With the college audition season just starting, thousands of high school seniors are going to be searching for the best material to show off their skills. It's easy to guess that right now Benj Pasek and Justin Paul's music would be a popular choice among this group, given the success of Dear Evan Hansen, Dogfight and La La Land. I'm also willing to be that we'll be seeing a ton of students audition with The Greatest Showman next year as well. So there's no fighting it. But I also wouldn't necessarily avoid using one of their pieces.
While I won't put their compositions on the level on Sondheim or Jason Robert Brown in terms of difficulty to play, they're not an easy choice. I often refer to their songs as "Actor Songs" which require a nuanced performance in addition to masterful vocals. Could you imagine someone not truly acting during "Words Fail"?
So if you're thinking about using a Pasek & Paul song for your upcoming audition, here are some suggestions. I've picked ten songs, give typically for men and five for typically women. I've also cued the videos to the part I think might work best and wow the auditioners if nailed the right way.
"Come to a Party" from Dogfight
"One Reason" from Edges
"The Genius on Cleveland Street" from A Christmas Story
"Come Back" from Dogfight
"For Forever" from Dear Evan Hansen
"What a Mother Does" from A Christmas Story
"Caught in the Storm" from Smash
"Lying There" from Edges
"Pretty Funny" from Dogfight
"Only Us" from Dear Evan Hansen