Paper Mill Playhouse is honored to host the College Musical Theater Common Prescreen Criteria. The guidelines were drafted in collaboration with online arts platform, Acceptd, and the input of faculty from over 40 collegiate Musical Theater training programs nationwide. As a Tony-winning professional theater organization, employer of performing artists, and successful producing partner for the Broadway industry, Paper Mill’s commitment to training the next generation of musical theater performers in a more inclusive and accessible manner is essential to our mission.
Our institution remains the home of a nationally recognized center for musical theater education and artist training with outreach programs that impact thousands of students each year. Our goal in supporting the MTCP criteria is to foster a more streamlined and equitable process for all students to audition and receive collegiate training. Our aim is also to promote greater diversity amongst applicants so as to more comprehensively impact the professional musical theater workforce.
For the 2021/2022 Audition Cycle, MTCP has included a list of helpful hints. We strongly encourage that you take advantage of these resources which have been thoughtfully and intentionally crafted by the expertise of multiple programs nationwide to support the excellence of the audition and for your benefit.
Each piece should be filmed/uploaded as a separate piece of media. No continuous videos. Students are encouraged to use standard technology/recording devices that are available to them (i.e. smartphones, tablets, etc).
There should not be a separate introduction or “slate” video. Instead, “slates” are to appear at the beginning of each piece and included as part of the time allotment.
- The proper slate for a song is to share your name, the song title, and show in which it appears.
- The proper slate for a monologue is to share your name, the title of the play, and the playwright.
Students should prepare two contrasting pieces. Each institution is responsible for indicating which options are accepted.
- One song should be a ballad and one song should be an uptempo so as to contrast style
- Each song file should be 60-90 seconds (This time limit includes the slate at the beginning of the piece and is strictly adhered to; please do not upload media files longer than 90 seconds)
- Students must sing to musical accompaniment, which could include live or pre-recorded accompaniment. No “a cappella” singing (meaning singing without music).
- Songs should be filmed in a ¾ shot which means the top of the head to the knees should be visible in the frame.
Universities may ask for one or either of the following Song Options. Check the individual university website to see which Option is required:
- One song should be written before 1970. This song can be either the “uptempo” or the “ballad” (student’s choice).
- One song should be written after 1970 and contrast the style of the first.
- Both songs should be from contemporary musicals (any musical written after 1970) and contrast in style (“ballad” and “uptempo”).
Students may be asked to prepare either one or two pieces Each institution is responsible for indicating which options are accepted.
- Monologues must be from a published play.
- Monologues cannot be from musicals, television shows, or movies.
- Each monologue file should be 60-90 seconds in length (this time limit includes the slate at the beginning of the piece and is strictly adhered to; please do not upload media files longer than 90 seconds)
Universities may ask for one or either of the following Monologue Options. Check the individual university website to see which Option is required:
- 1 contemporary monologue (written after 1900), 60-90 seconds in length
- The contemporary monologue should be filmed in a “close-up” shot which means the top of the head to the chest should be visible in the frame.
- 2 contrasting monologues each 60-90 seconds in length (see below)
- 1 Contemporary (written after 1900); Contemporary monologues should be filmed in a “close-up” shot which means the top of the head to the chest should be visible in the frame.
- 1 Classical (written before 1900); Classical monologues should be filmed in a “full body” shot which means the top of the head to the feet on the floor should be visible in the frame.
Students may be asked to execute one or both of the following options. Each institution is responsible for indicating which options are accepted.
- All dance media should be filmed in a “full body” shot taking care to keep the student’s entire body in the frame at all times.
- Applicants do not need to slate in any dance media.
- Regardless of which style of dance you execute, the choreography and the movement should be story-driven and connected to the music where the applicant is dancing with a sense of purpose.
Universities may ask for a required Dance option. Universities may offer an optional Ballet submission:
- 30-60 seconds of dance in whatever dance discipline you feel most confident. This may include, but is not limited to jazz, ballet, tap, modern, cultural dance styles, hip hop, lyrical, or contemporary.
- Please do not submit “barre work”. Instead, check to see if the auditioning program offers the optional “Ballet Submission”.
- Please use steps, movement, and physical vocabulary that you are familiar with and can execute well.
- Dance media can be self-choreographed, but must be a solo video of you. This can include a show, competition, or other performance so long as you are clearly featured on your own.
- All choreography must be performed to music; please no “a cappella” dance media.
- Ballet Media should be no more than 30 seconds.
- Execute a brief series of plié, tendu, and grande battement;
- Execute pirouette en déhors (to both sides)
- Execute one or more grand jeté across the floor.
Students may be asked to execute a “Wild Card” submission. Each institution is responsible for indicating whether the “Wild Card” is accepted.
- Submissions should be no more than 60 seconds.
- Applicants do not need to slate in any wild card media.
- This media can be ANYTHING you want – a special skill, an interesting story about yourself, a passion speech, an instrument you play, etc. “What do you want us to know about you?” and “What makes you unique?”
MTCP has included a list of helpful hints. We strongly encourage that you take advantage of these guidelines which have been thoughtfully and intentionally crafted by the expertise of multiple programs nationwide to support the excellence of the audition for your benefit.
SET UP YOUR HOME STUDIO:
- Find a space where you can move around freely taking care to move items that might impede your creative exploration. This is especially important for dance and movement.
- Ensure the camera portion of your device is at eye level. This way the camera can record you the way others see you. You can use a tripod (at least 60 inches tall) built for a smart phone or tablet. If you do not have a tripod, consider using a stack of books on a desk or box.
- Do your best to find a space that is free of visual distractions. Solid colored walls are ideal, but any background that does not steal the focus from your performance is desired.
- Take care that your space allows for adequate lighting. Do not have a lamp or window directly behind you as it will cast a shadow over your face. Keep the lighting source behind your recording device or to the side of you so that your face is lit.
- Many accompaniment tracks to musical theater songs are available on Youtube and other websites. If you do not have a way to work with a live accompanist or don’t have access to a recorded track of your music, consider using an app that will play the piano part for you. Harmony Helper is one such app that allows you to take photos of your sheet music, upload them to the app and then generate a piano track that you can use.
- When using prerecorded music, make sure the music source (the speaker or output) is closer to you than it is to the device on which you are recording. By having the accompaniment near you, your voice and the music will reach the microphone on your device in a more balanced manner.
- Only perform Shakespeare if you feel comfortable. Because classical monologues are public domain, you can search for these on the internet and find many alternatives to Shakespeare that were written before 1900.
- Applicants are encouraged to keep a full-length mirror behind the filming device so as to see themselves as they execute choreography.
What is the Musical Theater Common Prescreen?
The Musical Theater Common Prescreen is an agreed upon set of criteria used for the videos that are required as part of the application process to musical theater programs. These institutions settled on given guidelines to initiate a streamlined process for both applicants and schools as well as to promote inclusivity in the admittance process.
Who can participate?
Any institution that requires a digital prescreening for applicants may participate in the Musical Theater Common Prescreen. This includes universities, colleges, conservatories (domestic and international), independent schools of theater and theater education programs.
Do institutions need to utilize an online media platform such as Acceptd or Slate to be part of this initiative?
No. Participation is voluntary and not dependent on affiliation with any organization. The Musical Theater Common Prescreen is not a centralized online platform. Instead it is a set of guidelines applied to a program’s existing application process. Each individual institution will continue to receive applications and digital media. Wherever guidelines are listed, schools should state that they are a participant in the Musical Theater Common Prescreen and list the options they have chosen.
If a program does not use a digital prescreening process, can they be involved?
Any program may utilize the criteria for any number of screening opportunities including digital audition submissions and live auditions. Heads of Department should contact Stephen Agosto at Paper Mill Playhouse (SAgosto@PaperMill.org) so their name can be added to the master list for press and distribution and to identify how their program will be using the guidelines.
Is this Common Prescreen linked or associated to the Common App?
No. The word “common” was utilized to promote inclusivity and to reinforce that one “common” set of guidelines would be recognized amongst various musical theater training programs.
Does this take the place of or change the criteria for a live audition?
No. Schools are urged to keep their live audition criteria as specific to their individual program needs as possible. We recognize that the audition process communicates the culture of a school and believe that students can learn greatly about an institution by what is asked of them in their live audition.
What does it cost the university to participate in the Musical Theater Common Prescreen?
There is no fee to the school or to the student. Institutions will continue to set their own individual application fees.
What categories of required material does the Musical Theater Common Prescreen cover?
The MTCPS set criteria for “Song”, “Monologue”, and “Slating” requirements in 2019. The areas of “Dance” and “Wild Card” have been added to the 2020-2021 audition cycle.
There are two options for each category. Do institutions have to choose just one or can use both?
Institutions may use one option, both options, or allow the student to choose either option.
Are institutions permitted to change and tweak the verbiage in the Musical Theater Common Prescreen?
No. To be a participant, an institution must utilize the verbiage verbatim. The promotion of “common” verbiage is what will create ease of process and discourage confusion and questions.
Baldwin Wallace University*
Boston Conservatory at Berklee
California State University, Fullerton*
Carnegie Mellon University
Circle in the Square Theatre School
Coastal Carolina University
Dobbins Conservatory at Southeast Missouri State University
East Carolina University
Fairleigh Dickinson University
Florida Southern College
Florida State University
Hartt / The Univ of Hartford
Hussian College Los Angeles
Indiana University Bloomington
Indiana University South Bend*
Ithaca College Theatre Arts
James Madison University*
Marymount Manhattan College*
Missouri State University*
Montclair State University*
Ohio Northern University*
Oklahoma City University
Oklahoma State University*
Ouachita Baptist University*
Pace University School of Performing Arts
Penn State Musical Theatre
Point Park University
Roosevelt University: Chicago College of Performing Arts
San Diego State University
Siena Heights University*
Slippery Rock University
Southern Illinois University-Carbondale
SUNY Fredonia, Department of Theatre and Dance
Texas Christian University
Texas State University, Musical Theatre
Texas Tech University
The School of Theatre Arts at Illinois Wesleyan University
The University of Alabama
The University of Florida
The University of Texas at Arlington*
University of Alabama at Birmingham
The University of Arizona
The University of Central Florida
University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music
University of NC at Greensboro (UNCG)
University of New Hampshire, Dept. of Theatre & Dance
Viterbo University Theatre and Music Theatre
Weitzenhoffer School of Musical Theatre at the University of Oklahoma
Western Connecticut State University
Wright State University*
*Institutions with an asterisk do not require a digital prescreen. Please review the school website for specifics on how the MTCP is utilized at this institution.
^Updated lists are available bi-monthly as institutions continue to register through October 2022.
Are you an institution that would like to adopt the Musical Theater Common Prescreen Criteria?
If you are an institution that would like to participate in the 2021–2022 Musical Theater Common Prescreen, please contact Stephen Agosto, Senior Manager of Artistic Engagement at Paper Mill Playhouse.
Are you a student seeking College Prep Services?
For information about Paper Mill Prep, our college audition services, please click here.