Natalie Gallacher is a casting director who has worked with Pippa Ailion for 15 years. She started as an intern, then became an assistant, then an associate and now she is a casting director alongside Pippa. They have worked on numerous shows including The Lion King, Tina, Book of Mormon, Dreamgirls, Come From Away, Moulin Rouge and Get Up Stand Up. After shorty introducing herself she opened the floor to questions and gave us a lot of great advice.
In a pre-screen singing stage, the casting directors just want to hear if you can sing and if your voice suits the style of the piece. If the part you’re auditioning for goes up to a certain note, it would be good to choose an audition song that goes there as well. Choose a song that really shows what you can do vocally.
Natalie is a believer in giving eye-contact during an audition. She thinks it helps both the actor and the creative team. You can’t stare one person out, but use the whole panel and engage them in your performance. Also, if you are unsure, you can always ask if the panel would prefer for you to sing to them or above their heads.
You have to make sure you have a good relationship with your agent and that you have the same end goal and aspirations for your career. Don’t go with the first person who offers you representation, but get to know different agents and find out what’s best for you.
Drama school grads in auditions should have a bit more self-belief. If you are selected for an audition, just know and believe you are there for a reason and that you are as capable as anyone else who is there. Really use that platform to showcase what you have been training for.
Natalie is a big believer in continuing training when you finish drama school. Keep going to dance classes and keep taking singing lessons. Always be ready to give your best at an audition.
If Natalie has to select people for auditions out of thousands of suggestions from agents, she looks at vocal range, skills needed for the brief (e.g. certain type of dance) and height (when relevant) first. Then, for graduates especially, she would look at where you’ve trained, what you have done at college (what shows, what parts).
When asked if she listens to voice reels or watches show reels, Natalie answered that she definitely does. She thinks they are a great promotional tool, especially during these ‘covid-times’ where it can be harder to get a lot of people in the audition room. They shouldn’t be too long, she suggests a maximum of 2 minutes 40. It is important to show little snippets of contrasting styles Showcase ‘you’ and the different sides there are to you. Most importantly: show your best bits. Don’t put the best bits at the end, cause someone might have stopped watching or listening by then. So in conclusion: show your best bits and don’t make it too long.
Sometimes people feel a bit bogged down with how many recalls they get, but the only reason someone keeps being recalled is that the creative team feels like they need to get something more out of you, they believe sometimes more is there and they want you to be ready for that final audition round where everyone from ‘the higher creative team’ will only see you once and the decisions are being made.
Natalie also gave us the hopeful message that she is already feeling the industry ‘reliving’ as she is already working on the casting process for several shows with rehearsal periods due to start as early as April. The industry talk was positive, fun, interesting and enriching and left us all feeling excited to step into the industry and start auditioning.
Written by: Lya Luca