a page of sheet music

15 outstanding musical theatre songs for auditions

By BBC Maestro

As a musical theatre professional, you’ll spend a lot of your time preparing for and attending auditions. It’s good to have a repertoire of musical theatre songs ready for auditions, so whenever you get the call, you’re all set.

To help you create or refresh your go-to song bank, we’ve collected some of the best musical theatre audition songs into a series of articles, organised by voice type.

What should I sing for a musical theatre audition?

You’ll usually receive a brief before you go along to an audition, which may even specify what you need to sing. If this is the case, great – it saves you the task of working out which song would best suit the part you’re auditioning for. However, many briefs are more open than this, and may simply specify that you sing something in a certain style. Some don’t even say that…

Occasionally you’ll be asked to sing something from the show you’re auditioning for; however, it’s more common to be briefed to perform something in the style of the production. Obvious crossovers are Chicago and Cabaret, which both require a sexy, sassy performance with heaps of character – so if you’re auditioning for Roxie Hart, learn one of Sally Bowles’ numbers.

Casting director Jane Deitch recommends keeping what she calls “match ready” in between roles and auditions, and that includes keeping on top of your repertoire. Have a good selection of songs at the ready, which you know showcase your unique talents, and keep practising them during your vocal training sessions.

You may feel there are classic female audition songs or male audition songs, but don’t let that constrain you. If you need some inspiration to build your repertoire, we’ve created lists of attention-grabbing audition songs for sopranos, mezzos, altos, tenors and baritones. Here’s a taster of the superb songs from these collections.

Soprano

Some of the best-known musical theatre numbers are sung by sopranos, which can make it a challenge to put your own spin on them. See what your lovely clear voice can make of these three:

1.  Burn from Hamilton

This moving piece shows nuance and emotion as well as vocal range. If the brief calls for acting skills, this is a fine choice.

2. On My Own from Les Misérables

Éponine’s solo is a famous audition song for sopranos: how can you make it your own?

3. How Does a Moment Last Forever? from Beauty and the Beast

From the live-action version of the tale as old as time, this is a lovely reflective song.

We’ve gathered together a broad collection of audition songs for sopranos, choosing pieces suitable for a range of ages, and that showcase your acting and movement talents as well as your vocal skills.

Singers with microphones

Alto

It was a joy to collate songs for alto voices, which actually include some of the most iconic songs in musical theatre – just look at these three showstoppers.

1. When You’re Good to Mama from Chicago

The rich jazzy notes of this song from Chicago are perfect for your lush contralto voice.

2. I Dreamed a Dream from Les Misérables

This famous song is a good opportunity to demonstrate your acting skills. Can you bring something new to an audition classic?

3. Memory from Cats

Another incredibly well-known musical theatre song, this one invites you to re-interpret its lyrics.

We haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of good audition songs for altos – delve deeper, and there’s a wealth of songs for your rich tones.

Tenor

These three songs are a snapshot of just how many different musical styles and genres the tenor voice encompasses.

1. Pity the Child from Chess
This narrative song is an excellent opportunity to show off your storytelling and acting abilities.

2. Razzle Dazzle from Chicago
Is there a performer in the house? Turn on the charm and bring extra twinkle along for this cynical but singalong song.

3. You’re Welcome from Moana
If you can rap, try the fast-paced Lin-Manuel Miranda-penned song from the Disney movie, Moana.

So many musical theatre numbers suit the tenor voice. Look out for songs that showcase acting skills as well as vocals.

Baritone

These audition songs will show the weight and power of your rich and rounded baritone vocals.

1. Bring Him Home from Les Misérables
Another entry from the famous musical, although you may be surprised to see this in the baritone section. It actually works well when transposed for your deeper voice.

2. The Music of the Night from The Phantom of the Opera
If you have a wide vocal range, this piece will showcase it beautifully, as well as demonstrate how well you can act through song.

3. Some Enchanted Evening from South Pacific
This song from the classic musical is written for an older character, so it’s a good opportunity to show maturity and emotional depth.

At the moment, there are some truly excellent contemporary musical theatre audition songs for baritones. Our examples above are from much-loved classics, but take a look at more recent productions like Hamilton and The Book of Mormon for further inspiration.

Have these suggestions got you thinking? Do you feel inspired to revamp your rep? Learn more about preparing for musical theatre auditions in Sir Tim Rice’s BBC Maestro course, Writing and Performing Musical Theatre. He’s joined by casting director Jane Deitch for a series of lessons that will get you audition-ready.

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