Broadway: It’s All About The Acting

On Broadway:  It’s All About The Acting

Currently, on Broadway, you will find the values at musical auditions  ranked in this order:

Excellent actor

Excellent dancer

OK Singer

If you have a spectacular voice but you can barely act, you will not, NOT, work on Broadway. If you are an excellent actor with a so-so voice, if they really like you and think they need you, you will get a job and then they will send you out to “get a few lessons” with one of the big singing teachers here. If you need to dance a bit (and you don’t always have to) then you had better be decent (minimally) but if you are expected to really dance, as a serious dancer, you had better be very very good. And, no, you won’t be sent out to “get a few lessons” because the standards for dance here are so high. You can’t fake dancing, but I guess the producers think you can fake the singing. Right.

When you do get to sing, you must have a very clear idea of the “Ws” (who, what, where, why and when) about your song, your character, the plot, the scene — all of it — and it had better be very strong in your mind so that when do the song all of that is very clearly communicated. You will have no microphone at the audition, and you will not use any props, you can’t sing with a pre-recorded rendition of any kind and you can’t wear a costume or dance. You are there to sing, yes, but you are there to be an actor who sings not someone who sings really well without good acting.

Got that?

Really Great Singing Is Just A Bonus, Not Always A Necessity Or Even A Plus

The point is that if you sing really well say, as a graduate of a classically-oriented college program, but you aren’t a strong actor or dancer, and you are at an entry-level, your singing won’t help you much. That this is so is unfortunate but far from new. After “A Chorus Line” producers discovered they did not have to have a professional singing chorus (typically legit vocalists). They could save money and have the dancers sing. They also had the advantage of rock and roll having a greater influence year by year on Broadway musicals generally. Rock and roll has produced some great vocalists (but not on Broadway) but rock isn’t mostly about voices for their own sake. So, if you were auditioning for “Hair” or “American Idiot” having great pipes would be helpful but being able to stay vocally healthy would be more helpful, at least to you.

You Find Out After You Get Here

You don’t really get to understand much about any of this until you get here. If you are busy taking sight-singing lessons instead of acting lessons in your college program, you might try to get that changed. They really care here about acting. If you can sight-sing, good for you, it can help, but it will NEVER get you a job treading the boards. On Broadway, it’s all about the acting.

And by acting, I mean being able to be convincing in the song. The last thing they want you to do is A C T. You have to be very real but not “perform” in an old-fashioned sell-the-song kind of way, unless, of course, that is what they want as would be the case if you were being asked to play Pseudolus in “Forum”.

Confused enough for the moment? I understand. On Broadway: It’s All About the Acting. You have to be here and live it.


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