UK Musical Theatre Course Auditions: How To Prepare

May 26, 2022
UK Musical Theatre Course Auditions: How To Prepare

Getting ready to audition for UK Drama School Musical Theatre courses is nerve-wracking. But you will probably find that you will also get a lot out of it. Here are some tips to guide you how to get the most out of your experience:

Choosing your Songs:

Most Drama schools, including us here at Associated Studios, will want to hear two contrasting songs and a monologue. What do they mean with contrasting songs? Usually it would be one pre-1965 'legit' song and one contemporary song. If one is up-tempo and one is a ballad, this is also good. Make sure you choose songs which show off your strengths as a vocalist and actor, and not your weaknesses. Choose songs which lie comfortably within your current range. Otherwise you will spend your time worrying about the high note, rather than connecting to the text and the music.

If you do not know your current vocal range, either ask your teacher to help you work out your lowest note, your safe top note and your safe belt or chest mix, or if you know how to play the piano, then go to the piano and work out your current range in which you sound good. Look for songs within that range.

Try to choose songs which are roughly within your casting bracket. For example, avoid songs sung by much older or much younger characters. Also avoid songs sung by characters with a vastly different cultural heritage. Try to choose songs which you can relate to. If you can connect to the emotional journey of the character, your acting will be much better. Every Drama school will rate your 'Acting Through Song' ability. They will care less about your vocal technique, and more about whether you have attempted to connect to the song and tell your story truthfully.

Cut any song which is longer than 3 minutes down. Label the cuts clearly and ALWAYS tape your music or have it in a neat display book. The Musical Director/ Accompanist will not have a tough time trying to turn pages, and you will get a much better accompaniment out of him. You will also come across more professionally.

Try to work through your songs with a teacher who teaches at the level of the Drama school you are auditioning for. If you are auditioning for a vocational Drama school the expected standard will be higher than for most University Drama courses. This is because vocational Drama schools train performers who have the potential and ability to work as professional performers in the industry after they graduate. Some Universities are more academic, and the training is more theoretical, and less practical. Therefore when you choose a singing teacher to help you prepare for your exams, make sure they work at the kind of institutions you are auditioning for. If you are auditioning for vocational, industry-led musical theatre courses, go to a teacher who teaches at these drama schools and works in the profession. Also go to a musical theatre vocal coach, rather than a teacher who works mostly with classical singers. If at all possible, book a couple of sessions with a Musical Director who works in musical theatre. Get them to record your backing tracks for you and coach you through your songs. If you cannot book an MD to work with, explore various backing tracks on You Tube, Appcompanist (a very useful app!) or Spotify. Try to choose a piano backing track and make sure it is in the same key as your sheet music.

Make sure you get in regular vocal practice before your auditions. If you want to be a professional singer/actor/dancer, then your practice needs to reflect this. I ask my students to practice 5-6 days a week. If you are not used to regular practice, build it up slowly. You must build your vocal stamina across all voice qualities. Work on your voice in your head register/falsetto and chest register. Put a circle around the bars in your songs which you find challenging. Try to work out the technical reason why it is challenging. Preferably ask your teacher for help. Make these sections part of your daily practice. A song take at least 3 weeks to get into your muscle memory properly. So work out your songs well in advance and work on them specifically and in detail, for at least a month before your auditions.

Associated Studios, and many other schools, have a list of reputable, excellent teachers you could book a coaching session with. Coaching sessions should take place at the school or a public studio rather than a private house, especially if you do not know them. If you would like to book a session with one of our coaches, please e-mail

Tips on finding the right monologue:

There are many monologue books available. This is a good way of finding a monologue. Best of all, speak to an Acting coach or Director you know, and ask for suggestions based on your casting bracket. You may want to prepare one classical and one contemporary monologue. You will probably need both once you start Drama school.

Once you have chosen one or two monologues, always read the entire play they are from. You should know the context. Memorise the name of the Playwright and the name of the play.

Ask yourself the following questions:

Whom is the character speaking to?

What does the character want?

What is the journey the character goes through in this speech?

What are the given circumstances? In other words; what is the setting, what time and place is the character in, what has just happened, what makes them give this speech, what are they wearing, what is their physicality like, what is their voice quality like, what is their energy like?

Practice speaking the speech out lous, practice annunciating more strongly than you usually do and practice giving the speech more vocal energy so that you can be heard at the back of the rehearsal room or theatre.

Do run your speeches with friends and an acting coach/ DIrector if possible.

In the audition, if the panel are interested in you, they will probably want to direct you through your monologue. This is so that they can see how you respond to direction and how flexible you are. Go with it and allow yourself to explore and play with it.

Some general tips on Drama school auditions:

Remember that this is also your chance to get to know the school. Talk to as many of their students as you can and get a sense of the place. Make sure you ask lots of questions. If you don't get in this year, try again next year. Many musical theatre students get rejected several times before being accepted. Don't take this as a sign that you are not good enough. Keep trying and try to get some honest feedback.

Auditioning at Associated Studios:

When you audition for the BA, the MA or the Diploma courses at Associated Studios, we will always tell you if we think a different course would be better for you. For example, we have many University Drama grads audition for our MA. As they did not train at a vocational school, they often need more time to develop into industry-ready artists. In such cases we advise you to go onto our 2-year MA pathway. Similarly some of our 2-year accelerated BA applicants may need longer than 2 years. In such cases we advise you to take the Core Diploma, before embarking on the BA.

Enjoy your auditions and take them as an opportunity to get to know the schools you are applying for, and best of all, start your journey on a competitive but exhilerating career.

Leontine Hass

Vocal Coach

Principal of Associated Studios