Of course, any list like this is completely subjective – and open to ridicule and derision. But, in my defence, I’ve played for and been behind the desk of enough auditions to make a little bit of an informed decision. Still, it’s an opinion.
Before I do put my Top 10 on the screen, let me say this: if you are able to absolutely nail these songs, then by all means sing them! But if you are only “okay” or “good”, then please, go for something different…
So, here it is.
#1: ‘Tomorrow’ from Annie.
Please avoid at all costs! Every young girl (and their cat) attempts this song, and it’s nearly always excruciating. It’s whiny, it’s immature, it’s over-done, and most of all, it’s annoying!! Please, please, please, don’t bring this to an audition.
Ok … quick story time. I was the audition pianist for a version of Whistle Down The Wind, and the director decided that he wanted every child to sing ‘Tomorrow’ for their audition. Some 60 children and many hours later, I was sooo over ‘Tomorrow’ that I swore I would never play the damn song again. So please, don’t.
#2: ‘Where Is Love?’ from Oliver.
Ditto everything above but replace “girl” with “boy”. Unless you actually are Oliver, don’t go there.
#3: ‘On My Own’ from Les Miserables.
Firstly, I love this song. It’s beautiful. I love Les Mis. It’s stunning. But the problem with such a popular musical is that everything that can be done from it, does get done from it. And ‘On My Own’ has appeared in nearly every-single-bloody-audition since it came out. And because of that, it’s been completely overdone. Unless you can totally blow us away, avoid.
#4: ‘I Dreamed A Dream’ from Les Miserables.
Ditto for above as well. Plus it’s a terribly depressing song. Of course, if you can conquer every moment of it, then do so. But first you have to get over the collective dejected sigh of the audition panel.
#5: ‘Bring Him Home’ from Les Miserables.
The male version of #3 and #4. You’ll tell the audition panel within the first 3 notes if you are up to the task or not. There no chance for nerves or for even settling in. You give yourself no chance or opportunity to find your way. It’s a tough song, and the octave jumps can bring even the best singer undone.
#6: ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ from The Wizard Of Oz.
Speaking of octave jumps… Here’s another one that you really don’t have much of a chance to settle into, especially if you start from the “some … where …” chorus. It’s a beautiful song, but unless you are Judy Garland herself, leave it alone. Plus, it’s been done and heard a lot … and done and heard badly a lot.
#7: Pretty much anything by Andrew Lloyd Webber.
OK, let’s get this out of the way. To clarify: even I have two ALW songs in my audition repertoire; ‘There’s Me’ from Starlight Express, and Sunset Boulevard from the same-named show. But what we need to realise is that many of his songs have been done to death. People have heard them too much. So unless you’re going to do one that’s a little more obscure (think The Beautiful Game, Whistle Down The Wind or The Woman In White), look elsewhere.
#8: ‘Send In The Clowns’ from A Little Night Music.
It’s one of Steven Sondheim’s most popular and most performed pieces. And that’s why you should leave it alone. Let’s be honest, many people say to never bring a Sondheim piece into an audition because it’s just too damn hard to sight read. That would (generally) be true; and (generally) true of Jason Robert Brown. But that shouldn’t stop you from using their material for auditions – just don’t use SITC.
#9: ‘One Song Glory’ from Rent.
Oh, I can hear the cries of despair as I write this. Yes, I love Rent too. And I love ‘One Song…’ as well. Then why not do it? Because it’s been done – a lot. Plus, the original recording is so ingrained in the musical theatre psyche that if you deviate, you’ll be crucified for it, and if you don’t do it to the same level of the recording, you’ll be crucified, and if you try and do it completely differently .. well, you get the gist. Go for ‘Halloween’ or ‘I’ll Cover You’ (Reprise) instead.
#10: Anything that you don’t understand what it’s about.
Ok, this is important. You can’t just “sing” a song in a musical theatre audition – you have to be the character and tell the story of the song. If you want to be in musical theatre, you have to be able to sell and tell the whole situation.
I’ve been quite a few people sing ‘Your Daddy’s Son’ from Ragtime, and absolutely murder it because they don’t understand the content of the song. Even when they’re asked about the song itself, they always give some lame-assed explanation that has nothing to do with the real truth in the song. Please, if you’re going to sing a song from a show, know what it’s about, know who sings it, and know why the song is sung by that character at that point in the show. If you know the purpose, the reason, the “why” of the song, then you will present it far more truthfully … and to be honest, you may find that you shouldn’t actually be doing the song at all, and that you should find something else to learn. Don’t choose a song just because you like it, choose it because you know it intimately.
So, there you go! Now, let me have it! What are your thoughts?
Until next week;
Blog ya later!
Image by: Hiddedevries