When it comes to the theater scene, Asheville’s got a full schedule.
It’s not just the professionals who dominate the local stages though. Community theaters rely on amateur performers to join their casts — and you’re just an audition away from becoming one of them.
Just the word “audition” can be intimidating for those of us with stage fright. So that’s why we turned to Asheville Community Theatre (ACT) Education Director and seasoned actor Zoe Zelonky for a little advice on what to expect + how to nail an audition.
It’s not just for the Boy Scouts. Zoe says to start by carefully checking the theater’s website or wherever you found the audition posting. Pro tip: You may need to register to audition beforehand, or the theater may allow walk-ups.
“Looking up what the requirements for the audition are is very important,” Zoe said. “Make sure you have everything that you need. Really do the work to see what the theater wants from you.”
Depending on the theater, you may need to prepare a monologue. Zoe suggests you start with what you know — a memorable moment from a play, film, or book you like. Often, though, theaters will just have cold reads from the script.
If it’s a musical role you’re pursuing, you’ll need to prepare a song and will most likely be expected to dance (so wear something comfortable). A general rule of thumb is to avoid songs from the musical you’re auditioning for, but it helps to stick to the same mood; if it’s an upbeat musical or character, pick something lively.
But more than anything choose something that makes you feel confident.
“Picking that song that makes you feel powerful, makes you feel confident, makes you feel like you’re showing your best self is really what’s most important,” Zoe said.
Don’t sweat the spotlight
Okay, so you’ve got everything you need, and the day of the audition has arrived. At ACT, an audition greeter will meet you at the door to help you fill out your form, get you water and your name tag, and take your picture. When your name is called, you’ll go into a studio and perform for the directing team.
Standing in front of a panel of people can be a frightening experience, but Zoe says that auditions shouldn’t be as intimidating as they often are.
“Everybody in that room is rooting for you. Nobody, not a single director, is ever sitting there like, ‘Oh, I hope this person blows it,’” Zoe said. “They want you to do well because they want an amazing cast — so they hope that everybody who comes in knocks it out of the park.”
Now that you know what to expect, you’re probably itching to get on stage. The opportunity might be here quicker than you thought — ACT will hold auditions for “Elf: The Musical” tonight, Monday, Aug. 28, and Tuesday, Aug. 29 at 6:30 p.m. The audition schedule for the rest of the season can be found online.
You can also keep an eye out for audition dates with groups like the Montford Park Players, when they announce their next season.
Not everyone seeks the spotlight, so you can also volunteer for these theaters to help with costumes, sets, ushering, and more behind-the-scenes needs. Make sure to mark your calendars to see upcoming shows.