MTCP 2023-2024 Requirements & Guidelines

The musical theater audition process can be daunting and time consuming, especially for high school seniors. That’s why Acceptd has teamed up with Paper Mill Playhouse and leading college musical theater programs to make it easier to navigate this process. The result of our collaboration is the Musical Theater Common Prescreen (MTCP). Here is everything you need to know about it, whether you’re an aspiring artist or a program director.

2023-2024 Participating Institutions

2023-2024 MTCP Requirements & Guidelines

MTCP Tips & Resources for Applicants

Musical Theater Common Prescreen FAQs for Institutions


2023-2024 Participating Institutions

Abilene Christian University

Auburn University Theatre and Dance*

Cal State Fullerton

Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama

Circle in the Square Theatre School

Circle in the Square/Eckerd College 2+2 BFA

Coastal Carolina University

College of Charleston*

Conservatory for the Performing Arts at Stephens College

Dobbins Conservatory at Southeast Missouri State University

East Carolina University

Elon University

Emerson College

Florida Atlantic University Department of Theatre & Dance

Florida International University

Florida Southern College

Florida State University

The Hartt School - University of Hartford

Illinois Wesleyan University

Indiana University-Bloomington

Indiana University South Bend*

Ithaca College School of Music, Theatre, and Dance

James Madison University*

Millikin University

Missouri State University*

Molloy University / Cap 21

Montclair State University

Nazareth University

New World School of the Arts

Oakland University School of Music, Theatre and Dance*

Ohio Northern University*

Oklahoma City University

Oklahoma State University

Otterbein Theatre and Dance

Pace University Sands College of Performing Arts**

Penn State

Point Park University

Rider University

Roosevelt University - Chicago College of Performing Arts

San Diego State University

Shenandoah Conservatory

Siena Heights University

Slippery Rock University*

State University of New York at Fredonia

Syracuse University College of Visual and Performing Arts

Talkington College of Visual & Performing Arts - Texas Tech University

TCU (Texas Christian University)

Temple University

Texas State University

The University of Alabama

University of Alabama at Birmingham

University of the Arts*

University of Central Florida

The University of Florida

University of Montevallo, Department of Theatre*

University of Nevada, Reno*

University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG)

University of Oklahoma - Musical Theatre

University of South Florida*

The University of Texas at Arlington

The University of Utah*

Valdosta State University

Viterbo University Theatre and Music Theatre*

West Virginia University School of Theatre & Dance*

Western Connecticut State University

Wright State University - School of Fine and Performing Arts*

CLICK HERE for a Downloadable Spreadsheet of All Participating Institutions' Requirements. Always confirm requirements by clicking on institutions' links above.

*Institutions with an asterisk do not require a digital prescreen. Please review the school website for specifics on how the MTCP is utilized at this institution.

**Institutions with a double asterisk have special instructions for the dance portion of their prescreen. Please review the school website for specifics on how the MTCP is utilized at this institution.

This list will be updated weekly. Please review the school website for specifics on how the MTCP is utilized at this institution.


For the 2023-2024 Musical Theater Common Prescreen, each institution will select from the options found in the table below. Please carefully read Requirements & Guidelines for each category, use Tips and Resources to help you prepare for your auditions, and check out our list of FAQs!

Requirements & Guidelines

OVERALL

Each piece should be filmed/uploaded as a separate piece of media. No continuous videos. Students are encouraged to use standard technology/recording devices that are available to them (i.e. smartphones, tablets, etc.)

INTRODUCTION (“SLATE”)

There should not be a separate introduction or “slate” video. Instead, “slates” are to appear at the beginning of each piece and included as part of the time allotment. (Read through the resources page for examples of each of the three slates described below).

  • 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.

  • The proper slate for a piece of dance is to share your name, the title of the song you are dancing to, and the name of the choreographer. If the piece is “self-choreographed” you should share your own name as choreographer.

SONGS

Students should prepare two contrasting pieces. Each institution is responsible for indicating which options are accepted.

  • Style: one song should be a ballad (where the piece has longer, sustained vocal lines) and one song should be an uptempo (where the vocal line moves at a conversational pace) so as to contrast style.

  • Length: 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).

  • Accompaniment: Students must sing to musical accompaniment, which could include live or pre-recorded accompaniment. No “a cappella” singing (meaning singing without music).

Universities may ask for one or either of the following Song Options. Check the individual university website to see which Option is required:

OPTION A

  • One song should be written before 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.

  • One of the two songs (student’s choice) should be filmed in a full frame shot (top of the head to the floor should be visible in the frame) to see your full range of expression, and the other one in a close-up shot (top of the head to the chest should be visible in the frame).

OPTION B

  • Both songs should be from contemporary musicals (any musical written after 1970) and contrast in style (“ballad” and “uptempo”).

  • One of the two songs (student’s choice) should be filmed in a full frame shot (top of the head to the floor should be visible in the frame) to see your full range of expression, and the other one in a close-up shot (top of the head to the chest should be visible in the frame).

MONOLOGUES

Students may be asked to prepare either one or two pieces. Each institution is responsible for indicating which options are accepted.

  • Monologues must be from a published play.

  • Monologues cannot be from musicals.

  • Each monologue 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).

Universities may ask for one or either of the following Monologue Options.  Check the individual university website to see which Option is required:

OPTION A

  • 1 contemporary monologue (typically written after 1950), 60-90 seconds in lengthThe 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.

OPTION B

  • 2 contrasting monologues each 60-90 seconds in length (see below)1 Contemporary (typically written after 1950)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.Classical (typically written before 1950)Classical monologues should be filmed in a “full frame” shot which means the top of the head to the floor should be visible in the frame.Classical monologues must have heightened languagePlaywrights may include Shakespeare, Molière, Christopher Marlowe, Thomas Middleton, Thomas Kyd, Aristophanes, or contemporary adaptations of classical plays that still employ heightened language

DANCE

Students may be asked to execute one or both of the following options. Each institution is responsible for indicating which options are accepted.

  • Framing: All dance media should be filmed in a “full frame” shot taking care to keep the student’s entire person in the frame at all times. (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 60 seconds)

  • Style: Regardless of which style of dance you execute, the choreography and the movement should be connected to the music where the applicant is dancing with a sense of purpose.

  • All choreography must be performed to music; please no “a cappella” dance media.

Universities may ask for a required Dance option. Universities may offer an optional Ballet submission:

DANCE OPTION

  • 30-60 seconds of dance in whatever dance discipline you feel most confident. This may include, but is not limited to jazz, ballet, tap, modern, hip hop, lyrical, contemporary, or dance styles beyond American and Euro-western styles.

  • Please do not submit “barre work”. Instead, check to see if the auditioning program offers the optional “Ballet Submission” which is listed below.

  • Please use steps, movement, and physical vocabulary that you are familiar with and can execute well. To the best of your ability, move your body fully. Please include at least one turn, one jump and one kick (or other suitable rotation, elevation, and extension that works for your body).

  • Dance media can be “self-choreographed”, but it must 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.

BALLET OPTION

  • Ballet Media should be no more than 60 seconds.

  • Execute a brief series of plié, tendu, and grande battement;

  • Execute pirouette en déhors (to both sides)

  • Execute one or more grand jeté across the floor.

WILD CARD

Students may be asked to execute a “Wild Card” submission. Each institution is responsible for indicating whether the “Wild Card” is accepted.

  • Submissions should be no more than 60 seconds.

  • Applicants do not need to slate in any wild card media.

  • This media can be ANYTHING you want - a special skill, an interesting story about yourself, a passion speech, an instrument you play, etc. “What do you want us to know about you?” and “What makes you unique?” (See the resources page for ideas on Wild Card submissions)

TIPS & RESOURCES

 Overall Tips: Set Up Your Recording Space

  • Find a space where you can move around freely taking care to move items that might impede your creative exploration. This is especially important for dance and movement.

  • Ensure the camera portion of your device is at eye level. This way the camera can record you the way others see you. You can use a tripod (at least 60 inches tall) built for a smart phone or tablet. If you do not have a tripod, consider using a stack of books on a desk or box. Filming in “landscape” (horizontally) is always preferable, but not required.

  • Do your best to find a space that is free of visual distractions. Solid colored walls are ideal, but any background that does not steal the focus from your performance is desired.

  • Take care that your space allows for adequate lighting. Do not have a lamp or window directly behind you as it will cast a shadow over your face. Keep the lighting source behind your recording device or to the side of you so that your face is lit.

SLATING TIPS

  • An example of a slate for a SONG might be, “My name is Audra McDonald and this is ‘Daddy’s Son’ from Ragtime.”

  • An example of a slate for a MONOLOGUE might be, “My name is Lin-Manuel Miranda and this is Choir Boy by Tarell Alvin McCraney.”

  • An example of a slate for a piece of DANCE might be, “My name is L. Morgan Lee, I am dancing to ‘Bad Romance’ by Lady Gaga, choreographed by Camille A. Brown. 

  • An example of a slate for a piece of DANCE that is “self-choreographed” might be, “My name is Eva Noblezada, I am dancing to ‘Burn’ from Hamilton, choreographed by me.”

SONG TIPS

  • Many accompaniment tracks to musical theater songs are available on YouTube and other websites. If you do not have a way to work with a live accompanist or don’t have access to a recorded track of your music, consider using an app that will play the piano part for you. Harmony Helper is one such app that allows you to take photos of your sheet music, upload them to the app and then generate a piano track that you can use.

  • When using prerecorded music, make sure the music source (the speaker or output) is closer to you than it is to the device on which you are recording. By having the accompaniment near you, your voice and the music will reach the microphone on your device in a more balanced manner.

  • When choosing your material, try to find songs that use different parts of your voice. The higher part of your voice, also known as falsetto or “head voice”, might be used more prominently in one piece, whereas your chest voice (the area most people also speak in) could be used for another.

MONOLOGUE TIPS

  • Only perform Shakespeare if you feel comfortable. Because classical monologues are public domain, you can search for these on the internet and find many alternatives to Shakespeare that were written before 1950.

  • It is always best to choose a monologue that is age-appropriate (generally within 5-10 years of your actual age) and that feels authentic to your culture, background, and experience. The piece should feel like it could be an extension of who you actually are. Active monologues are best for auditions; an active monologue takes place in real time right now and focuses on what you want - this should put you in a moment of direct communication with an imaginary scene partner. The monologue should deal with the present situation between you and this person and should not be a story or remembrance. Instead, it should be about what is happening at this moment. It is usually helpful to avoid monologues that rely on extreme emotions as it is hard to believably justify these responses in a short piece.

DANCE TIPS

  • Applicants are encouraged to keep a full-length mirror behind the filming device so as to see themselves as they execute choreography.

  • Make sure that you can execute all of the choreography well. It is to your advantage to choose steps and movement that highlight your strengths instead of your weaknesses.

  • To assist applicants with the dance prescreen, several of the MTCP institutions provided the following resource videos for applicants who do not have access to a choreographed combo for the prescreen process. You may submit this choreography (or a combination of it) to any of the schools you are applying to that ask for a dance prescreen. This list will be updated as more institutions share resources, so be sure to check back.Abilene Christian University Dance Combo ResourceEmerson College Dance Combo ResourceNazareth University Dance Combo ResourceTexas State University Dance Combo Resource

WILD CARD TIPS

Think about the wild card section as an opportunity to show your personality. Don’t limit yourself, but make sure you teach the adjudicators something about you. Below is a list of ideas that have been successful in the past:

  • Singing a pop song

  • Performing your own SNL-styled skit where you create a comedic character

  • Sharing a hobby or activity that means something to you

  • Performing in a language other than English in which you are fluent

  • Playing an instrument

  • Making a “how-to” video on something you are an expert at

  • Performing a poem, song, or dance you created yourself


Frequently Asked Questions for Institutions

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. Your institution will need to register your options each season so we can update our website. Email us at mtcp@getacceptd.com to receive an updated form.

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 Acceptd (mtcp@getacceptd.com) 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 MTCP Committee set criteria for “Song”, “Monologue”, “Dance, “Wild Card”, and “Slating” requirements. A resources page of “quick tips” to help applicants was added in 2020.

There are two options for each category. Do institutions have to choose just one or can we use both?

Institutions may use one option 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 verbiage verbatim. The promotion of “common” verbiage is what will create ease of process and discourage confusion and questions.