Monday, January 20, 2020     Volume: 20, Issue: 46

Santa Maria Sun / Art

The following article was posted on October 1st, 2019, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 20, Issue 31 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 20, Issue 31

PCPA Casting Director Erik Stein discusses new step-by-step guidebook on preparing for auditions


From starring opposite Tim Curry on Broadway to performing in countless PCPA productions over the last two decades, local thespian Erik Stein still considers teaching theater arts the most rewarding aspect of his career.

Proceed without caution
Erik Stein’s new book, No Caution!: A Step-by-Step Guide to Preparing Auditions for Universities, Colleges, Conservatories, and Beyond, was released on Sept. 1 and is available to order through,, and other outlets.

PCPA Casting Director and Recruitment Coordinator Erik Stein released his new auditioning guidebook, No Caution!, on Sept. 1.

“Of all the things I do, nothing compares to feeling like I might be making a difference in a young actor’s life,” the PCPA casting director and recruitment coordinator told the Sun.

Stein recently opened up about his new book, No Caution!: A Step-by-Step Guide to Preparing Auditions for Universities, Colleges, Conservatories, and Beyond. The idea to write the auditioning guide dawned on him after hosting one of his theater workshops at a teachers conference two years ago.

One teacher in attendance suggested that Stein translate the workshop to book form. Over the course of the year that followed, Stein spent several weekends compiling the book in spurts, and here we are.

Sun: How would you describe the early stages of writing No Caution? Was it ever a challenge to organize your thoughts?

Stein: Honestly, the book kind of poured out of me. I’ve been leading workshops and teaching this subject for over a decade. I just pretended I was standing in front of a group of students and their teachers and wrote down everything I wanted to say to them.

Stein starred as everyone’s favorite big, friendly (not at first) ogre in PCPA’s 2016 production of Shrek The Musical.

Sun: In your artist statement on PCPA’s website, you described your mentorship role as aiming to “teach you the rules, and then encourage you to break them.” Does that philosophy come into play with No Caution?

Stein: Yes it does. The interesting thing about auditioning is one might say there are no rules. It is very subjective. What one person finds hilarious, another may find absurd. What I find brilliant could be monotonous to the person sitting next to me.

Sun: How did you find the right balance between the two—following the rules versus throwing them out?

Stein: My goal is to inspire young actors to think like a casting director … to think like a decision maker. I want them to think less about what I want to see and instead focus on what they would want to see if they were the decision maker behind the table. They can’t control what I want to see, but they can control what they want to show me. I want to give young actors the tools to prepare their auditions the same way they prepare for an opening night performance. I empower young actors to walk into the room as if this is opening night, and I am lucky because I have the exclusive ticket to their one-person show.

The first song Stein ever sung at an audition was “If I Were a Rich Man,” from Fiddler on the Roof, as a teenager. In 2013, he took on the role of Tevye in PCPA’s iteration.

Sun: Do you remember the first role you ever auditioned for?

Stein: I remember auditioning for a show called Magic Theatre when I was 13 years old, and I tried to sing a Huey Lewis and the News song. I had only ever practiced the song by singing with the radio. The piano player started playing the song, and I stopped and said, “That’s not how it goes.” Not a good idea to criticize the piano player during your audition. Fortunately, the decision maker behind the table took pity on me and asked if I like any Broadway musicals. I said yes and that I like Fiddler on the Roof. She asked if I knew the song “If I Were a Rich Man.” I said yes, and she asked me to sing a bit of that. It went OK, and I got to be in the show.

Sun: Looking back, do you wish you had a book like this beforehand?

Stein: I really wish I had a book like No Caution! when I was a young actor. To have something that would have given me an idea of what to expect when I walked into the room would have been so comforting. A guide that outlined how to prepare and how to find audition material would have given me valuable confidence, the confidence to walk into the room as an equal instead of walking into the room like I had been called to the principal’s office. Confidence is so appealing. I tell my students that I like actors who are confident without being cocky. Preparation helps build confidence. When I am recruiting for the PCPA’s Conservatory, I look for the three P’s: preparation, potential, and passion. I hope my book gives young actors the tools to prepare, so they can show me their potential, and I think my book celebrates the passion it takes to have a life in the theater. 

Arts Editor Caleb Wiseblood is more familiar with the five D’s of dodgeball. Throw some wrenches his way at

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