It’s no secret that the musical theater audition process can be daunting and time consuming, especially for aspiring artists at the college level. That’s why Acceptd has teamed up with Paper Mill Playhouse and leading college musical theater programs to make it easier for artists to navigate this process.
The result of our collaboration is the College Musical Theater Common Prescreen (MTCP), and in this short guide, we’ll give you everything you need to know about it, whether you’re an aspiring artist or a program director. Specifically, we’ll cover:
2022-2023 Participating Institutions
2022-2023 MTCP Requirements
MTCP Resources for Applicants
Musical Theater Common Prescreen FAQs
On this page, you’ll learn everything you need to know about the Musical Theater Common Prescreen and how you can use it as an individual or an institution.
Auburn University Theatre and Dance
Boston Conservatory at Berklee
California State University, Fullerton (CSUF)
Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama
Circle in the Square Theatre School
Circle in the Square/Eckerd College 2+2 BFA
Dobbins Conservatory at Southeast Missouri State University
Elon University Department of Performing Arts
The Hartt School - University of Hartford
Indiana University, Bloomington
Indiana University, South Bend*
Millikin University School of Theatre and Dance
Oakland University School of Music, Theatre and Dance*
The Pennsylvania State University
Point Park University's Conservatory of Performing Arts
Roosevelt University - Chicago College of Performing Arts
Shawnee State University Musical Theatre Program*
Southern Illinois University Carbondale
State University of New York at Fredonia
Stephens College Conservatory for the Performing Arts
TCU - Texas Christian University
University of Alabama at Birmingham
University of Cincinnaiti, College-Conservatory of Music
University of North Carolina Greensboro (UNCG)
University of Oklahoma - Weitzenhoffer School of Musical Theatre
The University of Texas at Arlington*
Viterbo University Conservatory for the Performing Arts
Western Connecticut State University
West Virginia University School of Theatre & Dance*
*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.
This list will be updated weekly. Please review the school website for specifics on how the MTCP is utilized at this institution.
For the 2022-2023 Audition Cycle, MTCP has included a list of helpful hints. We strongly encourage that you take advantage of these resources which have been thoughtfully and intentionally crafted by the expertise of multiple programs nationwide to support the excellence of the audition and for your benefit.
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).
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.
Students should prepare two contrasting pieces. Each institution is responsible for indicating which options are accepted.
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.
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).
Students must sing to musical accompaniment, which could include live or pre-recorded accompaniment. No “a cappella” singing (meaning singing without music).
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 or either of the following Song Options. Check the individual university website to see which Option is required:
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.
Both songs should be from contemporary musicals (any musical written after 1970) and contrast in style (“ballad” and “uptempo”).
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 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 or either of the following Monologue Options. Check the individual university website to see which Option is required:
1 contemporary monologue (written after 1950), 60-90 seconds in length
The 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 contrasting monologues each 60-90 seconds in length (see below)
1 Contemporary (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.
1 Classical (written before 1950); Classical monologues 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.
Students may be asked to execute one or both of the following options. Each institution is responsible for indicating which options are accepted.
All dance media should be filmed in a “full body” shot taking care to keep the student’s entire body 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)
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.
Universities may ask for a required Dance option. Universities may offer an optional Ballet submission:
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, cultural dance styles, hip hop, lyrical, or contemporary.
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.
Dance media can be “self-choreographed”, but 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.
All choreography must be performed to music; please no “a cappella” dance media.
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.
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).
MTCP has included a list of helpful hints. We strongly encourage that you take advantage of these guidelines which have been thoughtfully and intentionally crafted by the expertise of multiple programs nationwide to support the excellence of the audition for your benefit.
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.
An example of a slate for a SONG might be, “My name is Audra MacDonald 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.”
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.
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 in 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.
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, a handful 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.
MTCP Dance Combo Resource (generously provided by Texas State University)
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
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.
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.
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.
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 (email@example.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.
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.
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.
There is no fee to the school or to the student. Institutions will continue to set their own individual application fees.
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.
Institutions may use one option or allow the student to choose either option.
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.