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Broadway Audition Tips

J just auditioned for Newsies, which is a big deal on Broadway right now. Most of the “kids” in the show are played by adults (casting someone who is 18 or over is much cheaper and less complicated: no tutors, no chaperones, no child labor laws). But “Les” is meant to be 10, so he has to be played by a bonafide kid. The e-mail for the audition at 1 PM on a Wednesday came in Tuesday at 5 PM, and attached to it were 2 songs and 4 scenes. Great, thanks for the advance notice! A driven kid—or one with a stage mom with whip in hand—may have crammed for the next 5 hours. J and me—well, I can pester and get about an hour out of him on an inviting summer evening (he had a ballet intensive the next morning so no time then). His agent said to focus on a song from his book—that’s what he expected they’d ask him to sing. So, we spent 15 minutes on vocal exercises, 5 minutes reviewing the songs in his book, 20 minutes listening to the Newsies songs on Youtube, and 20 minutes running the scenes.

Newsies Casting Call

Newsies Dance Audition

Naturally he got to the audition and they asked him to sing the Newsies songs, which he hadn’t heard with piano accompaniment, so he didn’t know his cues. He ended up singing “Electricity,” his go-to song at the moment, and did several scenes. He said he got lots of laughs, but the song flub no doubt got his headshot dumped down the BAD EGG chute. Or, he’s just too tall. Coming from the world of modeling, where height rules, it’s hard to watch J hit the ceiling as far as child acting opportunities. The most successful kid actors are teeny tiny. They can play young kids (but with the advantage of great maturity—same deal with child models) and stay in the same role for a few years. A tall kid is a risk; a growth spurt could propel him past the adult cast members.

Newsies the Musical


1. Practice songs with the piano tracks, which you often can find on youtube (I didn’t learn this until after the fact). Or, even better, with a vocal coach who plays the piano.

2. Ideally, prepare all the material you are given. (But my theory is, don’t make yourself/child nuts if it’s just not feasible.)

3. Often actors read from a script in the audition, so memorizing may not be expected.

4. Murphy’s Law will ensure that if you haven’t prepared, casting will want it all, and if you’ve prepped carefully they will ask for a smidgeon of the material provided or something different altogether (J prepared the callback song for “A Christmas Story” exclusively for 3 weeks prior. For once, plenty of time to practice and specific intstructions! Yeh! Nope, not so fast. He was totally thrown when they asked him to sing his original audition song instead. Does that qualify as child abuse?)

5. Short child actors have a big advantage!

On Monday, J auditioned for MacBeth at Lincoln Center. He nailed the scene. He really did. He was reading for the role of MacDuff’s son, age range 8 – 11. Perfect. J is 10. Then I noticed a little note in the audition info: “The younger looking, the better.” Groan.

Newsies audition song: Carrying the Banner


Don’t forget to enter the Modeling Mentor Model Search. I’ll be choosing August Model of the Month next week!