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How to Create a Stellar Audition Book

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Perhaps the most valuable and necessary tool for a soon-to-be Broadway performer is your audition book. This book is something you will lug around EVERYWHERE, and since it’s a shared item with every pianist that you meet in the room, it becomes a reflection of your preparedness.

Obviously, you want to represent yourself well, so an organized, neat book is a must. Luckily, it’s super simple to set up. Here is my checklist for creating an audition book that will help you shine at your next audition.

1) BUST OUT THE SCHOOL SUPPLIES.

Purchase a 3-ring binder that ideally has pockets inside and is no bigger than 2 inches. Any larger than that and the binder becomes too large for the pianist to even handle. Make sure the 3 rings close well and don’t separate; this becomes cumbersome for page turns.

Most importantly, only include the songs you know you’ll sing. You can create a separate binder for vocal coaching and...

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How to Take the Note

Photo by Oliver Cole on Unsplash

Creating a story can be a very vulnerable experience. We put ourselves on display while people watch us portray a character that is brand new to us, and then to get notes after can very easily touch that part of us that already feels exposed.

How many times have you been in a note session, and you hear the other actors defensively explaining their choices on stage? It’s because they feel exposed. It’s a natural reaction to be sensitive in that situation. We’ve all done it at some point, but here’s something to remember before your next notes session with a director.

Don’t take it personally.

Taking the note doesn’t mean take the punches. It may feel like a gut punch to you, but the director is trying to sharpen and hone the story; he’s not thinking of your feelings. Notes sessions are not the time to defend your craft. Simply say THANK YOU and let the note marinate.

After the...

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#BroadwayLife Ep. 16 with Jay Armstrong Johnson

I have known Jay Armstrong Johnson for almost 20 years, and I've had the privilege of watching him grow as an artist and amazing human being. He's currently playing Raoul, the Vicomte de Chagny, in The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway.

In this week’s #BroadwayLife episode, we discuss his early childhood as a professional performer, booking his first Broadway show without an agent and the glorious Halloween side project that fills his creative well.

Jay also shares his beautiful insight on being openly gay in the business and how representation in the entertainment industry has changes over the years. With an impressive career across theatre, TV and film, you won't want to miss what he has to say.

You can follow Jay on Instagram at @jay_a_johnson. You can click here to find tickets to see Jay in Phantom Broadway.

If you enjoyed this week's episode, make sure to subscribe to my mailing list here for more free articles and resources.

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Mix Up Your Training With These Insider Tips

I recently started coaching high school students on their college auditions for Musical Theatre. It’s fascinating to see where their knowledge is at such a young age and the similarities in the professional world.

So many of these students are looking forward to getting their college training but then also set the expectation that once they get that training under their belt, they are done. It has been a good reminder that so many students are attending college programs unprepared for the reality ahead of them.

Specifically, training doesn’t stop after your degree. You must always be studying.

Taking classes is how you get better, of course, but in addition to that, it’s how you meet the people that will help you get where you want to go professionally. If you’re waiting to be discovered at open calls, perhaps taking class is a better way to create a community and prepare for the next step.

Here are my top suggestions to help you find the places to study that...

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How and Where to Find Auditions

Whether you're trying to break into the industry or already established, you can't argue with more auditions.

In this Backstage with Bret video, I share some of my top places to find auditions, regardless of what coast you live on. Some ma

What are your favorite resources to find auditions? Did I leave one off the list? Let me know in the comments below, and maybe I'll make a followup video!

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Where's The Line Between Personal and Private on Social Media?

I’m a big fan of social media. I think it’s a fun experiment of how to put my creative touch on things. Plus, it helps me stay in contact with people I don't see on a regular basis.

Now, I’m a people person, always have been, and I believe being an authentic person is what makes this business function. Expressing ourselves and the lives of characters is what we do. Still, many actors I know limit themselves online by thinking of their career before their human-ness. It turns into a constant overshare of professional “wins” and monotonous information, and not enough personal connection.

I get it. It can feel scary to show your vulnerability, especially publicly. However, if you don't allow yourself to be seen, how can you expect to become known?  (If you’re scared of being vulnerable, a little Brené Brown can go a long way.)

The key is to strike a balance in the content you're sharing between protecting your privacy, supporting others, and...

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How to Find Out Who Knows You

I love being a coach for actors. Having spent 20 years in the business focusing my energy on creating a career in NYC, it means so much to help other people do the same thing. One of the first questions I hear from actors who are first arriving in NYC is, “How do I book more work?

When you go to a lot of auditions, it can be easy to put more (or all, in some cases) of the emphasis on booking the job, but the most important thing we need to do in this business is focus on relationships. I know, I know... I always say that, but it's still true! 

Unlike other businesses, show business, especially theatre, is all about the personal one-to-one connection. New Yorkers are cynical, and we have to trust the people we work with. How do you earn that trust? Over time and with consistency.

Now, don’t misconstrue my meaning, the goal is not to be liked and approved of (though we want to be thought of positively); the actual goal is to become known. Most of us already...

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How to Handle a First Rehearsal Meet & Greet

The first day of rehearsal is always the most exciting. Perhaps you’ve seen people posting on social media treating it like the first day of school. That is because, when rehearsal starts, you are at the beginning of a bonding experience. Everyone is meeting, perhaps for the first time, but certainly for the first time to work collectively on a new project.

We feel nervous because we want everyone to like us, and we want the show to be good. But instead of letting our nerves get the best of us, let’s talk about how you can handle a meet and greet with your peers.

1) BUST OUT YOUR GOOD SHOES.

Dress nice. Yes, it’s a rehearsal, but for the meet and greet you should try to look a little dressed up. I’m not talking formal, but first impressions are important, and if you FEEL that you look good, then everyone will sense your confidence. Bring a change of clothes though because you will be rehearsing.

2) MUM'S THE WORD!

Don’t say too much. Meet and Greet...

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Reaching Out without Freaking Out

One of the most common fears that comes up for my coaching clients is FOMO, the fear of missing out. I know that when I’m between shows and I don’t have an audition for a while, I start to freak out. But I’m here to tell you not to panic; the universe (and show business) is abundant.

To help avoid the added stress, I have put systems in place to help me feel connected even if I’m not busy. If there’s one thing I know, it’s that the best way to alleviate fear is to take action. This business is all about relationships and you since you probably already know a lot of people who can help you with your career, you need to reach out to them.

I bet you’re thinking, “That sounds great, Bret, but also terrifying! I don’t know what to say. Will I piss people off? I feel like it makes me look too needy or desperate.”

Those fears are understandable but if you’re afraid of being “that person,” trust me, you...

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All About Your Equity Card

As you probably know, the Actors' Equity Association (“Equity") is the U.S. labor union for Stage Actors and Stage Managers that protects and fights for your rights as a performer. Since their creation in 1913, when “exploitation had become a permanent condition of an actor's employment,” the organization has been working to ensure we receive benefits any other employee at a 9-to-5 job would expect. Like fair salaries; timely breaks; days off; health, pension and 401(k) plans; Workers' Comp insurance; and, safe and sanitary working conditions.

As the Broadway Life Coach, I work with a lot of actors at different levels in their career. It’s such a joy for me to help actors create goals, achieve them, and see them thrive on their paths. I know that it can be confusing to figure out when you need certain memberships or representation and which ones are “best.” And boy, there can be so many.

It is extremely important to me to be positive and...

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