From the Eyes of a Musical Theatre Hopeful: College Auditions

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From the Eyes of a Musical Theatre Hopeful: College Auditions

Hesseltine performing in Pioneer Theatre Guild's Fall 2013 production of PIPPIN.

Hesseltine performing in Pioneer Theatre Guild's Fall 2013 production of PIPPIN.

Myra Klarman

Hesseltine performing in Pioneer Theatre Guild's Fall 2013 production of PIPPIN.

Myra Klarman

Myra Klarman

Hesseltine performing in Pioneer Theatre Guild's Fall 2013 production of PIPPIN.

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My heart pounding in my chest, music in hand, I took a deep breath and walked into the audition room. I had spent the entire morning going over the next five minutes, mentally speeding through each second of my monologue and over-thinking what I’ll do with my hands as I sing. Don’t forget to go to the pianist first and thank her when you finish your songs. Slate your pieces in the order you will perform them. If you’re frustrated, go to your happy place and always wear a smile. But most importantly, be yourself.

Nervousness aside, on Dec. 7, 2013, I completed my first audition for a collegiate musical theatre program, thus beginning of a month and a half long journey to eight schools across the midwest. And oh, what a rollercoaster it has been.

For some, auditioning is the scary part. Auditioning means the monsters on the other side of the table get to rip you apart, judge your every move and wrap up the day by throwing your file into a paper shredder. From my findings in the past six weeks, there is not the slightest bit of truth in that statement. In fact, at each audition I attended, the auditors explicitly stated their excitement for the students they were about to see. After all, they’re the ones with the problem in this situation: they need to find anywhere from fifteen to thirty kids they want in their program and we could be their solution. As for the auditioners, we get to do what we love for five minutes: perform. Simple, right?

Not quite. Just like writing any essay, preparing for a performance takes an incredible amount of effort. A strong audition requires more than just learning your music and monologues, but analyzing them. It means looking at their requirements and making sure you have more than they ask for. However, what held particular importance in this case was organization.

I’d like to have said that I’m an organized individual, but unfortunately, the condition of my bedroom proved otherwise. With clothes strewn on the floor and a pile of binders and textbooks littered across my desk, it was clear I needed a little help entering this process. The term “stage mom” is often used when discussing mothers in the theatre realm—and often with negative connotations—but I think almost anyone in my shoes would say this: we couldn’t have done it without them. As far as my own “stage mom” is concerned, she alleviated the organization burden with one big binder full of calendars, spreadsheets, and detailed information about each of my schools and their application expectations. By the time Dec. 7 rolled around, we were functioning like a well-oiled machine, she handling the paperwork and I attempting to master my audition material.

The auditions themselves were immensely fun. The auditors weren’t lying—I truly did get to travel the midwest and just do what I love. Even so, the process was not all peaches and cream. Auditions were, in their own way, one college application for every weekend. While thinking about the future was and still is exciting, it’s also overwhelmingly stressful. Looking to pursue a career in a field as competitive as musical theatre is daunting and collegiate auditions can be, too. Lately, my dreams have been centered around college acceptances and rejections, anxiety encompassing each of them. I’ve spent many days contemplatively rubbing my temples, giving too much thought to a process I can no longer control.

Yet, sitting at my desk and reflecting on this experience, I feel at peace with my efforts. I have done my part and that is all I can do. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees in this industry and if I don’t get accepted into my “top” school, the world won’t stop turning on its axis. It will continue moving and so will I. This next month only begins another stepping stone in my life’s path, so let the waiting game begin. I’m ready.

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