Becoming Scorpius Malfoy is something this actor can tell you all about. Erik C. Peterson, a young actor (and former Dramatics reader) currently starring as Scorpius Malfoy in the Broadway production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, knows a thing or two about magic. He says that, when he was 14 years old and heard about the show for the first time, “I was a Harry Potter fan, so I was like, whoa! That could be me! And of course, it wasn’t for years and years, and now I’m so incredibly fortunate to be in that role.” Peterson landed the breakout role in August 2022 after seven rounds of in-person auditions and two video auditions, and he sat down for an interview with Dramatics the day after completing his 162nd Broadway show. Here are three key tips to acing your next audition.

Control what you can control

While still in high school in Colorado, Peterson looked at approximately 16 colleges and used a combination of 12 different monologues for his auditions. An organized system and over-preparation kept him from getting overwhelmed by the process. “I made a big, old spreadsheet on my computer,” he says, “and I included every school and every audition requirement. I noted what piece I was going to do. What the time limits were. Remember that  there are so many things outside of your sphere of control, that being very organized and very methodical and very prepared … is the best thing you can do to set yourself up for success.”

Erik C. Peterson as Scorpius Malfoy (center). Matthew Murphy photo credit.

Peterson carried the same intensity into his auditions years later for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. After spotting an open call on Playbill in February 2022, he submitted a video audition. As he advanced further, he regularly flew into New York for auditions involving movement and reading sides. He prepared by reading the play over and over. (He’s not sure exactly how many times he read it during the audition process, but estimates it’s in the double digits.)
Peterson also likes to follow a specific ritual before his auditions. He says that, before one of his auditions in New York, “I ate at the Westway Diner in Hell’s Kitchen, and I got a callback. I proceeded to eat at the Westway Diner before almost every audition.” The bottom line? Hard work and preparation are the keys to acing auditions. And having a special pre-audition routine can ground you as you step into a big opportunity.

Trust your instincts

Peterson earned his BFA in acting at the Webster Conservatory and, during the college admissions process, had a strong gut feeling that this school was the right place for him. He describes meeting two faculty members during his audition for the conservatory like this: “We just chatted for about five minutes before I even did my pieces. Just having a good time. It felt like the type of room that I wanted to spend more time in and my instincts told me that was a good sign.” He ended up visiting three different schools and shadowed a current student at Webster for a day. The shadowing experience allowed him to see what real life looked like on campus. However, the memory of that audition room guided him toward making the decision to attend Webster.

Scorpius Malfoy (played by Erik C. Peterson) in the Broadway production of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.” Matthew Murphy photo credit.

When you tour colleges, it helps to ask current students what they enjoy most about the program. It’s equally important to pay attention to how you feel when you’re there. If you feel welcome, eager, and calm, then those are positive signs that the school could possibly be the best fit for you.

Learn the classics

Before making his Broadway debut, Peterson performed in numerous Shakespeare plays, including Romeo and Juliet, Othello, and The Tempest. He returns to Shakespeare’s plays because there is “something timeless in the core of those scripts that speaks to the human experience on a grand scale.” He understands that, for a student, approaching these scripts can feel intimidating, but he’s reminded of something said to him about Shakespeare by a professor at the Webster Conservatory: “It’s just English.” Peterson says that “letting those words [in Shakespeare’s plays] hit you in the heart instead of trying to wrap your brain around them is the way to go.” He claims that reading out loud makes it click for him, and “once that kind of connection happens, and you become fluent in Shakespeare, the words and the way they feel and the way they sound are so striking.”
This tip can be applied toward any play you are assigned, classical or contemporary: when you’re studying a play, reading it out loud allows you to hear different dimensions and explore new emotions. Reading Shakespeare can be a bit intimidating at first, but it is just English, which means you can understand it and perform it beautifully.
Now, Peterson performs as Scorpius Malfoy in a sensational Broadway production. He regularly revisits his artist’s statement, which he wrote to define his creative career. His goal is “using storytelling as a catalyst for increasing empathy with an audience and myself.” He does so by working hard to make a magical world come to life. 
Dylan Malloy is a regular contributor to Dramatics. Find her on Instagram at @dylan_writes.
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