If you look up what songs to audition and what not to audition in theatre, the lists completely contradict each other. One website will say it's alright to use "Defying Gravity" and the other considers "Wicked" a taboo word. So, of course it's up to me to write down a list of some under-rated songs to use, and some that people may not warn you that you shouldn't use.
Love you, chicos!
- DON'T use "Defying Gravity," just to get that one out of the way. Really, using anything from Wicked is a no. I know of one judge that as soon as they heard ANYTHING from that musical, they won't even consider you. But I also read an article by one person that said that the reason many judges don't like it when people sing it is because they've heard it done badly. What's my opinion? What do you know Idina Menzel for? Yes, she is going to play a Disney queen. Yes, she was in Enchanted. But mainly, her Elphaba is the most popular Elphie there is. So, with "Defying Gravity" being a popular song among non-acting people as well, this song is kinda like, HER song. You'll constantly be compared to her. And it's not original at all. I'm sure by the end of the day, the accompanist will want to throw away your sheet music after seeing the word "Leap."
- DO. "What Do You Do With a B.A. in English?" from Avenue Q. This song has a particular kind of performer it suits best, though. If you are a man who is in college or fresh out of college, then it'll fit you. The original singer sounds young and naïve, just like a lot of kids your age are. What do you do with a B.A. in English? / What is my life going to be? / Four years of college / and plenty of knowledge / have earned me this useless degree / I can't pay the bills yet / 'Cause I have no skills yet / The world is a big scary place / But somehow I can't shake / the feeling I might make / a difference to the human race.
- DO. "Every Story is a Love Story (Reprise)" from Aida. This song suits a woman in the 20-30 age range who still has a fairly youthful voice (say it's obvious that you're older but you still sound like you're eighteen). From deep within the tomb, a gentle light still shone / showing me my path as I ascended to the throne / certain in my heart that ancient wars must cease / The lovers' deaths gave birth to a reign of peace / and their story / and my journey / and the lesson they provide / drew their strength and inspiration from a love that never died.
- DO. "Sure As Sun Turns to Moon" from Tarzan. This song especially works because it is an under-rated musical (I didn't know it was ever even on Broadway until this year) and it is no longer on Broadway. You will rarely find someone else use this piece to audition. This song works best if you are of marrying age, preferably at least in your late twenties.
- DON'T. "My Strongest Suit (Reprise)" from Aida. As much as it pains me to never be able to audition this (I actually sound pretty good when I sing this song), this song is somewhat sad. It is also a duet, and being only a minute long, shortening this would take it below 32-bars (though it could work if you were asked to audition an 8-bar). But the point is, this is not a neutral song or a happy one. Avoid sad and angry songs.
- DO. "Two Worlds" from Tarzan. This song might be slightly over-rated, but it is gender-neutral, neither happy or sad, can be cut in several ways, and has different variations from singing loudly to quietly to sweetly. This is my audition song. Unless you live near me, you're free to do it. Hope Ezell won't be playing Amneris or Rafiki anytime soon.
- DON'T. "Easy As Life" from Aida. This is... in a way, a somewhat angry song ("This is how the gods reward the faithful through the ages") and we want to avoid that kind of chemistry. This was going to be audition song, but then I thought, mm, maybe not.
- DON'T. "Shadowland" from The Lion King. I can't express how I feel about this song and its original Zulu version (the live version from Hans Zimmer's album is probably my favorite though). I know just about every word from "Fahtse leso, lea halalela" through "Giza buyabo." So why wouldn't I audition this piece? It's in my vocal range, it's the song that got me into theatre, everyone who hears it falls in love with it, it can touch the coldest heart, and let's face it: It's friggin' perfect. I wouldn't audition this because it is one of the few songs that has made me tear up. Which means it's a sad song. I mean, come on. "Pride land, my land, tear-stained dry land, take this with you, fahtse leso..."
- DON'T. "Circle of Life" from you-know-where. Even if you're auditioning to play Rafiki, you won't even be considered if you shout, "Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba" and they will NOT respond with "Sithi uhm ingonyama."
- DON'T. "I'm Not That Girl" from Wicked. Like I said, "Wicked" is a taboo word on some websites, and this is one of them. Remember, no one mourns the wicked, and when you audition with a song from that musical, you'll be left only on your own. Wow, that was a really corny reference. This song is amazing. I could probably work this song. Heck, I could probably play Elphaba really well in this moment because, well, I know how it feels to feel that way (like, literally, the other girl had "gold hair with a gentle curl"). However, this is a sad song so it is a no-no.
- And numerous others... can't think of them at the moment.
Love you, chicos!