Paper Mill Playhouse is honored to spearhead the creation of the College Musical Theater Common Prescreen Criteria. 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 is essential to our mission. Our goal in supporting the Common Prescreen criteria is to foster a streamlined process for all students to audition and receive collegiate training in order to be adequately prepared for employment in the professional musical theater workforce.
Each piece should be filmed/uploaded as a separate piece of media. No continuous videos.
There should not be a separate “slate” video. Instead slates are to appear at the beginning of each piece. 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 2-contrasting pieces:
- One song should be a ballad and one song should be an uptempo
- 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 live or recorded accompaniment. No “a cappella” singing.
- 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:
- One song should be written prior to 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.
- 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:
- 1, 60-90 second contemporary monologue (written during the 20th Century-present) from a published play. 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.
- 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, 60-90 second contrasting monologues
- 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 pre-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. Only perform Shakespeare if you feel comfortable doing so.
Students may be asked to execute one or both of the following options. Each institution is responsible for indicating their specified requirements.
- All dance media should be filmed ina “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-drivenand connected to the music where the applicant is dancing with a sense of purpose.
- HELPFUL HINT: Applicants are encouraged to keep a full-length mirror behind the filming deviceso as to see themselves as they execute choreography.
Universities may ask for one or either of the following Dance options:
- 30-60 seconds of dance, in whatever dance discipline you are most comfortable with: jazz, ballet, modern, African, hip hop, lyrical, or contemporary.
- No barre A ballet solo is acceptable.
- No tap. For applicants that tap, consider showcasing that skill as part of your wild card submission.
- Please use steps, movement, and physical vocabulary that you are familiar with and can execute well.
- Dance media can be self-choreographed, butmust 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; no “a cappella” dance media please.
- Ballet Media should be no more than 30 seconds.
- Execute a brief series of plié, tendu andgrande battement; and also pirouette en déhors (to both sides), and grand jeté across the floor.
Please check individual school websites to see if a “Wild Card” video is optional or required
- Submissions should be no more than 60 seconds.
- This media can be ANYTHING you want: a special skill, an interesting story about yourself, a passion speech, an instrument that you play, etc. “What do you want us to know about you?” and “What makes you unique?”.
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.
What changes if any can we expect for 2021-2022 in the Musical Theater Common Prescreen?
An expanded set of Dance criteria will be rolled out for the 2021-2022 audition cycle. This includes pre-choreographed combinations at three levels of aptitude. More information will come in Spring 2021.
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.
Please check back on July 15, 2020 for a list of institutions.
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 2019–2020 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.