Musical theatre resumes are often seen as some kind of enchanted item of lore, but really, they’re no different from any other resume – if you want a job, you’ll need to send off a good resume and if you’re planning on auditioning for musical theatre, you’ll need one that really stands out from the crowd.
99% of the time, that resume and headshot will be the only opportunity you get to land a musical theatre audition. With that in mind, here’s how to get yourself ready for the big time.
1. Bend the Truth… but Don’t Break it
It may be contrary to most advice on the topic, but let’s be adults here: it’s a resume. Everyone uses a bit of creative language on their resume.
That said, there’s obviously a difference between ‘glorifying facts’ and ‘outright lying’. There’s nothing wrong with saying you ‘worked off-Broadway’ when you were simply a stagehand since that’s technically working in theatre, but you can’t put yourself in a play you simply weren’t in.
Simply put, don’t write anything you can’t back up. Your vocal range should be listed, but not anything outside of what it actually is. Don’t re-name theatres to make them seem more legit, or claim that you are capable of any special skill if you don’t actually have it. If you are young, you are not being compared to people twice your age.
2. Obey the Ten Second Rule
It’s usually advised to stick to a plain font and use no color, but this isn’t strictly the best method of getting noticed (and that’s what it’s all about). Feel free to get creative, but also bear in mind that while the objective is to stand out from the stack, you also need to convey what you’re about in no less than ten seconds – this is the average time a director will glance at your CV.
As such, make sure everything’s easily visible at a glance. You shouldn’t pack things too close together or use a ridiculous amount of words in describing anything. Strong headings to separate areas of your resume are also useful.
3. Education is Everything
This section is paramount to those who don’t have a huge amount of on-stage experience; the name of a reputable musical theatre school and any formal training and/or qualifications can speak volumes, so do list anything applicable here.
This includes full details of tutors who have helped you over the years since a good recommendation – especially in lieu of experience – is worth its weight in gold.
4. Don’t Forget the Understudying
If you performed a role that you understudied, do list that as a credit on your resume with (u/s, perf.) next to the name of the role. It is important to say that you were the understudy, as someone could have seen the production and known you were not the person cast in the role.
Understudy roles are ideally best replaced with full credits if at all possible, though naturally these will come over time.
5. Skills to Pay the Bills
Ah, the special skills section… tantamount to being asked to talk about yourself, many people struggle with this and some even neglect it entirely.
Don’t. This is the one area in which you get to really set yourself aside from the crowd, although you might have to think outside the box and consider that you might have many unrelated skills that are actually relevant to a production.
If you speak other languages, you can say you are intermediate or advanced, anything less is not worth listing. If you have the ability to do physical tricks, list the most difficult that you are completely comfortable with, and always be prepared to do these in the room if asked.
Musical instruments are especially useful, and again should only be categorized as intermediate or advanced.
6. Not Everything is Relevant…
Naturally, you don’t want to put anything on that may hurt you in a casting environment. Numbers are generally bad for resumes; this includes weight, address, and age. You can give an age range that you normally play, but you never have to give your actual age. If you are an adult and asked, you can reply with over 18 to play younger if that is your situation. As long as you leave a bit of wiggle room sometimes it’s better to let the people on the other side of the table decide what they think you are.
You also don’t need to list absolutely detail about yourself and every role you’ve ever been. Sometimes, blank space is preferable to black ink…
… and hopefully, with a killer CV, you’ll land some excellent musical theatre auditions and be able to fill the blank spaces with only enviable credits.