3 Self-tape tips for Musical Theatre Kids 

Feb 15, 2024 | Acting, Auditions, Voice

3 Self-tape tips for Musical Theatre Kids 

Self-tape auditions are when actors film their first round of their auditions ahead of time and send it to casting directors as a pre-screen before an in-person auditon. This blog is for all those musical theatre kids who feel most at home on stage and like a fish out of water when they are on camera. I first learned these lessons the hard way, and by hard, I mean the embarrassing “I’m in front of a big casting director” way when I was 15 years old. I was auditioning for a feature film, and the casting director stopped me and said, “You do a lot of musical theatre, don’t you?” He walked me through the differences between film acting and theater and how better to capture my work on camera and in the frame. The following three tips will save you the need for a superhero like I had. Remember, the truth is always the same, but an audition on camera, in person, and singing a song on stage should all be different performances. 

1.) Distance is key 

The first and obvious difference between theater and film is distance. The camera’s proximity is much closer for a self-tape than an audience during a musical theater performance on stage and usually closer than a casting team at an in-person audition. This key is why some musical theatre kids come off as way too big on camera. They are performing to fill a house rather than 4 feet.

You can solve this simply by placing your scene partner and environment closer to you. Actors who focus on distance rather than the size of their performance stay more engaged and deliver a more truthful audition. 

2.) Find your frame 

Say it with me, “The frame is life.” I’m kidding, but not really; if what you do isn’t in the frame, it doesn’t exist. Imagine a picture book with a critical moment left off the page; you would lose a part of the story. The same thing happens on camera. Movies are moving pictures aferall.

You can create a strong frame by setting your framing before filming takes. Be sure to note what casting asks you, do they want a tight frame (usually), a wider shot, or a full body shot? Once you set this frame, it’s time for our third key, which will help you establish a place and relationship. * Protip – Mark your spot once you find your frame. Pick something fun (I try to personalize for my students, some favorites have been Shakespeare’s words, Pizza Czar by Anthony Falco, and Madame Bovary). 

3.) Set your sightline 

 Inexperienced actors tend to lose some of their best moments by delivering them to the floor or ceiling. Others fail to establish where their scene partners are or pick sightlines that make them feel disconnected and absent. 

The first step is being clear on where your partners are and making your environment vivid for yourself. Be strategic, and place key people, ideas, and environmental factors at a strong sightline that keeps you present and in the frame. To do so, try putting these key focus points just above the camera or just to the side. This placement will keep your eyes in the frame. 

Self-tape auditions once were so foreign to musical theatre performers. Now, they are almost always the first step on actors’ journeys towards getting cast in a musical. The three self-tape audition tips for musical theatre kids listed above will help keep you more engaged and allow you to be truthful in your work while on camera.  

Break a leg! 

Remember, you are enough. 

Learn More About DGS:

Are you looking to take your singing or acting to the next level? Contact us now for your first complimentary assessment lesson.

The Danny Greenberg Studio is a professional performing arts studio for children aged 5 to 18 in New York (Brooklyn and Manhattan!) and online, focusing on vocal and acting training.

 Our students star annually in numerous Broadway shows, national tours, and feature films. Our studio welcomes students of all levels between 6 and 18 to foster their love of performing. Once they’re ready, we also help connect students to top agents and casting directors.

Since our debut, we have focused on three values: children, crafts, and community. Our students develop professional techniques and valuable skills they use inside and outside the studio. We help prepare our students for professional success and make personal impacts through charity cabarets and fundraisers.

We provide private lessons in-person and online in singing, acting, audition coaching, industry professional workshops, showcases, musical theater classes, and admissions prep with curriculums tailored to each child’s needs so they can build their self-confidence. Each year, we coach students for DOE High School auditions, and they consistently get into Laguirdia, Frank Sinatra, and PPAS. We teach acting, singing, and dancing lessons in midtown Manhattan, Greenpoint, and Park Slope Brooklyn. Zoom lessons are also available. Contact us for more information on the admissions process.