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What's in My Rep Folder?

Updated: Jul 20

Every profession has tools of their trade. A carpenter has his tool box, a surgeon her scalpel. For those of us who tread the boards, we have our repertoire. And for Musical Theatre actors specifically, that means the sheet music in our trusty rep folder.


If I had a pound for every piece of sheet music I own, let's just say I wouldn't be worried about this month's expenses. But my rep folder is filled with my 'go-tos': the songs that I know I can whack out of the park with just a few hours notice or less.


So, what's currently in my rep folder?

Firstly, different auditions require different material. My rep folder is broadly split into three catagories:


  • Contemporary Musical Theatre

  • 'Pop' Music (read 'anything that isn't musical theatre')

  • 'Legit' Musical Theatre


And within these catagories there's a mix of subgenres, character types, tempos etc. Together, these pieces broadly cover the spectrum of material I could be asked to bring to an audition.


Contemporary Musical Theatre

When I open my rep folder, the firat piece i come to is "Waiting for Life" from Once On This Island. This song is defiantly one of my old faithfuls, especially for more youthful characters. The next two songs, "So Many People" (Saturday Night) and "A Quiet Thing" (Flora, The Red Menace), are both ballads. I haven't had the chance to sing them in a while. But they're handy to have if I ever need to prepare two contrasting songs, and I love that they both give an atypical take on the romantic ballad. The next song is one of the pieces I auditioned for drama school with. "Random Black Girl" from Homemade Fusion was my first foray into a more soul/gospel sound. It's such a fun sing and I love letting my hair down and playing an attitude so different to my default. Then there's "Your Daddy's Son" from Ragtime, one of my favourite songs I've ever learnt. During my training I got mixed advice about it (is it too obvious/will it typecast me?). But I decided to put it in not only because I love it, but it also ticks the dramatic, slightly belty, story-driven musical theatre song box, which none of the other pieces quite fit into. "Pretty Funny" from Dogfight almost fits that mood, but style-wise it has a clear folk music influence (the performance note literally says, "Introspective -Folk"). For me, it wouldn't feel right for less modern-contemporary musicals.


'Pop' Music

It's taken a lot of trial and error to build this section of my folder - a mix of suggestions from others in the industry, songs taken from audition material sent to prepare and my own research. Currently this section is more pop and soul based: "King of Anything" (Sara Bareilles), "Shake It Out" (Florence and the Machine) and "Party in the U.S.A" (Miley Cyrus) on the pop side, "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" (The Shirelles), "You Can't Hurry Love" (The Supremes) and "I'd Rather Go Blind" (Etta James) on the more soul side. This is definitely the section most in need of a revamp. With most musicals asking for non-musical theatre songs for auditions, be it pop, rock, soul, r'n'b or gospel (even rap, thanks to the success of Hamilton), I need to hunt down some songs that not only fit those styles, but that I can perform, fit my casting and (most importantly) I enjoy singing. Challenge accepted!


'Legit' Musical Theatre

This is the section that I've used the least in my rep - for some reason I don't seem to be brought in for legit musicals that often. But some of my favourite pieces are in this catagory. The giddy, love struck awe in "A Little Bit In Love" from Wonderful Town is such a fun moment to play, the heartbreak of "I Had Myself A True Love (St. Louis Woman) has so many emotional layers to delve into and explore, and "Stormy Weather" (Cotton Club Parade - 22nd Edition) is simply iconic. Then there's "Show Me" from My Fair Lady, such a strong-willed, fiery peice that punches the stereotype of legit MT songs in the face. And finally, "Bill" from Show Boat is not only a masterclass in line (the natural swells in musical phrasing that is a hallmark of performing legit MT songs) but also captures a true reality of love - that even though your beau may be far from perfect, of course you love them anyway.

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