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So Many Ways to Book a Dream Job

by Doug Shapiro

Hello Accelerated Artists!

Uncle Doug here currently having the time of my life rehearsing for the Off-Broadway production of Once Upon a Mattress. Hilarious cast. Professional environment. MGM-Style musical numbers. It’s truly a dream job.

You know what was really sweet about landing this gig?

I didn’t book it through an agent.
I didn’t book it through the casting director.
I didn’t even book it through an audition.

I booked it by being of service.

You want the story? Of course you do.

Since I moved to NYC fifteen years ago, I’ve run most of my career in service to up and coming composers and lyricists—workshopping their musicals, performing in their readings and recording their demos. The work is inspirational, I’m an integral part of the creation process, and I’ve formed over 200 composer, lyricist and playwright relationships with artists that know me and trust me with their work.

Back when I wrote my Stockard Channing article, I mentioned potential criteria for accepting a job:
1. Does it pay?
2. Is it a role you’re burning to do?
3. Is it a good business move?
If you can’t answer 2 of these three questions with an emphatic YES, then don’t take the job. For me, these new music theatre jobs answer an emphatic YES to 2 and 3.

On one such project, a reading of an excellent musical version of Pride & Prejudice, I met probably the finest musical director with whom I’ve ever worked. I’ll call him Matt—because that’s his name. We immediately became each other’s “people”—same work ethic, same terrible and obscure humor.

Around the same time, I volunteered with Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS to be an off-stage singer for their Easter Bonnet (nothing wrong with backing up Carol Channing on a Broadway stage) and befriended another singer I’ll call Frank—because that’s his name. We also hit it off in the same way.

Both Matt and Frank started recommending me for amazing high-profile (and unpaid) gigs. [Because life is awesome, Matt and Frank are now married. Mazal-Tov!]

Matt and Frank brought me in for a fundraiser for Transport Group—singing through the score of Maltby & Shire’s Baby. Then, in 2013, they and the Transport Group brought me back as an ensemble member for their reading of Once Upon a Mattress, which became slated for this full production in 2015.

I guessed that auditions would take place over the summer, so before I left for my summer stock gig, I e-mailed the Artistic Director—I’ll call him Jack (because that’s his name), letting him know my summer plans and requesting he keep me in mind.

To my great surprise, he e-mailed me back with an offer. And here I am.

This is really a business about creating, building and maintaining relationships. None of the actions that led to this gig were tactically master-planned to scheme my way into an Off-Broadway show. It came from an authentic passion for serving composers, lyricists and playwrights to create work. Luckily, along the way, I found “my people”—artists I greatly respect and with whom I work easily.

So, here’s the deal. Focus on what you do well!

If you love experiencing people one-on-one and can’t stand cattle call auditions, you can get work through one-on-one relationships.

If you’re a great letter writer and only audition well when invited, reach out to the people who are creating the jobs and get that invitation.

If you love creating projects and don’t have an agent to get you into TV auditions, pioneer your own web series and let social media do the work for you.

There are countless ways to get into the job of your dreams, so why not run your business by doing what you love?


Are you ready to create an authentic audition strategy to get work YOUR way? Let’s set up a coaching session and figure it out together.

Please share with your peeps!