Booking It! Casting Director Tara Rubin On Auditioning for Long-Running Shows, First Impressions, Callback Pitfalls and More

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18 Jul 2014

Zach Braff in Bullets Over Broadway
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN
How do you feel about vocal embellishment and/or riffing at an audition? Should you show off all of your tricks or keep the casting directors wanting more?
TR: I'm not a fan of riffing unless the score or character requires it. I'm not a fan of showing off unless the character shows off. If a director says, "Please riff and show off," go for it!

Although a song is overdone, would it still be okay to perform if you sing it well?
TR: Yes, depending on the situation. An actor should know when it is appropriate to sing music from the score of the show being cast. (We will tell you.) Have songs in your book that you love to sing.

Can you talk about headshots and resumes? What are some dos and dont's you have seen in the audition room? Can you give actors some pointers on the best way to present themselves?
TR: I'm not all that interested in headshots. As long as your photo represents you as you look on the day of the audition, it's fine with me. People have been putting little clips of their reviews on resumes. Not sure that's necessary! When you come into the audition room, try to be your best self — not super formal, but not too casual either. Don't act like we go out for drinks together — but don't act like you've been called into the principal's office. Turn off your cell phone!

Do you put more weight on actors who have appointments through representation or have high-profile managers?
TR: I'm interested in the actor, not his representation.

Following a successful initial audition, what are some common mistakes you see actors make during a callback?
TR: Some actors change what they did in the first audition too much. It's as if they think they need to come up with a new approach. Usually we are looking for further development of what you presented the first time. Try to listen and be present for notes and comments — here's where your preparation comes in: You want to know the material well enough that you can really work on it if the director has adjustments. Sometimes the director just needs to see you again to seal his memory of you. I was always taught that the only answer to a note is "Thank you." If you receive an adjustment try to do it — don't defend the choice you made or explain why you did it.

How beneficial is it to have your sides memorized for a callback?
TR: I think actors should be as memorized as possible and hold their pages to help out. We don't expect you to be off book — but the better you know the material the easier it will be for you to work in the room.

( staff writer Michael Gioia's work appears in the news, feature and video sections of as well as in the pages of Playbill magazine. Follow him on Twitter at @PlaybillMichael.)

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