Casserly Corner: Musical Theater Audition Preparation

Lundstrum students are out and about auditioning for local productions in Minneapolis. The arrival of fall means school plays, community theater seasons, and more! We sat down with Lundstrum Vocal Director, Sue Casserly-Kosel, to get some advice on preparing for a successful audition.

“Learn the show! Learn the songs, read the script, learning as much as you can about the show. Familiarize yourself with the characters and their motivations,” Sue says, “There’s only one way to do well, and that is to prepare to do well.”

It’s not just about memorizing lines or lyrics. Performers need to be smart in how they learn their material.

“There’s only one way to do well,
and that is to prepare to do well.”
-Sue Casserly-Kosel

“You want to be able to stand out when you sing your song- and how do you do that?,” Sue asked. She believes it’s all about practice. “And practice doesn’t mean singing it over and over and over again a hundred times. Practicing means learning the notes and really being secure in ‘what vowel you sing’ to make the word sound right. Practice means practicing the emotional thread the story tells. I have kids that come in for coaching that over sing like crazy. Tone it down, bring it back, and make it real. Directors want authenticity.”

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“Directors are going to be looking for the most authentic performers- those kids who are genuine and real and honest and truthful in their storytelling,” Sue explains, “They’re not looking for kids that only put on a big brassy show. They’re looking for those heartwarming characters that the audience can fall in love with.”

Auditions and callbacks are about more than just the talent of the performers. Similar to any business, directors and artistic teams want to work with people who are enjoyable to be around. In rooms filled with performers who all sing and dance well, casting can come down to something more basic: personality.

“All those soft skills are critical: being quiet when the director is talking, refraining from chatting with their friends, stepping up and trying something when asked instead of being shy,” Sue elaborates, “Directors are looking for those children who behave well, who get along with the other kids, and are easy to work with. All of these are critical soft skills.”

Directors need to have confidence that the young performers they’re casting are ready to handle the responsibility of being in a production.

“The directors and choreographers in town know,” Sue explains, “that a child who has Lundstrum Performing Arts on their resume knows how to be backstage and is worth seeing.”

Sue continued, “The smarts: I listen and I know when to go on, I know how to be dependable, I know where all my costume pieces are, I know how to hang up my costume when I’m done. Those are all things we teach by doing heavy ensemble work at Lundstrum.”

It’s mastery of how to be part of an ensemble that gets a performer cast more than once. They build a reputation for being someone people enjoy working with, someone who helps make the whole production better.

"You’ve got to be a dependable team member."
-Sue Casserly-Kosel

“Our kids learn in their performing arts classes how to be a really strong ensemble member and how to be someone that everyone else in the show can depend on. That’s the biggest thing,” Sue says, “Then after that, you can move from ensemble to soloist or principle, but you can’t really be a principle until you learn how to be an ensemble member. It just doesn’t work that way. You’ve got to be a dependable team member.”

Ready to work on your technical and soft skills for an audition or ongoing professional training? Register now for private lessons and audition preparation for all ages with our Broadway veterans.

Interview conducted by: Nora Kreml


Casserly Corner is our monthly blog series drawing on the experience of the five Casserly Sisters, the driving creative force behind Lundstrum. Working as instructors in performing, singing, and dancing, The Sisters offer over 125 years of combined professional experience to draw on.

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Emily SchoenbeckComment