Jason Robert Brown: My Notes

On the heels of the cinematic release of The Last Five Years by Jason Robert Brown, I thought I’d share my notes and quotes from his master class on auditioning and performance I took a couple years ago.


Jason Robert Brown
Notes & Quotes

Enjoy young. You don’t get to do young again later

Generally, if you’re talking to yourself it’s not all that compelling.

Every song is a question. And the answer is “no”.

Don’t be seduced by over singing the song.

You have to make musical choices. Not just acting choices. Both are required.

You can only be who you are now. Not who you were then.

Don’t work too hard. The material is already working. In comedy we call it putting a hat on a hat.

Smug is bad. Never play smug. Smug makes you the bad guy.

In the audition room, I have to believe that you are enough.

If I’m behind the table I’ve got work to do. If you catch my eye, you’ve brought me into the scene.

The music wins first. Start with what’s on the page. Then make choices.

Riffing is most often, usually bad. And those that do it don’t know how bad it is because they are busy riffing.

All you have to do with the sixteen bars is get the call-back.

Don’t play the literal lyric. Play the thought, the idea.

Continue discovering. The more you discover the details the more the song comes alive.

Make the obstacle clear as opposed to sentimental.

“Be the first rate you rather than the second rate anybody else.”

There is a reason they are classics and you’ll never get in trouble for knowing them.

Something you understand, something you embody, something you sing well. That’s your audition piece.


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