Developing Your Unique Audition Brand: Showcasing Your Artistry

Developing Your Unique Audition Brand: Showcasing Your Artistry

Authenticity: The Key to Captivating Auditions

Well, it’s here – audition season. I don’t know about you, but no one ever really taught me how to audition. Everyone had big opinions for me about what I should look like and what arias I should (and shouldn’t) present. But once I was in front of a panel, I felt lost. Sometimes an audition would go well, and sometimes it wouldn’t. No matter what, I’d find myself replaying the audition over and over, trying to figure out what the panel was thinking.

I started analyzing my auditions before I’d even left the room. Halfway through “Sempre libera,” I’d be wondering if they liked my “É strano,” which didn’t bode well for the second half. It just about drove me crazy, and it certainly didn’t help my performance. I needed them to like me so badly, but I didn’t know how to truly show them who I was.

Conformity vs. Individuality

Our deep need for approval is natural, and it’s encouraged by the young artist circuit. As important as YAPs are for career development, they don’t always encourage young artists to be themselves. There’s an unspoken implication that you have to be able to do it all in order to be chosen. It makes sense – young artists are often needed to sing and cover a variety of roles in a season. But without proper guidance, an attempt at versatility can quickly turn into conformity.

When I was auditioning in the early 2010s, it was rare to see a woman in anything but a jewel-toned wrap dress and nude pantyhose, hair half up. It’s funny now, but looking back, how were any of us supposed to demonstrate our unique artistry when we all looked identical? Well-meaning advice inadvertently made the halls of Opera America look like a casting call for “The Stepford Wives.”

And it doesn’t just happen with what we wear. It’s about what we sing and how we sing it too. Young artist programs often list requirements for repertoire – you must have five languages, you must have a Mozart, you can’t sing Menotti, etc. When you eventually get off the YAP merry-go-round, those repertoire requirements mostly go away, but that pressure to do it all doesn’t.

We want to work, so we try to cast a wide net – sometimes at the expense of our time and talents. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sung for something I was lukewarm about, both vocally and dramatically. I’d put together an aria for something not-quite-right, and then leave the audition room feeling just as “meh” as the panel probably did.

Finding Your Authentic Voice

When we try to make ourselves fit into a box, we lose what makes us special. What goes on in the minds of those on the other side of the table is mysterious and totally subjective. Opinions, like notes in a Rossini score, are endless. And just like coloratura, if you try to force an opinion, it’ll backfire. No matter what you do, you can’t control what the panel thinks. Not everyone is going to like you, and that’s okay – there are plenty who will.

I discovered that how I responded to an audition had a lot to do with how authentic I was in the room. When I started singing what I wanted, the way I wanted to sing it, using my unique understanding of my character, I stepped into my own artistry in a big way. I started enjoying myself and singing in a way that made me feel proud. I can’t tell you that I miraculously started booking every job, but I can tell you that I felt better before, during, and after my auditions.

Embracing Your Unique Artistry

Each of us possesses our own unique brand of artistry, and ultimately, that’s what every panel wants to see. Auditioning got better for me when I stopped trying to be everything to everyone and started showing them who I was. I stopped auditioning for things I actively didn’t want to sing and talked with my agent about the things I did. My audition list consists of only music that I love to sing. I present it in a way that feels authentic to me and my personal understanding of a character.

I wear a bright red jumpsuit and snakeskin heels, and you can often see my tattoos. I smile big and crack jokes. I’m as authentically me as I can possibly be. It takes guts to share who you are as an artist and as a human being, but if you’re reading this, I already know you’re brave. So take a deep breath, a big gulp of coconut water, and show up to your audition as yourself.

Developing Your Unique Audition Brand

When I started embracing my authentic self, my auditions transformed. I wasn’t trying to be everything to everyone – I was just being me. And you know what? That’s what the panels wanted to see. They didn’t want a cookie-cutter version of an artist; they wanted the real deal. They wanted to see the unique spark that makes you, you.

So, how do you go about developing your own unique audition brand? It all starts with self-discovery. Take some time to really reflect on what makes you special. What are your strengths, both as a performer and as a person? What kind of roles or characters resonate with you the most? What stories do you feel compelled to tell?

Once you’ve got a handle on your artistic identity, it’s time to start showcasing it. Think about how you can incorporate elements of your unique brand into every aspect of your audition, from the way you carry yourself to the way you interpret a piece. Are there certain performance quirks or personal touches you can incorporate? Can you find creative ways to make a familiar piece your own?

And don’t be afraid to take risks. The panels are looking for artists who have the courage to be bold and authentic. If you normally play it safe, try stepping out of your comfort zone and bringing a fresh, unexpected perspective to your audition. You never know – it might be just the thing that sets you apart.

Remember, your unique audition brand isn’t just about the pieces you sing or the way you look. It’s about the entire package – the way you carry yourself, the energy you bring to the room, the connection you make with the panel. It’s about showcasing your artistry in a way that is undeniably, unmistakably you.

Embrace the Journey

Developing your unique audition brand is a journey, and it’s not always an easy one. There will be setbacks and challenges along the way. But if you stay true to yourself, if you keep pushing to find and refine your artistic voice, I promise you, it will be worth it.

Because when you step into that audition room as your authentic self, you’re not just showcasing your talent – you’re showcasing your heart. And that, my friends, is the kind of artistry that leaves a lasting impression. So take a deep breath, channel your inner diva, and go show ’em what you’ve got.

Oh, and if you’re looking for some additional resources to help you on your journey, be sure to check out the Musical Theater Center’s website. They’ve got tons of great information and support for artists of all levels. Happy auditioning!

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