Over the last few years, I have had many people ask about the audition that started my Disney career. Since that wonderful day in February 2016, I have worked with Disney Cruise Line on the Fantasy and the Wonder, as well as at Tokyo DisneySea.
I have loved every moment of it and am hopeful that this audition breakdown will help anyone who is wanting to follow a similar career path!
I auditioned in Toronto, Ontario at an open singing call, with about 200 other eager performers. Disney posts all their world wide audition information on their website, so it’s always best to check that page regularly (https://jobs.disneycareers.com/auditions). This specific call was to cast the Fantasy and the Dream and was taking place at City Dance Corps on Queen St. We arrived around 8AM and waited in line outside until the studio opened an hour later. We were then ushered inside and signed our names on an unofficial list. I was 9th.
Shortly before 10AM, the casting director arrived and gave a quick speech about what he was hoping to see. Disney pride themselves on telling exceptional stories and that in turn, is what they expect of their performers. Of course, strong vocals help but more so, they want to understand your character’s journey and see you tell a story. That is no easy feat in 16 bars.
Two studios were used that day: a big space in which to wait and a smaller studio for the actual audition. In groups of 10, hopeful actors lined up outside the audition room to sing their 16 bars. The eight people ahead of me only took about fifteen minutes total.
Once my turn arrived, I said a quick hello and gave my sheet music to the accompanist. I sang “Breathe” from In The Heights twice; once as I prepared it and a second time, with the casting director’s changes. He then inquired about my current situation, to which I babbled on incoherently for a few minutes. Finally, he asked if I could sing anything else from my book. After offering two very different options, he insisted I pick something I enjoy, so I sang “River Deep, Mountain High”.
The whole process took about ten minutes and was really quite lovely. To my surprise, he invited me to a call back and gave me new material for Jasmine in Aladdin. Memorizing everything wasn’t necessary, as telling the story was more important.
THE CALL BACK
The next day, I returned to the studio around 10AM for my call back. Having looked at the material over night, we went through them together and played with various directorial changes. Casting directors will often do this to see how well an actor can take direction. If you’re familiar with DCL’s version of Aladdin, the call back material included cuts of “A Whole New World”, “To Be Free” and two scenes with Aladdin.
Afterwards, we went through them once more to record for the creative team to watch. He asked a few of us to stay for a quick dance call, but I assure you, it was very easy and not technically difficult at all. Finally, I filled out some forms with my basic measurements and contact information and that was it!
TIPS TO ROCK IT!
- You don’t have to sing something Disney! Think of how many times the casting director has to hear “Let It Go” in one day. Try to find a song that really tells a story and has a similar sound, maybe something by a composer who has already worked on a Disney show!
- Do your research! The audition breakdown always states which roles they are casting. Familiarize yourself with the material and present yourself in the appropriate way for the character you are best suited.
- Be yourself! I know it sounds typical, but Disney look for people who are kind and want to create magic before anything else! The ship is a small place and the casting team understand the importance of a cohesive cast.
- Always bring your book with you! Like in my audition, casting directors often want to hear more, and it’s always good to give them options!
- The cast perform many different shows on the ship, so it is important to show your versatility if you are given the chance. I did this by singing an uptempo pop song after my music theatre ballad.
- Don’t give up! Though I was lucky, many people audition for Disney 5,6,7 times before they even get a call back. Every time you go, they are reminded of who you are, which can only be a good thing!
- Often, one casting director will audition for many shows within the Disney family. This means that though you might not be right for something at that specific audition, they might be considering you for a role elsewhere. Don’t lose hope!
Three to four weeks later, my agent got an email with an offer breakdown. And just like that, dreams really do come true!