Audition Songs from contemporary musical theatre writers

Audition Songs from contemporary musical theatre writers_550
Photo Credit: IMCOM via cc
Choosing an audition song from the new generation of musical theatre writers is bound to get you noticed for all of the right reasons.
It is very likely that the panel has not heard the song many times before.
It also shows them that you are interested in what is happening in the world of musical theatre.
It is unlikely you will be compared to another performer’s version of the song because these are new songs for everyone’s ears.
It will get you remembered if you introduce them to something they have never heard before.
As with all audition songs, it is massively important that you research the show the song has come from. You want to show that you understand the character and the acting of the story behind the song. If the song is a ‘stand alone song’ as some of them are in this collection then please write your own back story – keep it plausible but use this as an opportunity to add some meat to the bones of the song and make it a fully rounded and acted performance.
The terrific resource New Musical Theatre asked a number of it’s writers to choose one of their own songs and one from another new musical theatre writer which would be suitable for an actor to sing at an audition – and to tell them why.
Here are their choices along with some of our own:
Audition Songs from The New Generation of Musical Theatre
We would love to know what your favourite audition song from a new musical is, let us know via Twitter @actorhub.

Click on title to view the video

Click on image to buy from Amazon
  • I’ll Be Here is taken from the musical Ordinary Days by writer and composer Adam Gwon.
    When Deb loses 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.
    This song is sung by Claire who is embarking on a new life with her boyfriend Jason, she has had to face her difficult past before she has been able to commit and this truly beautiful song tells her story.
    Joshua Salzman and Ryan Cunningham chose ‘I’ll Be Here’ as a great audition song because:
    “I’ll Be Here” by Adam Gwon is a wonderfully written story that takes the character on a beautiful emotional journey. It shows the range of the actor and is a gorgeous song to perform and listen to.
  • This song comes from the musical The Unauthorized Autobiography of Samantha Brown written by the hugely talented team of Kait Kerrigan and Brian Lowdermilk.
    The show is set at dawn on the day that Samantha Brown is supposed to leave for college, she is sitting in her car but can’t turn the keys. She is filled with doubts and the show is told through a series of flashbacks from her senior year as Sam comes to terms with her parents expectations, her first love and a lost friendship.
    This love song is sung by Sam’s boyfriend Adam as he tries to get her to run away with him!
    Here is what Kait Kerrigan had to say about using this for an audition:
    Our friend Josh Young told us the reason he likes to use it in an audition is because as an actor, you’re asking for something from your audience. It’s easier to get the audience on your side than it is with a stationary ballad.
    “Let me be your ride out of town.
    Let me be the place that you hide.
    We can make our lives on the go.
    Run away with me.”
  • Joe Iconis is one of my favourite of today’s young musical theatre writers and Lisa is a wonderful example of his fantastic songs – full of character and storytelling.
    The song is taken from the show The Black Suits: A rock musical about a high school garage band on suburban Long Island trying to win The St. Anne’s Battle of the Bands. The story of two teens and their struggle to learn how to be real friends as the inevitability of adulthood threatens to pull them apart. A musical about dreams, blood, Pop Tarts, records, drug runs, blue hair, the St. Anne’s Battle of the Bands, and the undying transformative coolness of rock and roll music.
    Here is why fellow musical theatre composer Rob Rokicki thinks this song makes a good audition song:
    I think “Lisa” by Joe Iconis works well for an audition song because of its versatility – I’ve heard it sung by both a guy and a girl. It is very dramatically effective with a beautiful hook and shows off a strong singer. It’s easy to make a great cut out of as well and has a dynamic bridge.
  • This wonderful song comes from Homemade Fusion a song cycle from the wonderful song writing team Kooman and Dimond and the YouTube video featuring Broadway star Patina Miller has had over 100,000 views making it a hit!
    Here is what fellow new musical theatre composer Zoe Sarnak has to say about this terrific song:
    This song equally for showing vocals and comedy. Lots of beats, lots of space to show chops. Also, always fun to hear it the room.
    “Why couldn’t I be cast for a part in The Color Purple,
    ‘Stead of a random black girl singin’ the soul?
    My agent gave me advice.
    Those words I’ll never forget.
    He said “Don’t think you’ll ever be cast
    As Eponine or Cossette.”
  • Jasper in Deadland is written by the awesome Ryan Scott Oliver. It tells the story of 16-year-old Jasper as he journeys into the afterlife to save his best friend.
    This song is a terrific number as Jasper persuades his afterlife guide Gretchen that life is to be lived not just passed over and hidden from.
    Musical theatre composer Will Van Dyke chose this as a great audition song for these reasons:
    I’m always a huge fan of auditioning with music that fun and catchy enough that beyond your time in the room, it leaves the person behind the table humming. Sometimes a great tune is just as important as a great performance. For that reason I recommend: Stroke By Stroke by Ryan Scott Oliver.
    Here is what Ryan Scott Oliver himself has to say:
    when you add in the tuneful chorus and its hearty rock chord progression, I think the philosophy is coated in something quite enjoyable and not preachy… until the listener falls for the song (hopefully) and discovers themselves equally seduced by its rooted, buried philosophical text.
    The links here are for Ryan Scott Oliver’s cd but you can buy the sheet music for this song here
    “Let others walk around an ocean,
    Let others try to build a bridge across.
    But you and me, we fall in, we fall in
    Never sure we’ll survive.”
  • Rob Rokicki is a New York based composer, lyricist and performer.
    The song is taken from the Relativity by Rob Rokicki and Michael Ruby. You can’t escape the effects of time…or your family. That’s the concept behind RELATIVITY – a new pop-rock musical about perspective…about how your points of view on time and family continually change and impact each other…and about discovering what and who are really most important in your life.
    Here is why composer Rob Rokicki chooses this as one of his favourite songs (written by himself) for auditioning:
    I think my song “The Waiting” works well because of its versatility. It has drive and dynamic range and shows off acting (both dramatic and humorous). Musically it has nice interval leaps, which can be floated and then mixed/belted to show vocal range. I’ve also heard this song done by a guy or girl.
  • Lysistrata Jones is a musical comedy adaptation of Aristophanes’ comedy Lysistrata by Douglas Carter Beane and Lewis Flinn. The show tells the tale of the men on a losing college basketball team whose cheerleader girlfriends refuse to have sex with them until they win a game!
    When She Smiles is sung by Mick towards the end of the show – the leading guy, a real jock – who is thinking of seducing the slightly nerdy poetry loving Robin as a move to win the war against the girls but things don’t go according to plan as she treats him with respect and challenges him to be a better person and awakens something new in him.
    Songwriter Kait Kerrigan chose this as one of her top audition picks and has this to say
    I heard a girl sing this song in a master class and it felt fresh and young and it surprised and delighted me. Surely, not everyone can pull that off but I love gender-bending in an audition. It shows your confidence. It makes me sit up and pay attention.
    “Cause when she speaks
    It’s like my heart just skipped a beat
    And when she moves
    It’s like my world is falling thorough
    It’s when she smiles”
  • I just love Joe Iconis and his story songs. Most of them would make amazing audition songs and ‘Jeff’ is a great song for any bold actor who is prepared to make a brave choice at a casting.
    Here is what fellow new musical theatre composer Nick Blaemire has to say about this terrific song:
    I love Joe’s stuff because it’s so unexpected. This song takes a turn you never see coming, and it may not be appropriate for the stuffier showcases/auditions, but intelligent audiences with a sense of humor will appreciate both the great situation the character is in, and the opportunities it gives the actor who’s playing him.
    The links here are for Joe Iconis’ brilliant CD but you can buy the sheet music for this song here
  • Maria and Me is taken from Will Van Dyke’s album Chasing The Day. An album which features songs that were written on the road. Aboard planes. Across time zones. Between sets. In hotel lobbies. At 24 hour coffee shops. Miles apart. When the thought of home is your only companion. A collection of songs about the places life takes us and the people who bring us back.
    Here is why Will Van Dyke chose this song as his audition song recommendation:
    I’m always a huge fan of auditioning with music that fun and catchy enough that beyond your time in the room, it leaves the person behind the table humming. Sometimes a great tune is just as important as a great performance.
    “Marie and Me wanna get together
    Just like before this world tore us apart
    Marie and Me, can we make it happen?
    Lets take a ride make a start”
  • Michael Patrick Walker is a hugely gifted musical theatre writer who co-wrote the smash hit musical Alter Boyz. This wonderful stand alone song comes the wonderful collection of songs which form his first album ‘Out Of Context’
    When asked to choose one of his own songs for auditions, Michael Patrick Walker chose ‘More’ because:
    This song tells a story without being a “story song” making it easy to perform the entire thing or do an audition cut without losing too much of the story. Much like my other choice, “More” allows you to be funny and touching in the same song which is almost always more effective at making an impression than just being “deeply meaningful”. While written for a male voice, it can be sung by a female voice with only minor adjustments and it is pop enough that it can work for either a pop/rock show or something less modern..
  • This great little number was cut from the show String by Adam Gwon.
    A workaholic Greek god gets tangled up with a security guard in the basement of the tallest building in the world. One mistake leads to another – a lost pair of scissors, a kiss, a stolen string – and soon Atropos is breaking her own rules to offer forever to an ordinary man. Can the fabric of the universe stand a flaw? An original musical about the three Fates in the modern city.
    Here is why the song’s writer Adam Gwon thinks this song would be a great audition number for a comedy actor:
    A short-and-sweet number for a funny guy. Lots of room to make the song your own, with some range-y stuff thrown in in the B section. Also not widely known (it was cut from a show of mine) so chances are you can stand out a little with this one.
    The links here are for Adam Gwon’s CD Ordinary Days but you can buy the sheet music for this particular song here
  • “See Rock City and Other Destinations” is a contemporary musical by Brad Alexander and Adam Mathias about connections missed and made at tourist destinations across America. With a score that incorporates pop, rock, folk and more, each story builds on the last to create a vivid travelogue of Americans learning to overcome their fears and expectations in order to connect.
    Here is why composer Adam Gwon thinks the title song Rock City makes a great audition number:
    This song will tell me everything I need to know about you very quickly. Can you act? Can you sing? Verse, chorus, check. The verse is easy to endow with some stakes (actors, please give high stakes to any song you perform at an audition!), and the chorus has some badass money notes. I also love listening to this song, so you’d get extra points for that.
    “Out there it waits for me
    Just off I-24
    I’ve got to see Rock City
    Answer to every prayer”
  • I just love this song and it really is one of those perfect audition songs for a character actor.
    The song was written for a specific project which Drew did not get but he loves the song and so put it out as a stand alone song. The song is a celebration of any young person who is cast aside for their love of something which isn’t considered very ‘now’, the character singing this song’s passion is magic.
    Here is what the composer Drew Gasparini has to say about this song
    Even when people look at you differently for what you do or believe in, there’s always that fire inside you that says ‘keep going.’ The word loser is subjective, and that’s what makes this character a hero
    Lovable nobodies are a tried and true method of character writing and acting. I think this song allows for vastness and smallness. It’s a toe tapper too…. shit… at least I hope it is. My mom thinks it’s good… so there’s that
    The links here are for Gasparini’s cd but you can buy the sheet music for this song here