March. That strange time of year when college auditions are over and baseball is just around the corner.
Wait, what? Baseball? What the heck does baseball have to do with theater? More than you might think (and no, I am not just talking about your school’s upcoming production of “Damn Yankees”).
Battle in the Box
Stepping into the audition room is like a step into the batter’s box. Think about it, you the actor are like the batter. You step up to the plate completely focused on the task at hand. You have done your prep work and know exactly who the pitcher is, what they are going to throw at you, and what you are trying to accomplish. Meanwhile, the pitcher is looking at you with a completely different agenda. They want to see what you can handle and if you can surprise them with your ability.
Sure, sounds a lot like every audition I have ever been on. The amount of focus, the amount of preparation, and the plan you make in order to ace your audition feels an awful lot like those first few moments in the batter’s box.
Then the at bat begins. You take your first swing. You get a piece of it, but hit it foul. The pitcher sees something in your swing and they make an adjustment. How do you handle it? Do you recognize what is now being thrown at you? Or do you do the same thing you already did?
This is no different than any auditor giving you an adjustment on your song or monologue. It’s no different than them asking you for another piece. They saw something in you, and now they want to see more. How are you going to handle it?
So we keep battling away, trying our best to be successful in each at bat. And sometimes we are successful and get a hit. Other times, we fail and strike out. And that, is the nature of both baseball and auditioning.
Fail Like a Hall of Famer
In baseball, failure isn’t only an option, it’s an expectation. Every time a player steps into the batter’s box, there is a HIGH percent chance that he is going to make an out (read: fail). So high in fact, that over the course of their careers, players who succeed only 3 out of every 10 times, can end up in the Hall of Fame.
Don’t believe me? Let’s look at Boston Red Sox legend, Ted Williams. Considered by many to be one of the greatest hitters of all-time, Williams finished his career with a .344 batting average.
What does that mean? That means that every 10 times Ted Williams had an at bat, he only succeeded around 3.5 times. He failed almost 7 out of 10 times and he is one of the all time greats. He is in the Hall of Fame.
As actors, it’s our job to audition. We audition a ton. We put ourselves out there on a regular basis hoping that we just might get into that school or get that part. We step into that room, give it everything we’ve got, and hope that we crush it.
More often than not though, we just miss it. And we are forced to face another rejection. But what if we can flip the way we think about our “failures”? What if instead of thinking that we have to get into every school or get every part, we realize that every one we do get is an unbelievable success? You might just end up in the Hall of Fame.
Stop and Celebrate
Home runs. I love them, you love them, we ALL love them.
There is arguably not another more exciting play in all of sports than the home run. I mean, picture this… The batter and the pitcher are locked into a battle. Pitch after pitch, neither succeeding. It feels as though this stalemate will never end. Then with one swing of the bat, BANG! The ball takes off on a long majestic arc, out of the park and into the night. It is amazing.
But I think the most amazing thing is what we do next. Because hitting the home run isn’t the end. We stop and celebrate. 40,000 people in that stadium stand and cheer for the entire time it takes the batter to round the bases. Why? Why do we waste a few minutes of time to watch this guy slowly jog 360 feet with no chance of anything going wrong?
It’s because we realize just how hard it is to hit that home run. We know the hours that went into perfecting that swing. We know how many times that batter has failed before reaching that moment of pure bliss. And most of all we know that these incredibly successful moments don’t always happen. So we celebrate.
So when you book that next role, or you get accepted to a school- remind yourself of all the work it took to get here. Remind yourself that you may not be as successful the next time out. But most of all, celebrate this moment of success. You earned it.
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Hooray! You’re a big theatre nerd and you’ve just arrived in NYC! There’s a million and one things to do in this happening place, but let’s face it, you’re gonna want to see some shows. Not only is going to the theatre an amazing and inspiring way to spend an afternoon or evening, but it’s also an essential part of honing your craft!
The only hitch? Ticket prices are so INSANE, it’s enough to give you nightmares!
Well, never fear, my friends, because I’m here to give you the down low on the best ways to score discounted tickets. If you want to learn more about what resources are available to you and how to best take advantage of them, read on!
1) TODAY TIX: Today Tix is a discount ticketing service that anyone can access by website (todaytix.com) or by downloading the Today Tix app on your smartphone. Today Tix has discounts for TONS of shows: Broadway, Off Broadway, and Off Off Broadway. Prices tend to vary by show and by performance day, but you have the option to buy your tickets WAY in advance, rather than just the day of. So plan ahead, and you can score a great deal!
Please note that TODAY TIX allows you to choose seats in a section of the theatre (Orchestra, Mezz, etc), but does not allow you to choose specific seats. All tickets in the same order will be seated together. Contact Today Tix in advance for information about Accessible seating.
2) THEATRE DEVELOPMENT FUND (TDF): The Theatre Development Fund is a Not-For-Profit Organization for the Performing Arts which works to make theatre affordable and accessible to all. What exactly does that mean? Well, according to TDF, it means that every time you purchase a ticket, “you are supporting a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to sustaining and sharing the arts and developing the audiences of the future.” Pretty awesome, right? You can get discounted tickets through TDF in two ways: TKTS Discount Booths or a TDF Membership.
TKTS Discount Booths: TDF runs 3 TKTS booths with discounted tickets at 20%-50% off regular prices. The Times Square TKTS booth (underneath the famous Red Steps!) offers Same-Day Discount tickets, while the Lincoln Center and South Street Seaport TKTS booths offer Same-Day Discount tickets and Next-Day Discount tickets for Matinee performances only.
It’s important to know that ticket availability is never guaranteed. Best to get to a TKTS booth first thing in the morning, or browse the real-time listings available on the tdf.org website or the TKTS app.
TDF Membership: $11-$49 tickets for many Broadway, Off Broadway, and Off Off Broadway shows are available to TDF Members ONLY with an annual membership fee of only $40 (the savings quickly pay for your membership). Not everyone is eligible for a TDF Membership, but full-time students absolutely are! As an added bonus, members can purchase additional tickets for guests - I’m looking at you, parents! For more information on TDF Membership Eligibility, head here.
Please note that TDF Members are not able to select their own seats, and seats can be anywhere in the theater (In my experience, the box offices have been kind about providing the best empty seats available). Accessible seating is available by contacting TDF directly.
3) STUDENT DISCOUNTS: Some of the best theatre in NYC is produced by independent companies, and most of these companies offer great discount deals to young members and students. Below are a few of the more popular discount programs. If you don’t see a specific company listed here, you can always check with the box office directly!
HIP TIX: Hiptix is Roundabout’s discounted ticket program for patrons ages 18-35. You can get 2 $25 tickets to all Roundabout shows, and it’s free to join! Register here: https://www.roundabouttheatre.org/Shows-Events/HipTix.aspx
PLAYWRIGHT’S HORIZONS: Playwright’s Horizons offers both a Student Membership (full time enrollment at a high school or college/university with valid ID) and a Young Membership (35 and under). Both memberships are free to join. Student Memberships provide 2 discount tickets (1 for you, and 1 for a guest) to each production in the season for only $15 per ticket. Young Memberships provide the same benefits for $25 per ticket. Register here: https://www.playwrightshorizons.org/tickets-packages/discount-memberships/
SIGNATURE: Signature Theatre offers $25 tickets to every performance for full-time students. Tickets can be purchased at the box office or ahead of time using the code STU25. A valid ID must be presented at will call. One ticket per each valid ID.
NEW DEAL: Theatre for a New Audience (in Brooklyn) offers discounted tickets through their New Deal program. Patrons 30 and under and full-time students (of any age) may purchase $20 tickets for all available performances. Tickets can be purchased online, over the phone, or at the box office, in advance or day-of. Valid ID required.
LINC TIX: LincTix through Lincoln Center allows registered patrons between the ages of 21-35 to purchase 1 discounted ticket per production (typically $32). Patrons must register online at lct.org - registration is free!
30 UNDER 35: Manhattan Theatre Club offers $30 tickets to registered members of their 30 Under 35 program. Members can purchase up to 2 tickets for any MTC show, and registration is free! Join here: https://www.manhattantheatreclub.com/season-tickets/30-under-35/
4) GENERAL RUSH: If you’re willing to wake up early and stand in line, many shows (like The Band's Visit and The Prom) offer a limited number of discounted “General Rush” seats for that day’s performances. These tickets are available as soon as the box office opens and are first come, first-served, so you want to be near the front of the line! Depending on a show’s popularity, lines may begin forming as early as 6AM, 3AM, or even the night before. Rush lines are likely to be less busy during the week than on the weekends. A good tip for Rushing is to search the Chat Boards on broadwayworld.com for Rush threads. Rush threads are show specific and individuals will often leave notes about when they rushed and how busy it was.
Please note that some shows that sell General Rush tickets, also have ticket Lotteries!
5) LOTTERIES: Many shows (like Hamilton, Wicked, and Frozen) have now moved to selling discounted tickets via a Lottery system. The rules for each Lottery (pricing, number of tickets, when you can enter, when you hear back, etc) vary from show to show and can change at any time, so it’s best to research them individually. There are two types of Lottery systems:
In-Person Lottery: In-Person Lotteries require that patrons be present at the theater in order to enter. Typically, patrons can purchase up to 2 tickets if their name is drawn. Most Lotteries start accepting entries a few hours before the performance, and the drawing usually takes place about an hour before. You must be present at the drawing in order to claim your tickets!
If you’re not an early riser, you’re in luck! Some shows also offer Online Lotteries…
Online Lotteries are just like In-Person lotteries, but you can enter them from the comfort of your own home! Online Lotteries make their own rules and every system is very different. Some Lotteries can be found on broadwaydirect.com. Others have their own sites. Definitely research each show individually.
Please note that some Lotteries are CASH ONLY! Check before you go!
6) STANDING ROOM: Some shows (like Come From Away and Book of Mormon) sell Day-Of Standing Room tickets. These tickets are also deeply discounted, but are usually “subject to availability” or only available if the performance is sold out. Be sure to check in with each show’s box office directly!
THAT’S A WRAP!
So what have we learned?! NYC is a theatre mecca, and you don’t have to miss out because of high ticket prices! There are a TON of great options for discounted tickets, and you can reap the benefits of them all!
*** For a detailed and updated listing of each show’s discount policies, head here.
Know another great tip for scoring discounted seats? We wanna hear it! Comment below and spread the wealth!
Thanks for reading!
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I just returned home after two awesome trips for NY Unifieds and Chicago Unifieds to support my MCA students and parents. I love being there as a source of morale for my famlies and just simply getting the chance to connect with our students outside of a lesson.
I wanted to write a quick blog post regarding walk-in auditions as this has become a pretty hot topic. If you are new to the college audition process and haven’t heard the term walk-ins before, first, welcome to the process and second, buckle up.
Walk-In Auditions are essentially exactly how they sound. If a school or program has gaps or room in their audition schedule, students who are already there for Unifieds are able to try to grab a spot to audition. Spots become available when students are ill, weather makes it impossible to travel, students don’t show up (don’t get me started on that, folks! Always cancel your auditions to make room for someone else), etc. Most schools will post a sign outside their door to indicate they are accepting walk-ins, but some will offer up the info if you just politely ask. Most schools make you pay a fee to audition or require you to submit a portion of (or full) application on the spot or by a deadline.
While this isn’t a new phenonmenon, it has been by far the #1 question I have been asked about this year. I attritube this to a couple things, but mostly, social media. Walk-Ins have become sort of a right of passage or a “cool” thing to do while at Unifieds. Also, everyone else is doing them, so shouldn’t I? I always tell my students that I don’t envy them going through the process in 2019 – everyone knows everything. The onslaught of information can be helpful, but it can also be overwhelming and at times, crushing.
I have been a part of, and heard, many debates regarding whether or not walk-in auditions are fair. I have opinions on this, but I want to attack this from a different angle. I want to really speak to the students and parents to focus on what the point of walk-ins are and who should and should not be doing them. They are going to exist, in some capacity, always – so, let’s start to look at this from a different angle. Maybe by eliminiating the pools of people who should not be doing them, we can all have better clarity on the subject. This blog post isn’t to discuss if I agree or disagree if they are fair or not.
I have some thoughts I would love to share with you. Obviously, these are just my opinions and as always, to each his own.
“Which walk-ins should I do?!”
When a student asks me this, the first thing I try to respond with is: do you need to do walk-ins? I’m then usually met with a confused pause. Let’s break this down a bit.
I’m a huge advocate for early auditions (November/December early action and sometimes early decision auditions.) Get a handful done early, hopefully gain some acceptances (and confidence) or tweak any material that feels off after completing some early auditions. If you gain an acceptance to a school that you LOVE early…amazing! The pressure is off and you can have fun during the rest of the audition season.
So then cut to Unifieds: are you happy with the acceptance(s) you have? Is it a school you can earnestly see yourself going to? Is there any program that is doing walk-ins that you would go to over that school? If not, let it go, Elsa. Take a nap, girl! Go for a walk! Visit a museum! Don’t walk into a school you wouldn’t consider attending. Which leads me to my next thought…
If you are an MCA student, you have most certainly heard me speak about my good friend, Karma. Put good karma into the universe and I promise you, it will come back to you. Especially in this industry.
If you do a walk-in to a school that you have no intention of ever attending…why? For practice? I don’t think that is a good enough reason. You are taking a spot away from someone who might truly be interested in this program and would attend if accepted. If you are walking into a school you know nothing about, a coach or mentor has not advised is a good option for you, or upon research think to yourself “I’ll never actually go here” – I suggest you really listen to that thought.
The college audition process is a tiny morsel of what this industry will ultimately bring you. I am not making the comparison that college auditions are the same as professional auditions – they absolutely are not. But rejection hurts always. Being shut out of an audition call that you are absolutely right for because people decided to sign-up to audition for a character whose breakdown they don’t fit at all, hurts. We are in this together, guys. Practice putting good karma into the universe. You’ll be surprised by what comes your way.
Pre-Screen Schools Doing Walk-Ins
Again, I am not going to debate whether this is fair or not. But I do have a thought for all of you lovely students who are feeling frustrated that a student can potentially just walk into a school you didn’t pass a pre-screen for:
If you don’t pass a pre-screen for a school and you see them doing walk-ins, I have one piece of advice: try to advocate for yourself but you MUST be honest. If this remains a DREAM SCHOOL, I see no harm in walking up to the school dressed in your best suit of confidence armor and saying, “Hi! I see you are doing walk-ins. I want to be transparent that I did not pass the pre-screen here. With that said, this is my dream school and if given a walk-in slot, I won’t throw away my shot.” Cue Hamilton. The worst thing that could happen: they say no. Which, is completely fair. But they could say yes, and you’ve just earned a medal in self advocacy and transparency.
Who should do walk-ins?
Walk-Ins are an amazing opportunity for some folks. They are a tiny gift in this otherwise over-crowded, confusing process and without getting into the nitty gritty – I do want to mention that I think walk-in auditions are fabulous (and fair in these instances – fine, I said it!) for the following people:
So, to sum up this post on walk-ins: they are great for the right person. They might be a great addition for your friend, but not you. That is okay. Use your best judgement and lead with kindness and thoughtfulness first.
Sending everyone love, hugs and broken legs.
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