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

The Best I Want Songs For Musical Theatre Auditions - Male_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 Male ‘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 behind the words.

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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  • I just love The Last Five Years, and Shiksa Goddess never fails to make me smile
    The show follows the five years of Jamie and Cathy’s relationship from courtship to separation. This song is sung by Jamie at the start of the relationship. He has just met Cathy, his ‘Shiksa Goddess’ and he is obsessed with her. The song has youth, energy, blind optimism and hope for the future and is filled with those first swells of new love. It needs to be delivered with all of the energy and delight of falling in love.
  • Pippin is a musical from 1972 which is still popular today and has recently enjoyed a run on Broadway.
    The musical Pippin tells the story of a young prince on his search for meaning and significance. Pippin, the young man, sings Corner of the Sky right at the top of the show and it tells of his dreams to find where he belongs and his quest for an extraordinary life.
    Marking Time was a song written for Act II of Pippin and it expresses his frustration at the ‘domestic’ life he has created for himself. The song Extraordinary replaced this song when the show eventually got to Broadway.
    It is a great song and would make a terrific audition song, and is a bit of a Schwartz ‘hidden gem’. Its a great song to act with as there is lots going on behind the lyrics. [/fcst]
  • Road Show is a Stephen Sondheim musical which was previously called Bounce, it was workshopped in 1999 and opened in 2003 and a revised version opened 2008.
    It tells the story of the Mizner brother’s , Addison and Wilson, and their adventures across America at the turn of the 20th century.
    Addison has left behind is gabling, swindling brother Wilson and is heading to Florida to take advantage of the property boom there in the early 1920s. On the train he meets Hollis Bessemer who he falls in love with.
    Hollis has been cut off from his family for persuing his love of art, he hasn’t the talent to become an artist but is heading to Florida to create an artist’s colony on Palm Beach with his aunt. This is the told via the song Talent.
    Any Sondheim song at an audition is always a brave choice, but this is from his most recent show which was not a success and is so probably not done as often as the other classics.
    It is a great song for auditioning as it is about love for art and is a lovely ‘story song’ which will show off your acting and singing.
  • Reluctant Pilgrim is Stephen Schwartz’s first album of personal songs, released in 1997.
    The album offers a broad variety of styles – ballads, torch songs and blues. It is a very personal album and the songs are full of emotion. Schwartz says of the album: “It’s the first time that I was writing songs which were not from a show, not hiding behind other characters, being more revealing. I had no singers or producers or anybody to hide behind.”
    Dreamscape is a song dealing with someone who is re-evaluating the choices he has made in life and looking for the courage to make some huge changes. The lyrics are beautiful and there is some wonderful imagery to play with.
  • Nine is a musical based on the Federico Fellini film 8 1/2. It tells the story of film director Guido Contini who is having a midlife crisis as his 40th birthday approaches. The musical has found recent fame as a movie starring Daniel Day Lewis.
    Guido’s Song comes early on in the show and is when we first see Guido’s crisis as his interior world starts to become indistinguishable from the real objective world.
    The song is only to be tackled by the brave baritone as it is a bit of a masterpiece, if you trust yourself and your accompaniest then you will have a lot of fun with it.
  • Honk! is a musical adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen story The Ugly Duckling, incorporating a message of tolerance. The book and lyrics are by Anthony Drewe and music is by George Stiles.
    Ugly, the Ugly Duckling, has been seperated from his family and is learning who he is out on his own in the big bad world. He has met Penny a swan, who reconsing Ugly as a swan has asked him to fly away with her. As she flies away Ugly realises he is in love with her and sings ‘Now That I’ve Seen You’
    It is a great song, really sweet and perfect for a character actor who has a great voice. It is high energy and shows off both acting and singing skills.
  • Carnival is a 1961 musical with a book by Michael Stewart and lyrics by Bob Merrill based on the 1953 film Lili. Interestingly the show was originally called Carnival! but the director made them drop the exclamation mark as he said the show is “not a blockbuster, its a gentle show”
    Lili a lonley orphan runs off with a travelling carnival and works the puppet act. the puppeteer Paul, and the magician Marco The Magnificent are in love with Lili and engage in a fierce rivalry for her love.
    I’ve Got To Find A Reason is sung by Paul early on in the show before he meets Lili. At this stage he is a lonely, bitter and crippled man unhappy with his life.
    The musical is an odd one with lots of singing to puppets! This song is a classic “I Wish” song which is usaully the domain of the tenor, so it is great to find a baritone I Wish song as they are perfect for auditioning as they help channel the emotions you will be feeling at an audition.
  • Saturday Night was Sondheim’s first musical which was written in 1954 but was never produced until 1997 due to an unfortunate set of events!
    Set in 1929 in Brooklyn a group of friends spend their Saturday Nights restless because they have no dates. Gene, who works in Wall Street in a menial job dreams of escaping Brooklyn and becoming a member of the exciting Manhattan society.
    The group have decided to head out for a Saturday Night and Gene has arrived in elegant clothes which has impressed everyone. He tells them how his smart clothes will be the ticket to the beautiful world and people of Park Avenue!
    This is a terrific mid tempo number is charming and a great opportunity for a singer to be cheeky, fun and likeable.
  • Avenue Q is an hilarious musical which has puppets alongside actors. If you went looking for Sesame Street and got lost and ended up in the wrong neighbourhood you might just find yourself in Avenue Q!
    The song Purpose comes early in Act One and is sung by lead character Princeton. Recently graduated he is keen to find a purpose in life.
    Like Corner of the Sky from Pippin, the song is typical of dreamer songs and is great for auditions as it has plenty of character and comedy and story in its lyrics.
    Be careful to keep the emotion under control and not be too ‘wide-eyed and jazz-hands’ when singing it. Try to keep grounded and find the truth in the song to really show some acting ability.
  • 13 is a musical about a 12 (well a 12½!) year old boy named Evan Goldman and about his struggle to be with the “in-crowd”, turning 13 and becoming a man.
    Tap into your inner child for this song, don’t think about playing it for laughs, play it for the truth of someone who pretty much hates himself and everything he is. Tap into how it felt as a kid to be the outcast, to be picked on, how it felt like everything you did was wrong. I guarantee if you are able to play this for the truth then the humour will come naturally and you will have the audition panel laughing.