It is of utmost importance that actors are able to have a repertoire book with materials that suit them in order to succeed. If you want to have a book that is showing off your best, take a look at these Top Five Necessities, and compare it to your current book.
1. ORGANIZATION: No accompanist enjoys seeing a disheveled binder with songs in random places. Make sure your audition binder is organized in some fashion. There are many ways of doing this; sheet protectors for each page (matt preferred as glossy sheets can get stuck together more easily), ordering songs in alphabetical order by song title, using tags to separate each song, utilizing a song Index (Include sections for title order, by type, composer, etc.), and having your song cuts prepared (IN PENCIL, that way you can edit those cuts in the future if needed).
2. VARIETY: Make sure no two songs are the same. If you are going to have two Rogers and Hammerstein songs in your book, make sure they are contrasting in some way (Ballad to Uptempo, Dramatic to Comedic, etc.). Have a good amount of selections from many genres and types. Make sure you have a ballad, an uptempo, a character song. You want to also have a few pop and/or rock songs not from the musical theatre realm, as many auditions will ask this of you for shows like Jersey Boys, Mamma Mia, and even The Lion King.
3. Play to your STRENGTHS: Don’t pick any material that doesn’t show your best. If there is a song in your book that has a note you have trouble singing 90% of the time, find something else, or find a way to transpose it to a more comfortable note. More importantly though, figure out “What is my biggest strength as a performer?” Do you belt really good? Do you have a really clear falsetto? Are you a riffing extraordinaire? Do you have an killer rock growl? What is something you can do that most others cannot? Find material that sets you apart from the crowd.
4. Be DIFFERENT: Make sure you aren’t picking songs from the recent broadway hit or top 40 song that EVERYONE is doing. Watch out for those overdone audition songs. Try to find something unique and rare. It’s not easy, but it can be done. With a little research and perseverance you can find some great hidden gems. Try looking at songs from less often done shows or artists, or maybe songs that were cut from the original productions. Check out songbook compilations by artists. Listen to shows you’ve never seen/heard of. There is a lot of great material out there waiting to be found!
5. What do you LOVE to sing?: One of the most important factors here, do you have fun singing your material? Is it enjoyable for you? Think of who your absolute quintessential dream roles are. Who is your favorite singer you want to emulate? What is your favorite songs or bands or shows to listen to? These are really important questions to think about when picking material.
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