What is an Audition Book and What Do You Need ?


How to prep your Audition book

By: Crystal McDaniel

Let’s talk auditions.  Auditions seem to be a mystery to all young performers.  As a seasoned performer, let me share a little of what I have learned.  Your biggest and best tool is your Audition Book. An Audition Book is a three-ring binder that contains your audition music, headshot and resume’. I have found that in the current Musical Theatre Audition culture it is important to have all decades and styles of music in your book.  

Genres should include Pre 1970’s Musical Theater- to Post 1970’s, Present musical theater, country music and Pop rock songs. These pieces should include both uptempo and ballad styles in both belt and head voice in all of these genres. These pieces should then be categorized and separated with dividers by decades and genre.  I personally use color tabs for titles. Each song must have a good story and be something that showcases your acting ability.

When I learn what the requirements are for the audition, I pull six pieces from my audition book and put them into a smaller binder to take with me.  Each piece that I choose matches ballad and uptempo songs from the musical that would best fit for the role I am auditioning. I make sure that the songs are similar in style and have a similar dramatic arc to them.  I choose two pieces to perform for the audition and mark 32 bars and 16 bars for the accompanist. I do this because in most auditions the directors will ask for a 32 bar cut. However, when they are short on time or any other extenuating circumstance, they may ask for only 16 bars. It is best to prepared for both situations.   I do the same for all of the songs in the book. All the pieces I perform have a story to tell, beginning, middle and end. I make sure that all six songs are performance worthy, and avoid using new pieces if at all possible. Auditioning with songs I already know and understand helps me to give a better performance in the audition room. Otherwise, I risk any number of audition faux paus. Everything from forgetting my lyrics, to losing the melody, to sacrificing my singer’s position because of nerves. Songs that I am already familiar with allow me to relax and just enjoy the performance.

Lastly, I don’t audition.  I perform. Always leave everything out on the stage. Don’t let fear hold you back from performing your best.  So...there ya go. The way to prepare is important! Do all your work ahead of time and know the show and it’s characters.  Be prepared to perform multiple songs... Oh, and always stay hydrated! Toi, Toi, Toi!

Crystal McDaniel