Finding the right material for an audition or your repertoire is what Audition Source is all about. The tools an actor can use to find the "right" material can depend on a wide variety of factors, categories, and variables. These factors are spread in a number of qualitative pieces of information that, with a little research and knowledge, become evident to an actor. To illustrate, I'm going to provide an example of a hypothetical audition.
Let's say for a moment you are auditioning for the role of "Adult Simba" in the Broadway production of The Lion King. Right away we can gather some of the following information from the role and the source material.
-The role of Simba asks for a young adult male to play a humanized lion. The role features songs in a tenor vocal range and an RnB pop singing style. As The Lion King is set in Africa, the show typically features a majority African American cast, including Simba.
-The show features music by Elton John, Tim Rice, and other collaborators. Other lesser known details are that The Lion King's plot has been loosely based on Hamlet and that Simba is based on the title character. It's also definitely notable that it's produced by Disney.
Any or all of this information can be used in guiding you to where you need to go to find the best material for it.
We can look specifically at the character and their story arc within the context of the plot. Adult Simba has suffered a traumatic loss in witnessing the death of his father. After being convinced by Scar, his evil uncle, that his father's death was his own fault, Simba flees from Pride Rock in shame and despair. He finds shelter and friendship with two other outcasts in an oasis far from what becomes Scar's kingdom.
In his song “Endless Night,” Simba sings about his loss and frustration over his father’s absence until it turns into a prayer of hope towards the end, showing that despite his grief, Simba's ambitions for goodness are still inside him. Simba eventually goes on to avenge his father and overthrow Scar. He spares him, but leaves him with his army, who turn against him. He also shares a romantic storyline with Nala, his childhood best friend, who comes and finds him to tell him the news about the havoc King Scar has reaped on Pride Rock.
From knowing his storyline, we can decipher a multitude of criteria that one can use to search for audition materials, which I highlight with parentheses like this: (Category).
You can look at Male (Gender) roles,
played by a Young Adult (Age).
The character is the main character in this story, so you could look for other "Lead Roles", (Role Size)
particularly roles that deal with grief and other "Dramatic" (Genres).
We know also that he is a Tenor (Vocal Range).
His (Character Types) include "Leading Man, Romantic Youth, Rebel, and Tragic Hero”
Just from looking at the character of Simba you can narrow down your search. Who are some similar characters you can think of that might match some of the criteria for the role of Simba? Leave a comment on this article to let us know!
Next, let’s look at the source materials, The Lion King. The music (Composer/Score and Lyrics) is by Elton John and Tim Rice, in addition to a huge number of musical collaborations from Hans Zimmer, Jay Rifkin, Mark Mancina, and Lebo M. Roger Allers. Additionally, Irene Mecchi wrote the libretto (Book).
The musical is also, of course, based on a Disney movie and produced by Disney Theatricals. While Disney covers a wide variety of genres, a lot of Disney’s formula and style typically demonstrate a lot of similar traits within its musical compositions and writing. So the (Genre) for most music within the piece are going to be a part of the “Disney” Genre along with whatever other sub-genres the music stylings might cover such as “Rock” and “Pop.” These sub-genres are supported by the fact that typically in the breakdowns for productions of The Lion King, the casting teams often ask actors to prepare a “brief Pop or Rock song.”
It also can be important to know what kind of skills may be required of an actor to perform a role. The Lion King uses puppetry through out the production in various levels. Simba’s puppetry is a bit more simplistic (a head piece that can be launched in front of the face of the actor to show the character is ready for combat or aggression) while others are full-on suits (such as Pumba or the hyenas) or smaller puppets controlled by an actor alongside them (such as Timone and Zazu). So having the (Skill/Talent) of “Puppetry” can be useful in your arsenal to play many of these roles. Although it may not be necessary for an audition.
Another useful bit of information can be found in looking at other actors who have played the part previously. When you look at their credits you can potentially find audition material through them. An actor’s previous roles are likely to be similar enough in type to be suitable for your audition. For example, the actor who is currently playing (Played By) Simba has also played Tyrone in “A Bronx Tale” and played Apollo Creed in “Rocky: The Musical.” If the Lion King didn’t typically ask for a pop or rock song, an actor could use a song sung by one of those characters for their Simba audition as well. You can even go another degree and see what other actors who have also played those roles have done as well by continuing to research their credits.
So with all of that in mind, you can see that if an actor does the proper research they can find suitable material for an audition by searching through all the relevant channels. This research can take a while depending on where and how you are looking, but that is where Audition Source will be useful to actors, to give them easy access to all of these points of data in a convenient and easy to streamline platform.
In the next article on Audition Theory, we are going to be taking a more in depth look at character types. Check out our other articles on this subject in the links provided below:
As always, break a leg!
Founder of Audition Source