Audition Secrets of a Casting Director

By Mia Lyndon (mialyndon@mail.com)

Audition Quest was delighted to interview Graeme Pickering, a casting consultant and choreographer about his optimum audition advice. Having carved out a highly successful career within the industry, Graeme has performed professionally, worked as Casting Director for TCB Group and has choreographed numerous sell-out performances.

1. Could you talk a little about your experiences in auditions as a casting consultant & choreographer please- what has your role involved over the years? 


I have been lucky enough to be a part of many auditions. Within my role, I organise and set up the whole audition from booking studios, to going through online submissions to shortlist, to sitting behind the table and casting. There is a lot to casting and I love the whole entire process. As well as my work in London, I have held castings in Berlin, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Sydney and New York. 


2.What are the biggest mistakes that performers make during auditions?

The biggest error I find people do in auditions is that they overthink everything! They are trying to guess what the casting team want, they are worrying about getting it wrong, they are stressing ‘what if I do this‘!

The answer is breathe! By overthinking everything and being stressed, you are not allowing the casting team to see who you are and not letting them get to know your personality. This is essential that you show who you are as this is going to make you stand out in the room. Try and work on channelling your nervous energy to use it to make you perform your best. Don’t allow your worry to get in the way of your talent.


3. How important is preparation?

Preparation is so important. If we fail to prepare, we are preparing to fail. It is very clear when an auditionee is totally prepared. It allows them to recover from mistakes and still continue giving their best they can on the day. Preparation allows you to leave everything you have in the room and if the outcome is unsuccessful that day, it is OK because you gave it your all. If you haven’t prepared, you may leave the audition wishing you had done more.

4. What is the best way to prepare for an audition?

I feel the best way to prepare is to take your time before an audition and if you are preparing a song or script, do it over and over again! Practise makes perfect. Preparation is also making sure you have the correct shoes, music etc with you- warmed up a plus warm-up appropriately beforehand.

 
5. Lots of dancers don’t know how to present themselves during an audition (they don’t want to come across as too nervous or too confident)- what are your thoughts on this?

I feel that dancers should just come across as themselves. At the end of the day, we are all humans auditioning for humans, so just show your personality. If you are dancing in a non-book show e.g. a cruise ship or a holiday park, the show is usually a revue style and will require the performers to express themselves. If you are always yourself in the audition room, it is never wrong. If you aren’t right for one project, you may be right for another if you are being totally yourself.


6. The general rule is to wear something bright and colourful to stand out in an audition- but does this really matter?

I feel the key to the perfect audition outfit is to wear what suits you the best and highlights all your best qualities. I agree, sometimes colour can make you really pop and therefore stand out, however a lot of dancers look great in just black.

It is good to be identified by your outfit if it is a large audition e.g. boy in the red shorts. As auditions are so fast paced, this is an instant thing which allows the casting team to jog their memory. This being said however, the fit and the way the colour compliments the dancer is the most important part of any audition outfit. Have a shopping session with an honest friend and find the perfect outfit which suits you! 

6. As a choreographer, are there certain qualities that you always look out for in potential dancers?

I look for dancers with great style and the ability to execute the combination accurately. In a rehearsal process, there is often little time to get a show taught, so it is important the dancer takes on all details and implements them into their work straight away. Having these qualities and the ability to be directed easily are always going to make them more employable. Be open, adaptable and responsive – it will make you stand out! 


7. You’ve written a fantastic book to help guide performers through auditions- could you tell us a little more about it please?

Thank you – the book is a 50 Tip Audition Guide that is designed to calm performers nerves and give them an insight to a view of the room from behind the table. This should lead them to greater audition success. From before the audition, to whilst in the room, to how you can better prepare for your audition, this book is a complete guide that will help both a student, graduate or experience performer looking for a refresher.

Click here to discover more about ’50 Tips: Audition Success’

With thanks to Graeme for his wonderful contribution.

GRAEME PICKERING

Graeme Pickering is a UK-based Choreographer and Casting Consultant. After a successful performing career on both land and sea, Graeme is now a sought-after creative providing services in Casting, Choreography and Masterclasses.

He continues to work with Celebrity Cruises as their casting associate across Europe, Australia and most recently New York City. He has lead castings for TCB Group as Casting Director for their productions of ‘Rip It Up : The 70s’ (UK Tour), ‘Here Come The Boys’ (UK Tour 2020) and ‘Viva La Divas’ (UK Tour)

Graeme has choreographed sell out productions across the UK for established companies, pantomime producers and leading drama school graduate musicals and showcases.

Bio from graemepickering.com

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