Friday, April 22, 2011

NYC Audition Play by Play

After being on tour for 6 months and performing all over the country I returned to NYC for a little over a month to audition and find the next gig! I came into this time knowing that it was going to be full of VERY hard work, lots of rejection, and hoping for some positive feedback. I have never been one to love being in New York. It is just too hard, cold, and loud for me. It is the toughest city in the world, truly. As the lyrics say, "If I can make it there, Ill make it ANYWHERE!" I realize from a distance that my life seems to be a lot of fun and very little work, but this business can be really brutal. I thought that I'd give a quick picture of what life is like when I am auditioning in New York. The times I am here auditioning is when the real work happens. Here is what a typical audition day looks like during a good, busy week:

-Wake up at 7:00 to get ready. Shower and be dressed looking your VERY BEST to head out and present yourself as the ideal for what a company would want to hire. You are your own product so being groomed and styled is not an option. Since it's a busy day you have to have with you dance clothes and options for other dress, headshots and resumes, and your audition book with your music. This means your bag has 2-3 pairs of shoes (dance, sneakers, and dress), a huge binder, a couple tee-shirts, dance belts, 2-3 pairs of dance pants, deodorant, hair product, a book, ipod, water bottle, umbrella. This will be your lifeline and you will carry it ALL DAY LONG.
-Head to the studios where auditions are being held. On a busy day you may try to get to 3, 4, or even 5 auditions in a day in buildings all over NYC. You have to prioritize and decide what auditions are really worth going to based on what you are right for, what you think you can realistically be hired for, times of auditions, locations, etc. Because you are not Equity you have to wait in lines so this means that you get to a building at 8:00 to stand in the snow, rain, etc. until 9:30 when the doorman finally lets in the 100 people standing outside with you. At this point you are texting your friends at other auditions hoping they can sign you up for things. Once you are on the list to be seen at the Equity audition (if they even have time to see non-equity actors) you head over 3 blocks (with your giant audition bag) to jump in the line of the open call and hope you make it on that list before 10:00 when they cut off the list. Your name is now signed up there!
-You've got your name on 3 lists now to be seen so now it's a waiting and juggling game. Wait around literally for HOURS at this studio and hope to be seen. All the while you get updates from a friend at the other auditions to find out how close they are getting to your name. You run over to sing at one of those auditions and end up missing your name being called at another. It is like this all day, every day. Wait and hope to get seen for 30 seconds by casting directors, producers, etc.
-Once you get in the audition room any number of things could happen. For a singing call you may be asked to sing 16 bars or 32 bars of music appropriate to the show(s) the company is doing. You may only get to sing 8 bars of music if there are too may people to be seen that day. 8 bars of music is literally 10-15 seconds long. That's all you have. You walk in the room, give the accompanist your music and explain your well-thought-out, perfectly designed cut of the song that you have rehearsed relentlessly in all of 5 seconds. Literally. Say hello to the people behind the audition table (casting directors, producers, choreographers, directors, etc.) and try to make charming small talk to be remembered. Try to make a connection with them.
-Finally you get to sing! The music starts and during those 10-15 seconds your inner monologue goes something like this. "Oh my gosh! The accompanist is going really fast! Wait- are they looking at me? I think they just flipped my headshot over and I've only sung 2 words! Oh great- he's eating his lunch. He's drinking his coffee! Seriously- this accompanist did NOT listen to the tempo I gave him! I sound terrible. UGH! Dang it- just missed my funny acting beat, but here comes the money note...!!! You've got to be kidding me. The accompanist didn't hold that like I asked him to. I think my fly is undone." Your song ends in a flash and that was your only chance to show them how excellent and wonderful you are. A polite, "Thanks" from behind the table signals your exit and just like that you are done.
-If it's a dance call you have 10 minutes to learn a combination from the choreographer that has been designed to show every jump, turn, and trick in the show. Since you are learning it in front of the choreographer you try to be especially attentive, laugh at all their jokes, and ask really smart, insightful questions. Take in EVERY specificity, look in the mirror to make sure you look as much like the choreographer as possible. You have to be polite to the other dancers since there are 50 of you in one studio. You won't learn the whole dance. You stress over the moves and then after you learn it the choreographer will insist that really the most important thing to remember is the acting and story behind the whole piece. Wait- we have to act during this, too?
-If you're lucky you get seen at multiple auditions in a day and all the while you sweat your way through, you don't expect ANYTHING. You assume that you WON'T hear from any of the companies because if you hope too much you will just get down, depressed, and overwrought. You have to look at every audition as an opportunity to perform. If you it is 8 bars of music, you are thankful you get to sing that day. If it is a dance call that is far beyond your training, you are thankful for a workout and dance class. Above all you have to be positive, friendly, and open, leaving it ALL on the floor as you leave.
-The day ends still lugging that bag around as you meet up with friends for dinner. You may hear from companies weeks later and you know.... you may even book a job! Auditioning is the hardest and strangest thing I've ever done.

From an outsider's perspective it must seem truly crazy. This is my job. It is SO hard. There is so much rejection, so much unknown, so much trust. I have been blessed to have some great things happen. In the month I've been here I have book multiple jobs, had DOZENS of callbacks and am getting emails and phone calls about opportunities every day. It's been amazing, but I. AM. EXHAUSTED!!! Hope your days are a bit more peaceful.

Love to you all,

ps- Today is Good Friday. I am stunned today by the power and might of the cross. Jesus came as a perfect sacrifice for our sins. I am proud to worship a God who loves us regardless of our gender, our class in life, our sexual orientation, our bad habits, our likes and dislikes, our strengths, our looks, our bad decisions. He LOVES US!!! He loves us so much that He died for us. That is remarkable.


  1. Thank you for this post! It does help me realize that your life isn't as glamorous as it seems (well, except when you think of all the places you've been)! I couldn't handle it... my constant need for approval is too ridiculous. Keep working hard and running after it- we have faith in you!

  2. I'm with Taylor...I could never handle that much rejection! You are doing a great job! God bless!

  3. Wow! I am so amazed by this post! I didn't realize how much pressure you're under every time you audition. I COULD NEVER DO IT EVER EVER! I am so proud of you, Tripp. No matter what it takes, you keep going after those dreams of yours. There aren't too many people who do that. I think "Tripp Hampton" will look so good when it's all lit up! Love you! Mom