Audition Song Selection, What to Expect, Tips, and More!
Choosing An Audition Song: 20 Selections for Sopranos
Whether you are auditioning for colleges, Broadway shows, or anything in between there seems to be nothing more daunting than choosing a song. A musical theater actor's book (a binder filled with their audition repertoire) could easily be considered the most important external tool they have. Along with talent and personality, the material an actor brings into a room can leave a lasting impression, so it is important to find songs which showcase vocal and acting chops.
However, with all this said, I think it is important to let you in on a little known secret. Nine times out of ten a casting director wants you to sing something you love to sing, not something super obscure just because you know they haven't heard it before. When picking audition material, try to choose things that are at least slightly familiar but not overdone. If you are singing a song a casting director has never heard before there's a strong chance they are going to be spending your audition listening to the song, not watching your acting. That doesn't mean you can't sing that new Ryan Scott Oliver song you found in the depths of YouTube that you absolutely love and relate to heavily. PLEASE sing that song if you love it that much, but make sure you also have some other backup songs in your book too.
To help get you started here are a few ideas for sopranos of songs and shows which should be familiar to your casting director but that they won't have heard twenty times already that day - be it your local community musical theatre, high school, college, or that big Broadway audition. Please keep in mind this is not a comprehensive list, as that would be impossible to do, also remember that these things change audition season to audition season so if you are reading this and Kelli O'Hara and Laura Benanti are already starring in Follies then there's a great chance things have shifted a bit.
"I Never Has Seen Snow" from House of Flowers
Starting this list off is an old-school, sweet "ingenue" song which is NOT overdone! Most of these types of songs are overdone or downright boring, whereas this piece doesn't fall into either of these categories, making it perfect for auditions.
"My Friend, the Dictionary" from 25th Annual Putnam Counting Spelling Bee
Written By: William Finn
This may just be me and my love for Spelling Bee, but I find there is something special about every song from the show that makes casting directors look up from behind the table. It may not be a legit soprano song, but very rarely are contemporary musicals written for legit sopranos right now, so it is a good idea to have some variation in singing styles in your book.
"Fly Into the Future" from Vanities
Written By: David Kirschenbaum
Belter alert! Songs which are great for college auditions are hard to come by, but this lesser-known show offers some interesting, age-appropriate material. There are some great acting beats to be found in the piece along with a killer vocal line.
"Happy Working Song" from Enchanted
From what I consider to be one of the best Disney movie musicals out there, this song is a wonderful substitute for all of the people who decide to sing songs from Tangled at Disney Theatric's auditions. This song is great for showing off comedic and acting chops while still having that specific Disney feel.
"There is A Child" from Giant
Written By: Michael John LaChiusa
A heart-wrenching song from a gorgeous musical. This song isn't overdone and for good reason - it's difficult. But if you have the chops to pull it off it can definitely set you apart from everyone else that walks into that room. Just make sure you can tell the story.
"Mix Tape" from Avenue Q
Ah yes, puppet love! It is pretty well known that Fine, Fine Line from Avenue Q is overused for auditions so people normally steer clear of the show altogether. Don't do that! When looking for audition material it can actually be super helpful to find songs on the "do not sing" lists, look at the score, and check what else that character sings, you might just find your new go-to audition piece!
"If I Had My Time Again" from Groundhog Day
Written By: Tim Minchin
This song probably falls closer to a mezzo/soprano than true soprano song, but I had to include it on the list. There are so many potential 32 and 16-bar cuts which has a full story within them, making them perfect for auditions. When I saw this show a few years ago I had assumed I would be hearing this song everywhere in auditions, but it never happened. I think so many people were afraid it was already overdone that no one ever brought it in.
"Waitin' For My Dearie" from Brigadoon
This Lerner and Loewe classic is absolutely gorgeous, and I cannot thank the most recent NYCC Revival enough for bringing it back into my listening rotation. This song has the ability to showcase vocal and acting talent all within the first two bars of the piece.
"In His Eyes" from Jekyll & Hyde
Although this song is written as a duet, it can easily be sung by one person for auditions. Jekyll & Hyde's score is gorgeous, and this song is no exception. On the surface, it may seem like a sappy love song, but it is written in a way that gives it so much more depth.
"Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart"
Written By: James F. Hanley
This song not being from a show is actually what makes it so perfect for auditions. When a song is a standalone like this you can change the keys to suit your voice, make slight musical adjustments if necessary, and make choices that are all your own. Most actors dream of creating a role and this song allows you to do that for an audition!
"Hello Young Lovers" from The King and I
Written By: Rogers & Hammerstein
Another classic song that I think people are afraid of singing for auditions because it is so well-known, but sometimes a well-known hit can be a great reprieve for a casting director if it is done well.
"Someday" from The Wedding Singer
This piece is pure fun and an uptempo! The character, Julia, is dreaming about her wedding and what it will be like to finally be the bride. This means this song is full of great audition cuts which tell a full story within them.
"Rosa's Confession" from The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Written By: Rupert Holmes
People seem to love singing Moonfall for auditions (another number from this show), but Rosa's Confession is overlooked. This song really showcases an actress' ability to act and sing to the high heavens all at the same time.
"Inside Out" from Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder
Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder has one of the most infectious scores around, meaning if you sing a song from the show there's a great chance of it getting stuck in the casting director's head; which is an evil but effective way of making you stand out. This song, sung by Phoebe, is a great showcase of true soprano talent.
"My House" from Matilda
Written By: Tim Minchin
Young-Adults, for whatever reason, seem to love singing songs written for children. I couldn't count how many times I have heard "Quiet" in an audition room, and it always confuses me because this beautiful song is right there just waiting to be sung. It is a heartbreaker and with its sweeping melody, it is sure to turn heads.
"My Most Beautiful Day" from Tuck Everlasting
Along the same lines as the previous suggestion, please stop bringing in Good Girl Winnie Foster and bring in this piece instead. It is written for a more mature woman, but if you can pull it off it really is a gorgeous piece that I wish was sung more often.
"Ribbons Down My Back" from Hello, Dolly!
Written By: Jerry Herman
Surprisingly enough, this song is not overdone, nor does anyone really compare it to anyone else when it is sung. If you make this song your own and focus on your own specific vision of the kind of love you want to find you'll be golden and the beautiful melody of the song will only help to enhance your performance.
"I'm A Stranger Here Myself" from One Touch of Venus
Sopranos, it is a miracle, we have another, true uptempo! This song has a really interesting, fun vocal line and rhythm which makes listening to it a blast. Also, because it is less well known, you don't need to worry about being compared to anyone else who sang the piece.
"A Little Bit in Love" from Wonderful Town
This pre-1960s song feels like a classic in the same way the chorus of "A Quiet Thing" from Flora Red Menace feels. It offers some great shorter cuts for those days casting directors ask you to chop your 32-bars into 16s and even 8s. It can be personalized to fit you as a performer and leaves the room feeling a little sweeter than when you left it.
"Fable" from Light in the Piazza
Written By: Adam Guettel
Rounding out the list, I wanted to put a song from Light in the Piazza on the list just to say that this score isn't nearly as over-sung as most people assume it to be, so please don't be afraid to bring it in for auditions! These songs offer some incredible acting moments for people who love specificity in acting and they really showcase vocal ability.
I hope this list helped to spark some inspiration when it comes to updating your audition repertoire, and remember, just because something isn't on this list, doesn't mean you can't sing it. If you love it and it showcases what you can do in 32 or 16 bars, go for it!