What is in that audition book????

What is in that audition book????
Friday musings with my coffee...

I am back to work - a wonderful week in the studio and some marvellous conversations with my singers! A session and conservation with one of my students - singer/actor Barrie Kreinik (who is also featured in the showcase clip btw) inspired this blog topic...

As it is a very slow time in our business, this is the time to revamp, study, boot up, discover, and perhaps, re-discover your love for your MUSIC and your craft!!

So, this brings me to: what is in that audition book of yours?

Sorry opera people, I am going to focus this blog on the music theatre performers! I will look at the opera audition later on...

When was the last time you re-vamped that audition book? Does the music in that book EXCITE you? Does it motivate you to practice, to grow, to actually audition???

Your audition book should reflect YOU and your strengths as a singer and actor. Part of the reason so many of you micro-manage that audition book, is because the business has given you the impression you need to have all these different songs/genres to audition specifically for things. Perhaps you do, in order for a casting director to have more specific information, but I am going to go out on a limb and say that perhaps the micro-managing is not really necessary.

Often the micro-managing causes MORE confusion, not less.

If any casting directors read this blog, I would love your input on this subject! I just see these audition books getting larger and larger and more and more ridiculous in the categorizations!

Does it really matter that you have category/sub-category/sub-sub-category? Really? Is a casting director really going to be paying that much attention to whether it is PRECISELY a 50s tune and definitely a song that you could do the role of while you are auditioning?

Or is the goal to deliver a cut/song authentically, vocally and dramatically and in a style that is similar to that show that is being cast?

I would like to believe it is the latter. I am a singer and musician of over 40 years and have steeped myself in repertoire and I do not know ALL the repertoire and shows out there. I cannot imagine a casting director does either.

So perhaps we as teachers/coaches/singers need to start shifting these audition books to something less formidable and more performance friendly! What if we just start using material that we CONNECT to and can SING WELL?

What a concept.

I think we need to quit guessing as to what a casting director wants to hear. Often they don't know what they want to hear! So, singers, quit 2nd guessing and SING DAMMIT!

Your audition cuts don't always have to be gender specific to your gender - why? You aren't auditioning for that role obviously, you are auditioning for a show that shows that style. If you can find a cut that you make yours, what does it matter?

Don't lobotomize your common sense!! It has to make SENSE for an AUDITION. It is NOT a performance of the song - it is a cut of a song to SHOW SOMETHING.

When we look at pop/rock/contemporary songs, we can cross-gender many things, so why not for theatre songs too? If a woman can sing a Journey song why can't a man sing a Heart song if it makes sense for the audition?

If you are a woman and you connect to "Where is Love" from Oliver - and an deliver it - why couldn't you use it for an audition as a standard theatre ballad?

These are just examples to try to give you permission to quit putting yourself in a box!

If you just begin exploring shows and songs that you connect to and love to sing - then let THAT list begin to inform your audition material. You will not use all those songs. Some of them will not be appropriate as you develop your criteria, but some of them will be. You will begin to find that, if you approach your book from "what do I love to sing" as opposed to "what do I have to sing" - you will begin to find things quickly and actually build your audition repertoire with more authenticity and more reality.

Start with what you connect to - explore shows and songs and composers. There are many composers who write theatrical art song that are not from a show that can still be used for theatre auditions! If they show what you WANT to show why wouldn't you use them?

Composers like William Bolcom, Jeff Blumenkrantz, Georgia Stitt, Pasek and Paul and so many more have marvellous work that is theatrically infused. Do you connect to it? Does it show something about your voice you want to show? Does it connect stylistically to the show you are auditioning for? USE IT!!!!

Your audition book should excite you!!!! You should ENJOY developing each song and each cut and not just use something because you think you should.

This is YOUR book. YOU have to sing these cuts and deliver this music. Doesn't it make sense to you to love what you do?

So as you discover new material ask yourself some questions:

1. Does this speak to me?
2. Can I deliver this out of context as a cut/song and make it authentic dramatically? (think gender-crossing, age difference, so-called ethnicity crossing et al)
3. Can I deliver this authentically vocally and stylistically?

If yes to the above then, add the the following:

1. What does it show vocally? legit? belt? high notes? low notes? legato? patter? what?
2. What does it show dramatically? narrative? comedy? drama? character? what?
3. What does it show musically? uptempo? ballad? legato? complicated rhythmic patterns? line? what?
4. What could it be used for in genre/time? contemporary? pop? rock? standard? specific or general? what?

Can you DO it??? Can you FIND it??? Does it EXCITE you to work on it and DELIVER it?

There is SO MUCH repertoire out there - you should NEVER have to settle for a song/cut that you don't connect to for the sake of an audition call. EVERYTHING in your book should be chosen because you connect to it!

So if you aren't working right now - ask yourself if it's time to revamp that book. Whatever you aren't wearing, throw it out!!! Time to clean house and redecorate!


If you enjoy and connect to your material, and know WHY you are singing it, your audition becomes more authentic. If your audition delivery is more authentic, the casting table responds!!! Imagine it!!!

Don't dread that audition book, BUILD IT to reflect YOU and WHAT YOU DO.

Go get it.

Susan Eichhorn Young covers all things voice—strong and sophisticated singing and speaking. 

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