College Musical Theatre Auditions: Retrospective with Students Katy and Ezra

college Oct 10, 2023

Written By: Chelsea & Cynthia 

Featuring: Katy Olson & Ezra Moore, BVC Aspire Alumni 

In this week's blog post, we are honored to be joined by two special guests and BVC Aspire Alumni Ezra Moore and Katy Olson! Katy is from Medway, Massachusetts and this fall will begin her journey as a freshman at Muhlenberg College as a theater and dance major. Ezra will also be a Freshman this fall, but at Oklahoma City University where he'll be majoring in music theater. 

We look forward to hearing about their experience going through the college audition process and gaining insight into the world of aspiring theatre majors. So, let's dive right in!

Question: What do you remember about what you knew at the very beginning of the college audition process and how did you feel about it at that time?

Katy: When I began looking into college, I knew about BFA programs and I thought that was the to go. I thought that was the only way I would get training in singing, dancing, and acting. But since then, through working through the Aspire program, I have just been blown away by the sheer number of schools that have all those three things, with so many different names for them and different concentrations. But also that I could learn the same skills at a different school that maybe didn't have a BFA, and I could still get what I needed out of it.

Ezra: I basically knew I needed to sing a little bit, maybe act some, and that's pretty much all I knew. I didn't even know a BFA was a thing. I had a voice teacher who had told me about OCU and that was the extent of it. So I went into the process fairly blind - which BVC Aspire helped a whole lot with that.

Q: What would you say surprised you the most about the audition process or just the application process in general?

Ezra: I was surprised by how many different things there were to complete. Because you still have to do all of the normal college application elements like writing essays and doing the Common App. At the same time, you need to prepare monologues, songs, and dances, and some schools have different requirements so you may need a different cut of a certain song and so on. 

Katy: One thing that really surprised me was just how fun virtual auditions can be. I always told myself, "I'm an in-person person. These might be challenging". But then a close mentor of mine told me to find what works really well for that space. Which made me realize I could play my guitar until they literally connected me.

Q: On that note, how many virtual auditions did you do versus live auditions? 

Katy: I did four virtual auditions, and I had to travel once to an in-person audition. I loved that experience, but I was glad that I had things to look forward to about virtual auditions, because the way it played out with traveling, those were the most financially viable options for me. I ended up having a great time and I had my ritual beforehand where I'd listen to music, and prepare myself, and it worked so I wasn't absorbing other people's nervous, excited energy. So it was a really peaceful way to go about the process.

Ezra: I didn't do any Zoom auditions, as I didn't pass a lot of prescreens. So I went to five different schools and auditioned in person. I did really enjoy getting to meet people because often there were current students nearby that I could start conversations with and get to know. 

Sometimes they'd have shows going on that night. At one place I went to a community production of Noises Off, and the director from the audition table that I had just met that day, I also happened to see at the show, so I was able to talk to him and make a further connection.

Q: Ezra, when you said you didn't pass a lot of prescreens, we'd love to hear more about how that felt. Did that feel like a heavy disappointment, or did you feel like you were still in the right space? You're both welcome to share your experience. 

Ezra: From the beginning, the goal was always OCU, so the first place that I submitted prescreens to was OCU. And so it was the first place I heard back from, and I was really excited because I passed, but then I kept getting denial after denial. So I added some more safety schools and I was really nervous that I wasn't going to get in anywhere.

But once I actually auditioned in person, they all went pretty well, and I made it into my extreme-reach dream school by the end. 

If I had any advice from my experience creating prescreens, it would be: Don't film all your prescreens in one day by yourself. I decided it was a great idea to film all of my songs, monologues, and dance, while wearing sweatpants, on the same day, and... I was exhausted by the time I got to the dance portion, and it did not turn out well. So it's fine to take your time and split it up.

Katy: For me, as they started to roll in, the acceptances of the prescreens and the denials, I started to think I might need to lean into my safety schools a little more. And that just happened to be going on while my mom was on the phone with her best friend, who overheard my little bit of panic and she was like, "You know what? Don't think of it as rejection versus acceptance. Think of it as the unveiling of where you're going to go".

So that perspective made it a lot easier whenever a rejection or an acceptance came in. It almost made it like a game and exciting.

Q: What do you wish other students and parents knew about the college audition process before they get started?

Katy: I think one thing I certainly wish my parents and I had known was there will be expenses that try as you might you cannot anticipate. So prepare for things to be more "expensive" than planned, because so many schools have different elements - Yes there's the application fee, but then there may be the department application fee, and then if you travel, that's more of an expense. So, If you're financially able, build in that cushion for the things that, because it may look like the sticker price, but it's not.

Ezra: The same goes for time management too. It can be a lot of traveling, take up a lot of weekends, and class time at school, but once you get done with it, It doesn't feel like that much. It's a fun experience if you let it be fun.

Q: Tell us about your timeline - what was the time investment like to go through this process during your senior year of high school?

Ezra: I got my pre screens in pretty early because I started recording them during the summer. That's a big thing, because then I heard back early, and didn't really start doing in person auditions until after the fall musical was done, which was really helpful.

But then spring came around, we were doing Mamma Mia, and I also music directing the production, so it was tricker to accommodate my audition schedule with my rehearsals. So for those in similar situations, you might have to get a castmate to send videos of the choreography and stage notes, so that you can watch them on the plane and pick up from what you're missing.

But honestly, if you view it as a fun weekend where you get to do something different and meet new people, it's a lot more fun.

Katy: I like what Ezra said, it's fun if you let it be fun. Because that certainly helped with the mental piece of it. My timeline was a little bit later because I got out of my intense summer training program and launched right into BVC . As I was getting my pre-screens set to go and I discovered I had to change material, which even though I did have a backup piece, it still threw me for a loop but that's why I was really grateful to have the support of the BVC Aspire team. Even with that change in material and getting my pre-screens in on the later end, I wasn't pushing deadlines.

There might have been a couple schools that I wished I had gotten in a little bit sooner. But like what Ezra said, it's so helpful to start in the summer before things get really busy. And then I participate in any musical just because of like the mental energy it took, even when I wasn't working as vigilantly because my pre-screens were in. 

Q: If you could go back in time and give yourself some advice before starting this process, what would you want to tell yourself?

Ezra: Trust the process. For me, I was freaking out so much because I was getting all these denials, and I was just expecting everything to go so badly, and then by the end, I had submitted my prescreens early, which meant I got a different audition time at OCU. I was able to decide when I wanted to audition and I was prepared, which led to me getting accepted.

So everything comes into play and it will work out. You will get denied a lot of places because they can only take so many people, but you will somewhere that's good for you. Just give it time.

Katy: For me, it would be that even if you think the worst has happened, its all going to work out in the long run. I wanted to showcase this big belt song, but then that became unsustainable because I'm still a new singer and it wasn't the best choice for me to spend a whole month long working on this one song. So even when the "worst happened", which at the time felt like changing material, getting to the end of it and looking back, it wasn't all that bad.

Q: What is some advice you could give to folks who are about to start this process? 

Katy: Talk to admissions counselors. I emailed my professors as soon as the school year started, and even in the summer, I emailed my admissions counselors and I set up video chats with them.

This was definitely the most helpful thing I did because it gave me a chance to share about my unique education experience. I was an off campus learner and I designed my own curriculum, so I shared how it worked and it gave me an opportunity to ask questions about like, "This is all my transcript, does it match up with your school's requirement?" And there were a couple of schools were like, no, it doesn't. So it was a good thing to know that information, so I didn't spend $60 on an application when it wasn't even a possibility. 

Even if your school has a different type of volunteer program that isn't reflected well in your transcript or somewhere in your essays, get on that calland share what you're passionate about. You can learn so much about how will that be received at your school and if it doesn't already exist as club, how can a new student start it? That's how I discovered which schools would be a good fit for me,  and inveserely, what schools would be excited to have me. 

I kept track of all those connections, it was a lot of emails back and forth. My mom and I kept a careful doc of when and who I reached out to, when they responded, so I would respond back on time or send a follow up email if I hadn't heard back. So those were two really helpful things for the application process.

Ezra: Acknowlede that you are getting acceptances too, and you're going to get denials as well. So celebrate the acceptances. And if you get a denial, you weren't a good fit for them and they're not a good fit for you. And so there's no need to waste your time on a place that is not going to be right.

Also, on a different note, get your sleep! Make sure you know how to sleep in hotels, what you need to do to get sleep the night before. And wear a mask on the plane if you're flying place, you will get sick afterwards if you don't prepare yourself. I got sick after every single audition because I was overworking my body.

That's another thing, don't overwork yourself in the dance call. You can drink water, take breaks and hold back when you need to. Don't strain yourself. Stay healthy because it is a very strenuous process and health is very important to showcase your best self. 

Q: We'd love for you to share any final, parting thoughts with our readers who may be about to embark on the musical theater college audition journey! 

Ezra: One bit of advice that I have not yet mentioned is to be nice. That is very, very important. Be nice to all the other people auditioning and everyone behind the table because there are students sitting out there watching you talk to other people and they will talk to the professors and tell them if you are rude and it reflects very much on you. Plus, you never know who you'll run into or have to work with in the future. 

Katy: I  had a close mentor who gave me these words: protect your joy in the audition space. There are so many people excited and nervous all around you, and I tend to be a caretaker and I feel like musical theater people tend to be very empathetic.

So one thing I had to do is remind myself, is to protect my joy. So that meant not going and checking in on everyone, not absorbing their anxious energy right before it was my turn in the room. 

I have an identical twin sister, and she was also applying for musical theatre. I learned that sharing with each other your experiences, whether it be a sibling or a close friend, can be helpful, but also not helpful. Those acceptances for both of you are exciting, and can also be draining. Looking back, I wish that I found a way to connect with my sister and not make both of our worlds entirely about the audition process, because we really didn't spend a lot of time together, because it was stressful to talk a lot about what we were hearing back. 

So I feel like we missed out on a period of our senior year together, so I wish we'd found something else to connect over - beyond our application process.

And if you’re ready to get expert mentorship and ongoing training as you prepare for college auditions, then you’re invited to join our BVC Aspire program! From now through December 15th, 2023 we are running Early Bird Registration! Save your spot for our Spring Aspire cohort with a $500 deposit, which goes towards your final tuition cost (saving you $$!!). Click here to learn more about the program! 

Click here for your copy of our FREE GUIDE to Starting the College Musical Theater Audition Process and register for our FREE Live College MT Auditions Q&A Masterclass happening on October16th 2023! 

If you're interested in diving deeper into this topic or exploring other interesting musical theatre conversations - check out the Broadway Vocal Coach podcast! Or check us out on Instagram, and get involved in the conversation!

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