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Audition Book 101

With the 2020 audition scene in full swing, it is important that your audition file is in great shape and ready to go.

The variety of shows in South Africa cannot be compared to the variety of shows oversees (say London and New York), and therefore we can probably count on one hand the number of times you will need to pull a Jazz standard out of your file for an audition. This being said, there is absolutely no harm in being as prepared as possible, as well as pushing yourself to explore genres that you wouldn’t normally be required to do.


Let’s start at the beginning. We have heard that it is a very good place to start.


We suggest splitting your repertoire into two files. Your first file should contain full cuts of songs that you know well, as well as the songs that you are working on. This is your database of songs that you and your vocal coach are working on and want to work on.


Your second file should contain your 16/32 bar audition cuts of songs. This is the file that you will take into an audition. What you put in this file will depend on the show you are auditioning for, which means it will change accordingly. You should know and be comfortable with every piece in here, as it is common for a director or musical director to ask you to sing something else in an audition. There is a great story of Jessie Mueller auditioning for On a Clear Day. She came in with ‘It Might As Well Be Spring’. The director asked her if she had anything else in a jazzier style, she didn’t, she had to improvise on the spot and ended up singing it in the style of Ella Fitzgerald. Needless to say, she killed the audition and booked the job. As much as we all want and aspire to be Jessie Mueller, our suggestion is to rather think ahead and anticipate what you may be asked to do in the room.


Be smart with your choices. Go onto Google/Spotify/iTunes and listen to ALL kinds of songs. Find the gems that you know no one else has in their file. One way to be remembered is by getting the panel to acknowledge your choice of song. If it’s a goodie – they’ll usually say something about it!


We have outlined seven categories for you to help organize your book in the best way possible:


· Classical Musical Theatre -(pre-1960) – Uptempo and ballad

· Contemporary Musical Theatre - (post-1960) Uptempo and ballad

· Pop/Rock Songs - At least two contrasting pieces.

· Folk/Country Song

· Sondheim - We don’t suggest taking in a Sondheim song for anything but a Sondheim show, unless you have gone through the music with the accompanist before the audition.

· Jazz Song - A standard and something a little unknown.

· Disney Song - Not Part of Your World!

· Character - have a couple of pieces that you can act the crap out of.


It is important to remember that your book will constantly change and develop. What you have in it will completely depend on you as a performer and the show that you are auditioning for. For example, you won’t take a Sondheim into an audition for Rock of Ages. The songs you choose to take into the room must showcase your acting and vocal strengths and abilities.


We love this quote from Lindsay Mendez, actor and co-owner of Actor Therapy, that says “Your book should be an ID card of who you are”.