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A Guide to Running Auditions and Casting your Primary School Musical

Updated: Feb 8


Photo from the 2013 world premiere production of When I Grow Up


So, you're ready to start the audition process for your musical! Here are some tips to get everyone on board and to make the process as smooth as possible.


1. Get everyone excited

 



You've chosen your show, you're excited (and just a tad nervous) about what is to come - now is the time to get everyone else on board. Build the suspense and then make a big announcement about the musical. If it’s their first one, you may need to sell it a little more! Explain the story, give an idea of the types of roles available, and talk about what an awesome and memorable experience a school musical can be. A chance to be a part of something BIG, to make new friends and to shine on stage (not to mention all the new skills they will be learning). If they are used to doing musicals each year or every other year, chances are many of the students are already excited about the prospect of being chosen for a lead role. Remind them that it is their turn now to be front and centre. You want as many students as possible to audition - that way, no talent goes unnoticed. So, make sure they all leave your class buzzing with excitement!

 

Let the students know the types of things you might be looking for when they audition: energy, enthusiasm, projection, clarity, humour etc. A great place to start is with some drama-based lessons featuring improvisation, character and energy games and some vocal warm-ups and exercises.

 

You will need to prepare them for the fact that there might not be a speaking part for everyone who auditions. Sometimes, a student might just be more suited to the larger roles on offer, it doesn’t mean that the student who missed out didn’t give a fantastic audition (and sometimes, it might mean exactly that). And not everyone will be interested in being front and centre on stage, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be involved. See ‘4. Casting’ below, for suggestions on how to involve as many students as possible.


"There are no small parts, only small actors
- Konstantin Stanislavski

2. Prepare for the audition

 

Before students even decide to audition, make sure they are aware of your expectations should they land a lead role: commitment to learning songs, memorising lines, lunchtime rehearsals and availability for performance dates.

 

Each student who would like a role (as well as those who are still deciding), should fill in an audition form. This will give you an idea of what each student is hoping for (a lead role, a small role, stage crew etc.) as well as something for you to complete on audition day. Here is a free template for you to use or to give you some ideas to create your own:


Musical Audition Form Template
.pdf
Download PDF • 53KB

.YOU get a template! And YOU get a template!



Give the students a synopsis, a list of the characters and their descriptions (you will find these in the first few pages of all EPmusic scripts) and a some short excerpts from the script that will be used on rehearsal day. Choose scenes that have 2-3 characters with 3-4 lines each. Just a few lines per student is usually enough to assess suitability for a role. Tell your auditionees that they can prepare a song of their choice but that it is just as fine to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ or ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star’ on the day. Give students at least a week to prepare. This evens the playing field for those who might struggle with their reading ability. It will also give you an idea of who is really committed and might be suited to one of the more demanding roles.

 

3. The Audition



It’s audition day! The kids will be a bundle of nerves so try and make things as fun and light-hearted as possible. Some of you might be running auditions during class time so your students may have to audition in front of and with their peers. For many, this will help them to feel more comfortable. But for others, it might make them feel even more nervous. Be sure to prep the ‘audience’ to be supportive and remind them how much courage it takes to get up and speak or sing in front of the class.

 

Remind students that the character they are playing today is not necessarily the role they are auditioning for. Use the audition form (provided above) to mark your overall impressions of their acting and vocal ability and jot down some brief comments. Try students in different roles. And be open minded. They will often surprise you!


Be sure to ask students to demonstrate their 'special talents' if they have filled in this section. You never know what you might be able to weave into the script.

*Note: All EPmusic musicals come with free editable scripts for your convenience.

 

4. Casting

 

Casting can be a tricky process! It can feel like a puzzle that you are not sure you have all the pieces for right up until the very end. You might require a ‘call-back’ audition just to get a bit more clarity on who is best suited to each role. If there are more auditionees than there are roles, don't worry! There are plenty of ways to involve everyone in the production. Here are a few suggestions:

 

  • Class chorus/ensemble numbers – if you’re doing a whole school musical you can choose one or two song and dance numbers for each class or year level to perform.

  • Give all of the ensemble members a named part even if they don’t have a speaking role. You can make these up yourself and have a bit of fun with it!

  • Dance Crew – a group of dancers that have a chorus number in the show (in addition to their class chorus number). They might even be able to help with choreography!

  • Stage Crew – a small group (5 – 10 students, depending on the size of your show) that will be responsible for (or help with) moving sets and props on and off-stage, collecting classes to make sure they are side-stage for their performance at the right times and relaying messages in general.

  • Band – create a band with students who are skilled on an instrument. Depending on their level of skill, they could play along with the backing track or play the music themselves (perhaps with the help of teaching staff where possible).

*Note: All EPmusic musicals come complete with rehearsal and backing tracks.

  • Musical Artwork competition – run a competition for the cover of the program, posters and any promotional material you might be planning to use for your show. 1st place goes on the front of the program, 2nd place on the back and all the other entries can be displayed throughout the program.

  • Sets and Props – have the students create some of the sets and props. If possible, team up with your school’s art teacher and see if it could be worked into their program.

 

Remind your students that EVERYONE is an important part of the show. From the lead roles to the ensemble, the stage crew to the lighting guy – each person plays a significant role and is a part of the musical family.

 

Happy auditioning!

 

From the team at EPmusic

 

P.S. Our next blog will be all about the rehearsal process so be sure to follow along for more tips. If you are still looking for a show, check out EPmusic’s musicals here and be sure to contact us if you have any questions.

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2 Comments


Unknown member
Jan 25

This is amazing! Thankyou!

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Unknown member
Jan 28
Replying to

You are so welcome! Hope it comes in handy for you :)

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