Jason Robert Brown Musical Theatre Audition Songs for Men

Jason Robert Brown Audition Songs for Men_550
Photo Credit: Huntington Theatre Company via cc
Over the last ten years, thanks to “The Last Five Years”, Jason Robert Brown has become the musical theatre composer for musical theatre buffs. He is the unsung hero, the intelligent choice, the Sondheim for the next generation.
When I was working in and auditioning for musical theatre back in the 1990s, the advice was always you should never sing a Sondheim song for a casting, sometimes the accompanist wouldn’t know the material well enough and if you didn’t nail it the chances are the director would know the song already and have an idea of how it should be sung. The same has been told to me about Jason Robert Brown in the last few years, don’t touch it for auditions. Well in the words of Sondheim ‘Everybody says don’t’ ….. so I say do!
If you are going to tackle a Jason Robert Brown song for a casting, then I would suggest trying to get someone to create a simple accompaniment for you, or get one of the great backing tracks which you can buy via Amazon from my links below. You don’t want it to be a struggle for the pianist, you want them to be able to keep up with the music and with you.
Jason Robert Brown has a pretty extensive back catalogue which people don’t really tap into for castings. It is vitally important that you sing well at a casting, but probably more important in the initial stages is that you can act, can take some direction, and that you stand out from the crowd. Look a bit deeper than the obvious and you might find a real gem which will get you remembered.
I would strongly recommend you delve into your wallet and buy a copy of Jason Robert Brown plays Jason Robert Brown male edition These are great resources and come with a CD of JRB himself as an accompanist, so you can take this with you to any casting and have the great man himself play for you.
Jason Robert Brown Audition Songs for Men
This is a list of the songs from Jason Robert Brown Plays (men’s edition), along with some You tube video’s to give you an idea of the song in performance.

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Click on image to buy from Amazon
  • The opening song from the show Parade. The song is delivered by a young Confederate soldier heading out to fight. He sings of his love for his sweetheart (who he is singing to) and for his love of his land and his determination to fight for his Old Red Hills.
    This song I have seen delivered weakly as a kind of love song, but it really needs some power and anger behind it to really give it the balls it deserves. Alternatively try it with fear and maybe an inner belief that you are actually heading off to die and might never come home to the land and woman you love. Back story is all when delivering a song at a casting.
  • 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.
  • A terrific story song about being in a relationship with a woman who you know is no good for you, but you just can’t escape from. Its one of those brilliant JRB songs which takes you as an actor on a real journey of emotions.
  • With the relationship with Cathy going so well they have decided to move in together, his book is also being published, in this song Jamie comments on how life is going so well for him
    Another classic JRB song which is an incredible sing and a real performance. If you do this well then you can show off so much, emotions, different styles of singing, your acting skills. A real showcase of a song
  • Cathy and Jamie’s relationship is on rocky ground, Cathy is accusing him of having an affair with his publisher Elise, and he thinks her career is failing. They argue. This song is sung through frustration and anger but through his harsh words he tries to tell Cathy that he still believes in her.
    You need to really put acting at the front of your mind to deliver this song with the power it needs. So often I have seen it delivered limply, you need to hang on to the bubbling anger beneath it, and perhaps even the knowledge that it is over and that you need her to go off on her own with some strength and dignity.
  • A beautiful love song, to finish off this wonderful collection. This song would be a perfect fit if you are auditioning for a young lead role.
    This is one of those songs which is best underplayed, again head for truth and really build the back story behind the song. Picture exactly who it is you are delivering the song to and why.
  • 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.
  • Sung by Leo the main character in Parade who has been wrongly accused of raping and murdering a 13 year old, he has been found guilty and sentenced to death. In this song he has been granted an appeal by the Governor, who has agreed to reopen the case thanks to the fight of Leo’s wife Lucille
    This is such a powerful song, a song of relief and optimism and fight, really get into the character and believe that you have just been granted some more hours to live on this earth and deliver the song with all you have
  • King of the World is sung by a man in prison, as Songs for a New World doesn’t have a story as such, we have to create the back story from the song itself.
    For me the song is about a political activist who has been imprisoned for his beliefs but knows that the fight and the cause are bigger than him. Even in jail, even facing death, this is a man who survives.
    You could play this in a number of ways, might be interesting to play it as a serial killer who believes in himself and believes what he has done was for the greater good this might give it a darker interesting edge, or play it as a Martin Luther King Jr type of persecuted activist. Either way works and each gives it a unique slant.
  • Wearing Someone Else’s Clothes is Jason Robert Brown’s solo album, so if you choose a song from this then you need to do some homework and build up a back story to the song. Remember that auditioning for a musical theatre job is not just about singing, if it was they would just hire a singer not an actor. You need to showcase your acting skills. Working on the story and character is just as important as hitting the notes.
    This song was cut from The Last Five Years and replaced with Shiksa Goddess so tap into the same feelings as that song for this.
  • This is one of my favourite songs by Jason Robert Brown. It is a beautiful song about the relationship between brothers, it hits home for me being the acting-geek of a family of sporty brothers!
    Jason write this for his brothers wedding where he was asked to deliver a toast but decided to do it with a song. If it connects with you like it did with me then it will be a lovely number to deliver at audition, full of emotion and telling a real story about differences and how they come to mean nothing when a relationship is so strong.
With these songs if you buy the book you will have the CD as a backup at any casting but it is always worth mentioning to any accompanist ‘this might be a bit mad, if its too mental we can go with something else’. Best advice for any musical theatre casting: have the sheet music, have a custom made, simplified version, have a CD accompaniment, and have another song or songs in your repertoire just incase they want to hear something else