Re-evaluating The Re-audition

Emerson is a school of very specific career paths and it is easy to end up in a bubble of your own major. For this reason, you might not be aware of the changes happening with in the Musical Theater Department this year and the response to these amendments. As of the 2018 graduating class, the Musical Theater program at Emerson will no longer require a re-audition process for MT’s (Musical theater majors.) However, all upperclassmen have still either been through or are heading into the re-audition.

If you weren’t aware of the re-audition process before now, here is the break down. A Musical Theater major must audition to get into the program as part of the application process. In previous years, up to 30 students have been accepted into the program. Over the first two years there would be a jury of faculty members that evaluated MTs after their first 3 semesters, and in March of their 4th semester there would be a re-audition. During a jury evaluation students would perform in front of faculty members who would then score them 1-5. Afterward the students are encouraged to discuss their scores with the jury and how to improve as a performer. In March of sophomore year MTs would re-audition for the program and those who pass would remain Musical Theater Majors while others would be transferred into BA theater studies with a concentration in acting.


As of this year MTs will no longer be re-auditioned. They can be put on probation if they need to work harder or aren’t meeting requirements but with no formal re-evaluation. This is possible because the program has accepted a smaller pool of applicants and therefore fewer students came in as MTs. This allows the number of students within a class to be more constant through out their years at Emerson. In short, the re-audition is no longer necessary due to a smaller more consistent class size.


“For me it takes a lot of pressure off. At least for our class, we’re like a family already, and from what I’ve heard that’s never happened before because people have been more cautious,” said one underclassmen MT who will not have to go through the re-audition process. This underclassman had Emerson at the bottom of his list of schools because of the possibility of being dropped from Musical Theater; despite the fact that it had everything else he wanted. He first found out the re-evaluation program had been dropped when he arrived at his Emerson audition. Immediately it was his top choice. When asked why he was so strongly against the re-audition program this underclassmen MT responded, “as much of a competition as this whole business is, in college it’s a place of learning. Obviously have healthy competition in getting roles, but a college is a place to learn and to grow and to fail.”

When one Upperclassmen MT was asked about her feelings on the re-audition process she explained, “It really forces you to work and pushes you hard. With out this program would I have worked this hard? I don’t know.” She went on to say that the Re-audition program was the least attractive part of the Musical Theater Major, but she loved every other aspect of Emerson so much that she looked past it when applying for schools. It had her between Emerson and another college for a while, however she finally decided that the attention and dedication to students at Emerson was worth it. “Is it a risk? Of course it’s a risk, but if it wasn’t a risk I don’t know what- I mean this whole business is about taking risks and going out for auditions and getting rejected 100 times just to hear one yes for a reading that won’t even pay your bill. I love this business but it’s a risk.”


Now for the elephant in the room, how do those still going through the re-audition process feel about the freshmen no longer needing to go through it? I spoke to the same Upperclassman for her opinion. “Am I mad? Yes, but unjustifiably so, and I can recognize that. I came to Emerson knowing there would be a re-audition program with in the curriculum. So much of this business is out of your control and I think that the faculty does a very good job of demonstrating that while still having our best interests in mind. Am I mad? Yes, but for all the reasons that I’m taking this personally and I shouldn’t take this personally.” Despite frustration over her requirement to still go through the re-audition, this student was very positive when looking at it from an underclassmen perspective. “We are becoming a popular school for musical theater, the work that Stephen Terrell did and the work that Scott LaFeber, who has taken over as head of the department, continues to do is amazing for this school. I think in order for our program to continue to rise as it has been, we had to eliminate the re-audition process. As a current Emerson student the worst thing to have to have spoken to a perspective student about was the re-audition. I am so happy the freshmen don’t have to worry about it.”


Over all, there is a clear positive reaction from the student body as this transition settles. “Scott LaFeber has this great quote, ‘don’t get too high, don’t get too low,’ which I think is fabulous because it’s life. You will ride super high. For example you can book a Broadway show but two years before could have been re-auditioned out of the program, and you will have felt that low. You need both so you can handle the situation properly when the other hits. Celebrate, you have 12 hours to celebrate that high and you have 12 hours to be miserable about that low,” the same upperclassman said at the conclusion of the interview, “don’t get stuck in one or the other.”