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Admissions & Audition

The admission process for the BFA musical theater program involves a two-step process, including a prescreen submission and an in-person audition if the applicant moves beyond the prescreen phase.

This highly competitive program prides itself on providing small class sizes for its students and the audition process is a way to first shine as a star in musical theater.

SIU's Production of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde


The prescreen process utilizes the Musical Theater Common Prescreen Criteria created by Papermill Playhouse in New Jersey. These guidelines were drafted based on input from more than 40 collegiate musical theater programs across the United States. The media platform used for prescreen submissions is ACCEPTD.

Applicants are encouraged to use modern, standard technology, such as smartphones or tablets, to upload prescreen performances and to create separate pieces of media for each performance.

Each performance piece should include a “slate” in which the applicant provides the following information for the piece:

  • For songs, share your name, the song title and the show in which it appears.
  • For monologues, share your name, the title of the play and the playwright.

Please review the following tips prior to creating prescreen submissions:

  • Test all equipment and setup and record a portion of your performance to playback and check for appearance, sound and technical issues before the completing the final submission.
  • Pay close attention to background, wardrobe, makeup, lighting and sound.
  • For the background and wardrobe, remember to keep the appearance neutral, free of distractions.
  • Natural lighting is best and being lit from the front rather than the back allows viewers to clearly see your face. A ring light is an investment worth considering to create this effect.
  • Sound should be clear, audible and free from background noise and echoes. An external mic, in addition to the built-in microphone on the recording device, is recommended.
  • Frame your shot as a three-quarter shot, from the middle of your thighs to the top of your head.
  • Have a stable camera tripod or an assistant to film the performance to avoid shaky recordings. Never shoot the piece in selfie style.
  • Mind the fourth wall by looking directly at the camera, beginning with the “slate” and throughout the performance.

Consider these performance tips prior to filming:

  • Stand with your weight balanced, rather than sitting, placing your gaze just above and slightly to the left or right of the camera.
  • Memorize your audition piece so that you may perform off-book to create a more natural delivery and professional feel to the song or monologue.
  • Shoot the prescreen audition as many times as necessary, to achieve the best take for submission without allowing your voice to become stale.
  • Perform everything in one, unbroken take by filming the slate and the song or monologue in one recorded piece.

Guidelines for Prescreen

The prescreen audition requires the submission of two songs, one monologue and a dance performance. Again, these guidelines are prescribed by the Musical Theater Common Prescreen Criteria created by Papermill Playhouse.


  • One songs should be a ballad and one song should be uptempo as a contrast piece to the ballad.
  • The performance of each song should be at least 60 but not more than 90 seconds in length, including the slate.
  • You must sing with musical accompaniment, using live or prerecorded music, but a cappella singing is not allowed.
  • One of the songs should be written before 1970 and the second song should be written after 1970.


  • The monologue must be from a published play.
  • Monologues must not be from a musical, television show or movie.
  • The monologue should be at least 60 but not more than 90 seconds in length, including the slate.
  • The piece must be a contemporary monologue, written after 1900.
  • Shoot the performance as a close-up, from the top of the head to the chest being visible in the frame.


Please visit the ACCEPTD app to review the choreography and requirements for the dance submission. Ample time should be planned to learn and practice the routine.

The Papermill Playhouse website contains more helpful hints for filming and performing your prescreen pieces.