Cummings films pre-screen auditions for college applications


Grace Miller

Senior Kate Cummings films her one minute dance prescreen to send as a part of her college application process.


Senior Kate Cummings isn’t like most high school seniors. In hopes that she will get into one of the country’s best musical theater (MT) programs, she applied to 24 colleges. With acceptance rates for MT programs as low as 0.2%, Cummings is forced to apply to a variety of schools to increase her chances of getting into a school she likes. Behind each application is a maze of pre-screens, essays and auditions.

“For each individual college you need to fill out the university’s application and then an artistic application to the specific school of theater, dance and music,” Cummings said. “You have to apply to the specific school artistically and then send in a pre-screen video to each of the colleges.”

A pre-screen video is an online audition that narrows the applicant pool before colleges hold in-person auditions. 

“[A pre-screen] is basically a compilation of a thirty-two bar cut from a song, a one minute monologue and a one minute clip of dancing,” Cummings said. “If you get a callback after your pre-screens are sent in, you have to go on campus for a live audition.”

Musical Theater programs in college are not like your average college degree, but instead a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) program that require less general education classes and more hands on time in the arts.

“The curriculum of a BFA program means that most schools only require one [general education class] per semester,” Cummings said. “Every other class is going to be an artistic class. That’s usually a dance one class, music classes, individual voice lessons, performance classes and script analysis. You’re pretty much completely doing all musical theater.”

Since she was in fourth grade, Cummings knew that musical theater was an important part of her life and eventually realized that she wanted to pursue it as a career.

“I’ve been doing musical theater for as long as I can remember. I started off in fourth grade with it and it’s really my passion,” Cummings said. “I feel really grateful to know what I want to do going into college. I hope to make a career out of it, so that is the biggest reason why I want to study it in college.”

Cummings has been recording her pre-screen auditions since September. Though the process is tiring, she looks forward to her live auditions beginning in November. 

“This application process is just tedious and long and it’s [not much fun]. It’s all just busy work. It just takes up my time,” Cummings said. “I’m excited for the live on campus auditions. [They] are something I’ve been doing my entire life, so it’s something I’m comfortable with. I think it’s not going to take as much time at home in terms of actually typing things up, writing things out [and] filming. It’s just going to be preparing my pieces of music and monologues, which is going to be super fun.”

Though preparing her audition pieces is fun for Cummings, she finds that live auditions also scare her the most.

“[Live auditions also] scare me the most,” Cummings said. “If I get a callback to campus, that’s what decides if I get into the program. There is no next step.”

Since beginning the process early September, Cummings has not had a break. She constantly feels the effect of all the work she has been putting in to her applications and auditions.

“I take a lot of naps whenever I get the chance,” Cummings said. “If I get a 30 minute break between activities, I’m [most likely napping]. I just don’t get enough sleep with all the work I do. [Most nights] I go to bed at 2 A.M. I need sleep.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email