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Wednesday, December 30, 2015 in Audition Xtra|2 comments
Choreography and dance research, Matilda Broadway audition
Quentin Blake's illustration of Matilda
It's marked in your calendar and you've been getting to class. The Matilda ECC is just around the corner. From what to wear and the history of the show, to more about who you will be auditioning for, we've compiled the information for you right here on Audition Xtra, meaning that now you get to walk into the audition room feeling confident and prepared to give your best.

Matilda is a musical by Dennis Kelly with songs and lyrics by Tim Minchin. It is based on the much loved children's novel of the same name, by Roald Dahl. Quentin Blake's illustrations in the original novel served for much of the choreographic inspiration in the Broadway musical. 

Audition Research Matilda Broadway
Buckinghamshire, England 

Set in a small village in Buckinghamshire, England, Matilda is the story of an extraordinary little girl with extraordinary powers. The daughter of abusive parents, Matilda finds refuge in library books, which she reads quickly and begins creating her own stories. Things are no better at school, where Matilda also must face a tyrannical and cruel headmistress, Miss Trunchbull, who believes in Crunchem Hall’s motto: “Bambinatum est Magitum,” or “Children are Maggots.” She finds companionship in her teacher, Miss Honey, who despite being well-intentioned, is shy and fragile. Brave little Matilda knows she has to stand up against the adults in her world, and in doing so, discovers her own remarkable powers. Matilda’s bravery teaches Miss Honey and her classmates an important lesson -- that even though life can be hard, “nobody but me is gonna change my story” so “sometimes you have to be a little bit naughty.”


Directed by Matthew Warchus. You can get right inside his approach to the show and the world of the musical HERE.

Choreographed by Peter Darling. Here is a fantastic interview with Peter Darling on his choreographic process. He also choreographed the West End and Broadway productions of Billy Elliott, you can get a feel for his choreography in the video below:

Associate Director: Thomas CarusoLuke Sheppard and Lotte Wakeham

Associate Choreographer: Ellen Kane and Kate Dunn

Casting Company: Jim Carnahan Casting. You may or may not have seen Jim Carnahan or one of his casting directors on the audition scene. Besides casting for Matilda, they have also recently cast On The Twentieth Century, Constellations and You Can't Take It With You. In an interview with The New York Times he was quoted as saying:

'One of the biggest traps that actors fall into is trying to be what we want them to be, and that's not what we're looking for. It's like a blind date. You're better off just being yourself"
So take note friends!

Here is a montage of the Broadway production performed at the 2013 Tony Awards:


Hot Tips from Virtually Vocal- search, listen, learn, and rehearse with thousands of professionally recorded accompaniments, including melody emphasized "teach tracks" and other great learning resources.

Many of the grown-up tracks (older children/parents/small character moments) as well as the Miss Trunchbull and Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood tracks are quite syllabic, often very boisterous and frequently approaching "patter-y". Miss Honey must deliver the same and should be able to put over a contemporary ballad well. 

For ensemble men who might cover a role, a song from the Tom Lehrer collection would be a savvy choice; songs like "The Vatican Rag" or "When You are Old and Grey" with an over the top, emphasis-on- the- words- treatment would work well. Otherwise a "power" song by a contemporary composer would serve well, even one like "Any Dream Will Do" by Andrew Lloyd Webber would suffice.

 For ensemble women who might cover a role a song like "Words, Words, Words" from The Witches of Eastwick would make an impression or women could also sing a contemporary ballad like one from the Frank Wildhorn canon. Songs like "Once More I Can See" from Wonderland, "When the World Was Mine" from The Count Of Monte Cristo" or one of the female ballads from The Scarlet Pimpernel all come to mind.


Consider modern day England, strong characters with a heightened sense of reality (As you can see in the pictures above). Tight clothing is advisable as they want to see strong technique in the dance audition. A skirt isn't necessary but would be useful as the women wear skirts in many of the numbers in the show.  

Audition costume research Matilda Broadway
Traditional British clothing with brighter colors, contrasting the school uniforms

Audition Costume Research Matilda Broadway
Audition Xtra Costume Visual

Audition Headshot Celia Mei Rubin
Celia Mei Rubin
Here's some inside information from Celia Mei Rubin, who was in the original Broadway Cast.
Celia Mei Rubin had moved to NYC after a successful five years in London's West End. She had the single intention of booking a Broadway show. After three years of auditioning without getting a major contract, she landed the role of Stephanie in Royal Caribbean's, Saturday Night Fever. After a year away on the ship, she worried that her time away from NYC would make it difficult to get back on the audition scene, but found herself with more auditions than before. She humbly tells me that she really doesn't think she got close to booking anything before Matilda, but was in "the zone" She was getting to class, workshops, enjoying her survival job in a tea shop and didn't really approach the first audition differently to any of her other open dance calls. 
I was inspired by Celia's modesty, and feisty yet quiet determination to succeed when we sat down to discuss the whole process.

How Many Auditions did you go through to book Matilda?

I had 4 rounds of auditions before booking as Swing/ Children's Dance Captain/ Understudy Mrs Phelps.

Talk to me about your first audition.

My first audition was a dance call taken by associate choreographer, Kate Dunn. Kate is very precise when she teaches and clear in giving information, and I always enjoy and appreciate an audition that is taken by someone who is very prepared to teach the material (this happens less often than it should, in my experience). It was a long call - 2 hours, I think, and it was productive for us to have the time to break down the material and endeavor to give Kate back all the clarity she was giving us. She gave me a note after I danced in smaller groups and now, having worked on the show for over two years, I understand exactly what she was looking for and why she gave the note. I really loved the material and felt that both the movement and the character work were in a place that suited me and my talents. In the room, I focused on listening to Kate, watching her, and subsequently turning all of that information into my own interpretation of the material. 

So you had a lengthy first audition, followed by three further calls. By the time you got to your final callback how did you prepare?

By the time we were going into finals, we had been taught 3 dance routines and sent sides. I was sent Miss Honey sides and that's what I focused on primarily. I had a session with my audition coach, Bob Marks, and spent a lot of time singing in my apartment and filming myself and directing myself. On the day of the final, we had a long dance call in the morning then I had a few hours before I was called back to do my sides. I went home and practiced and filmed and watched the sides non stop for hours! 

I still get very nervous when auditioning. For me, preparation is the key. If you've put the time and the work in, your body will come through for you even when you are wrought with nerves. It's that amazing muscle memory. This is why I'm not great the first time I am in the audition room. It takes me awhile to learn choreography, and I need time to myself to really understand how I want to execute it before I can give the choreographer what they want. I find that I walk out of callbacks feeling better about my work than initial auditions because I've had time with the material.

Now that you have spent two years in the show, what would you say are the most important things for
Celia Mei Rubin, Matilda Broadway
Covering The Acrobat Role
other performers to demonstrate when they audition?
I think it's about listening to what they want and endeavoring to give them that. Also, they want to see YOU. That doesn't mean embellishing choreography or taking it upon yourself to add riffs into your sides, but connecting to the material in an honest and authentic way. I taught handfuls of kids the show during my time on Matilda. I used hundreds of images, I demonstrated until I was red in the face, but ultimately, they had to find it for themselves. I gave them the tools, and they carved it out themselves. I think that's the same as auditioning -- we get the tools and it's our job to use them to interpret the material.

Full information on the audition is listed on our Audition Calendar

Still got questions? Drop me an email, or leave a comment below.

Until next time, 


Mandie Black dancer writer
Mandie Black
Thanks to Stephen Purdy for his Virtually Vocal advice
You can find out all the info about his upcoming book here

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