Are you dreaming of seeing your name up in lights on Broadway? You’re not alone. Thousands of aspiring musical theater talents converge on New York each year hoping to make their mark as a star on Broadway – or simply to be cast in a supporting role or as part of a company. Not all of them will be successful. So what makes the difference between someone who makes it on Broadway and who does not?
Often, the hiring decisions come down to training and experience. So how do you train for a career on Broadway? Here are five tips we’ve acquired from training hundreds of Broadway artists.
Learn from the Best
If you’re wondering how to train for a career on Broadway, it all starts with high quality musical theater training. There are a number of ways to get this training: BFA and MFA degree programs at the college or university level are one way to get started. These programs will offer classroom theory as well as performance experience and are how many in musical theater get their start.
Another great training option are musical theater summer intensives such as the Joffrey Ballet School’s Musical Theater intensives. Our Musical Theater intensives aren’t just focused on dance – we also help you gain other skills; you’ll receive acting training and vocal coaching, audition prep, performance study and more from some of Broadways top performers. And of course, our Musical Theater summer intensives include dance training in ballet, tap and jazz from some of the world’s top instructors.
If you’re looking to go even further with your training and are a recent high school or college graduate (or soon to be graduate), pre-professional training can also be helpful to train you for a career on Broadway. Joffrey Ballet School’s year round Jazz and Contemporary pre-professional training program offers musical theater instruction that can set you on your way to a career on Broadway. Our graduates are highly sought after as cast members in Broadway and off-Broadway musical theater productions, and many of them come back to us as instructors to “pay it forward” by helping the next generation of artists.
Regardless of the training route you choose, it’s important to realize that what your training offers is not just learning how to dance, sing and act in musical theater. It’s learning how to be effective as part of an ensemble. You’re there to learn what goes into a production and how to be a strong contributor within that. And you’re there to make connections that can pave the way for your future success.
Become a Triple Threat
Broadway productions are the gold standard for musical theater productions: opportunities are extremely limited and the number of people vying for those jobs is high. That makes for an extremely competitive job market. A recent survey of data provided to Playbill by Broadway musical theater productions over the course of one year found that there were about 870 ensemblists (supporting actors, singers and dancers) working on new and continuing Broadway productions. The number of principals, of course, is even smaller.
Because Broadway jobs are so scarce, you want to do everything you can to improve your chances of being selected. One way to increase your chances of being hired is by bringing multiple talents to the table. So regardless of what your primary skill or talent is, whether it’s dance, singing or acting, it’s worthwhile to expand your comfort zone and become capable in other disciplines as well. You don’t have to be the next Kristen Chenoweth, but the ability to hold a tune, even if your main interest is dance or acting, increases your chances of being hired.
Be Professional in Your Search
Performing on Broadway isn’t that different than any other career: first impressions make a difference, so you want to make sure those impressions are professional. After all, an artist is only as good as their tools, and that is true in musical theater as well.
The tools, when it comes to a job search on Broadway, are professional looking headshots, an up to date curriculum vitae and recent video clips. Keeping these up to date and on hand at all times go a long way toward making the right impression – because when opportunities come up, you want to be ready to act on them right away. This is one of the benefits you’ll get through professional training such as Joffrey’s pre-professional trainee programs: we set up these opportunities for you so that you have everything you need to make a professional impression.
It’s not just about having the right tools for the job, though. It’s also about having the right attitude. Remember that no matter how talented you are, on Broadway you will be surrounded by other talented people, so talent alone isn’t always what gets you the job. Often, an even bigger factor is your reputation and the connections you’ve made along the way. Whether you call it networking, or simply making friends, the relationships you develop in your training classes, summer stock and other experiences will play a big role in helping you build your career on Broadway.
Lastly, there’s the question of professional representation. Do you need an agent? Our answer is that while it’s not mandatory to have an agent, it is certainly helpful. Broadway is the upper echelon of the musical theater world, and the best jobs can be hard to find unless it’s your full time job to be searching. Because of their industry connections, agents are often the first to hear when a Broadway production needs talent. The best agents also have long standing relationships with producers that may allow them to go to bat for their clients to help them land the job. And great agents can also provide career guidance and support. In a highly competitive career as a Broadway musical theater artist, having a great agent is a distinct advantage.
No Teacher Like Experience
Lastly, when it comes to the performing arts, there’s simply no teacher like experience. And it would be a challenge to get a job on Broadway without it. So gaining experience wherever you can should be a major part of your focus if you’re training for a career on Broadway. That’s why Joffrey Ballet School’s musical theater summer intensives and year round pre-professional training programs have such a strong focus on providing performance experience. They’re a great way to get your start in musical theater.
But school productions – whether it’s a high school or college musical, or one affiliated with a dance or theater school – are not the only types of experience you should be seeking to gain. Summer stock productions, community and regional theater, touring companies, and off-Broadway productions are all tried and true places to gain the experience and make the connections that will help you land that first job on Broadway.
Register to Audition with Joffrey Today
If you want to learn how to train for a career on Broadway, look no further than Joffrey’s musical theater intensives. You’ll gain the training and performance experience to take your musical theater skills to the Broadway stage! Register with us today!