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, rather slates are to appear at the beginning of each piece.
The proper slate for a song is to share your name, the 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)
- 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 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) contrasting 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 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.
- 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 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.
- 1 Classical (written pre-1900); Classical monologue 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.
Wild Card Video
- 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?”.
Please check individual school criteria for prescreen dance video requirements. A common prescreen requirement for dance will be introduced for the 2020–2021 audition cycle.
What is the Musical Theater Common Prescreen?
The Musical Theater Common Prescreen is an agreed upon set of criteria that is 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 in the way they always have. Wherever their 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, how 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?
Nothing currently. A small membership fee from an institution may be asked in the future to keep the informational website up and running and incurred legal fees covered.
What categories of required material does the Musical Theater Common Prescreen cover?
The MTCPS currently has set criteria for “Song”, “Monologue”, and “Slating” requirements. The areas of “Dance” and “Wild Card” will be implemented for the 2020-2021 audition cycle.
What changes if any can we expect for 2020-2021 in the Musical Theater Common Prescreen?
The categories of “Dance” and “Wild Card” will be discussed in a January Round Table with the MTCPS Advisory Committee. We expect that updated criteria for the 2020-2021 cycle will be made accessible to schools in Spring of 2020.
There are two options for each category. Do institutions have to choose just one or can use both?
For our pilot year, we ask that programs use Option A OR Option B. This should allow for consistency, tracking, and ease of understanding. This is subject to change for future audition cycles.
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
Carnegie Mellon University
Circle in the Square Theatre School
Coastal Carolina University
College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati
Florida State University
Illinois Wesleyan University
Indiana University Bloomington
Indiana University South Bend*
Marymount Manhattan College
Missouri State University*
Montclair State University*
Ohio Northern University*
Pennsylvania State University
Point Park University
Texas Christian University
Texas State University
Texas Tech University
The University of Alabama
University of Alabama Birmingham*
University of Central Florida
University of North Carolina Greensboro
University of Oklahoma, Weitzenhoffer School of Musical Theatre
University of Texas Arlington*
Wright State University*
*these schools do not require a digital prescreen. Please review the school website for specifics on how the MTCPS is utilized at this institution.
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.