How to Find Good Audition Songs for Musical Theatre

Hello, my name is Betsy and I’m a singing
teacher at TakeLessons. In this video you’re going to learn how to choose the
best audition songs for musical theater. So no matter your voice type, gender or
age, if you want to become a Broadway star keep watching. And don’t forget to
click the link in the description box to try our free online singing classes. So
there are definitely a few things that you should think about before you
audition for any kind of musical. You’re gonna want to think about what you’re
auditioning for. You’re gonna want to audition with a song that’s gonna show
you off for the role that you’re going for. So if I’m gonna be a femme fatale I
don’t want to sing you know something from Cinderella or something from
Rodgers and Hammerstein where it’s very sweet aunjanue. I’m gonna want to
choose something that would show off that acting ability. So think about
what show you’re auditioning for. I think that’s probably my number one tip when I
talk to students about an upcoming audition. One top misconception though
that I think young students or people who are inexperienced with auditions is,
is that they want to audition with the songs from that show. Don’t do that – you
want to do something that’s similar in style but not from that show. So if I’m
auditioning for the Little Mermaid I’m not gonna sing ‘part of your world.’ I
might sing something similar from maybe Aladdin. I might sing something that kind
of shows the same range. So maybe I would sing ‘a whole new world’ or something that
Jasmine sang because they both have that mixed belt. And so you could show
off that style, let the director see you in that role’s light and then that would
give them an idea of what you would perform like in that role. So one of the
main reasons you don’t want to sing a song from that show is- put yourself in
the director’s position. If you’re sitting there listening to 30 or 40
singers you don’t want to hear the same song all day long. You don’t want to hear
one song, you want to be able to imagine the singer in a role and kind of see
them act out something without literally being bored to tears. So that’s one of
the reasons. Another reason is that it’s just traditionally not done. You
shouldn’t pigeonhole yourself into that one role. You want to do something
that’s similar in the genre but that wouldn’t necessarily paint you
into a corner. So some very overused audition songs kind of depend on the
genre. So let’s talk about Disney songs. If you have to audition with a Disney
song, if that’s part of the parameters of your audition guidelines, do not sing
Frozen. Do not sing ‘let it go.’ Do not sing Moana right now, ‘how far I’ll go.’ Those
are going to be so overdone and while you might sound amazing, and that’s a
great song to really showcase if you are truly a belter or have that kind of
range, there are gonna be about 30 other people that are doing the exact same
thing. It would be better to dig back a little bit farther. Maybe pull something
from Pocahontas or Aladdin that hasn’t been done so recently, so that you would
stand out just a little bit. If you’re doing something in more traditional
musical theatre, don’t sing ‘wicked.’ You don’t want to do ‘defying gravity’ and be
the fourteenth girl in a row singing ‘defying gravity.’ Even, again, if you sound
great, you’re just not going to stand out. Barbra Streisand pretty much owns a lot
of Hello Dolly so just don’t go there. Basically you want to stand out and set
yourself apart from everybody else in the crowd so that a director or casting
director remembers you uniquely. So when you’re auditioning for a soprano role I
think the most important advice I can give is to consider the role. If I’m
going to be singing something that’s a little bit more operatic, let’s say we’re
doing Phantom of the Opera, maybe I would audition with something like ‘glitter and
be gay’ from Candide – something that shows off that coloratura or lets people know
that yes, I have a musical theater or singing voice but I also have a classical
voice. Whereas if somebody is doing Cinderella you know maybe I would do
something else from Rodgers and Hammerstein or something from West Side
Story maybe. Kind of same genre, same era. Let the director see you in that light
but then also let them know that you can sing. You have that mixed belt range, you
also have the higher notes. Something like that would be important to show off
during your audition. So when you’re auditioning for an alto
role, again it’s really important to think about the role that you’re
auditioning for. If I’m gonna be a femme fatale maybe I would sing ‘whatever Lola
wants’ from Damn Yankees. Whereas if it’s an older or more of a belting role – ‘a
mother doesn’t matter anymore’ from Bye Bye Birdie – something that’s gonna really
be a showstopper, show off that big belting range that you have, use your
chest voice, really just let it all out. If you’re a younger alto, a Disney song
would be great. Pocahontas has a lower tessitura
so that you could sing ‘colors of the wind’ or ‘just around the riverbend,’
something like that a little bit easier. A couple more for altos: I like to
recommend ‘somewhere’ from West Side Story because it’s not done as much as the
other song, so again you’ll stand out a little bit and you will kind of be able
to show off your range. If you’re a soprano who can belt it’s good to audition
for belting roles but if you’re a mezzo or an alto with a range it’s great to
show off your higher notes because that might put you in a different place in a
director’s head. While some songs from a popular show like Beauty and the Beast
might be overdone, I know a lot of sopranos like to sing ‘home’ or younger
vocalists will audition with some of those songs. ‘A change in me’ isn’t done
very much so it’s great for an alto with a range. So if you can start a little
bit lower and then at the end of the song get a little bit higher choose some
of those 32 bars that really show off that you can sing and you do have a
stronger head voice. That’ll definitely set you apart from other altos in the
crowd. Tenors in musical theater, it’s just,
you’re lucky. You can sing just about anything. There’s a million great tenor
roles. There are a million great songs that tenors can choose. The only problem
that you’re gonna have is choosing something that another tenor right next
to you is not going to choose. So if you want to think out of the box a little
bit maybe do a show that’s done less. So ‘the secret garden’ is a great show, has a
great score. ‘A bit of Earth’ is a beautiful song for a tenor to sing. It’s
not done a lot. The show is not performed over and over and over again. So
something like that would be a good choice for you. So another one that you
might want to avoid would be from ‘aspects of love.’ ‘Love changes everything’
is over done by tenors, but in the same musical Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote ‘seeing
is believing’ and that’s almost never done. So that would be great choice for a
tenor to choose and kind of avoid that classic cliche. And maybe the director
will go ‘oh now that sets you apart, I can think of you now when I’m looking
back at the last 50 singers.’ So if you’re a bass or baritone, again, think about
your role. Most baritones or bass roles are either going to be the villain or
they’re gonna be a buffoon, so somebody that the main character is going to kind
of play off of. Think of like a dorky best friend. Don’t sing ‘luck be a lady’ –
every bass out there, every baritone is gonna shuffle his way across stage and
sing that one. Don’t be that guy. A better choice if you’re going to be the villain
from The Hunchback of Notre Dame, ‘Hellfire’ is great, can show off those acting chops
and really put you right into that villain mentality. Another one might be
‘they live in you’ from The Lion King – also not done as much and it would be really
really good to show off that range as well. So if you’re a teenager and you’re
considering auditioning for musical theater it’s important to realize that
boys voices change during that time but girls voices also change during that
time. So when you maybe used to be a younger soubrette you could be
developing into something and have a richer chest voice. If you do have
control over that chest voice and your head voice as a teenager a great song
would be, I’ve talked about it before but, ‘a whole new world’ from Aladdin, because
you start in that mid belting range but then you flip immediately
to that head voice. That transition is really important to show off and would
probably set you apart from any other teenager in the crowd because when your
voice is changing you don’t maybe have that control over it. So if you’re a kid
under 13 and you’re trying to think of a great audition song there’s a ton of
Broadway shows that are really really catered towards or even written for kids.
‘Notice me Horton’ is a great song for a younger auditioner. It’s literally going
to fit perfectly well and show off a little bit of those acting abilities.
Parents I would try to have your kid work with a coach, have them pick
something out that works for their voice type. So if they’re a sassier little
child maybe have them sing something unexpected like ‘poor unfortunate souls’
that Ursula would sing. A casting director is definitely going to remember
something like that, a little six-year-old singing that is very
different than you know ‘part of your world’ which he may hear like 40 or 50
times that day. So musical theater auditions usually require a singer to
sing either a 16 bar or 32 bar excerpt so you want to pick the best part of
that song that really highlights your voice. So if the beginning is kind of
boring in a song and even talkative and the ending is this huge showstopper, don’t
pick 32 bars from the beginning. It doesn’t have to be. Pick 32 bars
at the end that really shows off your range. Another thing to consider is what
you’re auditioning for. Are you a femme fatale? Are you a leading lady? Are you a
funny lady? Are you a villain? Are you a you know leading man? You want to show
that off in your audition, so make sure that you’re choosing a piece that paints
yourself into the character that the director is looking for. Remember a
director is gonna sit there for eight or ten hours and stare at audition
after audition after audition. Pick something that makes it really clear
that he can see or she can see exactly how you would be in that role and they’ll
want to bring you back. Put yourself into their shoes. What do you want to see as a
director? Do you want to watch the same song over and over? No you don’t, so
choose something that’s a little bit more unique, something that you can put
your spin on and make sure if I’m a funny lady I’m going to sing something
that showcases that I’m a comedian, that I can do that,
that I can act. The whole point of an audition is to sell yourself to that
casting director so that they can see what you can bring to that role. Can you
think of any other good audition songs? Leave a comment and let us know. And if
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