Today we’d like to introduce you to Laura Enstall.
Hi Laura, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
My entire career has been in theatre. I started performing professionally after graduating with a degree in musical theatre from the University of Northern Colorado. I moved to New York and went that route for a while. A knee injury brought me back to St. Louis to recover; my involvement in theatre has shifted and evolved over the years. I began teaching musical theatre classes and coaching voice, then decided to go to grad school and get my MFA in Directing from Lindenwood University. After that, I started teaching theatre courses at Lindenwood and I am also currently teaching at St. Charles Community College. Through my adjunct work, I enjoyed coaching students on audition prep. I was fortunate to have a full-time job as a youth theatre director, working with and producing shows for students until another opportunity came along. I took a teaching job in the DFW area for a year. While that position wasn’t the best fit for me, that was the key that unlocked my coaching business because I realized so many students needed help with college audition prep. I moved back to St. Louis in the summer of 2017 and created Audition Well.
We all face challenges, but looking back, would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
There will always be hills and valleys as an artist, especially when you have your own business. You ARE your own business as a creative, and then there’s the business side of it too. I don’t believe I anticipated how challenging it could be working for yourself. As an artist, there’s this inner passion for creating, and work in this field doesn’t always look the same as a “normal” or corporate job. However, in the past few years, I think the definition of a “normal” job has become more fluid as multiple income streams have become more popular.
Starting my own business, Audition Well, wasn’t particularly difficult. I didn’t have much overhead because I worked from home, coaching students virtually (before everyone was used to it). What was challenging the first few years was sometimes getting my name out there and balancing my schedule with a few different jobs. I have been fortunate that all my work is in my field. I teach, direct shows, and coach, but balancing it all at times can be challenging. Knowing when to say “no” is another challenge. Do you take an opportunity because it’s an opportunity, or is it a good fit for me and my business? That’s most certainly something I’ve learned along the way. Now I’m to the point, as my business grows, where I choose what is suitable for me, with my schedule and values. There have been times when I’ve made mistakes and thought, “well, I won’t do THAT. Again.” I’ve been very blessed to have mentors and coaches guide me, which has also been very helpful.
As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar, what can you tell them about what you do?
I am a college audition coach for high school theatre students. The college audition process for students who want to major in acting and musical theatre is very rigorous. Preparation begins for students, ideally, in the second semester of Junior year in order to be fully ready. The audition season is the entire Senior year, and the students won’t know where they’re going until March/April of senior year, and then decision day is May 1. I tell parents and students that it is unlike anything they will ever do in their life again.
What I do is essentially act as a tour guide for the parents and students throughout this process. I will help students select schools that will be a good fit for each individual to which they want to apply and audition, and I also serve as a sounding board when it’s time to decide where to go. Because it is an audition, I help the students choose songs and monologues and coach them on both.
In addition to guiding students in audition preparation and acting techniques, I specialize in helping each student find a theatre program that best fits their needs and goals. This is not a one-size-fits-all situation; each student has unique talents, and it’s about finding the program and school that will best suit that student. There are over 200 theatre programs in the country; there is a program for each student if this is the path they want to take.
While yes, Audition Well students have been accepted into major theatre programs all over the country, really awesome notable programs, what’s most important is the student receive quality training and find the best fit for the individual. Other things to consider, is the school financially doable for the family and they can see themselves calling it “home” for the next four years.
What am I most proud of? There’s not one thing I’m most proud of. I’m proud of my students, everyone who has overcome the fear of college auditions when they first come to me nervous and afraid they won’t get into a school. They put in the work of preparation and training, and by April of their senior year rolls around, I see a different student. The student is confident and ready to take on auditions, and they’ve been accepted into a theatre program that’s a good fit for them. That brings me joy, knowing I’ve helped this individual take the next step in their journey.
What sets me apart? My goal with each student is to give them individualized training and build trust. This is not only a hectic time in their lives but a very emotional time for high school students. I want these Juniors and rising Seniors to know they can come to their coaching sessions, and it’s a place to learn, grow, and feel encouraged.
Any big plans?
College audition prep for the 2022-2023 season is in full swing now, and I still have some room to work with new students if anyone is seeking help. This year, I have added an online membership with a group coaching option for students to experience coaching in a smaller community. Additionally, I will be offering to prescreen filming in the fall for students who need help filming their audition videos.
I am looking forward to traveling and teaching at Thespian Conferences again. I love presenting workshops and master classes in person and virtually to high schools and teachers who would like help.
- for pricing visit website
- Website: auditionwell.com
- Instagram: @auditionwell
Jeannie Liautaud Photography for headshots All others are photos with students I have taken.