From Eponine to Elphaba, contemporary musical theatre offers a wide range of thrilling mezzo/belt roles in to choose from. Songs such as “On My Own” and “Defying Gravity” continue to thrill audiences around the world. However, while these songs (and similar ones) are popular showcase pieces, casting directors are getting tired of hearing them at audition rounds. In fact, it is not uncommon for actors to be dismissed from auditions simply for choosing an overused song. Plus, and I hate to rain on your parade here…but it can be hard to stand out from the rest of the mezzo crowd if you are singing the same song as everyone else, no matter how powerful your belt is.
To alleviate this issue, I’ve compiled a list of 10 overlooked audition songs for the mezzo/belter voice.
1. “Woman” from The Pirate Queen.
Although Boublil and Schönberg’s last Broadway musical together flopped, the score contains some underrated vocal gems. The solo “Woman” was originally recorded by Stephanie J. Block. It is sung by Grania (known in the show as “Grace”) to her lover Tiernan over her frustration that her father Dubhdara forbids her to sail on his ship. This song best suits an audition for a pop-opera type of show in the style of “Les Miserables” or “The Phantom of the Opera.” Range: E3-E5.
2.“How Did We Come to This?” from Andrew Lippa’s The Wild Party.
This musical, based on the 1928 Moncure March narrative poem about a woman who throws an outrageous get-together, opened Off-Broadway in 2000. This song is performed by the main character Queenie, who by the end of the show loses both of the men who pursue her, and contemplates how things came to end so badly. Julia Murney, who created the role of Queenie, clearly displays the character’s defeat and heartbreak in her Streisand-like belting. This song is great when auditioning for most contemporary shows, especially those that have heavy big-band/jazz influence in the music. Range: G#3-C#5.
3. “Bring It On” from Bring It On: The Musical.
Based on the 2000 comedy of the same name, Bring It On: the Musical opened on Broadway in 2012 after a successful U.S. tour the previous year. Co-written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Tom Kitt, and Amanda Green, the show’s music mixes pop-rock with Miranda’s signature hip-hop influence. For this song in the show, high school junior Cambpell decides to form a cheerleading squad of her own to get back at her rival Eva. This song is ideal for auditioning for a more pop-sounding show. Also, as one of Miranda’s lesser known works, songs from Bring It On would be refreshing to an audition pool where In the Heights and Hamilton are so common. Range: A3-E5.
4. “Bring On the Men” from Jekyll and Hyde.
This number has had an interesting history with its parent musical. Although the song was featured in the show’s concept album in 1994 and was featured in the 1995 national tour, it was replaced with “Good ‘N’ Evil” for the 1997 Broadway production. (“Bring” was later reinstated for future productions and tours). In the show, the character Lucy, a prostitute, performs this number for a bachelor party. Dr. Jekyll is drawn to Lucy’s performance and pursues her afterward. The song’s seductive nature is perfect if you’re trying out for a femme fatale role in shows by Kander & Ebb. Range: G#3-E5.
5. “It’s a Woman’s World” from The Full Monty.
This musical by David Yazbek (of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels fame) is based on the 1997 British film of the same name. Premiering on Broadway in 2000, it was nominated for 10 Tony Awards, but ultimately winning none. The song “It’s a Woman’s World” is performed by Georgie and her friends, taking pride in their new independence as being the breadwinners of their families. This high-key, empowering song is appropriate for any contemporary female-centric musical such as Legally Blonde or Heathers. Range: G3-E5
6. “The Story Goes On” from Baby.
The musical Baby, which opened on Broadway in 1983, is about three couples each expecting a child. “The Story Goes On” is sung by Lizzie, a university junior whose boyfriend is on a summer tour with his band, and is forced to face her pregnancy by herself. Originally recorded by Liz Callaway, this song is great for mezzos who have a solid mixed voice in the upper register. Range: G3-F5.
7. “Just Not Now” from I Love You Because.
A modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, I Love You Because opened Off-Broadway in 2006. The musical follows the romance of several couples in New York City. The song “Just Not Now” is sung by Marcy, who tells her lover Austin that she is in fact not ready yet for true love. Like the aforementioned number from Baby, this song also calls for a strong mixed upper register. Range: G3-Eb5.
8.“All Grown Up” from Bare: A Pop Opera.
This musical premiered in Los Angeles in 2000 before opening Off-Broadway in 2004. The story focuses on a gay teen couple struggling their way through a private Catholic school. “All Grown Up” is sung by Ivy, who confesses to her classmate Nadia that Jason, who is gay, is the father of Ivy’s baby. This song works in auditions for darker rock musicals such as Spring Awakening and American Psycho. Range: G#3-F5.
9. “It’s a Privilege to Pee” from Urinetown.
Opening Off-Broadway in 2001, Urinetown is a dark comedy which satirizes corporations and capitalism. The authoritarian character Penelope Pennywise, who runs the worst public urinal in town, sings this cynical number in the show. “Privilege” is one of the more challenging villain songs in contemporary theater, and is best sung by mezzos with clear, resonant belting to high heaven. Range: C4-G5.
10. “Remember This” from The Unauthorized Autobiography of Samantha Brown.
Written by the dynamic duo Kerrigan and Lowdermilk, Samantha Brown premiered in Costa Mesa in 2009 before transferring to Goodspeed Opera House in 2011. “Remember This,” the last number of the show, is the culmination of Samantha’s high school experience as she plans the next step for her future. Like the aforementioned song from Bare, “Remember This” is another awesome choice for auditioning for a rock musical. Range: Bb3-E5.