As a musical theatre performer, you want to be prepared for any audition, but the one mistake many young performers make is trying to “find a song” rather, “the perfect audition song” at the last minute.
So they scramble around, asking everyone’s advice until they finally find the 16 or 32 bars (“thanks, grandma!”) that they must learn, memorize and perform brilliantly in two or three days. And, unsurprisingly, the audition goes about as well as all the other times they found the perfect audition song at the last minute – which is, not very.
As singers, we should know and be able to sing hundreds, if not thousands, of songs. In a nightclub setting, I can sing for four hours without repeating a song.
But in an audition setting, we need to carefully choose quality over quantity. We need “tried and true” over the new. It is through trial and error that we find five songs for our audition toolkit that pretty much guarantee a callback if we are even remotely right for a part. This can’t happen if we’re always learning a new song for every audition.
Basic: For your auditions, have an uptempo song and a ballad that you know like your DNA. You don’t even have to try to remember the lyrics as they are a living part of you. Make sure these songs represent positivity – that you’re a winner or at least a person who sees the light at the end of the tunnel. Don’t sing a song about how disappointed you are or what a big loser you are as you will run the risk of us sharing that dim opinion of yourself.
Advanced: Five songs in your back pocket. You know them backwards and forwards and you’ve sung them for a very long time. You could read a magazine, practice yoga and still sing them without missing a note. Every song has a “money” note in it. Something that absolutely shows off your best high note. Have an uptempo and a ballad from shows in the 1930’s to the 1980’s. Have an uptempo and a ballad from shows in the 1990’s to the 2020’s. Have a high-energy rock or pop song that is fun and shows off your range. In an audition, you and the song are one. Show us you’re a winner.