Posts tagged audition book
SNEAKING INTO CONTEMPORARY MUSIC THEATRE
 
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We’re back! Sorry for the massive collapse in responsibility with this blog, but we’re officially back and I will strive to publish a blog post once a week!

So where did we leave off? Stephen Sondheim… Let’s now move on to Contemporary Music Theatre.

Where do we start with Contemporary Music Theatre?

That is a FANTASTIC question. My answer: I have no earthly idea. At all. So let’s define it. This is my definition and it absolutely will differ from other people. At this moment I divide this category into four subsets, ask me tomorrow that may change…

SNEAKING INTO CONTEMPORARY MUSIC THEATRE (1961–1969)
GOLDEN AGE CONTEMPORARY MUSIC THEATRE (1970-1988)
MIDDLE AGE CONTEMPORARY MUSIC THEATRE(1989-1994)
JRB AND NOT SO JRB (1995–Present)

Let’s break those down a little further and talk about what musicals are part of each subset. Again, this is my breakdown, there are easily 7 categories of CONTEMPORARY MUSIC THEATRE, perhaps we should do away with the category all together and reconsider what happened starting in 1960. But alas, there are still a lot of college programs out there that like their antiquated system of teaching music theatre. Don’t worry, I’m going to get into my thoughts on the state of music theatre in the university system at a later date. As you can probably guess…

I have some opinions.

This blog post will deal with SNEAKING INTO CONTEMPORARY MUSIC THEATRE (1961-1969). I’ll also be listing show years based on the Tony Schedule. i.e. A Chorus Line opened in 1975 but won the Tony in 1976.


SNEAKING INTO Contemporary MUSIC Theatre (1961-1969)

This is a category that starts on April 14, 1960 with the opening of Bye, Bye Birdie and ends on April 29, 1968 with the opening of Hair.

The sound and music styles spanning these years are VAST. I’m not going to break down every year but I’ll give what I think was the most important/most influential/best musical each year. Those 3 things are not always one and the same, but I’ll break down each year as best I can. Remember, opinion, mine, not others.

Also, this list will NOT include any musicals written by Stephen Sondheim, we’ve already covered him. Feel free to check out that post here.


Conrad Birdie - HONESTLY SINCERE

1961

BYE, BYE BIRDIE

Book by: Michael Stewart
Music by: Charles Strouse
Lyrics by: Lee Adams
Original Broadway run: April 14, 1960 - October 7, 1961 (607 performances)

I wouldn’t consider BYE, BYE BIRDIE in any way to be a “rock” musical, but it definitely is one of the first examples of rock starting to seep into the vernacular. Bye, Bye Birdie would pave the way for shows such as HAIR. The first instance of Rock on Broadway was the last edition of the ZIEGFELD FOLLIES in 1957. It contained one rock song “I Don’t Wanna Rock”.

Great songs:
How Lovely to be a Woman
One Last Kiss
What Did I Ever See in Him?
A Lot of Livin’ to Do
Spanish Rose

Honorable mention:
CAMELOT


1962

How to succeed in business without really trying

Book by: Abe Burrows,  Jack Weinstock and  Willie Gilbert
Music and Lyrics by: Frank Loesser
Original Broadway run: October 14, 1961 - March 6, 1965 (1417 performances)

It’s a hell of a musical. If you don’t know it, learn it. There is a heart warming story about Bob Fosse and Choreographer Hugh Lambert, look it up, it’s great. The quick summary is that Hugh Lambert wasn’t up to the challenge of choreographing a musical and Bob Fosse was brought on and handled it with grace.

Great songs:
ALL OF THEM!
Happy to Keep His Dinner Warm
I Believe in You

Honorable mention:
NO STRINGS

NO STRINGS was the only Broadway show in which Richard Rodgers wrote both the Music and the Lyrics. It was also his first Broadway show after the death of long time collaborator Oscar Hammerstein II.

CARNIVAL

CARNIVAL originally had an exclamation point; it was eventually dropped during the show’s run, as the director felt it gave the wrong impression, saying, “It’s not a blockbuster. It’s a gentle show.” Though one would have to look past the domestic abuse for that to be true.


1963

OLIVER!

Book, Lyrics and Music by: Lionel Bart
Original Broadway run: January 6, 1963 - November 14, 1964 (745 performances)

This was the first musical I ever saw when I was in middle school. We took a class trip somewhere and saw some production of it. I was not impressed. Though I do thoroughly enjoy some of the songs in the show. The original West End production ran for 2,618 performances. I list at for 1963 simply because of the number of productions that have happened of this show and the countless kids it has introduced to theatre. That’s important.

Great songs:
Where is Love?
As Long as He Needs Me


1964

SHE LOVES ME

Book by: Joe Masteroff
Music by: Jerry Bock
Lyrics by: Sheldon Harnick
Original Broadway run: April 23, 1963 - January 11, 1964 (301 performances)

Is there a more perfectly written musical? Probably not. It’s a perfect little gem. Surprisingly it only ran for about 8 months during its original run. It was adapted from the 1937 play PARFUMERIE by Hungarian playwright Miklós László. Other adaptations include the 1940 film THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER, the 1949 MGM Musical IN THE GOOD OLD SUMMERTIME (staring Judy Garland and Van Johnson) and the 1998 film YOU’VE GOT MAIL.

Great songs:
Tonight at Eight
Will He Like Me?
I Resolve (one of my favorite songs of all time)
Dear Friend
Try Me
Vanilla Ice Cream
She Loves Me
A Trip to the Library

HONORABLE MENTION:
Hello, Dolly!

The role of Dolly Levi was originally written for Ethel Merman but she turned it down, as did Mary Matrin. They would both play the role down the line. Eventually Carol Channing was hired. Also, Hal Prince, Jerome Robbins and Joe Layton all turned down offers to be the Director.

110 in the Shade (Revival) THE RAIN SONG

110 in the Shade

If for some reason you do not know this show, learn it. It’s remarkably good. The Rain Song is one of the best ensemble numbers ever written.

Fun Fact:

This would be the last year there was a Tony Award for Best Conductor and Musical Director. Sad. RIP 1948-1964. You have been missed.


1965

FIDDLER ON THE ROOF

Book by: Joseph Stein
Music by: Jerry Bock
Lyrics by: Sheldon Harnick
Original Broadway run: September 22, 1964 - July 2, 1972 (3242 performances)

It’s Fiddler, it’s a great show. Bea Arthur was the original Yente the Matchmaker, which is a fact that I did not know until I did some research. It was also the first Broadway show in history to surpass 3,000 performances.

DO I HEAR A WALTZ? The version that Stephen Sondheim wrote Music and Lyrics for.

Great songs:
If I Were a Rich Man
Miracle of Miracles
Now I Have Everything
Far From the Home I Love

Honorable mention:
FLORA THE RED MENACE

This was the first Broadway production written by John Kander and Fred Ebb as a songwriting team.

DO I HEAR A WALTZ?

Richard Rodgers and Stephen Sondheim writing a musical together… What could go wrong? Apparently, a lot.

GOLDEN BOY

Just some GLORIOUS music.


1966

MAN OF La Mancha

Book by: Dale Wasserman
Music by: Mitch Leigh
Lyrics by: Joe Darion
Original Broadway run: November 22, 1965 - June 26, 1971 (2328 performances)

Originally written as a non-musical teleplay by Dave Wasserman for CBS’s DuPont Show of the Month. It was then unsuccessfully optional as a non-musical Broadway play. Eventually it was turned into a musical with a unique orchestra for the time. There were no violins or strings in the orchestra other than a Double Bass. It did however utilize Flamenco guitars which is pretty badass. W.H. Auden was the original lyricist, but his lyrics apparently were too satiric and biting.

Great songs:
I, Don Quixote
It’s All the Same
I’m Only Thinking of Him
I Really Like Him
What Does He Want of Me?
The Impossible Dream
Aldonza

HONORABLE MENTION:
SWEET CHARITY

Have you seen The Deuce on HBO? It’s like that, except not at all.


Alan Cumming - I DON’T CARE MUCH

1967

CABARET

Book by: Joe Masteroff
Music by: John Kander
Lyrics by: Fred Ebb
Original Broadway run: November 20, 1966 - September 6, 1969 (1165 performances)

After seeing one of the last rehearsals before the Boston pre-Broadway run, Jerome Robbins suggested the musical sequences outside the cabaret be eliminated. Director Hal Prince ignored his advice. But it intrigues me as a choice. I’d love to see that version of the show.

Great songs:
Mein Herr
Maybe This Time
I Don’t Care Much
Cabaret

HONORABLE MENTION:
THE APPLE TREE

3 musicals in 1! Win, win, win!


1968

HALLELUJAH, BABY!

Book by: Arthur Laurents
Music by: Jule Styne
Lyrics by: Adolph Green and Betty Comden
Original Broadway run: April 26, 1967 - January 13, 1968 (293 performances)

HALLELUJAH, BABY! is a show that chronicles the African American struggle for equality during the first half of the 20th century. Several important things to mention here, and I speak as a white male. This seems like an inappropriate story for an entirely white creative team to tell. At least Buster Davis was holding down the music fort, and hold it down he does, the musical arrangements for this show are stellar, well done sir.

Great songs:
Hallelujah, Baby!
Watch My Dust
I Wanted to Change Him
Being Good
Not Mine

Fun Fact:

JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT was presented as a 15 minute pop cantata for the first time… Where it should have stayed.


1969

HAIR

Book and Lyrics by: Jerome Ragni and James Rado
Music by: Galt MacDermot
Original Broadway run: April 29, 1968 - July 1, 1972 (1750 performances)

HAIR. Oh, HAIR. I would consider Hair to be the first real Rock Musical. Some of the songs topped the charts. There is too much to know about HAIR to even know where to start. So do some research and learn to love it like I do. It’s a hell of a show with a hell of a backstory.

LIFE IS from Zorba.

The 1969 Tony Awards presented by Virginia Slim. Different world back then.

Great songs:
Donna
I Believe in Love
I Got Life
Going Down
Easy to be Hard
Frank Mills
Where Do I Go?
Black Boys
White Boys
Good Morning Starshine.

HONORABLE MENTION:
1776

I’m not particularly a fan of this musical, but there is a sexy number about a violin.

ZORBA

The best opening number ever to grace the Broadway stage. That is a correct opinion, I will fight you to the death.


More to come next Monday!


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A God Amongst Men
 
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I use the phrase “A God Amongst Men” for 2 musical theatre writers. The first being Frank Loesser. I don’t use that phrase for writers like George Gershwin or Cole Porter or Harold Arlen (actually I think I have called Harold Arlen "A God Amongst Men" as well), but Frank Loesser, I do. Just think about it, the man could write a song, sometimes for other people and let them take the credit, I'm looking at you Meredith Wilson. That’s taking nothing away from Gershwin, or Porter, or Arlen, or anyone else that writes, but Frank was a league above. We're going to add Frank Loesser to the list of topics that I need to write a blog post about. We'll get to that list one day, it keeps getting longer and longer. This is exciting, every time I write a new blog post I realize how much of a nerd I am. Don't worry I also play board games. 

The second, quite obviously:

Stephen Sondheim

By Meryle Secrest

Where do you start when talking about the man that IS American Musical Theatre? That’s easy for me to decide... I won't talk about the man too much, but you should read Stephen Sondheim: A Life by Meryle Secrest.

Seriously, buy the book. Read it, it's amazing. Then read the one about Leonard Bernstein, also by Meryle Secrest. You won't be disappointed.

I’ll let you do your research on Sondheim... if, for some reason you haven’t already. Let me be honest for a moment. Just a moment though, if this blog is proving anything, it's proving that I am seldom honest... I usually beat around the bush. If you don’t know every inch of Stephen Sondheim’s life, I am judging you. If music theatre is something you really want to do with your life, become an expert in it. You should be able to recite Sondheim’s biography from heart. The people he’s worked with (Richard Rodgers and Leonard Bernstein), the shows he’s written (he wrote a straight play that was on Broadway for a hot second), the number of cigarettes he smoked a day (too many), who his neighbor was in NYC (Katherine Hepburn), etc., etc., etc. If you can’t spout off Sondheim trivia the same way you can spout off contestants on The Bachelor, do better at your career. You’re hard pressed to meet a doctor that doesn’t want to know everything about their career choice. You should be the same way. That’s a whole different blog post that also involves me yelling at you if you can’t read music and don’t want to learn. I’ll get there later, but if you can't read music, go to TheoryWorks right now and get on it. Immediately.

Okay, back to Sondheim, let’s chat through his shows, alphabetically...


list of Sondheim Shows and Revues:

Anyone Can Whistle

Donna Murphy doing her thing.

Book by: Arthur Laurents
Music & Lyrics by: Stephen Sondheim
Original Broadway run: April 4, 1964 - April 11, 1964 (12 previews - 9 performances)

This is a crazy pants musical - thoroughly crazy pants - but it was also Angela Lansbury’s first stage appearance. And despite what playbill.com posted the other day, she is still alive and amazing.

Briefly - There’s a corrupt mayoress and crazy shit happens, there’s a spring that pops up out of a rock that people think is a miracle, and crazy shit happens. All spanning over 3 Acts. Yes 3! All including crazy shit... that happens.

Great songs:
There Won’t Be Trumpets
Simple
Anyone Can Whistle
Everybody Says Don’t
See What It Gets You (ladies, look at this song)
With So Little to Be Sure Of

 


Assassins

Book by John Weidman
Music & Lyrics by: Stephen Sondheim
Original run (off-Broadway): December 18, 1990 - February 16, 1991 (73 performances)
Broadway run: April 22, 2004 - July 18, 2004 (26 previews - 101 performances)

This is one of my favorite musicals, hands down. It’s so good. Take a bunch of people that did or tried to do terrible things and throw them all together and have them convince another terrible person to do a terrible thing. Right up my alley. Frank Rich had a great line in his original off-Broadway review…

Assassins will have to fire with sharper aim and fewer blanks if it is to shoot to kill.
— Frank Rich

Candide

Book by: Lillian Hellman
Music by: Leonard Bernstein
Lyrics by: John La Touche, Dorothy Parker and Richard Wilbur
Additional Lyrics by: Stephen Sondheim and Leonard Bernstein
Original Broadway run: December 1, 1956 - February 2, 1957 (73 performances)
Revival (with additional lyrics by Sondheim): March 10, 1974 - January 4, 1976 (740 performances)

It’s Voltaire - I’m not going to get into it. Look it up. There’s a girl, there’s a guy... Candide means innocence.

 


Company

Watch Sondheim's pure approval during the patter sections, it's amazing.

Book by: George Furth
Music & Lyrics by: Stephen Sondheim
Original Broadway run: April 26, 1970 - Jan 1, 1972 (7 previews - 705 performances)

There’s a guy, his name is Bobby, he’s working through some stuff… Not necessarily successfully. Look up the story of "Another Hundred People" and Pamela Myers, it's a real life Peggy Sawyer tale. COMPANY is also the first time Stephen Sondheim and Harold Prince worked together as writer and director.

Great songs:
Sorry-Grateful
You Could Drive a Person Crazy
Another Hundred People
Getting Married Today
Marry Me a Little (is not a great song, stop singing it)
The Ladies Who Lunch
Being Alive

 


Do I Hear a Waltz?

Do I Hear a Waltz? Music & Lyrics by Sondheim (not from Do I Hear a Waltz?)

Book by: Arthur Laurents
Lyrics by: Stephen Sondheim
Music by: Richard Rodgers
Original Broadway run: March 18, 1965 - September 24, 1965 (1 preview - 220 performances)

Oscar Hammerstein was originally intended to write lyrics, but he died. So Arthur Laurents (who wrote the source play) and Mary Rodgers (Richard’s daughter - Stephen's dear friend) approached Sondheim to write lyrics. Neither Rodgers or Sondheim thought the play would make a good musical. But Sondheim felt obligated to write it since Arthur Laurents had recommended him to write lyrics for West Side Story.

I actually don’t know this show well, shame on me. I’m going to do some research after I post this blog. From what what I know, it’s not that great.

Great songs:
Someone Like You
Take the Moment
Do I Heart a Waltz? (also check out the version of this song that Sondheim wrote lyrics and music for, he ended up using a lot of those lyrics for the Rodgers version, but musically this version is superior, my opinion)
Stay

 


Evening Primrose

Evening Primrose with subtitles in Spanish (bonus).

Book by: James Goldman
Music & Lyrics by: Stephen Sondheim
Original Air Date: November 16, 1966 (ABC)

This is a bonkers TV special that starred Anthony Perkins, Charmian Carr, Larry Gates, and Dorothy Stickney. It involves a group of people that live inside a department store and pretend to be mannequins during business hours, or something, it's crazy. There's a group known as the "Dark Men" and the lead girl got separated from her mom when she was 6 and fell asleep in the Women's Hats department. Crazy. But worth a watch, it's pretty fascinating.

Great songs:
If You Can Find Me, I’m Here (this is one of my all-time favorite songs)
I Remember
When
Take Me to the World

 


FOLLIES

Follies Overture

Original title THE GIRLS UPSTAIRS
Book by: James Goldman
Music & Lyrics by: Stephen Sondheim
Original Broadway run: April 4, 1971 - July 1, 1972 (12 previews - 522 performances)

Old Follies girls collide with their younger counterparts in a run down theatre before it’s demolition. One of the best scores ever written. Period. End of story.

Great songs:
Beautiful Girl
Don’t Look at Me
Waiting for the Girls Upstairs
Rain on the Roof
Ah, Paris!
Broadway Baby
The Road you Didn’t Take
Bolero d’Amour
In Buddy’s Eyes
......
***Okay, the whole score, the whole damn score is great songs***

 


The Frogs

Book by: Burt Shevelove
Book Revised (2004) by: Nathan Lane
Music & Lyrics by: Stephen Sondheim
Original Production: Yale Repertory Theatre in the Yale swimming pool May 20, 1975 (8 performances) cast included: Meryl Streep, Sigourney Weaver and Christopher Durang
Original Broadway run:  July 22, 2004 - October 10, 2004 (34 previews - 92 performances)

The tag line says it best - The time is the present. The place is Ancient Greece. The opening of THE FROGS, "Invocation and Instructions to the Audience" was originally drafted as an opening number for A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM.

Great songs:
Invocation and Instructions to the Audience
I Love to Travel
Hades

 


A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

Remember when things like this happened in the White House...

Book by: Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart
Music & Lyrics by: Stephen Sondheim
Original Broadway run: May 8, 1962 - August 29, 1964 (8 previews - 964 performances)

Sondheim's first Broadway musical where he wrote Music and Lyrics. This whole show is a farce, and a damn funny farce. Opening numbers cut out of town included: "Invocation and Instructions to the Audience" and "Love is in the Air". Jerome Robbins was called in to act as a "play doctor" and he suggested a song like "Comedy Tonight" to open the show, the rest is history.

Great songs:
Comedy Tonight
Love, I Hear
Free
Lovely
Everybody Ought to Have a Maid
I'm Calm
That Dirty Old Man
That'll Show Him

 


Getting Away with Murder

Written by: George Furth and Stephen Sondheim
Original Broadway run: March 17, 1996 - March 31, 1996 (29 previews - 17 performances)

It's true, Sondheim wrote a straight play that was on Broadway. Sondheim, a fan of puzzles and board games, wrote, appropriately, a murder mystery. I've never read it, but it's on my list.

 


Gypsy

Gypsy is based on the life of this gal... This is a very clean version of her famous routine.

Book by: Arthur Laurents
Lyrics by: Stephen Sondheim
Music by: Jule Styne
Original Broadway run: May 21, 1959 - March 25, 1961 (2 previews - 702 performances)

If you don't know the plot of GYPSY... You are dead to me. It's Gypsy Rose Lee! Fun fact, John Kander, of Kander and Ebb, was the rehearsal pianist and dance arranger for the original production of GYPSY. It's a great show with some incredible moments. If you don't know it, learn it.

Great song:
Some People
Small World
Little Lamb
If Momma Was Married
All I Need is the Girl
Everything's Coming Up Roses
You Gotta Have a Gimmick
Let Me Entertain You
Rose's Turn

 


Into the Woods

Opening of INTO THE WOODS

Book by: James Lapine
Music & Lyrics by: Stephen Sondheim
Original Broadway run: November 5, 1987 - September 3, 1989 (43 previews - 765 performances)

Into the Woods ties together several fairy tales including:
Little Red Riding Hood
Jack and the Beanstalk
Rapunzel
Cinderella

They are tied together with a quasi invented fairy tale based loosely on the origin story of Rapunzel involving a witch and a baker that wants to start a family. Also... people die.

Great songs:
THE ENTIRE OPENING! Holy shit!
I Know Things Now
A Very Nice Prince
Giants in the Sky
Agony
It Takes Two
On the Steps of the Palace
Moments in the Woods
Last Midnight
No More
No One is Alone

 


A Little Night Music

I really like this girl for some reason.

Book by: Hugh Wheeler
Music & Lyrics by: Stephen Sondheim
Original Broadway run: February 25, 1973 - August 3, 1974 (12 previews - 601 performances)

He sleeps with her, she sleeps with him. She won't sleep with him. He doesn't sleep with anyone. It's a merry romp in the woods on a weekend. Also there is a bitchin' cello solo.

Great songs:
Now
Later
Soon
Every Day a Little Death
Weekend in the Country
Send in the Clowns
The Miller's Son

 


Marry Me a Little

This is a revue, I don't really count it as a Sondheim show.

 


Merrily We Roll Along

So good.

Book by: George Furth
Music & Lyrics by: Stephen Sondheim
Original Broadway run: November 16, 1981 - November 28, 1981 (44 previews - 16 performances)

I was 3 months old when this show opened. I was still 3 months old when this show closed. I truly appreciate this show and the cult following it has garnered. The whole show takes place in reverse chronological order. You get to slowly see broken people get younger and more hopefully as the show passes backwards through time, it's heart breaking and hard to follow as an audience member. Sometimes you put together some of the smartest people to write a show, and sometimes it just doesn't work. This would also mark the end of the Stephen Sondheim-Harold Prince collaborations until BOUNCE in 2003.

Great songs:
Like It Was
Old Friends
Not a Day Goes By
Now You Know
Good Thing Going
Opening Doors
Our Time

 


Pacific Overtures

Book by: John Weidman
Music & Lyrics by: Stephen Sondheim
Original Broadway run: January 11, 1976 - June 27, 1976 (13 previews - 193 performances)

Story of the west opening up trade with the east, as told from the perspective of the east. How could this not be a smash hit! It's a great show, one of my favorites, the main musical scale Sondheim used for this show is actually a Spanish scale which closely resembles many eastern scales but also includes a leading tone. Don't know what a leading tone is? Learn.

Great songs:
Chrysanthemum Tea
Someone in a Tree
Please Hello
A Bowler Hat
Next

 


Passion

Book by: James Lapine
Music & Lyrics by: Stephen Sondheim
Original Broadway run: May 9, 1994 - January 7, 1995 (52 previews - 280 performances)

PASSION is one of only a few projects that Sondheim conceived of himself, the others being SWEENEY TODD and ROAD SHOW. The show takes place in Italy and deals with a young solider and the changes in him brought about by the obsessive love of Fosca, his Colonel's homely, ailing cousin (I stole that line from Wikipedia because it made me chuckle.) The show is okay, not good, not bad, just okay. Though I did see the Sondheim Celebration production at the Kennedy Center when I was in college starring Michael Cerveris, Judy Kuhn and Rebecca Luker... Judy Kuhn, playing Fosca, was so good it was like there was no one else on stage but a bunch of amateurs. It was astounding. But the show is still... eh...

Great songs:
Happiness
I Read
I Wish I Could Forget You
Loving You
Just Another Love Story

 


Putting It Together

Another revue. Doesn't count.

 


Road Show

Other titles: BOUNCE, WISE GUYS, GOLD!
Book by: John Weidman
Music & Lyrics by: Stephen Sondheim
Original off-Broadway run: November 18, 2008 - December 28, 2008

ROAD SHOW tells the story of Addison and Wilson Mizner. They do some crazy things that are sometimes fun and sometimes confusing. I would venture to say that the score is the first Sondheim score that sounds like another one of his scores, that score being INTO THE WOODS. I saw the Washington, D.C. production in 2003 and enjoyed myself, but didn't write home about it, it was called BOUNCE back then.

Great songs:
The Best Thing That Ever Happened
Talent
**There may be more great songs, but that's all I really remember being great**

 


Saturday Night

Book by: Julius J. & Philip G. Epstein
Music & Lyrics by: Stephen Sondheim
Original off-Broadway run: February 17, 2000 - March 26, 2000 (45 performances)

SATURDAY NIGHT was original slated to open in the 1954-1955 Broadway season. Auditions were held and announcements were made in the Paper of Record. Then a producer died and it all went downhill. Jule Styne almost helped bring it to Broadway in 1960, but alas. The show involves some middle-class bachelor friends on some Saturday nights, one meets a girl who is crashing a party. There is a "get rich quick" scheme... An escape from jail... And other antics.

Great songs:
Class
Isn't It?
So Many People
I Remember That

 


Side By Side By Sondheim
Sondheim on Sondheim

More revues, you know my feelings.

 


Sunday in the Park with George

If this doesn't give you all the feels... You are dead inside.

Book by: James Lapine
Music & Lyrics by: Stephen Sondheim
Original Broadway run: May 2, 1984 - October 13, 1985 (35 previews - 604 performances)

What can one say about this show. It's so good... Then Act II starts. Seriously, what is the top of Act 2? It's so weird. But outside of that, it's just a superb show. Mandy Patinkin and Bernadette Peters are brilliant. Sondheim's score is brilliant, sans the top of Act II. Fun story, Mandy Patinkin first preformed the song "Finishing the Hat" after just learning it before a preview and while holding the music in his hands. So you can feel free to hold your callback sides in an audition. Back to the show, it's a musical based on a painting. Okay, not really, but the painting plays a huge character in the show. Though I will say, naming the romantic interest Dot, is a little on the nose.

Great songs:
Color and Light
Everybody Loves Louis
Finishing the Hat
We Do Not Belong Together
Sunday
Chromolume #7 (Kidding, this is what happens at the top of Act II. WHAT IS THIS!!!?)
Children and Art
Move On

 


Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Book by: Hugh Wheeler
Music & Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim
Original Broadway run: March 1, 1979 - June 29, 1980 (19 previews - 557 performances)

The perfect opening to the perfect show.

This is a perfect show. End of summary. I wrote my graduate paper on the compositional techniques used in SWEENEY TODD. Nerd. Have a mentioned that I also really enjoy German invented board games?

Great songs:
Prologue: The Ballad of Sweeney Todd
No Place Like London
The Barber and His Wife (this song contains a spoiler alert)
Worst Pies in London
Poor Thing
**Okay, seriously, the whole score, there isn't a note out of place.**

 


West side story

Book by: Arthur Laurents
Lyrics by: Stephen Sondheim
Music by: Leonard Bernstein
Original Broadway run: September 26, 1957 - June 27, 1959 (732 performances)

Two rival gangs engage in the ultimate dance off. Also people die. There is also jazz music and a couple admittedly terrible lyrics. I joke, but seriously, it's WEST SIDE STORY. It's a classic and a national treasure. Sondheim to this day only makes half of the royalties he should on productions.

Great songs:
I won't ever start, much like SWEENEY TODD, the whole score is perfect, except for "Gee, Officer Krupke".


There you have it. Stephen Sondheim. May we all be blessed to have heard his passion in our lives.

More to come next week! This one was fun.

Make sure you check out February and March classes.

Until next time... Get your sh*t together. Stop blowing it!


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Post Golden Age
 
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Holy shit! I'm back! Huge apologies for it taking so long for me to get back into the audition book posts. But here we go, picking up where I left off...

Post Golden Age

But first... A little disclaimer. As you read through this blog series you'll start thinking...

Why do I need so many songs in my book! Aaron, seriously, you are asking me to find so many songs! That’s too many songs! I mean, I’ll find that many songs, but come on, man!
— You, reading my blog

Yes, I am making it sound like you need a TON of songs in your book. That's not necessarily true. I'll explain all of that in a wrap-up blog when I get to the end of this whole series. But don't worry, I don't think you need to have 1,341 songs in your book. But there is a reason I'm going through everything I'm going through. It'll all make sense at the end. I promise.

Where were we?

BYE BYE BIRDIE - This is where I consider the Post Golden Age era to begin, I really think this period ends with HAIR in 1967, but I'm extending it until 1970 when I think Contemporary Theatre really started, with COMPANY. Again, feel free to yell at me about my arbitrary choices of dates for American Musical Theatre. But I think it's a pretty solid beginning and ending set of dates. And personally, I don't really care if you yell at me, I have a wife and a 3-year old. Plenty of people already yell at me in my life. Love you babe.

This period is a relatively weird period for the American Musical, it contains a bunch of different kinds of shows, from BYE BYE BIRDIE to OLIVER to HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING to SHE LOVES ME (one of the best musicals ever written, period.) to FLORA THE RED MENACE to 1776 to SWEET CHARITY to HAIR. It's a pretty eclectic mix of musicals and styles and writers. So let's break it down by year.

But first if you don't know the score to SHE LOVES ME. Buy it, right now. Or listen to the YouTube Playlist below. Do not pass GO until you listen to this entire score.

Okay... By the year. This is just a quick 5 per year from 1960-1970. This is by no means a definitive list of anything... Just the first 5 musicals I could think of for each year, or I could find on Google.


1960

Jerry Orbach sings "Try to Remember" from The Fantasticks

BYE BYE BIRDIE
CAMELOT
THE FANTASTICKS
OLIVER!
TENDERLOIN

1961

CARNIVAL!
HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING
MILK AND HONEY
STOP THE WORLD – I WANT TO GET OFF
SUBWAYS ARE FOR SLEEPING

1962

A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM
LITTLE ME
NO STRINGS
A FAMILY AFFAIR (John Kander's first show, and the only show he wrote without Fred Ebb in Ebb's lifetime)
MR. PRESIDENT (Irving Berlin's last show)

1963

110 IN THE SHADE
HOT SPOT
SHE LOVES ME
HERE'S LOVE
HALF A SIXPENCE

One of the original openings to A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM

1964

ANYONE CAN WHISTLE
FIDDLER ON THE ROOF
FUNNY GIRL
GOLDEN BOY
HELLO, DOLLY!
MAN OF LA MANCHA
THE ROAR OF THE GREASEPAINT – THE SMELL OF THE CROWD

1965

DO I HEAR A WALTZ?
DRAT! THE CAT!
FLORA THE RED MENACE
THE HAPPY TIME
ON A CLEAR DAY YOU CAN SEE FOREVER

1966

THE APPLE TREE
CABARET
DAMES AT SEA
EVENING PRIMROSE
SWEET CHARITY

1967

HAIR
HALLELUJAH, BABY!
HOW NOW, DOW JONES
YOU'RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWN

1968

JACQUES BREL IS ALIVE AND WELL AND LIVING IN PARIS
JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT
PROMISES, PROMISES
ZORBA (Best opening number ever, I will fight you.)

Life Is - ZORBA - the best opening of a musical ever. If you don't agree with this assessment... You are wrong.

Also - 1969 Tony Awards sposored by Virginia Slims... Those were the days.

1969

1776
CELEBRATION
DEAR WORLD
OH! CALCUTTA!

1970

APPLAUSE
COMPANY
MINNIE'S BOYS
PURLIE
TWO BY TWO

Writers:

Purlie - 1970 Tony's. Best Tony performance ever. Hands down. Seriously, Melba hits a Q sharp at the end of I GOT LOVE.


coming up... contemporary musical theatre

We'll break this down mostly by composer. Things get super wish-washy now with how they are broken down. So I think composer is the best way to do it. I'll make this a 2-parter. Then we'll dig into Pop/Rock Musicals with a special guest to help me out.

Glad to be back digging into the audition book. These posts are mostly a run-down of musicals and writers. But we'll tie it all together in some wrap-up blogs.

February and March classes have been announced, make sure you check them out! I also have a surprise planned for Thursday, Feb 1st, so make sure you are signed up for the Newsletter to find out what it is. Official free class announcements will be made tomorrow as well. These classes will only be open to Newsletter subscribers at first. Make sure you sign up for our Newsletter on the Home page or the top of the main Blog page.

Get your sh*t together. Stop blowing it!


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Golden Age Music
 
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Golden Age

The meat and potatoes of American Musical Theater; the Golden Age. Where to even begin breaking down this genre is a challenge in and of itself. But I guess I’ll go through and break it down chronologically for you. Again, my opinion, there are a lot of them out there.

OKLAHOMA!

There it is folks. The beginning of the Golden Age of American Musical theatre. Rodgers and Hammerstein took the ground work laid by many many before them (and they themselves), most notably SHOW BOAT (two words) and the rest is history. From this point forward music, story, dance would become more and more and more integrated and important to storytelling. Thus musical theatre as we know it exists. Go find some good books on the Golden Age:

BYE BYE BIRDIE

The Golden Age lasted from roughly 1943 with OKLAHOMA! and ended with BYE BYE BIRDIE in 1960. At least that’s my timeline for it. BYE BYE BIRDIE brought in Rock ’n Roll for the first time to the American Stage. There is definitely a lot of overlap between Golden Age and what came before and after it, nothing has clean clear lines, but I think that’s a good solid time frame to consider when looking through this music when searching for songs for your book.

Let’s Break it down by decade:

These are VERY select lists, there are a ton of shows from this time period, lots of lesser known shows have really great music in them, find some hidden gems, do some listening!


1940s:

Carousel Waltz - The John Wilson Orchestra

Shows:

Ray Bolger singing Once in Love with Amy

OKLAHOMA! (1943)
ON THE TOWN (1944)
BLOOMER GIRL (1944)
CAROUSEL (1945)
ANNIE GET YOUR GUN (1946)
ST. LOUIS WOMAN (1946)
BEGGAR’S HOLIDAY (1946)
STREET SCENE (1947)
FINIAN’S RAINBOW (1947)
BRIGADOON (1947)
ALLEGRO (1947)
KISS ME, KATE (1948)
WHERE’S CHARLEY? (1948)
GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES (1949)

Writers:
Rodgers and Hammerstein
Cole Porter
Irving Berlin
Leonard Bernstein (happy 100th Lenny)
Betty Comden & Adolph Green
Lerner & Loewe
Frank Loesser


West Side Story - Dance at the Gym

1950s

Shows:

GUYS AND DOLLS (1950)
CALL ME MADAM (1950)
THE KING AND I (1951)
WONDERFUL TOWN (1953)
ME AND JULIET (1953)
THE THREEPENNY OPERA (1954)
THE PAGAMA GAME (1954)
DAMN YANKEES (1955)
MY FAIR LADY (1956)
THE MOST HAPPY FELLA (1956)
BELLS ARE RINGING (1956)
WEST SIDE STORY (1957)
THE MUSIC MAN (1957)
FLOWER DRUM SONG (1958)
THE SOUND OF MUSIC (1959)
FIORELLO! (1959)
GYPSY (1959)

Writers:
Frank Loesser
Rodgers and Hammerstein
Jule Styne
Leonard Bernstein
Betty Comden & Adolph Green
Richard Adler & Jerry Ross
Lerner & Loewe
Meredith Wilson


1960 and beyond

I know I stated above that I consider the Golden Age to be “over” at this point, but I’m a liar. It clearly continues but a transition period begins on Broadway with BYE BYE BIRDIE and culminates with HAIR in 1967 That will be next weeks blog. But some shows that happened in the 1960s that would be considered GOLDEN AGE are:

CAMELOT (1960)
MILK AND HONEY (1961)
HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING (1961)
A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM (1962)
SHE LOVES ME (1963)
FIDDLER ON THE ROOF (1964)
…You get the picture… it keeps going.

Head over to the Lincoln Center Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center, go upstairs, wear something comfy and start listening to recordings. Walk out of the library with a stack of photocopied music (copiers downstairs). A lot of the material from this time period can be reimagined and have new life brought to it. Bring some songs to your coach and find a new way to present it, something that works for you.

There really is no way to go wrong when picking Golden Age music. But if you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask or leave a comment below.

Sneak peak!

So I'm currently working on creating an interactive time line listing every Broadway musical in timeline form. Clicking on a musical will bring up it's opening and closing dates (also boxed in the timeline) as well as a brief synopsis and the original Playbill. This thing is gonna take me a hella long time to finish. But I think it could be really neat when it's all said and done. I've started in the 1940s. Once I get through the 40s I'll go live with it and continually add as I have free time. But here is a sneak peak below. You're welcome. I'm pretty great. I know.

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Pre-Golden Age Music
 
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The Pre-Golden Age Years:

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Before I start to get into the genres you should have in your book, I’d like to put a couple disclaimers out into the universe.

  1. This is my opinion on what should be in your audition book. But your audition book is your audition book. Some people will have all these genres in their books. Others won’t. Others will have different genres that I haven’t even mentioned here. This is all about making your book work best for you. But as a general thought, these are the most likely genres that should be included in your book.
  2. I will not be mentioning any songs by name. I’m not here to recommend songs for you. I’ll talk through styles but it’s up to you to go do some research and find songs that are great for you. Go spend an afternoon at the Lincoln Center Library and listen to cast albums and old recordings. There is a treasure trove of amazing music out there just waiting for you to find it.
  3. If you do need recommendations or help with finding music, there are lots of classes and people that can help you. We’ll have some Rep classes here at Save My Audition (aptly names Find My Audition) in the future. You can send us an email and we’ll gladly help. You can also go visit Sara Glancy over at Audition Rep Matchmaker, she’s wonderful. In fact we just had a session this week and she brought in an amazing song I had never heard before from the Golden Era. It was refreshing to hear and a hell of a good find.
  4. Have fun. Above all your book should be fun for you.

Operetta:

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So let’s start with the first thing on my list. Operetta. English operetta as we know it came to be in the 1860s. Arthur Sullivan (composer) and W.S. Gilbert (libretto) were the staples at the beginning and the end. They wrote 14 operettas together. Operetta eventually made it’s way over to the good ole States where Victor Herbert had his way with it… I’m falling asleep. If you really want to know more about Operetta do some research. It’s actually pretty interesting but too much to go into.

The first Operetta that I ever did was HMS Pinafore when I was in college. I can’t say it was a rousing awakening into a new genre of music that I was unfamiliar with. But I do wish I had appreciated it more when I was doing it. There’s a charm about the music from this era that really makes me feel good now that I’m a little older and maybe a little wiser. I'm not saying that you need to find a song from THE BLACK CROOK (not an operetta). But it is wise to have a oldie but goodie in your book. There is a lot we can tell about your voice from these types of songs.

This is a great genre to find a solid patter song in. Especially the stuff written by Gilbert and Sullivan. It may seem a little dated, but it does a great job showing off that part of your rep. There are also countless ballads that are beautiful and can show off your range and vocal quality.

Operetta Writers:

Jazz Age Standards:

The list of songs and composers that can fit into this category is almost endless. This is where some of my favorite songs come from. If you haven’t seen the Ken Burns documentary about Jazz music, do yourself a favor and watch it. Now. You will not regret it. This genre of music covers everything from slow sultry blues standards to hot on fire uptempo swings. If you've never heard Blind Willie Johnsons' Dark Was the Night, Cold was the Ground, listen to it right now... I'll wait.

The sheer catalog of music is a little daunting. Just start listening to stuff and see what you respond to. Also, go see some concerts with Jazz at Lincoln Center (link). They have some wonderful vocal concerts, you can hear some incredible singers and steal some great songs from them.

The fun thing about jazz standards is the limitless possibilities of how you can tailor them to suit your needs. Many of these songs already have a plethora of arrangements that have been circulating for as long as they have been written. Don’t be scared to find a great song you love and hire a great pianist to help you come up with an arrangement that works best for you. This genre is straight up fun to find songs that work for you. Someone to Watch Over Me as a Bossa Nova, I’ve heard it, and it’s brilliant. Think outside the box. Give the people in the room something to talk about. We like old songs done in a new way. As long as it is done well. Don’t throw music in front of a pianist and ask them to arrange something on the spot. We may enjoy doing it, but you never know who is behind the piano, what their skill level is, or what kind of day they have had.

Jazz Standard Writers:

Theatre specific (these composers cross into Golden Age):

Jazz Specific:
Way way way too many to name. Start listening to some music and see what you like.
Here is a great place to start your research.

More to come next week…


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Time to Break Down Your Book
 
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Aaron's Thoughts on the Inside of your Book

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Alright, we're arrived. It's time to start chatting about what should go inside of your audition book. Remember, there are no "right" answers here. This is just my opinion about what should be in your book. This comes from years and years of being in the room. I do think that I have a little more authority about the audition book than most people. Most people don't spend the amount of time in the audition room that I spend, or any audition pianist spends for that matter. There are stock lists of what should be in your book. Lists from audition coaches. Lists from acting teachers. Lists from everyone and everywhere. But most of those people aren't in the room on a regular basis. We're in the room. I'm actually writing this blog in a dance call for THE BOOK OF MORMON. I'm always in the room. We're in the room. All the time. For good and bad. 'Til death do us part. Heed our advice, we mostly know what we're talking about.

Lists

You'll find a lot of lists online that describe the "perfect" audition book. Be warned! Look judgingly at these lists. There is no such thing as the "perfect" audition book. Just the book that works best for you. Which isn't the same book that works best for someone else. If there were such a thing as the "perfect" audition book you wouldn't be reading this and you would always be working. There aren't a lot of "rules" in the audition world. Contrary to other people I do think there are some rules, but they are mostly common sense. Things like:

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  • Don't tell the people behind the table to go to hell.
  • Don't show up naked.
  • Don't pee in the corner. Maybe under the table, but definitely not in the corner.
  • Don't try to exit through a closet after your audition.
  • Don't make me turn a page if your cut is only 2 pages long. Seriously, don't do that. It's rude.

Those are the rules that are pretty self-explanatory. But even those may not be rules in the right audition circumstance. Who knows?! It's a crazy business. But if anyone starts telling you the "rules" about an audition or your audition book – leave them and ask for your money back. Immediately. Then go find a better coach/teacher.

Aaron's basic list

  • Operetta
  • Jazz Age Standard
  • Golden Age Standard
  • Post-Golden Age Standard
  • Sondheim
  • Contemporary Music Theatre
  • Disney
  • 1950s Rock
  • 1970s Rock
  • 1980s Rock
  • 1990s Pop/Rock
  • Contemporary Pop
  • Contemporary Rock
  • Contemporary Country/Cross-over Country
  • Hip/Hop - Rap

You should generally try to have a ballad and an uptempo for each of these categories, the pop/rock categories can mostly get away with either a ballad or an uptempo.

There is a lot of wiggle room with that list, a lot of songs can cover a couple categories. I'm going to spend a bunch of blog posts breaking down all these categories and talk about appropriate song choices for each of them. Again, this is will be my opinion! And if you've ever talked to my wife, you know that my opinion doesn't count for much.

Songs I Don't Think You Need

  • Anything written by Andrew Lloyd, Boublil & Schönberg or Frank Wildhorn
  • Novelty Song - though it isn't a bad idea
  • Songs that don't show you off. This is a big problem. Just because you like a song and think it's great doesn't necessarily mean it is great for you. Or that it is a great audition song. It may just suck as an audition song. That happens. Move on. What's next?

Final thoughts

This is going to be a lot of stuff to cover. I know I've talked about keeping your books thin and controlled. There is a way to cover as much material as you possibly can while maintaining a proper size book. That'll be covered as we dig into these categories.

Inside of the list above there are a million variations. Some people absolutely wouldn't have a Hip/Hop tune in their books. Other people may have 3. Take this list and tailor it to your needs. Need help? Send an email! I'll gladly help you talk through your book or send you to some super smart people that I trust to help you with your book.

Next week we'll start to break down each category and get into the nitty gritty of each genre.

 

Beer Culture
328 W 45th St
New York, NY 10036

If you are of legal drinking age... Go have a beer. This place has a billion (estimate) of them.

Until then, every audition counts.


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Let's Talk about the Inside of your Audition Book
 
 
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Delaying the inevitable

I want to get into the nitty gritty of the songs that should be in your book, but that needs more time and organization on my part. It will definitely be a multipart blog. As of right now I have it divided into about 10 blog posts, that seems excessive. I'm trying to narrow that down. As you can imagine I have a lot to say on the subject of what's inside your book. I want to present it in the best possible way. So I'm still working on it.

So this week we’re going to talk about the inside of your book. How to organize it, how to present it, how it should be laid out. Keep in mind, these are just my opinions, as I always say… I have pianist friends that will disagree with what I’m about to say and pianist friends that will agree with I’m about to say.

Organization:

Let’s start with organization. Last week I said that I personally like books organized by category. For purposes of this blog I’ll break down the categories of songs that should be in your book this way…

  • Traditional Music Theatre
  • Contemporary Music Theatre
  • Pop/Rock

This is by no means a comprehensive listing of the genres that should be in your book. I’ll get into that at a later date.

The way I would organize each section of your book is by era/song style. So a section for your Traditional Music Theatre songs, a section for your Contemporary Music Theatre Songs and a section for your Pop/Rock songs. Use a divider between each… What’s a divider? It’s one of these things >>>

I like these dividers because they have erasable tabs you can write on and they are sturdy.

Inside each section you can organize how you want. I recommend putting all your ballads together in the front of the section and all your up-tempos together in the back of the section. Each in alphabetical order.

I would organize the sections in your book chronologically. Start with the earliest written songs and work your way to the more contemporary stuff.

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Boom, organized. That’s how we roll.  What was that casting director person? You want to hear a lyric traditional music theater song? No worries, it’s right here in my book. And here are my options.

Table of Contents:

Also, at the very front of your book should be a table of contents. You’ll replace this and update it every time you add new stuff or throw away old stuff. This is great to have when you are asked what else you have in your book. Don’t go flipping through at a million miles an hour arbitrarily throwing out song titles as you see them. Look at your table of contents that is broken down by category. It couldn’t be easier. Plus a lot of times the pianist in the room will have a really good suggestion as to what you should sing if they ask for something else. We’ve been there all day, we know what the room wants to hear. Trust our suggestion, but don’t let it change your mind if you have a killer second song that you knew you wanted to sing.

Have one. End of discussion.

Here is an example Table of Contents:

Click for a larger view.

Sheet Protectors?

I say yes. If and only if they are on the thicker side and non-glare. Don’t buy the flimsy Rite-Aid sheet protectors that reflect light better than my mirror. The awkward angles we have to twist our head to balance out the reflection is a musical unto itself. Spend a little money on some solid sheet protectors. Like the ones to the left of this paragraph.

You’ll use these over and over, and for years. It’s a one-time investment.

Also worth the money are foldout sheet protectors. Ones that allow you to open up an extra page. You can have a 4 page audition cut laid out on the piano and never have to take anything out of your book! And I don’t have to turn pages. Do it! I know they exist, I can't find them online right now. But they can be your best friend.

Sheet Protectors Not to Use:

Thin - the cheap thin sheet protectors are why lots of pianists hate sheet protectors. They are useless and make reading your music next to impossible in the glorious fluorescent lighting of most rehearsal studios.

These are the worst.

These are the worst.

Quick-Loading Sheet Protectors - These are absolute garbage. They fall open as you turn pages and mess everything up and block the page from being turned properly. These should all be rounded up and thrown over a cliff. Pure garbage.

So this is an uneventful and unexciting blog post. I apologize. But it’s worth noting that all of this stuff is important. We’ll get into the songs of your audition book shortly. That’s where we’ll have some fun.

Our first series of classes will be announced in less than a month! So make sure you sign up for the Newsletter to be the first to know and have early access to attend. We have some exciting people lined up!

Everyone have an amazing Thanksgiving week. Until then.

Every Audition Counts.

 

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5 Times Square
New York, NY 10036

Go for the Cheddar Biscuits. Leave for everything else. What can I say, I have a soft spot in my stomach for those Cheddar Biscuits. Everything else is horrifying. So get the free stuff and leave.

Until then, every audition counts.


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The Music Theater Audition Book
 
 

The Music Theater Audition Book

Your audition book. Where it all begins and ends. The music theater audition book is something to behold. It should contain all the things that you need. This blog is about what the actual audition book should be. Soon I’ll get to what should be inside of it. Bare in mind, all the things I’m about to say are my opinion only. I have audition pianist friends that would argue most of what I’m about to say. And I have audition pianist friends that would agree with most of what I’m about to say. Gather all the information you can and make your own decisions.

Type of binder:

Your binder should be a standard 3-ring binder that is conducive to the amount of music you need it to hold. 1-inch. 1.5 inches. 2 inches? It’s up to the amount of music you have in it. I always say the smaller the better.  There is no need to have 300 songs in your binder. Boil it down. Find the songs that work best for you and consolidate. I strongly think that you should have a binder that has a clear pocket on the cover for you to put a headshot in. It makes it very clear that it is your binder and can help you find it if you misplace it. Where is my binder? Oh, here it is, it’s the one with my face on it. Also, please don’t bedazzle your binder. I’m going to cut my hand if you have fake plastic jewels on it. Stickers and stuff, that’s fine. Things with sharp edges, no thanks. Save those for your niece or nephew when they come to visit you in New York City.

Front Pocket:

In the very front pocket of your audition book should be at least one extra headshot/resume. You can store extra in the front cover sleeve if you need to. Putting one here makes it easy to grab one should the casting director ask you for one. You should ALWAYS offer your headshot/resume. The copy they have may be dated and need renewing. Plus it gives you a chance to have an actual interaction with the people in the room. These are hard to come by. Take them when you can get them.

This girl is looking at me awkwardly as I'm trying to play the piano.

This girl is looking at me awkwardly as I'm trying to play the piano.

Now as for that headshot/resume in the front pocket. You should have the resume facing out. In other words, picture facing away from the pianist. I know that you spent a million dollars getting your headshots done and reproduced. But it’s really awkward to have your face starring at me while I’m playing your audition. So just turn it around. No big deal. Easy, done. If you have callback material that you have prepared and for some reason they want you to sing your own piece first, have that material in the front pocket when you walk in. You can either grab it and put it on top of the piano, or have it in the front pocket ready to grab when the time is right.

Table of Contents:

Please have a table of contents for your book. This should be something that is updated as you take songs out, or add songs to your book. Let me tell you why this is a good thing to have. Sometimes in an audition the casting director/director/music director/some other random person in the room says “What else do you have?” Then you come back over to the piano and start flipping through your book randomly saying titles that you see. If you have a table of contents you can simply flip to the front of your book and rattle off the titles of what you can do. Also, as an audition pianist that knows this is coming, I can look at it and tell you which song I think would be best for you to sing, based on the information that I have learned from the room on that particular day. We’re your friend behind the piano, we know what they are looking for.

Organization:

There are several approaches to how you can organize your book.

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  • Alphabetical
  • By category
  • Dealer's choice

I’m always a fan of organizing your book by category. Put your Golden Age songs all together. Your Pop/Rock tunes together. Your contemporary theater songs together. This makes more sense to me than organizing your book alphabetically. You get called in for Waitress, you know which part of your book they want to hear songs from, you can turn right to it and know what songs you have. But, that’s just my opinion.

I would also recommend having tabs for each song in your book. Maybe you number them. Maybe you have some other organization technique that works for you. But tabs make life much easier. You always know where the first page of a song is. So when you are “flipping” through your book you don’t waste time on pages that you don’t need to look at.

Now the age old question that audition pianists have fought about for years.

Sheet protectors?

Personally, I love me a good sheet protector. Granted they are relatively thick stock and NON-GLARE. The non-glare is super important. Fluorescent lights are not forgiving. If you ever get to sit in a room for auditions, watch the audition pianist, if you see them in all sorts of weird positions… They are trying to find an angle where the light isn’t reflecting off your shitty dollar store sheet protecters. Also - double sided on good stock paper works. Not your standard 20lb paper. Get some paper with some weight to it. We love it! It makes turning pages a dream. Plus your music will stay in playable shape longer.

What about the actual songs in your book?

There is an entire blog post and webinar that I am working on that gets into the songs that should be in your book. But for the purpose of this post, I will deal with the actual sheet music. If you have a 16 bar cut and a 32 bar cut of the same song, you should have 2 copies of that song in your book. You throw a lot of information at us in the audition room, and we have played a lot of auditions. Sometimes that “STOP” that you have listed in the middle of your tune is for the 16 bar cut and we need to keep playing for the 32 bar cut. It can get confusing. So why leave it to chance? Have 2 or 3 copies of your song based on the number of cuts you have of it. There is no problem having a 16 bar cut, a 32 bar cut and a full version of the same song in your book.

If you are currently working on stuff in your voice lessons or vocal coachings you can absolutely have that in your book. If you are not ready to perform that stuff in an audition, keep it in the back of your book. Have a section that is marked off as “IN THE WORKS”, that is 100% acceptable. But if we see a song amongst all the other songs in your book, we are going to assume that it’s good to go. The audition pianist will recommend what “next” song to sing a lot. Make sure it’s a song that you know how to sing super well. Keep the stuff you are working on in a separate section. There isn’t a need to have 2 binders. Some people say keep it in a separate binder until it’s ready. Bah to that I say. Keep it all together. Just quarantine it.

Back pocket

The back pocket of your binder is a great place to keep all the extra nonsense stuff that you keep in your book.

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  • Casting calls.
  • Letters from your mom
  • Receipts from voice lessons
  • Rental agreements
  • Divorce papers
  • Airline tickets
  • Parking tickets
  • Suggestive photos of someone you love/someone you met last night
  • Bible passages
  • School trip itineraries
  • Passports
  • Internet passwords

Keep all that stuff in the back pocket, I won’t look at it if it’s back there. Side note, everything on the list above I have seen in audition books. But if it’s in the back pocket I won’t look at it. There is something about the back pocket to me that is private. I don’t know what, but it is.

In conclusion

The biggest thing I can say about your audition book is to keep it clean. If it’s starting to fall apart, go buy a new one from Staples. Binders are not expensive. Care for it. It is your job interview.

Next week I’ll delve into songs for your book. I think. I may change my mind. But that’s what I’m thinking. It'll probably be 2 or 3 weeks worth of blogs.

Until then.

Every Audition Counts.

 

ChikaLicious
203 East 10th Street
New York, NY 10003

This place is not in midtown. But you are a fool if you don't go. ChikaLicious is a dessert bar where you get 3 courses of dessert and it's mind-blowing. Go. Now. Go. Please. It's amazing. And the owner is an amazing guy and Chika (head chef) is the most adorable person on the face of the planet. And you can literally sit at a bar and watch her make your dessert! Go!!! And get the iced coffee, nothing is better than coffee ice cubes.

Until then, every audition counts.


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