- OnStage Editor-in-Chief
In my careers in both directing and working for Performing Arts schools, I've sat in on thousands of auditions. Something that most casting professionals might not tell you is how your song selections are judged before you even walk through the door.
If I had a dollar for every time I heard a "Not this again" from someone looking at an audition sheet, I'd have enough money to retire by now. On the flip side, I've also seen plenty of times where a certain song selection can elicit excitement from those behind the table.
Many times you'll stand out more as the one person who did something from [title of show] rather than the tenth person to do something from Thoroughly Modern Millie.
Now don't get me wrong, I fully understand that those auditioning might now know what songs casting folks are sick and tired of hearing. So here are some songs that I've heard are on the verge of being "played out" in auditions, so if you're going to use them, use them as soon as you can.
"It All Fades Away" - Bridges of Madison County
By rule I generally recommend staying away from Jason Robert Brown in an audition. His scores are usually more challenging to play, which can be a real problem with a not-so proficient accompanist. Very rarely have I seen a non-professional accompanist masterfully handle selections from Songs for a New World, Parade and The Last Five Years. Thankfully, this song isn't terribly hard to play and it sounds great.
Is it on the verge of being used too much in auditions? Yes. I've been involved with four audition sessions all around the country in the past couple of months and multiple people have used it in every session. But if it's played right and sung right, it can be a spectacular and memorable audition.
"Ring of Keys" - Fun Home
True story: Last summer I oversaw an audition for a show that needed a young girl. We had 32 young girls ages 10-15 audition for that role. Of that 32, 19 of them used Ring of Keys.
It's very possible I'm too late with this one and it's already getting groans from behind the table when seeing it on an audition sheet. Not to say it isn't a good song, but there it forces the same type of performance, so it's hard(especially for a young teen) to really do anything new with it.
So if you're going to use this one, be careful, because I guarantee that there will be multiple young girls using it as well.
"Proud of Your Boy" - Aladdin
This one particularly kills me because I love this song. Since it was an original song that was cut from the movie, it had always been a somewhat "secret" song that was out there that you could hardly get sheet music for. But since it was included in the Broadway musical, it's become an audition standard.
What makes it work, is that it can be used for male roles from young children to grown men, which is why it's being used so much right now.
"Pulled" - The Addams Family
If you want the truth, it's probably best to stay away from this one right now. Again, I might be late on this one. Needless to say the last audition room I was in, this song was not received well.
Once again, it's doesn't really allow you to branch out performance wise, so I'm not entirely sure why so many woman use it.
"Open Road" - Glory Days
As the one of the few bright spots in this show, I can see the appeal in picking this song. Sadly, there are countless of others who feel the same way about this song.
This has become one of those songs that guys pick, thinking it will be obscure enough to be memorable, not knowing that every other guy feels the same way about this song. Use it right now if you must, but then chuck it for something else.
"She Used to be Mine" - Waitress
WARNING: You've got about another six months with this one. It's got everything you want: a score that focuses on the vocals, allows the performer to showcase their acting abilities and is easy enough to play for most accompanists. It's the perfect storm for audition ballads. Which means EVERYONE is going to use it. I've already started to see it happen. I was just at an audition where, no joke, it was used in three consecutive auditions. It's this generation's "Defying Gravity."
So what should you be using to audition with? Part 4 of that list comes tomorrow.