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Musical Theatre Audition Songs

Recommended Audition Songs

Keeping in mind that audition panels (especially for drama schools) hear hundreds of songs a week, even the most amazing version of 'Empty chairs and empty tables' from Les Mis or 'Still hurting' from The last five years can become very tedious to listen to.

There are contradicting opinions on the song choice matter. Some professionals state that if you can sing it as well, better than the original or totally make it your own, by all means choose to perform it. On the other hand, drama schools especially like to see that prospective students have done their research and have a broad sense of the term 'musical theatre' ranging beyond the decade of successful Broadway and West End shows.

Training places like GSA (Guildford Conservatoire) now specifically state for example that they want to hear a pre-1960’s ballad in the recall round. This is no doubt a reaction to hearing a few too many renditions of the most popular modern material out there – when I auditioned for GSA ten years ago this rule did not exist.

For a professional actor it is important to have a broad range of songs from all different eras at hand, as you never know when you might be called in for a casting for the revival of High Button Shoes or a similarly obscure show left behind over half a century ago that some producer has decided to breathe new life into. Your best rendition of 'In his eyes' from Jekyll & Hyde for example simply wouldn’t do for that type of audition however fantastic at it you may be.     

How to I delve into lesser-known musical theatre song material?

Get yourself a Cole Porter, Rodgers & Hart, etc songbook (you can often borrow these for free from a library) and see what appeals and suits. Most songbooks will include lesser known work of these famous composers, especially those titled 'undiscovered' or 'unsung', as they often include material cut from shows.

View an example

Find a well-known show like Guys and Dolls and research other shows by the same composer. Frank Loesser also wrote The Most Happy Fella for example, which includes a great female ingenue ballad called'Warm all over'. Charles Strousse (famous for Annie) also wrote Nick & Nora, Rodgers & Hammerstein also wrote a little-known piece called Me and Juliet and Bock & Harnick (known for Fiddler on the Roof) also wrote Fiorello. And so the list goes on…Check out off-Broadway cast recordings and have a listen to the'Lost in Boston' and'Unsung musicals' CD collections.

Please see 'So you want to tread the boards' for a 30+ page list of recommended musical theatre audition songs, as well as advice on how to stage and prepare your songs, types of musical theatre songs, etc…



Overdone audition songs

Please refer to the'recommended audition songs' section to read a general take on the matter of choosing audition song material and'So you want to tread the boards' for more specific advice.


Avoid current shows on in the West End or on Broadway (especially new shows) – bound to be heard repeatedly at all types of audition. Wicked, Hairspray, Les Mis, Thoroughly Modern Millie, and The last five years for example all belong in the'extremely popular' category.

Also, songs like 'Astonishing' from Little Women, most material from Sweeney Todd (due to the recent movie), 'If I loved you' from Carousel and anything from Rent. It might be of interest for readers to note that for my most recent Wicked audition (February 2008) we were advised to choose songs in the style of the show – excluding songs from Rent.

NOTE! This is not a call for you to disparage of this material from your audition folder completely or to never use it again! Each audition will have different requirements and it is part of being a professional actor to match appropriate song choices with audition requirements.

For drama school I would generally recommend going with less obvious material. If in doubt, ask someone that personally knows you and your work and who is a professional currently active in some capacity within the industry.

Table of Contents
Foreword by Leslie Bricusse

Samples to read

Take the Musical Theatre Test
Recommended Musical Theatre Auditions Songs
Overdone Audition Songs
Accreditted Acting & Musical Theatre Courses
Drama School Survival Guide
How to Find an Agent
Professional Auditions
Acting for Kids and Teens
Audition Monologues
Backing Tracks
Audition Coach and Singing Teachers
Performing Arts Books
Performing Arts Summer Courses









Review Corner

“…there is certainly enough solid and useful material here to merit the book becoming an essential read for beginners for many years to come.' - The Stage

“Jennifer has penned a "must read" for anyone wanting act professionally, and a "must buy" for anyone seeking a gift for the stage-struck this season.'
- www.theatremonkey.com



Samples to Read

Do I know enough about musical theatre??
These are BASICS that everyone auditioning for an MT course should know.

Another way to prepare for an audition is to view the pros in as many shows as possible. Go to Telecharge.com for Broadway shows in NYC to buy tickets and see your audition songs in action.