Updated: May 8
Auditioning. It is such a small amount of time to demonstrate your skill but often it is the only knowledge of your talent the casting director will have. That 30 seconds to 2 minutes is unfathomably important, so as musical theater performers, we must get our auditions down to a science. And chief among those for musical theater is selecting the audition song. These are some simple strategies for making the right selection.
Know the show you are auditioning for
Who composed it? Do they have any other musicals you could pull a song from? What are pieces already in your repertoire that are similar to the style and tone for the show?
Know your type
If you are a 15 year old girl, Bring Him Home from Les Mis is probably not the best pick for an audition song, regardless of whether or not it meets the above criteria.
Avoid overdone songs/shows
There are shows that everyone knows and loves. It’s probably best to avoid those for audition songs. Casting directors are only human and can only take hearing “Think of Me” from Phantom of the Opera so many times before they start to tune it out. And some songs are so iconic to one performer that it's a faux pas to sing them yourself; think Don’t Rain on My Parade. A short list of musicals to avoid: Wicked, anything by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Rent, and any Disney song. A tip for finding unique vocal selections: to look for audition songs in musicals that flopped.
Think about what character you want to play
What range does that character sing in? What’s their personality? Are they a stylized character?
Most importantly, choose something that shows off your voice
It hurts but no matter how much you love a song, it won’t change you from an alto to a soprano. You have to play to your strengths if you want your talent to be recognized.