Song Analysis for Musical Theatre Actors and Auditions

Song Analysis for Musical Theatre Actors and Auditions_550
Photo Credit: adapted from frankieleon via cc
When you are choosing a song for an audition you need to ask yourself a question and answer it honestly – are you an actor who can sing or a singer who can act?
Or to put it another way – what is the primary focus of your career: is it to act or to sing?
I am guessing, because you are on this site, that you are first and foremost an actor.
I get so fed up and depressed by seeing actors and students who I know could be brilliant being scuppered by their own demons and trying to become a singer when they have a musical theatre or a drama school audition. I have seen students forget all about character and acting and perform songs with pointless Aguilera warbles or Menzel-esque belting with no emotional connection whatever.
A singer who hits all the right notes but doesn’t think about storytelling, emotion and character is just that – a singer. Musical theatre needs actors, drama schools want actors. If they wanted pitch perfect singers then believe me they would find them – they want ACTORS – they want people who can tell a story with a song and perform a it as a character.
Think of the difference between Susan Boyle and Anne Hathaway singing ‘I Dreamed A Dream’ – one is an actor singing a song, the other is a singer singing a song – both tell their own story but I know who I would cast in a show from those two performances.
Here is a great example of an actor truly acting a song never losing sight of character, emotion or story:
Singing a song in a musical is not just about the power notes – I was speaking to one of my good friends who is a West End actress and an acting coach and she told me I much prefer to hear cracked notes but a moving believable song … what’s the point of singing if there’s no connection
So start to treat any song as you would any acting piece.
The first thing I would ask you to do is to write the song out as a speech, in prose form paying attention to the punctuation marks.
Read it aloud as a speech a few times and start to consider the character and the story.
The more you can know about the character and the story the more you can draw from and create depth and emotion. When you are truly able to relate to the character, the story and the emotion then a power note becomes an emotional connection.
Here are some song analysis questions you should be asking before you start to sing.