Musical Theatre Tips from Casting Director Jim Arnold

Two weeks ago, a selection of lucky Mandy Singers members attended a Musical Theatre workshop with acclaimed casting director Jim Arnold.

Jim Arnold is an Associate Casting Director for Pippa Ailion Casting, where he has worked on several West End musicals including ‘Wicked’, ‘Bend it like Beckham’, ‘Gypsy’, ‘Dreamgirls’, ‘Billy Elliot’, ‘The Lion King’, ‘Charlie & The Chocolate Factory’, ‘Memphis’, ‘Motown’, and ‘The Book of Mormon’. He has also worked on several plays including ‘Oh What A Lovely War!’ (Theatre Royal Stratford East and UK Tour) and ‘The Rise And Fall of Little Voice’ (co-production with Birmingham Rep and West Yorkshire Playhouse).

Our members worked on their songs with Jim and left with some crucial pointers to work on for their next auditions. Here’s what you missed:

Top Tips From Jim Arnold

Before the Audition

  • Be prepared - be off book and use all the time you are given to prepare as much in advance as you can.
  • Prepare your body and mind – attending movement and dance classes – even if you’re not a dancer, you will likely have to attend a dance or movement call at some point and these help your coordination and ability pick up routines.
  • Song choice is crucial - pick a song that shows what you can do, but is not so hard that you’ll struggle under pressure.
  • If you are ill and know it’s affecting your voice, try to rearrange. If that’s not possible, briefly explain the issue but then approach the performance with a positive attitude.

During the Audition

  • Be friendly and warm when you enter the audition room.
  • Find a way to control your nerves - try meditation or another technique that works for you.
  • Talk to the pianist and set the tempo correctly (phone apps like Tap Tempo Pro can help).
  • Look at the audition panel when performing and engage with them, draw them into your performance. If you are worried about doing this, ask them if it is ok to do so.
  • Beware of sighing, nodding/shaking your head or using hand gestures to signpost the story or as a way of displaying emotion.
  • Be aware of your diction - we must be able to hear the words.
  • Tell the story of a song truthfully - don’t just stand there and sing.
  • Don’t sit back in the song, you must drive the song forward and keep up the pace and energy.
  • Don’t try to second guess the panel or worry about what they are thinking about you. Do the best job you can do in the room and then…

After the Audition

  • When you leave the room, let go of the outcome.
  • Remember everything is subjective, it is only someone’s opinion.

Post-event feedback from Mandy Singers members

"Thank you so much for the wonderful opportunity last night! Absolutely loved it... was so lovely to hear honest feedback from Jim himself and was just interesting to hear what he had to say, not just from a personal point of view but to every individual! Something that really caught my attention and something I feel us performers should remember that everything is 'subjective'!"
- Fiorella Osborne

"I can’t thank you enough for having me at the Jim Arnold workshop. I loved being in that supportive environment and learned so much… Not only from Jim but from each and every performer. It was nice hearing Jim say this was the time to mess up! I loved his no-bullshit/tell it like it is the approach. Genuinely, these workshops are a solid place for actors to meet and learn not only from the Industry Professional but from each other. Thank you also for making it free!!! This business throws so many costs at us (I’ve done workshops before and on average they are about £30) that it was so nice that you guys went out of your way to “treat” us. I felt like it was my birthday when I received Abigail’s acceptance letter!"
- Candice Palladino

Would you like to get a chance to brush up on your audition skills and get free 1-2-1 time with an established industry expert? Check out the list of Mandy surgeries currently OPEN to submissions:

Mandy Surgeries