If you’re an aspiring Broadway performer, the steps you take during high school play a significant role in your success on the stages of New York shows in the future. Sure, you sometimes hear stories of people who book amazing lead roles in shows after a single audition, but that’s not a realistic view of how it all happens – for most actors, at least. Ask any working Broadway performer – New York is not a city that hands you success simply because you’ve just moved there. Hard work, discipline, and strategic career steps are required.
When it comes to career development as a Broadway actor, like in any other career path, proactive planning and early efforts go a long way. And since Broadway performers needing to be accomplished in singing, acting, and dancing (i.e. a “triple threat”), there are plenty of steps you can take now to help you on your journey to on-stage success. It’s not enough to sit around singing or doing some improv with your friends; nor is it enough to occasionally go to a drama workshop or two. Making it as an actor in top New York shows will require you to put in your 100% all of the time. The work environment is extremely competitive and not very friendly to newbies – you have to be prepared for this, both physically and mentally.
So ask yourself: do you truly have the desire and motivation for a career in show business? If you are fully convinced that Broadway performing is what you were designed for, read on for our career advice:
1) Increase Your Personal Organization Skills Now
A large part of success in a sustainable career as an actor depends on the ability to manage yourself and your time. Working in New York, there will be no cute reminders from Mom to get to rehearsals or auditions on time – it’s all up to you. Start now by organizing your time with a handy day planner. You can apply it to school, homework, sports, social, and even downtime (sufficient rest is essential for any performer!).
Even though you may have an agent one day, it’s not their job to manage your every waking moment. Getting to places on time – and sometimes, with very short notice – is all a part of the job, so it’s best to master your time management skills now. Running late in show business is not an option; the show will inevitably go on without you. On the odd occasion that you are late, the best thing to do is to communicate your plausible reason clearly. If you don’t have one, take responsibility for your mistake. By applying this principle to your day-to-day life now, you will grow to be a dependable employee one day.
2) Understand Auditions
Audition processes for shows may vary, but it’s important that you are prepared for and patient with the audition process. Even when it comes to smaller productions in your hometown or at your school, ask questions and do some research to ensure that you are fully prepared to play your character.
You’ll also need to get used to auditioning overall. Some people have the misconception that auditions are only for newbies and that once you’re a working actor you don’t have to audition anymore. Nope! Working actors and even major stars have to audition all the time. It’s not always about you – it’s about the character – so don’t take rejection personally. It’s normal to have ten auditions or more before booking a single job. Stay strong and keep focusing on your own skill development.
3) Enroll in Acting Lessons
While we’re on the subject of skills development, this is one of our strongest recommendations: find an acting coach in your area who has a special interest in preparing students for New York shows. The best way to ensure that you’re on track in terms of career development is to regularly work with a private acting coach. Long term, one-on-one lessons with an experienced mentor will help you develop your skills and confidence in pursuing your dream. Here’s a quick look at the skills you can learn with the help of a private coach:
Theatrical Acting: While working with amazing scripts from Shakespeare, as well as works from other popular playwrights like Chekhov or Ibsen, you will enhance your skills in text analysis and play-reading. These efforts will be built around productive character investigation from the page, which is a must-have skill for all Broadway actors.
Theatrical Singing: According to your goals and natural ability, you can learn valuable techniques like breathing, pitch, tone, diction, and rhythm. Overall gracefulness and stage presence will also be trained. The aim of these lessons will be improvement (not perfection) as you embrace and enhance your natural talent.
Theatrical Dancing: Understanding expression through movement is another important factor that can be addressed through private coaching. Broadway performers should aim to be accomplished actors, singers, and of course, dancers – your versatility will be your strongest selling point! In your dance lessons you will learn how movement directly relates to vocal health and general performance with your body taking center stage.
Remember: even experienced Broadway stars need regular coaching, so try to adopt a positive attitude toward lessons and learning as a normal part of your career path.
4) Get Inspired
Make an effort to really absorb the culture of New York shows – if you live in the city, try to see as many shows as you can! If you don’t see the shows live, how will you know what to prepare yourself for and who to aspire to be like? Think of going to shows as a form of acting homework!
Working on Broadway is as serious as any corporate job – and the hours are sometimes longer than eight per day, so don’t let the spotlights and pretty costumes fool you. The keys to a successful career path to New York shows are discipline and planning ahead. A little extra effort now will have audiences shouting for an encore of your solos pretty soon. Good luck!
Photo by Rob Boudon