If you’re a musical theatre lover, you have probably envisioned yourself in a key role, such as Sandy in Grease or Roger in Rent. When you finally have the opportunity to audition for your dream musical, your first instinct might be to audition with the song you have always imagined yourself performing. Unfortunately, though, this is almost always a mistake. A golden rule (with some exceptions, of course) for musical theatre auditions is, unless you are told otherwise, try not to audition with a song from the musical you’re auditioning for. Here is what you should know:
Why Shouldn’t I Choose a Song from the Musical?
There are three key reasons that choosing a song from the musical is a not the best idea. First and foremost, auditioning with a song from the show is a lot like dressing in costume. The audition panel likely has an idea in mind for how the show should look and feel, and you might completely miss the mark on their ideas. It’s far better to choose a song that is similar enough in style for them to imagine how they could fit you into their vision for the show, rather than showing up with your own fully realized creation.
Another reason to choose a different song is that inexperienced auditioners tend to select songs from the musical they’re auditioning for. You don’t want to give the 15th rendition of Over the Rainbow that the panel has heard that day.
Finally, choosing a song from the musical can make it difficult for the audition panel to consider you for a different role in the show. If you audition for A Chorus Line with Dance Ten, Looks Three, you’re putting out there that you want to be considered for Val. But what if you would really make a better Cassie? It will be tough for the audition panel to see you that way.
What Should I Sing Instead?
It is always a good idea to choose a song that is in a similar style as the show you are auditioning for. Rock ballads are great for anthem musicals like Hair. Jazz tunes are perfect for shows set in the 1920s such as Chicago. Also think about the character you are auditioning for. Consider a softer tune if you are auditioning for an ingenue, or something with a hard edge if you are trying out for a bad boy.
Whatever song you choose, make sure to make it your own. Fully inhabit the character, and tell your own story through the song. The audition panel isn’t looking for you to perfectly recreate someone else’s performance. They are looking for you to show who you are and what you bring to the table. Make it strong, make it powerful, and make it your own.
THERE’S ALWAYS AN EXCEPTION TO THE RULE!
Remember, we are only offering our opinions on auditioning--this is not an exact science. If you are confident that you have an original, fresh and exciting approach to a song from the show you are auditioning for, go for it. Most importantly, if that song is the one you have prepared--don’t ditch it for a replacement right before entering the room. Go with what you know and love! One final note: Don’t despair if the actor in front of you sings the exact same song you have prepared--again, don’t ditch the song. Each artist is unique, so go in and show them who you are!!
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