FOLLOW THE GUIDELINES TO A T. The first way to not be called back is if you don’t follow the guidelines.
— My College Audition

2019-20 Musical Theatre Common PreScreen Requirements 


Each piece should be filmed/uploaded as a separate piece of media. No continuous videos.


There should not be a separate “slate” video, rather slates are to appear at the beginning of each piece.

The proper slate for a song is to share your name, the 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


Students should prepare 2-contrasting pieces:

  • One song should be a ballad and one song should be an uptempo

  • 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)

  • 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 of the following song options:


  • One song should be written prior to 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) contrasting in style.


  • Monologues must be from a published play.

  • Monologues cannot be from musicals, television shows, or movies.

  • 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 of the following monologue options:


  • 1, 60-90 second contemporary monologue (written during the 20th Century-present) from a published play. 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.

  • 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, 60-90 second contrasting monologues

  • 1 Contemporary (written after 1900); 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.

  • 1 Classical (written pre-1900); Classical monologue 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. Only perform Shakespeare if you feel comfortable doing so.


·       Please check individual school websites to see if a “Wild Card” video is optional or required

·       Submissions should be no more than 60 seconds.

·       This media can be ANYTHING you want: a special skill, an interesting story about yourself, a passion speech, an instrument that you play, etc. “What do you want us to know about you?” and “What makes you unique?”.


Please check individual school criteria for pre screen dance video requirements. A common pre screen requirement for dance will be introduced for the 2020-2021 audition cycle.


2019-20 Participating Schools

Boston Conservatory at Berklee

Carnegie Mellon University

Coastal Carolina University

College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati

Elon University 

Indiana University

Ithaca College 

Missouri State University*

Montclair State University*

Pace University 

Pennsylvania State University

Rider University 

Shenandoah Conservatory  

Texas Christian University

Texas State University 

Texas Tech University

The University of Alabama

University of North Carolina Greensboro

University of Oklahoma, Weitzenhoffer School of Musical Theatre

Wright State University*

*these schools do not require a digital prescreen, but use the criteria here for digital audition submissions and optional prescreens


filming Your Successful Prescreen

College reps and admissions counselors will review your prescreen video before inviting you to audition for a spot in their program. It’s kind of a big deal.

You gotta get technical

If you’re not super tech savvy, don’t worry. There are basic steps you can take to ensure a grade A recording, like using a good digital camera. You don’t have to rush out and buy an expensive device; even point -and-shoot digital cameras have good resolution nowadays. Whatever camera you use, you have to make sure it’s on stable surface, like a tripod, and has the functionality to transfer your recording to a computer. Also, know how to convert your video file to an mp4, the standard file type for videos (not sure how to convert a video? Click here.) You should also make sure your aspect ratio is the standard 4:3. This will ensure your prescreen won’t be distorted when the reviewers watch it.

Location, location, location

You don’t want to record your prescreen video just anywhere. Choose a quiet, clutter-free space with a plain background. You don’t necessarily have to record on your prescreen on a stage, but you want a space that is comparable.

The better to see you with, my dear…

You have to be well-lit. Natural light is best, but artificial light, like lamps or reflectors, can be useful to minimize shadows. Do some test shots to make sure your face is clearly visible and that your eyes “pop.” To avoid looking washed out, wear a solid color that compliments your skin tone.

Come again?

Just like lighting, sound is an important part of your prescreen video. You have to be heard clearly. An external microphone will definitely help, but there are other quick fixes you can do to enhance sound quality, like eliminate ambient noise. If you’re recording in your home, which is a totally viable option, make sure you can’t hear the TV in the other room, or the dishwasher or washing machine. Have someone monitor (listen) to your audio through headphones as you record. Doing this will help you hear what background noise the mic is picking up. You’ll be surprised. Use sound absorbers in the recording space, like padded furniture and rugs. If you’re recording a musical prescreen, make sure you are louder than your accompaniment. If you’re recording a dance prescreen, make sure there’s someone to cut off and cue your music.

You’re the star

In the end, the prescreen is about your performance. Perform your piece directly to the camera, and frame your entire body or from the waist up for music and theatre prescreens. Dance prescreens will need a wider shot. Don’t zoom in for extreme facial close-ups, even for the slate, but do smile during your slate and show your personality to the reviewers. Adjust your performance for camera in gestures and blocking. You generally want a dialed down performance for your prescreen. Most importantly, re-record as many times as you want.

Nailing your prescreen video will set you up for success at your live audition and provide you with an awesome introduction to the decision-makers

DO: Dress for the audition. Even though this is on video, that doesn't mean it's not a real audition. Dress as if you were going to a campus for the audition.

DON'T: Show JUST your face. The faculty wants (and sort of needs) to see your whole body in the shot at some point in the audition, at least from the knees up.

DO: Pick pieces that suit you as an individual. To put it in the most eloquent way I can imagine, I will just quote our Head of Acting at Coastal, Monica Bell: "I suppose that this is a rule for all of our auditions, not just video pre-screens, but choose pieces that let us as a faculty get to know YOU. I want to get to know you through your material, to experience your work as an individual."

DON'T: Make your pieces too long. Follow the guidelines that were given to you by the school on their auditions website. Although it's possible for you to sing the entire song in your audition, it's not a good idea. 16-32 bar cuts are used for a reason, and going over doesn't make the viewers watch any more of your singing or monologue, it just makes them fast forward to the end.

Now I'm not going to promise that if someone follows the guidelines perfectly they will pass the pre-screen of any program. Sometimes, students are extremely talented and make well put-together, professional videos…and they still aren't invited to audition. There are forces at work outside of everyone's control, and they usually boil down to "Not what we're looking for this year." As much of a bummer as that is, this process gives students a chance to move on to the rest of the eggs in their basket. Time and hard work will lead everyone to the place that is the right fit for them. Sometimes it just takes a few long days with a camera (and quite a few school visits!) in order to find home.