I wish somebody had explained this to me before I got to the City. Every year hundreds of hopefuls move to New York without this understanding. They scour Craigslist for apartments, panic at the cost of rent, move in with strangers and proceed to work themselves to death to pay for headshots, rent and classes. ("How about food?" you ask. No, not food! I'll starve myself till I get to my day job, which is very likely in food service.) What they don't realize, and what no one explained to me, is that they need to set aside about 20 hours a week for auditioning.
"Twenty hours?" you say. "At this point my agent's only sending me on one audition a week!"
Here are some things you will need to do to supplement that one hour you set aside for the audition:
Learn the material.
Coach the material.
Take a dance class. Research the artistic team, especially the choreographer. If he teaches in the City, or if you can take a class in his style, do so. Even principals are subjected to a "movement" call nine times out of ten.
Attend other auditions: EPAs, ECCs.
Take acting classes or seminars with casting directors, even ones outside of musical theatre. Check out One on One or Actors Connection.
Take an improv class, which is important for audition technique as well as commercials. (WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU DON'T CARE ABOUT AUDITIONING FOR COMMERCIALS? IT'S SO MUCH EASY MONEY. Check yourself.)
Build your book.
Yes, schedule sleep. You cannot work at a bar until 4 in the morning and expect to be audition-ready the next day. Working those hours will take its toll on your voice, your body, and most importantly, your motivation.
Learn the power of saying no. You don't have to take every opportunity that comes your way. For example, I recently turned down a gig at the New York Marathon Expo. It would have been a cool, easy job promoting a product I love at an exciting, "New York-y" event.
However, they wanted a four-day commitment for shifts that were ten-plus hours a day. Even though it would have been a good chunk of change, I turned it down. What if I got an audition? Sure enough, I did get an audition, and I needed that time to learn scenes and a song. Later, I needed to attend the callback.
Most artists need day jobs. There's nothing wrong with that. Virginia Woolf ran a printing press. Patricia Highsmith worked at Bloomingdale's for a season, where she got the inspiration for her breakout novel, which was made into the movie Carol. We can draw inspiration and support from all areas of our lives.
Just be aware that if you do not carve out time in your life to be an artist... well, then you will not be an artist. It's that simple. And if you don't make time to coach your sides and learn your music and stay in shape, the person behind you in line will.
Auditioning is a full-time job. Act like it.