So You Wanna Be a Superstar?

The Ultimate Audition Guide


By Ted Michael

Foreword by Lea Salonga

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Geared toward hopeful musical theater, show choir, a cappella, and glee club singers, as well as all shower singers that want to improve their skills, this enthusiastic and practical guide can help anyone’s inner superstardom make a public appearance. Full of straightforward, well-organized advice for every step of the process, this book will help you train your vocal cords, pick the right audition material, and become comfortable with the spotlight. Interactive quizzes, helpful sidebars, and words of advice from industry professionals add a personalized and real-world touch.

Author Ted Michael, a veteran of music and theater, along with the help of popular actors, actresses, and singers, provides all the tools young singers need in order to nail their auditions and nurture their natural show-stopping abilities.



I can remember my first audition as if it happened just yesterday.

I was only six years old and was brought by my mother at the suggestion of her niece who was very active with a local repertory company. When it came my turn to get up and sing, I went up on the stage and sang “Do-Re-Mi” from The Sound of Music.

After I was done, the director (who was sitting right in front of the stage) asked me if I had a poem or a nursery rhyme that I could recite from memory. I said that I didn’t know any poems, but that I did know my Girl Scout oath (my investiture happened a few weeks before, so I still had the oath memorized). She told me to go ahead. I then raised my hand in the Girl Scout salute, and proceeded to recite.

After that was done, I then shouted to my mother, “Mom, how did I do?”

The director then said, “You did fine. Now get off the stage.”

I got hired.

Every performer knows that an audition is, by definition, a possibility. A chance.

Maybe you’ll walk into a room, sing a song, and your life will change: You’ll get cast in a show or land a coveted spot in a glee club or talent show. Your dream will come true.

Or maybe you’ll walk into a room, sing a song, and then go back to your regular life, waiting for the next audition to come around.

Even for the most seasoned performers, lots of things are out of your control: What show or group are you auditioning for? Have you worked with anyone on the creative team before? Have any of the other parts been cast, and do you need to have chemistry with those performers?

So why not focus on what is in your control: Did you get a good night’s sleep and eat a healthy breakfast? Did you memorize your lines for your monologue? Have you warmed up your voice so that you’ll be ready to sing?

Everyone has to start somewhere—even superstars.

When I think back to my audition for Miss Saigon, I remember what a different experience that was from my first audition at six. . . . I was seventeen years old, a premed student in university, and completely terrified.

I had prepared “On My Own” from Les Misérables as my audition piece. When it came my turn to sing, I headed into the room where Cameron Mackintosh (Producer), Nicholas Hytner (Director), Alain Boublil (Lyricist), Claude-Michel Schönberg (Composer), Vinnie Liff (Casting Director), and James Thane (one of Cameron’s associates from Australia) were waiting, seated behind a table.

I shook everyone’s hand, and then stood on the X on the floor. The pianist began to play . . . but something was wrong. His tempo was too slow. So the entire song was sung way too slow. I tried very hard to hide the panic that was coursing through my veins, but beyond that, I tried to hide the worry that I would mess up this audition and lose my chance at getting cast. After I finished, Claude-Michel got up from his chair, played a few bars of “On My Own,” and asked if I could sing the high part (I guess, just to check if I could). He then went back to his seat.

Nick then asked if I had prepared another song. I didn’t, but knew of another song that I could do, a cappella if I needed to. I told them that I could sing “The Greatest Love of All” which was at this point in time extremely popular, thanks to Whitney Houston. I headed to the piano to ask the accompanist if he could play it for me.

I then spotted some sheet music sitting on top of the piano. My curiosity got the better of me, and lo and behold, it was sheet music for “The Greatest Love of All.” So I handed it to the piano man and said, “Here, play this.”

Back to the X on the floor I went, praying all the while, hoping that the song would be in my key. Once the piano started to play, I knew that it was right. I then sang the song from start to finish.

I got hired.

Of course, these are only two examples out of many. No matter what happens on the day of an actual audition, you must prepare. Experience in musicals, show choirs, and talent shows at an early age will help you learn how to sing, how to be part of a musical “team,” and what to expect when you’re working on a show—either behind the scenes or right in the spotlight.

In this book you will find fun and valuable information about how to identify what your talents are, focus on your goals, and achieve success. Because being a superstar isn’t just about being a good performer—it’s about doing your research, practicing your craft, and, above all, believing in yourself and knowing that your dreams can come true.

Lea Salonga


Got Talent?

So you wanna be a superstar? Work hard and never give up. You’ll probably hear “no” more than you will “yes,” but that will make the yes’s that much more exciting. Perform as much as you can, because experience will make you a better actor, singer, and dancer. Take voice lessons and dance classes. Go to the theater, volunteer at one if you can. Seriously consider higher education and spending four years focusing on becoming better at your craft. Make the investment now so it can pay off big-time in the future.




Chances are, if you’re reading this book then you’re interested in auditioning for your school musical, talent show, or glee club. Now, you may think that all auditions come down to one thing—talent. And in a way, that’s true. Talent is defined as:

the potential for success; ability

Notice that the definition isn’t that you must have “a really freaking awesome voice.” Talent isn’t that specific. The words to focus on are potential and ability—the willingness to learn about your craft, studying and practicing, and (most of all) understanding that everyone’s talent is different. If you compare yourself to others, you’ll only get frustrated. Instead, focus on you and what you do best.

This isn’t easy, of course.

Especially in school, being different can be a casualty—a reason to get made fun of or be excluded.

On stage, however, being different is an asset. As a performer, your quirky habits, individual skills, and even how you look make you special and help you stand out.

Take singing, for example. If you watch American Idol, not everyone is classically trained and wants to be an opera singer. There are pop singers who have never taken a singing lesson but have extraordinary “raw” talent.

There are country singers who play the guitar.

R&B singers who show off their vocal pyrotechnics—switching quickly from note to note in incredibly impressive ways.

Rock singers who may not sound “pretty” but wow audiences with how powerful their voices are, and the intensity of their performances.

There are belters.

There are sopranos.

There are boys who can sing in falsetto.

All of this and more—and if some of these words or concepts are unfamiliar to you now, don’t worry. They’ll be explained in future chapters. The important thing to remember is that no one kind of performer is “better” than another. At the end of the day, superstardom all comes down to dedication and practice.

The Superstar Checklist

Did you read any of the above descriptions and think, “Hey, this sounds a lot like me!”

Whatever your background is, that’s okay. Here’s a checklist to figure out what your talent is and how to start making the most of it.

Name: _________________________________________________

Age: __________________________________________________

Favorite Activity: ________________________________________

Instruments I Can Play: ___________________________________

I would rather (mark one):

Act Sing Dance Play an Instrument

Favorite Singer(s):




Favorite Actor(s):




Favorite Band(s):




Have you ever written a song?



If not, would you like to?



Have you ever taken a dance lesson?



If not, would you like to?



Have you ever taken a voice lesson?



If not, would you like to?



Have you ever taken an instrument lesson?



If not, would you like to?



Have you ever performed in front of an audience?



If so, how many people?


Do you ever get nervous before you perform?



What is your performing “dream”?





Now it’s time to look over your answers. Hopefully, they’ll help you start to discover what kind of superstar you’d like to be.

Oftentimes, we admire people who we’d like to emulate. For example, whomever you listed as your favorite singers might tell us what kind of singer you’d like to be.

Did you write down Pink or Kelly Clarkson? Maybe you’d like to be a pop star and perform some of your favorite songs in your school’s show choir.

Did you write Brian Stokes Mitchell or Jonathan Groff? You might want to be a leading man on Broadway.

Then it’s time to mix and match.

Is your favorite performing artist Taylor Swift? Do you know how to play the guitar—or if you don’t, would you like to learn how? Perhaps becoming a singer/songwriter is in your future.

Do you like Coldplay or the Beatles? And do you play an instrument like the drums or the piano? Why not get together with some of your friends and start a band?

Love to dance? You can be a dancer in a musical, or even a music video on MTV. Or maybe you don’t want to be on stage yourself. You could become a choreographer, and create routines for your friends to perform in the school talent show, or record and put up on YouTube. They could even get on So You Think You Can Dance? or America’s Got Talent.

The point? Dream big, because you never know what can happen.

But first you have to have a goal. Once you figure out what you’re passionate about, you’ll be able to take the first step to becoming the superstar you were born to be.

So take a good look at the answers you just wrote down, because within these pages you will learn how to prepare for an audition and be the very best that you can be. You’ll learn the smartest (and easiest) ways to research the upcoming school or community show, how to choose audition material for your school’s talent show that will showcase your strengths instead of your weaknesses, insider tips and tricks on how to impress the director while keeping your nerves in check, and what to do once the dreaded audition is over and all that’s left to do is wait.

Whether you’re a total newbie, a seasoned vet, or somewhere in between, everything you need to know about auditioning is right here. For your eyes only.

So sit back, relax, and enjoy the show book!


Discovering Yourself

For me, the idea of being a superstar is about remembering that there are many definitions of the word. Of course there’s someone who gets to be in a Broadway show and gets to be a part of all that glitter and excitement (and that’s cool, don’t get me wrong). But there’s also understanding that not everyone will get to do that and realizing that they’re not going to die if they don’t. There are so many ways to take the gift that you have and share it with the world. . . . There’s regional theater, local choir, community theater, church, and Teaching (which gets a capital T), to name a few. Broadway’s in one location, but living a life in NYC is not for everyone, and you can take your gift anywhere and use it for good in so many ways and you just might discover that being a superstar to a neighbor or a kid is just as fulfilling as what you dream of at night.




Figuring out who you are can be a difficult task, but the easiest way to start is with a mirror.

Are you tall? Short? Fair? Dark? Lean? Shapely? Make a list of all of your physical characteristics, and don’t judge what you see. Keep it nice and simple. Here’s an example:

I have brown eyes.

I have short black hair.

I have long legs.

I have tiny arms.

Treat this exercise as if you’ve just made a new friend and you want to learn everything about him or her. What’s the first thing you notice? Write it down. What stands out? Write it down.

My Physical Traits



















Hello, you, I’d like to introduce you to YOU!

Your physical characteristics will help determine the types of roles you’re going to play. You are fabulous and unique and there is only one of you—so, don’t fight what you’re working with. Embrace it!

I Am What I Am

(La Cage aux Folles, 1983)

While physical traits are important, your personality is your calling card: Are you naturally funny? Serious? Loud or quiet? Do you follow the rules—or do you like to break them?

Write down the character traits you know to be true about yourself. Again, be as honest as possible.


On Sale
Oct 2, 2012
Page Count
152 pages
Running Press Kids

Ted Michael

About the Author

Ted Michael is a Presidential Scholar in the Arts and graduate of Columbia University and The Juilliard School. He is the author of So You Wanna Be a Superstar: The Ultimate Audition Guide, a YALSA Popular Paperback for Young Adults, The Diamonds, and Crash Test Love. He lives in Manhattan’s Upper West Side, where he is surrounded by many Playbills and even more books.

Josh Pultz is the senior agent at DGRW Talent, and his clients include stars of television, screen, and stage. He regularly appears as a guest and speaker for such venues as the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, The School for Film and Television, Actors Connection, and One on One Studios. He currently lives in Manhattan.

Learn more about this author