Organising your Rep Book can be an overwhelming task, whether it’s your first time or your 15th! So below are some of my top tips on how to organise your book, what you need in it and, if it's your first, what it is.
Firstly, what is a Rep Book- for those that are doing this for the first time, a rep book is a folder that you will keep all your sheet music in for auditions, it’s the best tool you can have as an auditioning actor! Some people put monologues in their rep book too however, I would recommend using a separate folder for monologues and keep this folder strictly sheet music.
Now, what do you need in your Rep Book? No matter how many years you’ve been in the biz this part never gets any easier! You need to choose a selection of songs that show you at your very best, you also want these songs to fit your casting. Don’t restrict yourself, but you want to think about what roles you could play, your vocal ability and look at those sorts of songs. I really recommend choosing songs you love to sing, because if it’s a song you don’t really like: 1. You’ll never pick it. And 2. It shows if you don’t like it!
Below is a list of what you want your folder to contain, some styles may not suit you/ your voice, or may not be useful to you. I have *starred the absolute must-haves, you can also have more than one of certain genres, you’ll see over time and when auditioning regularly, what you use most often and what you don’t. Overall, you’re aiming for 10-15 songs in your book.
Classic Musical Theatre Uptempo*
Classic Musical Theatre Ballad*
Contemporary Musical Theatre Uptempo*
Contemporary Musical Theatre Ballad*
Top 40 Pop/ Current chart hit
Let’s move on to organising your Rep Book. Step 1: get a good, sturdy folder- nothing that’s going to fall off the stand at a piano or allow music to slip down. Step 2: avoid sheet protectors or the plastic folders that have the clear pockets inside- even if they say ‘non-glare’ they still reflect the light a bit at the wrong angle, which means your pianist may not be able to see all of your music properly. You want to make your pianists job as easy as possible- this will ensure you have a good audition!
Step 3: create a ‘Table of Contents’, this is a list of all your audition songs, in the order they come inside your folder. This is a great tool when an audition panel ask “do you have anything else?” - you can hand them this list. Or if you or your pianist are wanting to find a specific song in your folder, you’re not searching and flicking through everything; you can go to your ‘Table of Contents’ and see exactly where to find it. I recommend ordering your songs by genre, but you can also order alphabetically if you prefer.
Step 4: you need to have the following cuts of your songs: Full song (cut out repeat verses if it's repetitive & doesn’t show anything different), 32 bars, 16 bars and 8 bars. You want to make sure all your cuts tell a story, even the 8 bar! (With UK casting teams 8 bar cuts are rarely used, but for US casting teams you will need them.) Step 5: tape & annotate your music- tape your pages back to back, so when inside your folder the pages can be turned like in a book- tape along the slide or at the corners. Annotate any cuts clearly, and cut and paste bars- don’t leave half a page of crossed out bars if you can have the next section of music there. And finally, add song titles and page numbers if they’ve been removed or altered in your cutting process.
Your Rep Book and what’s inside it is so important - it’s going to help you get hired (or not), so make sure you know every song inside it- don’t put a song ‘you’re working on’ in there until it’s audition-ready, and keep it presentable and organised at all times - if your folder is a mess, you look a mess!
My final piece of advice; do whatever shows the best of you - you are better to have 6 songs you perform brilliantly, than 16 songs that are average.
Now go and nail those auditions!
Thank you for reading! If you found this blog useful or would like to share your tips then leave a comment below, and share with friends that may find this helpful.
If you have any questions about organising your rep book or would like advice on choosing the right songs for you, then get in touch via my email below!