What are the best audition songs for me?

Words by: Jeremy Fisher



Reading Time: 2 min

Everyone’s first thought is “I need to sing something no-one has ever sung before in auditions”...

Yeah, not happening. Everyone has sung every song to the judges before. When you’ve sat in 40 auditions a day for 4 weeks 4 times a year (yes, I really have), you’ve pretty much heard every song in Musical Theatre.

“OK, I’ll sing a blockbuster! That’ll impress them”.

Well, no it won’t unless you’re vocally and physically ideal for it AND are completely on top of the techniques required. I’ve heard a LOT of people struggle through a song that doesn’t work for them because they thought they ought to be “belting as high as they can”. They don’t get much further.

“So what do I sing? Give me some clues!”

The real answer is something that you can sing. Backwards. With a streaming cold. In the rain. When your cat is sick. Also something you can act, without the music. Something that you could present as a spoken piece of script and still make work. Something that allows us to see your interpretation of the character and the situation. Something that we can believe you to be.

Notice I haven’t yet said which song you should sing? That’s because I can’t know. I don’t know you, I haven’t met you, I don’t know your voice, your energy or your casting. Yet.

Are there really “don’t sing it” songs?

I understand that some course leaders or MDs have pet-hate songs like “Never sing Cabaret, Never Sing Defying Gravity, Never sing Bad Cinderella”. But I’ve also been in auditions where someone walks onto the stage, sings a song I don’t like and sells it so well that I end up loving it. And that’s the point. It doesn’t really matter what you sing as long as you make it work for you, your energy and your voice.

You can certainly sing a song that isn’t your casting, if you have a good reason to. Some of the best performing I’ve seen comes from performers singing songs that were not written for their gender or physical casting (check out MCC Theater’s MisCast gala on YouTube)

What was the question again?

So the question isn’t “which song should I sing?” The question is “who am I?”

I have coached many singers for West End shows and I will often get them to sing a song they know very well, that’s in their repertoire already. But we’ll change something. The subtext, the character or the “costume” (historical to modern etc).

Finding who you are in a song

So here’s an exercise to find your personal take for an audition. Take a song you already know. Identify the character, the general emotion of the song, the historical context, who they are singing to. And change one thing.

  • Sing it as a different person (yes, you can sing Out There as Fiero)
  • Keep the emotion the same but change the flavour (instead of hot angry sing tired angry or sarcastic angry)
  • Move the character backwards or forwards 100 years and work out what you would have to change (bring Astonishing from 1865 Massachusetts into 21 Century London)
  • Instead of singing a monologue to yourself (Soliloquy), put your best friend onstage and sing to them

In a word, EXPERIMENT. When you experiment like this, you find versions you’ve never seen or heard, because they come from you and your experience, your brain, your artistry.

Give it a go, then message me and share what happened!

You can see me work with singers (or sing yourself) in our online masterclasses here.

Jeremy Fisher

Jeremy Fisher

National prizewinning collaborative pianist, CPD Accredited vocal coach and #1 bestselling author of This Is A Voice

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