10 Audition Songs Directors Wish You Would Stop Singing

Preparing a trendy audition song seems a logical choice to many. The piece may have universal appeal, and a sense of it being “safe” material. Many actors fail to see that though this may be “popular” to perform in front of their peers, directors might have a slightly different take. Directors are looking for unique & creative individuals, and having “fresh” audition songs can separate you out from all the others. As an actor, you also show the ability to stretch yourself and take a risk on something that no-one else is doing.

I polled a group of directors, and here are the top 10 most “overdone” audition songs.

10. Adelaide’s Lament (Guys & Dolls)

A fun, silly, & very annoying song if not done in context. Just imagine a director hearing this one as their 97th audition of the day 😉

9. Giants In The Sky (Into the Woods)

Theatre Nerds

Okay guys, great song, but there are too many giants in the sky at auditions.

8. Mama Who Bore Me (Spring Awakening)

Theatre Nerds

We love Spring Awakening, but mama may “Bore” the directors.

7. Defying Gravity (wicked)

TheatreNerds

Let’s face it, gravity has been defied way too many times.

6. On My Own (Les Mis)

Theatre Nerds

You are not ON YOUR OWN if you sing this at auditions, especially after the release of the motion picture in 2012.

 


 5. Don’t Rain On My Parade (Funny Girl)

7 Audition Songs Directors Wish You Would Stop Singing

Sorry to rain on your parade, but Lea Michele nailed this song on Glee, & Barbra Streisand before her. You really want to go there?

4. Gimme Gimme (Thoroughly Modern Millie)

Directors Say “Don’t” Gimme Gimme….Instead, Gimme something else.

3. On The Street Where You Live (My Fair Lady)

Theatre Nerds

Another one for guys to hold off on. Auditions have often walked down this street before…

2. I Can’t Say No (Oklahoma)

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You can’t, but directors wish you would!

1. Popular (Wicked)

Popular-HeleneandMarcie

Directors think Popular is no longer….popular. It was good while it lasted, but after 13 years its time to move on.

Agree or Disagree? Leave a comment below…

Big thanks to directors: Deborah Johansen Jenni Hennigh Bertels Rachel Duncan Katie Lindbeck Heather Dunkin Toller Jeff Witt Geri Sanders Seth Renne Blair Cromwell Tom Mayhall Rastrelli

 

44 Comments

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  1. “Corner of the Sky”! It’s a beautiful tune, and I really do love it, but I cringe when I see all those PIPPIN songbooks in people’s laps.

  2. I’ve worked on both sides of the table — stage artist and music director. Though I can definitely appreciate how grueling it is for an auditor to hear a song numerous times during the audition process [think “youth production of Annie”], they are nonetheless NOT there to be entertained. They’re there to do their jobs: casting the damned show. Performers have every right to do whatever piece they want, in order to show their suitability for the project. If an auditor is going to disqualify someone simply for singing a song that numerous others have sung, that auditor isn’t very ethical (or empathetic.) That being said, if an artist IS doing a song that many others are doing, it would behoove that artist to do everything they can to not give a perfunctory rendition of the song — always strive to delight.

    • I don’t believe anyone is saying not to do these if you understand the piece and can bring the requisite depth and range to it, just that so many unsavvy auditioners think “I love this song, so they will too!”, completely missing the point of an audition.

      • Good point, many don’t realize what they are getting into when they chose songs attached with big names on Broadway or The film industry. However, It is still possible to approach it in a fresh-new way.

    • They are there to cast but how do you differentiate 20 people singing defying gravity – though people try to be objective it get tedious so when someone comes in with fabulous baby it peaks your attention and you are more interested, whether that’s right or not.

  3. Every one of those would’ve been on my “Don’t do this” list for students. Especially “Defying Gravity” which has no business being sung by anyone without chords of steel.

  4. I once had to sit through an audition where thirteen (13!!!) college-aged women made the bold choice to sing “In My Own Little Corner.” Why on earth would anyone (let alone 13!!! people) consider it a good audition piece?

  5. Has “What I Did For Love” finally gotten old enough to drop off this list? In the 1980s, you could almost hear everyone in the auditorium groan when those opening notes started up in an audition.

  6. Never sing “They Call The Wind Maria,” unless it’s your FIRST audition, in high school, for a director you’ve done tech for for years, who doesn’t know you’ve been vocal coaching for 6 months, and you NAIL it.

    FOR GOD’S SAKE, don’t do “Summertime.” I don’t care what key it’s in. I KNOW you’re white and you’ll never get a chance to sing it professionally. DON’T GO THERE.

    You can pick some obscure piece from a forgotten musical, but KNOW YOUR ACCOMPANIMENT. Because the pianist might not. Don’t audition with Aldonza’s “It’s All The Same.” Accompanists shred the rhythm on that one on a regular basis.

    No matter how good a character actress you are, try to avoid “Dirty Old Man” from “A Funny…Forum.” It depends on sight gags to work; and if you bring a Hysterium to do it with you, they’ll hire Hysterium. He’s funnier.

    Sing “Glitter And Be Gay” ONLY if you are a bona fide triple-threat. Do it in TOE SHOES. Or roller skates. Roller skates are good.

    Really think seriously before doing a female number from any Brecht/Weill musical.

    If you’re auditioning for “Fiddler on the Roof,” ONLY sing the Russian soldier’s tenor tour de force. THAT they haven’t been listening to all day.

    At this rate, I suggest we should all compile a HIT AUDITION BOOK, and retire wealthy in 2 years. It could happen!

  7. You forgot ‘Memory’ from ‘Cats’, ‘Part of That World’ from ‘The Little Mermaid’ and ‘Tomorrow’ from ‘Cats’

  8. I wouldn’t do songs that are overdone. However, the other rule is to never do songs from Barbara, Judy or anything currently on Broadway because they’ll always compare you to the original.

    Personally, I think it depends on you. If you are similar to the original, then yes, it’s easy to compare. However, as a Latina who looks nothing like Barbara, I would get numerous callbacks singing her songs. On me, it was unexpected, and it worked.

  9. Two surprises
    1) on the street where you live? It hardly shows off any range, surprised anyone would choose it

    2) I expected the wizard and I to be number 1

  10. It kills me how hard people fan boy over Lea Michelle as if Babs and her are the only two who did the song justice. Haven’t most of these been overdone?

  11. When I was in college for MT, we were always told not to audition with a song from a show that is currently on Broadway. Revival or not. It kept us looking for new material and also from being the 100th person that day singing something from Les Mis or Rent. (I just gave away my age…dammit.)

  12. Also never ever sing anything by Jason Robert Brown. The accompanist will hate you and JRB’s stuff is super overdone in auditions.

  13. Yes, the Wicked songs are WAY overdone. In fact, i would certainly agree with most of these. On My Own, however, tops my list of female don’t-do’s. It was very much overdone LONG before the movie was released. I’ve been auditing for 23 years, and it is by far the most overdone song. Ever. And I love Les Miz.

    Oh, and fellas, definitely take One Song Glory off of your audition song list. Just… Ick.

  14. I got my start in theatre doing Gilbert and Sullivan. My go-to songs are Tit Willow and When a Felon’s Not Engaged in His Employment, depending on whether I am trying for a baritone role or a bass role.

    I often get thanked by auditors and accompanists for doing something novel. Also, I have sung these songs many times, and can nail them.

  15. Guys I need some honest opinions.
    I have audition pieces and I am not sure if it’s overdone or not.
    I have ‘Astonishing’ and ‘Love never dies’.
    What do you think about this songs?

  16. Would it change anything if a female youth actor sang Giants in the Sky? Or is it simply tiring to hear the same song over and over no matter who is singing it. It is my daughter’s choice for her upcoming auditions… she would love any feedback. (My fave song she has auditioned with is Iowa Stubborn)

      • I like audition songs where the gender is swapped. I’m mostly a director now, but when I was auditioning I used “Shy” from Once Upon a Mattress. I put it in a good key for me. It was a good, familiar tune done in an expected way and it always got a great response.

  17. I was talking to my director about helping elementary girls and boys audition for the upcoming production and she said to ABSOLUTLY NOT sing “Castle on a Cloud” for the girls. Thoughts?

    • i think that age group needs a lot of help. my daughter is 10 and it is sooo hard to find age appropriate songs that are not overly done. No Annie, No Little Mermaid, No My New Philosophy (though thats one of her favorite songs) No Castle, and she was told not to do Matilda bc its on Broadway. So what does she do? She can’t sing about losing her love or finding her true love it just would be weird. Though her favorite ballad is The Rose which is about love. I wish someone would come up with a book about good songs for elementary age kids. All the ones we find are to unheard of or too popular.

  18. It’s not just about doing something fresh that they’ve not heard; it’s about the fact that you put yourself in direct competition with everyone else that day who’s singing the same thing. If you’re not 100% over the top the best at that sing that day, you’re out. And even if you are, you’re being compared with Broadway soundtracks. Do something that fits you, that makes you feel confident, and that narrows, not expands, your competitive field.

  19. The biggest problem is that younger performers — on the whole — don’t know older musicals, unless they were megahits. Young guys looking at Giants in the Sky might check out “Little Boy Blues” from “Look Ma, I’m Dancing,” High baritones/tenors should check out the songs from “Man With a Load of Mischief,” sopranos might look at Yes, My Heart, or Mira from “Carnival.” Paris is Paris Again from “Gigi” is a great baritone choice — up tempo with a long sustained line (kill two birds with one stone!)
    There are some good audition songs from “A Time For Singing” for both men and women
    If you’re only being given 8-16 bars to make an impression — find 8-16 bars you can kill with
    If you’re auditioning for a golden age musical, for the most part don’t sing belt songs — vice versa for many modern musicals, legit sound may be wrong

  20. For my recent tryout, its the first tryout I’ve done for a musical in several years. I chose “Dear Theodosia” from Hamilton and I think it went over very well.

  21. I totally agree that Wicked songs are overdone. I’m really surprised that ‘Part of your World’ isn’t on there because I hear that song at least 2 times every audition I’m in.

  22. I can’t believe that you didn’t include “Tomorrow!” (Annie). Maybe it’s just me though. After directing Annie, I was inspired to begin writing a new musical called “Ms. Hannigan’s Revenge.” I’m not kidding!

    Now that freaking song is part of a commercial which advertises a medication used by people with heart problems. Nothing against the sweet people on the commercial, however, the Advertising Agency needs to fire the Account Executive who pitched that song to the pharmaceutical company!

    I’ll make a note for the songs in the article, for whenever I’m auditioning. Thank you!

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