Whether you’re new or old to musical theatre, there are those common mistakes every performer makes once in a while that can be highly embarrassing.
Sometimes the embarrassment stays with us long after your audience has forgotten about it, so it’s important to learn from your mistakes and move on to avoid damaging your musical career.
Follow these top tips to avoid your next musical theatre fail, and shine no matter if it’s an audition, in rehearsals or under the bright lights on stage.
1. Choosing Not To Warm Up
An athlete wouldn’t go into a 100m sprint in the Olympic Games without warming up their muscles. Similarly, you shouldn’t think you’re okay to sing, dance or act on stage without warming up your body and vocal cords.
Sometimes, actors can have a problem of forgetting that your vocal cords are muscles too and before going into a big performance, you need to “open up your voice”. If not, you can damage your voice box and put yourself out of performance for days even weeks.
Tip: For some great vocal exercises, we recommend you take a look at Theatre Folk’s guide by clicking this link.
2. Choosing The Wrong Song
Now, this point mainly applies to people in auditions, though it’s something to remember if you’re creating a unique performance that uses current chart music instead of a specific set of complete show backing tracks.
For example, if you were performing the original musical Annie, you’d want to use the complete set of Annie mp3 backing tracks, tailored to suit your voice.
You should be able to find a key which suits your vocal range perfectly, allowing you to perform to the best of your ability. If a backing track or a song is even slightly out of your vocal range, you might struggle to hit some of the higher or lower notes, which can be jarring for your audience.
This is especially important if you’re auditioning, as you’ll want to showcase how great your voice is, not the opposite. Your song choice should make you feel confident. If you’re dreading a certain part of it, it’s likely to show both in your face and your voice.
3. Forgetting To Communicate Your Personality
Forgetting to communicate your personality goes back to whether or not you prepared. Sometimes, performers can find it difficult to hit the high notes whilst trying to convey emotion and personality in the performance. However, it’s important to not focus solely on your voice.
Of course, you’ll want to sound great but for many musical performers, having an amazing voice isn’t what makes them a phenomenon with the crowd. Instead, it’s their ability to connect with you, make you sympathise with them, laugh with them and in turn, clap for them.
Tip: The more you practice you have, chances are getting up on stage will feel natural to you and so, you’ll be able to relax and stop focusing on the song.
That way it’ll make your performance flow and allow you to really get into the part and actually perform the song rather than simply singing it.
4. Apologising After An Audition
It turns out casting agencies aren’t a fan of the modesty of someone saying “Sorry” after their performance. When you’re auditioning for a role, you are selling yourself and so, it’s crucial you are confident and do just that.
By saying sorry, in some ways you’re showing a weakness and self-doubt your performance isn’t as good as you’d hoped. If you make a mistake, chances are they won’t necessarily pick up on it until you point it out.
Tip: A casting agency won’t want a performer who is shy, doubts their acting skills and apologises after their performance. You’ll be seen as incapable of delivering a striking, strong performance by lacking the “the-show-must-go-on” attitude.
5. Choosing The Wrong Uniform
Costume choice is a big factor in whether your performance is successful or not. Sadly, it’s a fairly universal truism that casting agents will have already made their mind up on if you suit the part or not by what you wear. So, think about it carefully.
Stage Agent has shared that a common theme they’ve come across, particularly for female auditionees, is to go for a jewel-toned or floral dress with simple, nude shoes. This look is believed to make performers look like a blank slate for directories though we’re learning that’s not the case.
Instead, you should wear something that echoes the role, without being in full costume. Don’t be afraid to show your personality with your outfit. This will help to give the agents a sense of you from the first moment they see you.
6. Ditching The Brief
If you’ve been told to give a “short selection” of a musical or perhaps a certain number of bars, make sure you stick to it. Though you may think the best part of the piece you’re performing is the few lines after the part you’ve been asked to perform, casting agents won’t be best pleased you decided to ignore them and run free with the brief.
Make sure you spend your time putting your character and best effort into the parts they have asked to see. Once you’ve practised this part to perfection, take a look at the rest. That way, if they ask you to read more lines you’re ready.
To sum up this post, there are many common mistakes performers can make and so, it’s important you take note of them, swear by practice and constantly relate back to your audience both when planning and actually performing.
Whether your audience is a casting agent or your family, you want to “wow” them, portray your personality, show them how well you can sing and give them an outfit and song choice they’ll love.
For more tips and tricks, you can read our previous guest posts with Amdram on how to perform with professional backing tracks and reasons why students should get into musical theatre.
Stephen Robinson, London Arrangements
London Arrangements specialises in the production of professional backing tracks, ranging from stage and screen music, jazz backing tracks, to classical backing tracks and easy listening genres.