Auditioning can be nerve-racking, regardless of age or experience. You may have a song prepared, but what if they ask you to sing something else? What if they have you read unforeseen material? No two auditions are ever the same...
However, being prepared and ready for anything can make for a successful audition. Below are some ways to expand your repertoire and further grow as young artists, starting with the most primary element: the Audition Room.
Your "Book" is the collection of songs, generally in some sort of binder, that you bring to auditions. It never has to be an exhaustive tome, that is you don't have to keep all of your songs in one place. However, you may decide to keep it thematically relevant to what you're auditioning for.
For example, if you were auditioning for Cabaret, you may have songs from other Kander & Ebb shows, other musicals from that same era/time period, or that fit the musical style such as a jazz standard (If you're feeling bold, you may even use a contemporary/pop song but in a jazzy style...). Additionally, your song choices may reflect a character type or emotion, or show off a skill or vocal talent (more on that below).
Choosing audition monologues is different from assembling a collection of songs. Lyrics are naturally easier to remember than a whole paragraph of dialogue. That said, when choosing a monologue, it's important to find something that shows off your skills and relatability as an actor: character, accent/dialogue work, comic/dramatic timing, and/or understanding of the material. Not all auditions in your career will require a monologue, but it's good to have one or two of your best in your back pocket. Remember: not all great monologues come from theatre...
First off, what is a "cut"? A cut of music is the part of a song that you use for your audition. Generally, but not always, it's 16-32 bars (or measures) which is usually a chorus/refrain or a verse into a chorus/refrain. This musical phrase should be one that specifically highlights what you intend to audition for, either matching musical range or character style if not both. In musical theatre, what you sing at your audition may be how you're remembered, positively or negatively.
It is imperative to know your cut inside and out. When you give the sheet music to the accompanist, you'll need to provide information like where they need to start, tempo, where and how to end, as well as answer any questions they may have. Additionally, you may be asked to sing more from that specific song, or even a different cut, which you will need to know just as well. Your book and the cuts inside are your ultimate tools in having a successful auditioning experience.
Sometimes you'll have an audition with prepared "sides", or portions of dialogue to read either with someone else or alone. In theses instances, you're able to prepare your performance and really look over the material, maybe even researching the work it's from or the author. Other times you may be asked to read from something you haven't seen before. This is called a "cold read".
Producers and directors like to use cold reads to see how actors work on their feet, both figuratively and literally. How well do they work on the fly without direction? How well do they work off of someone else? How open are they to making choices, moving freely, and changing those actions if given the direction. Cold reads are the creative team's chance to work with the actor, with the material, live in a rehearsal setting to see how collaborative the actor can be.