The Best “I Want” Songs For Musical Theatre Auditions – Female

The Best I Want Songs For Musical Theatre Auditions - Female_550
Photo Credit: Huntington Theatre Company via cc
In all great musicals there is a ‘I want’ song. These are moments when we learn what a character yearns for, and from that desire we can understand their motivation for pretty much all of the following drama.
In most musicals the hero is a guy or girl who doesn’t amount to much yet but is dreaming of a brighter future – this usually becomes an emotion the audience can identify with.
I Want songs tend to make excellent audition choices because they establish character and a desire which are helpful to show you how to act the story of the song and when performed well are terrific for showing off your acting skills.
The emotion behind an ‘I Want’ song is similar to the emotions and feelings you will be feeling before an important audition and so this type of song lets you channel that nervous energy and desire correctly and you feelings will only serve to enhance your performance.
In ‘Elements of a Musical’ John Kenrick explains the ‘I Want’ song using Sondheim and Bernstein’s West Side Story to illustrate:

These tell us what characters desire, what motivates them. Most love songs fit into this category. “Something’s Coming” and “Tonight” are examples, with the ensemble reprise of “Tonight” giving a rare (and dramatically powerful) opportunity for every major character to simultaneously express what they want. In “A Boy Like That,” we see two “I Wants” clash, only to wind up in harmonious agreement on the undeniable power of love.
Best Female ‘I Want’ Songs – Musical Theatre Auditions
When you are choosing a song for an audition then remember that you don’t only want to show that you are a great singer, you are choosing a song which shows that you are a great actor too.

“I Want” songs always have bags of character and storytelling in them try acting it as a monologue first. This way you can really understand the motivations and beats,

Get inside the character and situation of the song before you approach the singing of it. I promise you that this process will helps hugely when you begin putting the words, and feelings, to music.

We would love to know what your favourite “I Want” song for a casting or audition is, let us know via Twitter@actorhub.

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  • Catch Me If You Can the musical played in Broadway in 2011.
    The story is the same as the movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio, it tells the story of con-man Frank Abagnale Jnr in the 1960s
    This song is sung by Brenda, a nurse who has won Frank’s heart when he is on the run and posing as a Doctor. Frank has proposed to Brenda and told her the truth about himself and all the lies. He promises to return to her after he has escaped the FBI agent who has been trying to catch him for years.
    Brenda sings this to the FBI agent telling him how she feels about Frank and how she will never reveal where he has run to.
    This is a beautiful song and shows off character, storytelling, emotion and vocal range. Perfect for auditions.
    “Men who you call real were really fakes who left me nothing – But this man you call a fake gave me something real”
  • Sweeney Todd is melodramatic and almost operatic throughout, this song is one which can really show off a true soprano.
    Johanna is being kept by Judge Turpin almost as a prisoner and in this song she is likening herself to a caged bird. Keep your spirit and voice bright and ‘bird-ish’ when singing it. Each phrase ends with a long note, try to hold it and not decrescendo.
    Outside the sky waits, Beckoning, beckoning, Just beyond the bars. How can you remain, Staring at the rain, Maddened by the stars?
  • Grand Hotel is based on a 1932 film telling the story of a weekend in a hotel in Berlin and the intersecting stories of the eccentric hotel guests.
    I Want To Go To Hollywood is a fun song sung by Flaemmchen a secretary who is dreaming of fame and fortune.
    The song is full of fun lyrics and is a typical dreamer number, giving you plenty of room for character and storytelling as you sing of the life you have and you life you dream of, also some room for a bit of 1920s dance to sneak in!
  • This beautiful song is taken from the musical Tales From The Bad Years by contemporary musical theatre writers Kait Kerrigan and Brian Lowdermilk.
    The show is about a group of acquaintances and strangers who are entering their twenties with great expectations. Over the show they connect, meet, argue, fall in love and collide with each other until they start to grow up and realise that the bad years make the best stories.
    The song is about the mixed emotions felt when you have to return to your family home after you feel you have ‘failed’. This is surely a feeling that we have all experienced at some point in our lives.
    The song can be powered out and you can choose to give it some real belt moments, or you could keep all the emotions controlled and play it much smaller and really try to internalise the emotional content and give a more ‘real’ performance than you often see in musical theatre.
    “The house is pulsing with an alien heartbeat, Was it always here but you never listened?
    It’s calling you to be the girl that you were way back then… again.”
  • Shrek The Musical played in the West End until 2013 and played Broadway between 2008 and 2010 and has since toured both countries.
    This song was written for the character of Fiona to sing – but was cut before the show opened.
    This is a beautiful and simple song about realisation and discovering who you truly are. These are sentiments which would fit with any young actress learning who she is and where she fits in this industry. A perfect audition song.
    “We play our parts, We follow every rule. This is by the book I knew it from the start.”
  • This seems to be one of the most popular audition songs for Pantomime. From the Menken and Ashman B Movie musical about a man eating plant!
    Audrey the ‘pretty blonde with a fashion sense that leans towards the tacky’ whose sadistic dentist boyfriend beats her is secretly in love with her timid co-worker Seymour and dreams of their dream 1950s life together, complete with plastic on the furniture and frozen dinners.
    This has all the elements of a great audition song, it also can be played completely straight or for laughs. It is a classic ‘I Wish’ or ‘Dreaming’ song, and only narrowly beat ‘Part of Your World’ from The Little Mermaid to make the list.
  • ‘Dear Daddy’ is a terrific song from the musical W2ML by Bobby Cronin, which is wonderful for auditions.
    The show is set at a Wilderness Intervention Program and tells the story of Cody Gilmore a troubled 17 year old’s poignant and emotional journey as he battles with his demons.
    Lily a 17 year old NYC girl has been sent to the intervention program because she has been hiding her pain in drugs, sex, cyber-bullying and beinga typical ‘mean-girl’. She has been lying to everyone about how her Dad is a big-wig in the TV industry.
    When the teens are tasked with writing a letter to someone who has wronged them she sits alone under a trap lit by the fire in the rain and admits to herself that she is in pain and that her father is actually dead.
    The song is soft, emotional and full of hurt and realisation – there is a tonnes of character and story behind the song which you can use to help you play the song. Keep it real.
    “I can still hear your voice – It plays over and over inside my head – Now I have to make the choice
    To say “No more denying that you are dead.” ”
  • Vanities is a musical by David Kirshenbaum and a book by Jack Heifner, based on the book and 1976 play of the same name. It played off Broadway in 2009.
    The show tells the tale of three best friends: Kathy, Mary and Joanne through high school, college and professional life
    Fly into the Future is sung by Mary, the most flamboyant of the three as she decides to quit college and explore everything which life has to offer her.
    Mary is outwardly flamboyant but deep down insecure – this song allows you to show off and belt and inject fire and fecklessness into your performance.
    ” I’m sick of this sorority. Think I need some distance, A place to disappear. So it’s adios and away I go,
    and I’m kind of scared – But the moments here.”
  • My Fair Lady is a musical based upon Shaw’s Pygmalion. The story concerns Eliza Doolittle, a Cockney flower seller who takes speech lessons from professor Henry Higgins, a phoneticist, so that she may pass as a well-born lady.
    The musical’s 1956 Broadway production was a hit, it was followed by a hit London production, a popular film version, and numerous revivals. It has been called “the perfect musical”
    ‘Wouldn’t It Be Luverly’ is sung by Eliza in Act One when she gets some loose change thrown into her basket and she dreams of what it would be like to lead a comfortable, proper life.
    A lovely audition song for Cinderella or Snow White, or one of the more tomboy style panto heroines.
  • The musical Dogfight is a musical adaptation of the 1991 film with River Phoenix and Lili Taylor.
    A group of Marines are about to be deployed to Vietnam in 1963. The last night before they ship off, the guys put $50 in a pot to host a date party – and whoever brings the ugliest girl to the party wins the money.
    Young Eddie is running out of time to find a date. He ducks into a diner and sees a rather plain girl, Rose, and convinces her to join him for the evening. Along the way to the party, Rose is excited about her first real date and starts telling Eddie all about herself, her dreams and ideals.