Selecting the right repertoire is a big part of a successful audition — but be careful, as there are so many overdone musical theatre audition songs out there. Here, Molly R. shares six songs to avoid… and what to try instead!
With musical theatre auditions, often the toughest part isn’t the audition itself, but instead making a decision on what to sing. I’m here to help narrow it down by telling you what NOT to sing in an audition — the overdone musical theatre audition songs.
Keep in mind that audition panels have been listening to actors/singers all day long (or much longer!), and there are many songs they would rather not hear ever done again, even if they are done well.
Don’t annoy these panels. Instead, make them love you by kindly avoiding these overdone musical theatre songs.
1. “I Dreamed a Dream” from “Les Miserables”
OK, so it worked for Susan Boyle. But that’s the problem! People have already been singing from “Les Miserables” for more than 20 years — but once she became an Internet sensation, even more women went into auditions with this ballad. Not a smart choice. Save it for the shower! If you like singing from big, bold musicals, I suggest you look at Frank Wildhorn shows instead. “Scarlet Pimpernel” is very similar in style to “Les Miserables,” but no one ever sings from this show, as it was a big flop! A solo you may like from “Scarlet Pimpernel” is “Only Love.”
2. “Corner of the Sky” from “Pippin”
This number has been overdone for more than 40 years now! Tenors, you have much better options than this song. If you like this one, why not try another Stephen Schwartz song, like “All Good Gifts” from “Godspell”? It’s still a song that a panel will know and love, but it’s not something they hear every night at auditions without fail.
3. “Anthem” from “Chess”
Sure, it may be a lesser done musical, but this is one of the most overdone musical theatre songs for tenor and high baritones (baritenors). It’s truly a wonderful, dramatic song — but again, panels hear it way too often. For a better option, try “Love Can’t Happen” from “Grand Hotel” by Maury Yeston. It’s every bit as soaring and impressive as “Anthem” (if not more so!).
4. “Don’t Rain on My Parade” from “Funny Girl”
“Glee” has been great for promoting the art of musical theatre, but as a result, certain show tunes have become way too popular at auditions. Belters, we all love this song, but there are so many other great tunes that will let you show off your voice! Try either “Look What Happened to Mabel” or “Wherever He Ain’t” from the criminally overlooked “Mack & Mabel” by Jerry Herman. Both are incredibly fun and sassy numbers. I promise panels don’t hear them often enough! On another note, do avoid “People” from “Funny Girl,” as well. Many professionals firmly believe this belongs to one singer and one singer only: Barbra Streisand!
Lastly, overdone musical theatre songs for kids include:
5. “Where is Love?” from “Oliver!”
Boys, look beyond this option, please! There’s a very funny number from the newer musical “A Christmas Story” that you’ll love. It’s called “Red Ryder Carbine Action BB Gun,” and it’s Ralphie’s solo. It’s a lot of fun to sing, and the audition panel will really enjoy hearing it.
6. Anything from “Annie”
Girls, no “Annie” ever…. unless a panel specifically asks for it. No “Maybe,” and definitely definitely no “Tomorrow”! “Matilda” is a new musical for young girls that is taking Broadway by storm. Look into the tune “Naughty.” It will show off your acting skills too!
Your voice teacher is likely to have lots of other helpful suggestions on interesting musical theatre audition repertoire that will suit you! Don’t have a voice teacher? No problem! TakeLessons is the best place to find one.
Break a leg!
What other audition songs are great picks? Find out in our list of 400+ songs to sing for every occasion!
Molly R. teaches online and in-person singing lessons in Hayward, CA. Her specialties include teaching beginner vocalists, shy singers, children, teens, lapsed singers, and older beginners. She joined TakeLessons in November 2013. Learn more about Molly here!
Photo by Eva Rinaldi