How To Choose the Best Musical Theatre Songs
There are many potential categories I could break down this here blog into, on the topic of musical theatre songs.
THERE ARE SO MANY.
Is the first thought that springs to mind, and trying to choose three that will show off your style and range for a vocal reel is BLOODY DAFT, because all you want to do is belt out those waitress numbers or complete the Hamilton raps in one take, whatever takes your fancy, so having to pick songs for yourself is quite the mine field.
It’s without doubt there are some absolute musical theatre bangers that every thespian on this earth should know about, but if you are new to the theatrical world, I have begun this blog with some of the best loved show tunes, below.
BEST LOVED MUSICAL THEATRE SONGS
Don’t Rain on My Parade – Funny Girl
The Rhythm of Life – Sweet Charity
Being Alive – Company
A Summer in Ohio – The Last Five Years
Bring Me Light – Violet
A Little Fall of Rain – Les Miserables
All I Ask Of You – Phantom of The Opera
Seasons of Love – Rent
Hello Young Lovers – The Kind and I
I Don’t Know How To Love Him – Jesus Christ Superstar
I Have a Love – West Side Story
I Know Him So Well – Chess
My Funny Valentine – Babes in Arms
Hello Twelve, Hello Thirteen, Hello Love – A Chorus Line
Not While I’m Around – Sweeney Todd
People Like Us – The Wild Party
So Far From Pennsylvania – Carner and Gregor
Every song on the Dreamgirls cast recording
These are just some of the best, there are so many more! Now then, once you have cemented Elaine Paige’s guffawing into your brain and you’ve memorised cell block tango, we can discuss your audition rep.
CHOOSING MUSICAL THEATRE REP SONGS
Singers need to have a range of songs in their repertoire, to choose from ready for any audition situation. Having your rep constantly sharp and up to date means that when an audition does come knocking, you don’t need to scramble to find and learn the right song in a short space of time.
Obviously, there is some common sense required when choosing your songs, avoid anything that is to over done (see songs to avoid below) and anything that is too difficult to sing and sight read on piano.
Contemporary Ballad and Up Tempo
In short, a ballad is a slow song, often about love and loss
Up-tempo, is a more upbeat song
A contemporary number refers to any song from the last twenty years or so. You can also find contemporary songs in legit musicals
It sounds a little confusing at first, but if you do your research you will get to know so many different songs, that will eventually be easy for you to determine what is best for you. Listening to other performers voice reels on agency websites is always a good idea, just to get a feel of what is working for singers who are similar to you and also, what definitely won’t work for you.
Songs that use techniques that are more classically based
Think Phantom of The Opera Love Never Dies or The King and I
Legit songs for legit roles, you wouldn’t sing a song like this for a contemporary show unless specifically asked
Controlled and sustained yelling (lol) something I have been yearning to master for many years
Rock, Pop, Soul and a good old power ballad will include lots of belting
Think Suddenly Seymour – Little Shop of Horrors or Children Will Listen – Into the Woods
You’ll know a belt when you hear one!
Character roles are not the romantic leads, they are the comic roles, the villain, or the offbeat secondary roles
Character songs are great for showing off your acting through song ability
Examples are Adelaide’s Lament – Guys and Dolls, Look at Me I’m Sandra Dee – Grease, Miss Baltimore Crabs – Hairspray, Annie – Little Girls
It’s always good to have a Disney song up your sleeve, an audition request may be that you sing a Disney song from the show you are auditioning for, but have your best Disney tune ready
Don’t sing anything from Frozen
Songs like; I Won’t Say I’m In Love – Hercules, Perfect Isn’t Easy – Oliver and Company, Mother Knows Best – Tangled
Songs to Avoid
We all have those best loved tunes we want to belt out into oblivion because of how emotional they make us and how fabulous we sound singing them BUUTTTTT there are certain songs to avoid when auditioning and performing, simply because the original artist does them too well to be repeated over and over and also, they have been heard 10000000 times, you aren’t going to stand out for the right reasons when you bash out an Adele song.
Finding the right songs is not an easy task, It requires research, patience and rehearsal which is totally normal, the longer it takes the better your song choices will suit you. Here are some songs to avoid when auditioning and performing in general.
Anything from Wicked
ABBA (in my opinion)
Anything from Les Mis
Anything from Chicago
Don’t Rain on My Parade (although I blummin love this)
Memory from Cats (It belongs to Elaine Paige)
Anything from Hairspray (You might get away with some songs, THEY ARE AMAZING, but best to stick to something new)
Amy Winehouse (she is too unique and her brilliant songs are too overdone by singers)
Any Rat Pack style songs, Frank Sinatra/Dean Martin etc
You get the idea.
These songs are all brilliant but not for auditioning or adding to your set list unless your singing in Blackpool. Try and be unique and true to your own style! There is only one Adele or Michael Buble, we don’t need another, so be you!
That’s what the world needs.