Five Foundational Steps to Audition Well

Aug 17, 2023 | Acting, Auditions

The Only 4 Songs Kids Really Need in Their Rep Books for Auditions

How many songs do you really need in your Rep Book? 

My name is Danny Greenberg, and I’m a repertoire dork. I admit it. I spent my youth listening to every cast album I could find. I collected songs the way my friends collected baseball cards. When I got to college, I didn’t just bring a rep book ( an actor’s collection of songs they actively audition with); I brought an alphabetized file cabinet! 

While I highly encourage all singing actors to listen to as much music as possible, please learn from my mistake: a rep book isn’t meant to be an encyclopedia but a cover letter. 

You want to have a small collection of songs that bring out your essence and highlight what makes your voice shine in varying required styles. *note the following info is specifically for children. Adults have a more extensive range of rep requirements, though the concept of less is more still applies. 

Over the years, I’ve seen many students come in with rep books that are much too large. When was the last time you saw an audition require a 7 to 13-year-old to sing a Sondheim song (rip to the g.o.a.t.) or legit uptempo? Nine times out of ten, an audition will ask a child to audition with a contemporary musical theater or a pop song. Why aren’t rep coaches focusing on these first?* note voice teachers should be teaching legit musical theater and varying styles to their young students, for all MT training is cross-training.

So – if less is more, what does less look like? If you are a young professional or aspiring to be a young professional in musical theater, you should build your book with the following four types of songs for auditions: 

1.) Contemporary Musical Theater Up-tempo 

By contemporary Musical Theater, I am referring to speech coordinated and pop-influenced style of singing that has dominated the last 15-20 years of Broadway singing. Find an age-appropriate song that is up-tempo(moves briskly) and brings out parts of who you are. Songs such as “Just Because”

2.) Contemporary Musical Theater Ballad 

Find a Contemporary MT song that is slower and has longer melodic lines. This type of song is an excellent opportunity to show your emotional range. Aim to find a ballad you can connect with deeply. Songs such as “Sing Your Own Song“. 

3.) Pop Song 

You will notice I listed pop rather than “pop-rock”. I’ve yet to see a child audition with an actual rock song sung like a rock song. Young musical theater professionals have a much easier time singing a pop song authentically than a rock song. Aim for a song that speaks to you, has a strong rhythmic drive, and deals with something age appropriate. Songs such as “Fight Song” or “Try Everything“. 

4.) One Legit Song 

This part of your book is for when you get that one-in-ten audition that requires a golden age piece. Pick a song from the ’40s-’60s that shows long melodic lines. Songs like “In My Own Little Corner” or “Getting To Know You“. 

OK, there you have it—no need for a Moby Dick-sized rep book. Spend time looking for self-knowledge and skill-building, then find a few songs that make both shine. 

May the audition odds be ever in your favor! 

As always, remember: you are enough. 

Contributed by Danny Greenberg, director of The Danny Greenberg Studio.

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