This one will be quick and short.
There are sides and there are cuts. Cuts are music, sides are script.
Now this is just all my opinion. When you’re reading sides in the room especially for a first callback, HOLD the sides. You may be the most memorized that you’ve ever been on any gig ever, but still… hold the sides. You never know what brain obstacle will appear when you’re in the room reading with a reader who you’ve probably never met before and given an adjustment you’d probably never thought about. Or have them in your pocket for easy access.
When you’re in for a second callback or for a Broadway show, MEMORIZE the sides. When you’re balls deep in a scene, working in front of the director, and getting all the way into a character, you probably don’t want to be taken out and have to call for a line.
I’ve heard from many a casting director that when actors aren’t holding the sides in a scene it can actually make them nervous, and that’s all they’re thinking about. I’ve also heard from some Broadway directors that they hate when people hold the sides, it distracts them. You will inevitably go up on a line, someone in the room will think: “well… you should have held the bloody things in the first place…” (they’re British apparently) You literally can’t please everyone all the time. (I’ll refrain from the Aesop fable about the donkey and the boy and the man…)
So the answer is… don’t stress about it. If you’re nervous then hold the sides, if you want to not hold the sides then don’t, but only if you’re legitimately off book.
Also: MEMORIZE and LEARN the music cuts. It’s impossible to tell if you can sing the sides if you’re still reading the music and not sure of what note comes next. Period.
That’s all today!