Broadway is the end goal for many who study dance, music or stage production. Because of this, there is a glut of eligible candidates that flock to New York City looking for their big break. Certain things will help a candidate stand out from the rest and will facilitate that first big job on the Great White Way. Here are a few tips for finding stage and technical employment on Broadway.
Have an 8-by-11 inch resume and head shot that lists complete stage experience, education and repertoire. Be certain to also report any union affiliations and awards. Most New York performers get their resume printed on the back of the head shot, which is a format favored by casting agents and directors alike.
Keep up your skills by attending regular dance, voice and acting classes. The state of the performance industry changes all the time, and people come to auditions with fresh material daily. Remember, class costs are tax deductible as business expenses.
Search reputable sources for audition listings, such as Back Stage and Playbill. These listings will specify union and non-union calls; if there's only a union call, the producers may accept a few non-union people as space allows. Arrive with plenty of time to warm up and prepare.
Investigate getting an agent. Agented singers and dancers have access to calls that may have fewer people, so there's less competition. They'll also get word of shows that are in pre-production, which opens up more opportunities. Find agents by talking to actors' groups, unions and by asking for recommendations from trusted colleagues.
Do smaller shows that are off-Broadway to build union points. Since there are many shows that hire Actor's Equity members exclusively, this is a necessary step to expanding job prospects. Casting in an Equity show, however, can result in instant enrollment in the union. Check the resources for the link to Equity membership information.
Stay in shape and in good health. That means eating well, working out and keeping up with good self-care. The voice and muscles are fragile, and injury can easily ruin a career. If working a "day job" in combination with auditions, don't do so much that there's the danger of burnout.
Assemble a resume of pertinent experience. Include union affiliations, if any, along with awards. It's also good to list any equipment that you're familiar with, such as sound boards, computer programs or lighting systems.
Consult publications like Back Stage for job listings. In the tech business, word of mouth is also quite powerful for landing jobs. Simply asking contacts about jobs may get your an interview. Realize that most Broadway jobs are union-run, and are therefore restricted to card-carrying stage union members.
Sign up for an internship through your college employment office. Many Broadway productions hire "go-fers" and production assistants to help out during the day. These are often unpaid or low-stipend gigs, but they may lead to jobs later on down the line. If nothing else, these internships are terrific experience-builders.
For costume and wardrobe job seekers, assemble a portfolio of costume shots that show design range and skill. If possible, make both a print and a digital portfolio. For designers, sketches of the costumes are also a nice touch.
Many backstage production people start work on Broadway as freelancers, with a few moving on to permanent posts. Actors, on the other hand, are contracted for a set number of shows or dates. Always have a backup income source, especially in the beginning.
Don't trust any agency that asks for upfront payment. No agency should charge its talent; the clients pay for agency upkeep, not the actors.