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THE OTHER TRIPLE THREAT: Singing, Dancing, and Acting Aren't Enough

Updated: Jan 26, 2022

Carly was prepared for her audition. She really wanted one of the very few spots open in a local performing choir. She had auditioned the previous year and not made it. After a year of working diligently on her skills she felt confident that she had a shot. After coaching her, I was also confident that she had a shot. She sounded good, presented really well, and is a really good dancer. She auditioned. She wasn’t cast.

Image by Ryan McGuire @pixabay

Carly certainly isn’t the first client I’ve coached who didn’t get cast. I’ve coached a lot of very talented, serious singers who could also act and dance, and who were not cast for the thing they were shooting for.

Any audition coach will tell you that it’s never a good idea to second guess a director’s choice in casting. Trying to figure out why you weren't cast is a fool's errand.

You just don't know. The criteria the director is looking for could have to do with talent or experience, but it could also have to do with things over which you have no control, such as your body or voice type. Unless you’re in a position to talk to the director and expect candor from her, you’re better off chalking that audition up to experience, and then moving on.


Unless you haven’t taken into account the other side of the triple threat coin - the other three things that people who succeed typically have. Those things are

  • self-knowledge/confidence

  • good interpersonal skills

  • a good attitude.

Having success in the arts means making a name for yourself. You’ll work with and for the same people over and over. It won’t be long before your reputation precedes you. The strength of being a capable Triple Threat is hard to overestimate, and if you add to it the skills of the other triple threat, you’ll be unstoppable!

A Good Attitude

The person who shows up a little early, offers to pitch in, doesn’t gossip, lifts others up, and generally makes the best of things is a joy to be around. That person is a joy to have in your cast. I’ve listed this attribute first because, as a professional in the arts, it is far & away the most important tool in your toolbox. Younger people don’t always know this (I know I didn’t) but older, more experienced artists will attest that this is the case.

Good Interpersonal Skills

Knowing how to get along with people is gold in the freelance world. (It’s probably also gold in the regular-job world.) Abide by the Golden Rule and you’ll increase your chances of getting cast. I realize this falls into the “simple-but-not-easy” category, but its importance can’t be overstated. The performing arts are a team sport, and if people don’t like you, you can’t play well together. If you don’t give people the benefit of the doubt, you’ll always be suspicious, jealous, or angry. If you’ve never read the classic tome How to Win Friends and Influence People and you were not cast at your last two auditions, now is the time to crack that book open.

Self-Confidence and Self-Knowledge

I’ve put these two together because, as a performing artist, they go together. Too often performing artists are trying to figure out who they are, are hoping the casting director will figure out who they are, or wishing they were something else.

photo by Rachel Scott @pixabay

Those people are not people who are going to present well at an audition. A good friend of mine who is also a very successful actor once told me that she feels that the audition is the place to show the director what he’s looking for. The confidence of that statement dazzled me. I absolutely love it, and believe her entirely. She knows what she looks like, what sort of characters she can make shine, and what her strengths are. And that’s what she brings to the table.

Being able to sing, dance, and act well are necessary skills to succeed in the the world of musical theater. We talk about them all the time, and any number of professionals are available to help an artist improve those skills. But the other side of that coin is equally as important for long-term success.

Just like the other demonstrable triple-threat skills, these internal skills can be improved upon. If the traits I’ve mentioned here don’t come naturally to you, and you want to be successful in any of the performing arts, now’s the time to start building those skills.

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