Victims of Audition Season

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Hayley Johnson and Allison Perea

We’re sure you’ve heard about all of the things that fill the Tri-School Theatre students’ brains. But, on top of the things they already do, theatre kids always have one thing looming over their heads — college auditions.

Hayley Johnson ‘20 and Allison Perea ‘20 are here to tell you about what it’s like to go through the college admissions process for aspiring performers. 

Allison: On top of the typical common application essays and supplements, Hayley and I have to film self-tapes of us singing, acting, and sometimes dancing, write separate essays for our respective theatre programs, and get extra recommendation letters. 

Hayley: And that’s just the first round of our application. After submitting those essays, supplements, letters, and videos, we have to wait to be contacted by the college’s theatre school with either a yes or a no, moving us toward the second round of our application process, auditions.

Allison: Auditioning requires quite a lot of preparation. On top of memorizing songs and monologues to perform for the different schools’ panels of judges, we sometimes have to travel to the school to audition. Lucky for us, there are these things called unified auditions where all of the schools gather in one place for theatre students to audition for them.

Hayley: These unified auditions take place in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York City. However, the challenge is that sometimes schools like to be mean and they don’t go to unified auditions. When this is the case, you must travel to the school to audition. 

Allison and her friends after a full day at New York Unifieds. Photo by Allison Perea.

Allison: After traveling, auditioning, crying, and stressing, you have to wait about 3 months to find out whether you got in or not.

Hayley: And that’s scratching the surface of what the process is like for us. Both of us did the entire process of sending videos and writing essays and now we are both currently in the audition process.

Allison: Hayley and I are currently in the live audition phase of the process, having sent most of our prescreens in to be viewed in October and November and receiving our separate lists of callbacks shortly thereafter.

Hayley: Allison and I helped each other through the process of recording our self-tape videos, both of us applying to a wide variety of schools. One school in particular that we both were invited to audition for was the Boston Conservatory at Berklee, and while our auditions were not held on the same date, the two of us had a very similar experience, especially in the dance call. I auditioned, with only a week’s notice, at the Boston Conservatory, my dance call beginning at 9:00 in the morning.

Hayley in Boston the night before her audition at the Boston Conservatory. Photo by Nicole Johnson.

Allison: My audition was held at the unified auditions in New York City. I arrived at Pearl Studios at 11 a.m. bright and early for the dance call. When I walked in, all of the dancers were in the splits. I attempted to psych them out and go into the splits myself, but I failed.

Hayley: They called us out to the middle of the floor for the ballet portion of the audition. I have not done ballet since I was two years old. Needless to say, I was not only terrified, but unprepared. We started with a pretty simple warm-up type combination, which quickly became an across-the-floor performance. Allow me to remind you, I have not done ballet since I was two years old.

Allison: After the ballet portion came the improv portion where they asked us to step in the middle of the dance floor and improvise our own dance, one by one. I tried to show off my moves by stepping around doing some fun jumps. I feel like I looked like a wet noodle, but I think I did my best.

Hayley: The improv portion came and went, and honestly I think I blacked out somewhere in there. I thought we were finished, but we had only just started. The choreographer informed us that, for the final hour of the dance audition, we would be learning a high energy, technically complex, fast-paced musical theatre combination to the song “Pinball Wizard” from the musical Tommy.

Allison: It was very difficult. I’m not a dancer by any means, so it was rough trying to keep up with the fast-paced moves.

Hayley: Even though we both struggled, we ended up having a really good time learning some fun dance combinations with a teacher from the school.

Allison: After the dance call came the singing and acting auditions. I was nervous about mine, but I felt prepared. I walked in and gave my music recording to the music person. It was so much easier than I thought. All I did was perform some songs and monologues and they asked me some quick questions about how I thought the dance call went. I feel very good about the impression I left, and I can’t wait to receive my answer. 

Allison beaming at the Lincoln Center Plaza, blissfully unaware of the dance call in her future. Photo by Allison Perea.

Hayley: The singing and acting portion was the best. Everyone on the panel was so kind and welcoming. I was introduced to them and we had a quick conversation about the freezing cold weather and the perfectly timed snowfall. Thankfully they did not bring up my dance call. My hope is that they had not seen the results yet. Honestly, it would probably be best if they threw those results out. But that’s alright. I’m expecting an admissions decision from them this Friday, January 31, and I am hoping for the best.

So there you have it. Make sure to check in with Allison and Hayley to hear more about their college audition adventures. We hope you enjoyed your glimpse into the lives of these stressed out Tri-Schoolers, and more sincerely, we hope that you draw inspiration from their stories. And the next time you’re required to dance to “Pinball Wizard,” remember that if they can do it, you can too.