimes, if an auditioner needs a morning appointment, but
only afternoon slots are available, they will opt to take their chances on the alternate list.) The monitor will put auditioners from the alternate list on line IF someone with an appointment doesn’t show up or if the call is
running faster than expected. Sometimes the monitor can get through 100 alternates in a day, sometimes they will see zero alternates. It’s always a gamble. If you are on the alternate list but not around when your name is
called, your name is skipped and you go back to the end of the alternate list. Life on the alternate list can mean a lot of waiting around hoping to hear your name called.
**If you are EMC (equity member candidate) you will sign your name up on the EMC list. The monitor will put EMCs on line if and equity member doesn’t show up for their appointment/if they are running ahead at the audition
and there are NO equity alternates left on the alternate list. For EMC’s you must sign up BEFORE the lunch break. After the lunch break you will be asked to sign up on the non-equity list.
***If you are non-equity, you will sign up on the non equity list. (This list gets a little sketchy, sometimes non-equity members will start an unofficial list that the monitor will honor, and sometimes the monitor will throw this list
out when they arrive and start a new one from scratch, and only non equity members in the room can sign up.) The monitor will put non-equity on line if and equity member doesn’t show up for their appointment/if they are
running ahead at the audition and there are NO equity alternates left on the alternate list and no EMCs left on the EMC list.
### You may arrive at an EPA at any time and get an appointment or be on the alternate list. As a general rule of thumb, to be guaranteed a slot, arrive no later than an hour before the call starts. During the “season” you may
have to arrive two, three, or even four hours before the call begins, sometimes before the buildings open! I suggest investing in a nice picnic blanket for these days!
Equity Chorus Call:
There are two types of Equity Chorus Calls – dancer and singer. The audition notice will tell you which type of call it is and what you need to bring. It would be my suggestion, however, to always bring both your music book and
dance clothes/shoes to every chorus call because people are often asked to stay and dance or stay and sing, even if the notice doesn’t give warning of this.
Another thing to take note of is, it is required that the theatre see(or type) all Equity Members who show up (with their paid-up Equity cards) at an ECC before the call begins, but you may take your chances and arrive any time
during the call.Be aware, though, that the casting people can “close the call” to new arrivals as soon as it starts. Also, if they have started seeing non-Equity at an ECC, the call is considered closed and no one (Equity or non-)
who arrives later will be able to audition.
How to sign into and conquer an ECC:
For both dancer and singer the sign in process is essentially the same. One week prior to each chorus call, sign up lists are posted in the 2nd floor lobby of the Actors Equity Building . They will remain there until the equity
building closes the day before the audition. One of the boards is for boys (the list to your right) and one is for girls (the list to your left.) The lists on top are for singer calls and the lists on the bottom are for dancer calls. At
any point during the week you may go and sign up on the ECC lists. Everyone just puts their name on the list in the order they arrive, so those who sign up as soon as the lists are posted get the early numbers while those who
arrive last minute get the later numbers. The day of the audition, the monitor will arrive 30 minutes prior to the call’s start time and read the names off the list. You listen for your name, when you hear it, you show your paid
up equity card to the monitor, who will give you an audition card with a number on top. The number on the top of the card is the number indicating the order in which you will be seen. Since lots of names on the list are
repeats, and lots of people sign up but don’t show up, number 310 on the list may end up being number 7. (That DID happen to me once! As a result, I always try to come as ready as possible, because you never know if you will
be number 7 or if everyone will show up and you’re 310.) Now, on this card you must fill out your name, the audition you are attending, your phone number, e-mail, and write your resume in the large blank spot. Some tech
savvy auditioners get mini versions of their resumes printed on paper or stickers and staple/stick them to this card to save time.
If you did not make it to the Equity building to sign up on a list, do not despair! There is usually a group of people in the same boat as you! You form a line in the room and after the Monitor has read all the names on the Equity
list, he will give you audition cards in the order in which you arrived. And you will be seen (or “typed”)! It is the rule that all Equity Members who show their paid-up Equity cards to the Monitor before the ECC starts get to
audition, or at least be “typed”.
Even if you are number 310, it is highly recommended you wait around until the call starts, because sometimes the casting people decide to “type” at chorus calls. Typing is a way for the casting people to reduce the number of
people they have to audition, and it’s usually done only when there is a very big turnout of singers or dancers. IMPORTANT: They cannot type by headshot. Typing is done by lining everyone up in a room, and then the people
behind the table look at you and your headshot/resume. They may also ask you questions during typing. If they do type Equity, non-Equity (including EMC) will not be seen! The casting people tell the Equity Monitor which of the“typed” performers they want to see audition, and the rest don’t get to audition that day. By the way, even if you do get “typed in” (i.e. you get to audition), your audition may be very brief. They can have singers sing 8
bars, for instance. Or they can have dancers just do one double pirouette, or a short across the floor combination. But it’s usually 16 bars for singers and a 16-32 bar combination for dancers.
Back to the happy part.
For singer calls, the monitor will line up the first group, USUALLY consisting of 20 people but it range depending on the building. He will collect your headshots and the audition cards, separated on the perforated seem. (When
you see if you will know what I’m talking about.) The monitor will tell you who is in the room and what they are looking for. You will wait your turn, then enter the room, sparkle like the star you are, leave, and obsessively
check audition update.com Unless of course, they ask you stay and dance, in which case you will go get changed into you dance cloths and prepare to learn a short dance combination AFTER all of the singers have sung.
For dancer calls, the monitor will find out what kind of shoes they are asking for. (character heels, sneakers, jazz flats, ballet flats, tap shoes, bare feet, etc…) He will then take in the first group USUALLY consisting of between
20-30 dancers, but this number changes. He will collect your headshots and the audition cards, separated on the perforated seem. (When you see if you will know what I’m talking about.) Once the first group is safely in the
room, the monitor will collect the headshots and audition cards from the second group. It is impossible to give a completely accurate “the next group will be up in about ten minutes,” but they will do their best. Sometimes
the “people behind the table” will make a cut and ask certain dancers to stay and learn more choreography. If this is the case, the dancers will learn the additional choreography AFTER all the other dancers have auditioned.
Sometimes, dancers will be asked to stay and sing. If this is the case, you will wait around and sing AFTER all of the other dancers have auditioned. They will tell you which type of music/how long of a cut they would like
before you go in.
*If you are non-equity or EMC, you will be seen at the creative teams discretion. If they type equity, you will not get seen. Otherwise, they may say at the beginning of the call that they will not be seeing non-equity or they
may say, we’ll see you “time permitting.” In the latter case, you must wait around until all of the equity have auditioned and see if there is time. Sometimes they know they can only see 20 non-equity/EMC so they will type
you by headshot at some point during the call. Sometimes it will be at the very beginning, sometimes a the very end.
To me, these are the scariest calls of all because there is no methodical order to how they are run. Open calls mean there is no difference between equity, non-equity, and emc in the order in which they’ll be seen. It also
means, there can be complete chaos OR complete order. Some open calls are run exactly like equity chorus calls. They are overseen by a monitor and the first person physically present in line is the first who gets to sign up,
etc… But SOMETIMES, there is no monitor, and one person will arrive at 1 a.m. and camp out over night signing up 75 of their closest friends on an “unofficial list” which the theatre will honor. Theatre’s may see everyone or
they may type or they may cut the list off at a certain number. It’s a hard world out there, and I do not envy those who have to attend open calls, BUT they are a wonderful opportunity for non-equity to be seen AND hired.
The best I can say in this humble blog is to please that everyone be polite, not cut, and not sign up 75 of your closest friends so those who actually arrived at 6 a.m. have a chance. If you do see someone cutting or acting in a
rude manner, feel free to call them out. It’s your audition, don’t let anyone sabotage you. Go in and sparkle!:)
Sometimes you might be lucky enough to receive an audition appointment via submission! This may be through your agents, or a self submission found on a site such as Actors Access or Playbill.com. In this case, you should
arrive at least ten minutes before your audition, check in with the monitor or casting assistant, and wait until they are ready to see you. Go into the room, present what they have asked you to prepare, and sparkle like the star
*Submissions can be for equity, EMC, OR non-equity. Especially if you are non-equity and EMC, I suggest seeking out as many submission appointments as you can to avoid to chaos that can result during open call.