I Auditioned For Chicago Unifieds And This Is How I Survived!
In a few weeks, it will be my first anniversary of attending Chicago Unifieds as an auditionee. Unifieds has always been a very intimidating place theatre students attend in the audition process. The idea of nonstop auditions for 3-5 days in a row for countless, high-ranking musical theatre programs can seem daunting and exhausting. It is essential you know WHAT and HOW to prepare for attending Chicago, or any audition for that matter.
The absolute #1 thing I took away from going to Unifieds is that thoroughly preparing is the only way to make it as stress-free as possible. Scheduling everything ahead of time is the first step. Considering you have to plan it weeks or even months in advance, double check your audition schedule and when you think it’s perfect, check it a third time. Even if you’ve triple checked your schedule, sometimes an audition runs late which conflicts with another audition. It happens, so stay cool but it is something you have to solve on the fly. Typically, the schools are VERY accommodating in those situations, so if it happens to you, there’s no need to flip out, send someone (a parent or coach) to the school and let them know what’s happening. Try not to overbook yourself when scheduling auditions, even though Unifieds is designed to knock out as many auditions as you can, know your limits.
The weather and climate can have a big impact. You can’t control the weather but you can try to stay as healthy as possible. Intense audition schedules, high school overload and flying can compromise your immune system and make you more prone to catching all the sicknesses your fellow Unifieds pals bring with them. Make sure you try to stay as healthy physically and mentally as possible going into these auditions. Having too many auditions in one day can lead to vocal fatigue and exhaustion, which can lead to less than stellar audition experiences. But, if you are sick, know the adjudicators are seasoned professionals and they can still determine your potential.
Walkups are another huge part of Unifieds. Many people like to use walkups to expand their options and also practice their audition package. If you do sign up for walkups make sure it’s a school you really want to attend. Don’t sign up for a slot and waste a school’s precious time when you know you wouldn’t consider an acceptance from them. That school could be someone else’s #1 school. That’s just my personal view, every person is different and that’s when you have to trust your gut.
One of the ways to be prepared is to have a list of essentials that you couldn’t survive Unifieds without. Here’s mine. I hope there are a few beneficial things you can pick and choose to add to your own list.
- Hydroflask or an insulated water bottle.
- Steamer – steam when you wake up early in the morning! It gets everything moving and warms up your throat.
- Nebulizer – I used this more than my steamer because the water particles actually make contact with your vocal folds. Use room temperature bottled water – the water particles are small enough that it provides constant hydration to your vocal folds throughout the day. ( I think Omron has the best one of the market.)
- Small humidifier for your hotel room if you can find a way to pack it.
- One small box of Throat Coat tea. Ask for a hotel room with a microwave so you can heat up the water!
- KIND granola bars. This stuff tastes good, it’s healthy, and holds you over when you don’t have time to eat.
- Diffuser and Essential Oils. My favorites are Lemon, Lavender, Peppermint, On Guard and Breathe by DōTerra.
- Song Book. Have extra songs and monologues, a table of contents, and MATTE NON-GLARE SHEET PROTECTORS!!!!
- Bluetooth Speaker. Lots of schools make you play your own tracks. Make sure you have tracks for your extra songs as well!
- AUX cord that works with your phone and speaker, just in case Bluetooth stops working.
- Earbuds. Airpods. SOOO many people are auditioning, and so many people will try to intimidate you without you even realizing it. Don’t be outwardly rude, but these auditions are about YOU! Do what you need to do to stay focused and put your blinders on. Earbuds ALWAYS saved me from getting pulled into other conversations around me.
- Sleeping mask. It helps, trust me!
- Extra winter clothes! Chicago can be extremely windy and cold.
- Good Skincare!!! Your face will thank you!!! No matter what gender you are, find a good face wash and moisturizer and take care of your skin. Stress, weather, climate change, sweat, and makeup will make you break out and you DO NOT want that in an audition.
- Go to Pizano’s on E. Madison Street for dinner one night and ask if “the Chach” is there that night…he will make your trip to Chicago really special!
- Also, don’t worry, there’s a Starbucks on the street level of the Palmer House.
As random and weird as some of these may sound, they are things that really helped me survive Unified Auditions. Pick and choose the things you think will work for you!
At the end of the day, Unifieds is not as scary as everyone makes it out to be – IF YOU’RE PREPARED! Being prepared keeps your state of mind at ease, so you can focus on the actual auditions. Putting yourself in front of multiple panels of musical theatre schools is terrifying enough, so it’s better to stress now than when you’re about to walk into an audition!
Theatre Audition Advisors has loads of advice on attending Unifieds! If you have any questions not addressed here, please don’t hesitate to reach out and ask us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Break a leg and remember to enjoy these moments as much as you can! Before you know it, you’ll be coming up on your one year anniversary too!