Neil Rutherford started out as a West End actor in musicals. Then he worked in production at ENO before becoming head of casting for the Ambassador Theatre Group. So he knows pretty much everything there is to know about musical theatre auditioning and casting from both sides of the table. That is why his book Musical Theatre Auditions and Casting is so welcome and so authoritative.
As Bartlett Sher observes in his foreword, there is a definite art to auditions - quite different appearing in a play or a musical - and some people really enjoy the challenge of it. It also means that it is worth studying the art of auditioning as a distinct part of your training.
Rutherford explains how the auditioning process works and is very helpful about things such as the role of casting directors, what agents do and the importance of networking. He then goes into the minutiae of preparing for your audition with useful advice about song choice, how to manage auditions if you’re on tour, and, crucially, what you shouldn’t attempt in auditions.
The book also includes detailed, practical advice and information about the audition itself and what you should (or should not) do immediately before and after it. He’s good in call-backs and dealing with rejection as well as helpful abut problems such as dyslexia and sight reading.
Musical Theatre Auditions and Casting is threaded through with comments from experienced practitioners such as Richard Eyre, Christopher Luscombe and Vanessa Scamell so there’s plenty of support for Rutherford’s approach.
It’s a useful book which should be in every drama school library and, probably, on the personal shelves of anyone seriously wanting to make a career in musical theatre.