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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  • This great song is taken from the musical Ordinary Days by writer and composer Adam Gwon.
    When Deb loses her most precious possession–the notes to her graduate thesis–she unwittingly starts a chain of events that turns the ordinary days of four New Yorkers into something extraordinary. Told through a series of intricately connected songs and vignettes, Ordinary Days is an original musical about growing up and enjoying the view.
    A wonderful song which is full of quirky character, lots of funny lines and a really nice storyline to follow. This song is pretty similar in tone and feel to ‘I Can Do Better Than That’ from Jason Robert Brown’s ‘The Last Five Years’.
    This song is a perfect choice is you are looking for something which allows you to inject your own personality in to your singing. The stroy of the song about wanting to escape from a hun-drum life is one everyone can relate to and also has a slight wink to the whole audition process.
    “I finally got a job at some hum-drum office – Like everyone right out of school does – I sat there at my cubicle every day – Sending faxes, and that?s what my life was”
  • 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.”
  • 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?
  • 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”
  • 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.
  • 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.”
  • The Baker’s Wife is a Stephen Schwartz musical which has never had a succesful West End or Broadway run, yet remains hugely popular amongst musical theatre afficianados.
    The story revolves around a small Parisian town which is enamoured by bread produced by the newly arrived middle aged baker and his beautiful young wife. The wife has an affair with a handsome gigolo and the baker loses his will to bake.
    Chanson opens the show and is sung by Denise, the Bakers Wife. She sings first in French then in English. She sings of how she sees the same faces every day, but sometimes, things can happen that change you, making life different and new.
    This is a terrific song and is overlooked for musical theatre auditions for the more popular, but overdone, Meadowlark. It is great for auditioning for drama school because it contains all the emotions you will be feeling about moving on and finding something new.
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • 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.