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Overcoming Audition Anxiety in Musical Theater: A Workshop Insight by Dr. Michael Jacobs, PhD

Over the years, I've been fortunate to work with countless musical theater artists. A common challenge that many face is audition and performance anxiety. Drawing from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) models, I’ve developed workshops tailored to address these anxieties specific to the musical theater domain.


1. The Silent Symphony of Anxiety in Musical Theater: Despite the bright lights and applause, it's not uncommon for artists to grapple with internal apprehensions. The pressure to perform consistently and the unpredictability of auditions can result in heightened anxiety.


2. The CBT Approach to Performance Anxiety: In my workshops, I introduce artists to the core principles of CBT, which helps in:

  • Identifying Negative Thought Patterns: Recognizing thoughts like "I'm bound to mess up" or "I’m not good enough" is the first step.

  • Challenging and Reframing These Thoughts: Together, we navigate ways to replace these negatives with balanced and positive affirmations.

3. Integrating ACT for a Comprehensive Solution: ACT provides another dimension to our approach:

  • Acceptance: I guide performers to understand that it's okay to feel anxious. What’s more important is how we respond to this emotion.

  • Alignment with Personal Values: We delve into identifying the deeper motivations and passions that drive each artist, ensuring that even in the face of anxiety, they remain grounded and authentic.

4. Benefits to Artists and Musical Theater Programs: From my experience:

  • Personal Growth: Artists report a more connection, not only in auditions but also in personal interactions.

  • Elevated Performance Levels: With a better handle on anxiety, artists can truly connect with their roles, leading to enhanced performances.

  • Positive Program Reputation: Musical theater programs that prioritize the mental well-being of their artists are often recognized for producing not just skilled, but also well-rounded individuals.

5. A Personal Note: Over the years, the most rewarding aspect of my work has been witnessing artists transform. The joy in their eyes when they land a role, not bogged down by debilitating anxiety, is unmatched. I truly believe that with the right tools and strategies, every performer can navigate and conquer their audition anxieties.


Conclusion: Audition and performance anxiety is a challenge, but it's not insurmountable. My goal through these workshops is to equip every artist with the tools they need to face these challenges head-on. Here's to a future where every performer takes center stage with confidence and authenticity!

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