A person performing on a dimly lit stage

10 iconic tenor musical theatre songs for auditions

By BBC Maestro

If you have a tenor voice and an audition coming up, you’re in luck. There are lots of fabulous West End and Broadway songs for tenors, which will let you show off your tone to perfection.

While you and your singing coach know what suits you the best, sometimes it’s good to have a little inspiration. In this article, we’ve suggested some of the best tenor musical theatre audition songs from a wide range of productions.

Finding audition songs for tenors  

Unlike choral singing, voice types aren’t rigidly fixed in musical theatre: after all, the casting team is looking for acting skills and physical type as well as vocal range. However, if your voice falls pretty much within the classical tenor range, this is where you’ll find the songs that show you off the best. 
 
When you get a call for an audition, you or your agent will be given a brief. Read it well, as that may help inform your choice of audition song. What is the type of role they’re casting for? Do they want to see how well you act or move as well as sing? Will you need to demonstrate comedy timing or a specific vocal skill like rapping? 
 
There’s a great variety of musical theatre parts for tenors; however, if you think you’re a bit deeper than that, vocally speaking, you can also take a look at our audition songs for ​​baritones.  

Ten tenor audition songs 

Looking for inspiration? Here are ten fantastic musical theatre audition songs for tenors.

a large building with a lot of lights on it

1. Pity the Child from Chess

If the brief is asking for storytelling skills, try Pity the Child from Chess, written by Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus and Sir Tim Rice, and originally performed by Murray Head. It’s the first glimpse the audience has into the real Freddie Trumper, the brash American chess player. 
 
Sir Tim Rice writes that: “The lyrics in this song were carefully crafted to share something very personal about that character.” It’s a narrative piece, written about Trumper’s background, and according to Sir Tim, the song represents the “one moment of heartfelt sincerity that we experience from this character up to this point in the show.” If you have strong acting skills, they’ll be centre stage if you choose to sing this ballad. 

2. Razzle Dazzle from Chicago 

Go on a charm offensive with this famous song from Kander and Ebb’s Chicago. If you love a spot of character acting, taking on the suave mantle of sharp lawyer Billy Flynn is an absolute joy, and this will come across to your audition panel. 
 
It’s a cynical song as well as a showstopper, and this is what you’ll need to get across. A lot of talented tenors have played Billy Flynn, but try to learn the song from the sheet music, not from watching past performances: you need to bring your own twinkle to the razzle-dazzle.  

3. You’re Welcome from Moana 

Don’t dismiss Disney as kids’ music, as their soundtracks are often crafted by composers with considerable heft (Sir Tim Rice, Alan Menken, Sir Elton John among others). Moana uses the talents of Lin-Manuel Miranda, so expect clever, fast-paced lyrics like you find in You’re Welcome
 
This song is performed by rebellious demi-god Maui, voiced in the animated movie by Dwayne Johnson, aka The Rock. If you want to show off comic timing and your rapping skills, this witty number is perfect. Here’s a clip of Dwayne Johnson giving an impromptu performance of it on Graham Norton’s couch. 

4. One Jump Ahead from Aladdin

Staying with Disney, the title role in Aladdin offers plenty of choice for young tenors, with a rich soundtrack from Sir Tim Rice and Alan Menken. If you want to try something a bit different, avoid the popular A Whole New World, and go for the pace and personality of One Jump Ahead. 
 
Like You’re Welcome, you’ll be showing off your verbal dexterity with this up-tempo piece. There’s opportunity to showcase your movement and comedy skills as well as your singing, as Aladdin explains his ‘street rat’ life to his new friend Jasmine. 

5. Come What May from Moulin Rouge 

Come What May is an unusual song in the Moulin Rouge soundtrack, being the only original song among a batch of clever cover versions. This song is written by hopelessly romantic poet Christian for his doomed love, Satine. 
 
The song builds from a quiet start, soaring into top notes in the chorus that will demonstrate your tenor talents. Inject a touch of optimistic yearning to capture Christian’s youthful intensity. As an alternative, you could also try Moulin Rouge’s version of Elton John’s Your Song, again performed by Christian. 

a red and white sign and some buildings and lights

6. I Believe from The Book of Mormon 

If you want to show a character’s inner struggle, go for I Believe from The Book of Mormon. Elder Price could have experienced a crisis of faith after the things he witnessed in Northern Uganda; however, instead he reaffirms his faith in this powerful and sometimes-amusing song. 
 
Written by South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker with composer Robert Lopez, The Book of Mormon is full of brilliant songs. We chose this one because it’s such fun for a tenor to perform (note the nods to The Sound of Music in the spoken section). 

7. Wall In My Head from Everybody’s Talking About Jamie

Everybody’s certainly been talking about this musical over the last few years; and if you’re young and a talented dancer, it’s almost a default choice. Wall in My Head is sung when Jamie’s father has forgotten his birthday. During the song, Jamie remembers moments with his father during his childhood and the effects these have had on him; however, as the song progresses, Jamie’s determination to climb towards his future and ‘over the wall’ increases. 
 
You’re not expected to perform perfect choreography while singing this ballad; however, there would certainly be a dissonance if a non-dancer sang this song. Be conscious of how you tell the story and how you act the song if you choose it.  

8. Empty Chairs at Empty Tables from Les Misérables

Arguably one of the most poignant songs in musical theatre, Empty Chairs at Empty Tables sees the injured Marius mourning his lost friends. As the sole survivor of the failed revolution, the once-idealistic young Marius is the sole survivor, and this song simply aches with his pain and guilt. 
 
Again, it’s a well-known song, and as Jane Deitch explains, you’ll need to “Keep true to the original but bring your own twist.” If the brief wants you to demonstrate your acting skills, there’s plenty of opportunity in this powerful ballad – just watch out for the risk of overdoing the melancholy.  

9. Can You Feel the Love Tonight? from The Lion King 

This ballad was written for the Disney animation and later musical, The Lion King by Sirs Elton John and Tim Rice. It’s a lovely piece for a tenor voice, with a simple and moving lyric about love.  
 
Although it’s from a musical soundtrack, it works as a standalone love song should you choose to perform it this way. In his BBC Maestro course, Sir Tim reflects – “sometimes as a writer, it’s possible to hear a whole new subtext” when you see a song delivered in a different way, and Jane Deitch advises showing “bravery” by giving your audition piece a unique interpretation. A classic love song like this gives you the opportunity to put your own stamp on it. 

10. I Want to Break Free from We Will Rock You 

Finally, rock out to an iconic song from the Queen jukebox musical We Will Rock You. Stepping into Freddie’s high heels may seem rather daunting; however, if you have a good tenor voice with a hint of rock around the edges, you can nail this all-time favourite. 
 
Because it’s so well known in its own right, you don’t have to bring any context from the musical if you’d rather not. It’s a song about personal freedom and feeling trapped in a relationship, so there’s plenty of development potential there. 

Feeling inspired to refresh your repertoire? Find out more about selecting the right songs for auditions in Sir Tim Rice’s BBC Maestro course, Writing and Performing Musical Theatre, alongside tips for preparation and performance.  

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