One of the most important steps when mounting a musical is the audition round. To the dismay of some casting directors, it is quite common to hear the same song numerous times over the course of the auditions. Sometimes, out of aggravation for the lack of variety in audition pieces, the director may dismiss an otherwise talented actor. Whole blogs and websites are inundated with “overdone” and “do-not-sing” lists.
To help inspire more creative selections for tenors, here are ten overlooked audition songs for the tenor vocal range:
1. “A Bit of Earth” from The Secret Garden.
This ballad’s best-known rendition is by Mandy Patinkin, who performed it while playing “Archibald” in the 1991 Broadway run of The Secret Garden. This beautiful song is perfect for lighter, gentler voices, and is a great substitute for any overdone ballad such as “The Music of the Night” or “Close Every Door.” Range: Db3-Gb4, optional A4 in falsetto.
2. “30/90” from tick, tick…BOOM!
The opening number from Jonathan Larson’s pre-Rent show is a thrilling up-tempo rock number that is ideal for any future Adam Pascals or Aaron Tveits of the world. The song tells of a fictional version of Larson and his conflicting feelings about turning 30 years old. Range:E3-A4
3. “Oh, Is There Not One Maiden Breast” from The Pirates of Penzance.
Although not an actual musical, this Gilbert and Sullivan classic has made its way around the Broadway circles thanks to Joseph Papp’s 1981 Broadway production of it. In this scene “Frederic” an ex-pirate who has just returned to the normal world, begs for a group of maidens to take pity on him. This number is best for more classical sounding tenors. Range: G3-Gb4, optional Bb5.
4. “Fortune Favors the Brave” from Aida.
Originally based on Verdi’s opera Aida, the musical version by Elton John and Tim Rice is eclectic, borrowing elements from pop, rock, Motown, reggae, and gospel. In this opening tenor solo, “Radames” and his soldiers return to Egypt after a mission through Egypt’s rival Nubia. Range: F3-A4.
5. “Why, God, Why?” from Miss Saigon.
Taken from Boublil and Schönberg’s most famous musical after Les Miserables, this number follows the pop-opera style popular throughout the 1980s and early to mid-90s. For this solo, the character “Chris” is anxious about God’s plan, since Chris is scheduled to leave Vietnam soon, but has just met a young girl named Kim. Range:E3-G4.
6. “Love Can’t Happen” from Grand Hotel.
With songs written by Robert Wright, Maury Yeston, and George Forrest, Grand Hotel ran on Broadway from 1989 to 1992. This number is performed in the show by the optimistic, yet broke, “Baron Felix von Gaigern.” Like the aforementioned Gilbert and Sullivan number in this list, this solo suits well with a more classical tenor. Range: D#3-A4.
7. “All Good Gifts” from Godspell.
Stephen Schwartz’s first big hit Godspell premiered Off-Broadway in 1971 before transferring to Broadway in 1976. The soft-rock/Christian ballad “All Good Gifts” is sung by “Lamar,” who explains the meaning behind the Parable of the Sower. This solo is best for younger, more lyrical voices. Range: D3-A4.
8. “I’ll Be There” from The Pirate Queen.
Based on the novel Grania, She-King of the Irish Seas, Boublil and Schönberg’s last Broadway musical The Pirate Queen was a critical failure, but the actors’ performances were praised. In this number, the character “Tiernan” is devastated after his longtime love “Grace” has married another man. Tiernan senses, however, that this is not the end for him and Grace, and vows to remain close to her. The tenor Hadley Fraser created the role of Tiernan in 2006, and is known for his robust, heroic voice. Range: C3-A4.
9. “Alive” from Jekyll and Hyde.
After a Houston world premiere in 1990 and a U.S. tour in 1995, Jekyll and Hyde premiered on Broadway in 1997. This song is a pivotal moment in the show, which sees “Henry Jekyll’s” alter ego “Edward Hyde” manifest. Like certain numbers in Phantom of the Opera, the singer is encouraged to exclaim certain musical phrases rather than sing them to help dramatize much of the song. Range: D3-E4.
10. “Standing On the Corner” from The Most Happy Fella.
This 1956 Frank Loesser musical has been revived three times on Broadway. While this musical is sometimes called an opera, some Broadway experts have disagreed. This number fits well for tenor versions of crooners in the style of Dean Martin or Bobby Darin. Range: F#3-A4.