Book review: "Acting Songs" by David Brunetti

About the book: Published in 2006, "Acting Songs" is still current enough to be a guide for making your music come alive in musical theater, cabaret, auditions or other performance settings. Although short, just 95 pages, the length is one of the things I like best about it, making it approachable, easy to read with very little jargon, and can be finished quickly for those looking for immediate, actionable take-aways.

About the author: David Brunetti is a teacher, writer, musician, musical director and vocal coach in New York City who specializes in bringing acting techniques to song. He travels and brings master classes to campuses around the world, spreading the message of his book.

Who is it for? The book is written for beginning professionals within the musical theater industry, younger actors who are studying the craft, teaching artists who want to take new techniques into their musical theater classroom, advanced actors who aren't familiar with how to connect acting practices to song, or the opposite, an advanced singer who isn't familiar with connecting acting into their music.

Review: is this book worth your time? Yes, if you fit into one of the groups above.

Why should you read this book? 

  • It is short, giving impatient people immediate, actionable suggestions.
  • It is organized sequentially, meaning that every chapter builds on the previous. If you read it in order and take down a few notes, you'll have a step-by-step acting process that you can use over and over.
  • It is honest. Brunetti writes in a friendly but firm voice, explaining things that absolutely must or must not be done in order to be considered a professional within this field. He makes you want to do what he says.
  • It includes direct quotes from directors, casting directors, agents, actors, and other fellow professionals within the field, giving their blunt advice, which for the most part is motivating and exciting.
  • It uses many songs as examples and literally writes out the lyrics, and discusses each intricate point, in detail. It gets down to a tactical level.

What's not to like about this book?

  • The writing style is a somewhat disorganized. It is written very much like what I'd imagine is a transcription of one of Brunetti's live master classes, which is great because you feel like you're really getting in and doing the work of breaking down songs, but in a book format it's kind of weird. It makes you wonder where the information is leading, what's next, are we on a tangent?, etc.
  • The choice of chapter headings is a little odd, and I would have preferred to see subheadings too, so I had a better idea of what would be covered as I was reading along.
  • The monologue chapter is particularly long and disorganized, which is unfortunate being that it contains most of the meaty information. At the end of the chapter he summarizes and brings it together, but again, as you're reading through I would have preferred to see subheadings outlining the process.

Overall review, graded A-F: "Acting Songs" gets a solid B. Buy Acting Songs here.

Want more info on acting techniques? Pick up our eBook, “Sensational Scenes and Songs,” written especially for musical theatre performers.

Want more book suggestions on other topics? See our recommended reading page. 

Like what you read here? Don’t miss the best posts! Subscribe to receive email updates.

Give us feedback – tell us what you think of our site and what additional topics you’d like to see covered.