The Best Jason Robert Brown Audition Songs for Women

Jason Robert Brown Audition Songs for Women_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 Women’s edition . This is a great resource and comes 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 Women
This is a list of the songs from Jason Robert Brown Plays (women’s edition), along with some You tube video’s to give you an idea of the song in performance.

Click on title to view the video

Click on image to buy from Amazon
  • A song which is full of deep emotion.
    The song is sung by a young girl who has discovered she is pregnant, from the lyrics I would imagine she is alone in the world. This girl finds grace in her situation, she feels worth for the first time in her life. She is bringing another person into this world, a person who perhaps can make a difference like she could not.
    I would recommend this song is sung with innocence and honesty, no edges no tricks, just sung simply. I also suggest that this could be sung to the unborn child and that way you might tap into the correct emotion.
  • A Summer in Ohio is one of those songs which will make the audience smile
    This song gives you loads of room to show off your personality and comedic skills. Cathy is writing a letter to Jamie, she has an acting job in Ohio and is telling him of the disappointing life and the eccentric colleagues she has there. A joy for anyone who has worked in small town rep!
  • Mr Hopalong Heartbreak is taken from the Jason Robert Brown musical Urban Cowboy. “It’s the story of Bud, a new breed of cowboy who’s turnin’ heads and lookin’ for love in the biggest honkeytonk in the world. But can he raise the roof, get the girl and ride the bull, all before last call?”
    The song is sung by Sissy when she has decided to get out of her small town life and her small town relationship. Its a lovely survivor’s song, and you can also showcase some humour in it.
  • The Last Five Years is one of my favourite musicals. It is beautiful, intelligent and simple.
    The story explores a five-year relationship between Jamie and Cathy. The show uses a form of storytelling in which Cathy’s story is told in reverse order (beginning the show at the end of the marriage), and Jamie’s is told in order (starting just after the couple have first met). The characters do not directly interact except for a wedding song in the middle as their timelines intersect.
    This song is the opening number of the show and is Cathy lamenting the end of the marriage. I will say it again but I truly believe this song needs no tricks and no big show off belty moments, play it for its simplicity and for the emotion. Also take note of the opening words “Jamie is over and Jamie has gone”, she knows it is over, there is no fight left just a sad realisation of life’s finality.
  • Songs For A New World has no story so if you choose a song from this to audition with, you need to do your homework. Build a story and a character around the song show them you can act and create.
    A recurring theme in Songs For A New World is parents. Mothers are portrayed as nurturing and fathers destructive, with a few exceptions. This song is one of the exceptions. This is a song about a woman abandoning her children and husband, the kids must be young because one of them is afraid of the dark. You need to know why she is leaving, is it best for them or for her. Play with performing it in different emotional states, don’t go for the obvious, see how this changes the song, see how this changes the performance. The beauty of a song like this is that you can build your character and see what works best for you.
  • 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.
    A gorgeous song about the beauty of real friendship as a child. Remember this song is sung by a 13 year old girl, so if you are performing it then tap into those emotions of how real it feels to find a best friend as a child. Hang on the truth, don’t play any of it for laughs, play it for the truth of the character and the truth of her feelings and you will be onto a winner.
  • Parade is an epic show dealing with the 1913 trial of Leo Frank who was accused and convicted of raping and murdering a thirteen-year-old employee. The trial was sensationalised by the media. When Frank’s death sentence was commuted to life in prison by the departing Governor of Georgia, Leo Frank was kidnapped by a lynching party and hanged from an oak tree.
    This song is sung by Lucille, Leo Frank’s wife, who is singing to a young reporter who has seen the case as a way to build his own career and become famous. This is a real actor’s song and has tremendous power when handled correctly
  • And I Will Follow.
    This song isn’t from a show, it comes from Jason Robert Brown’s solo album, so you could interpret it how you wish. Really dig into the lyrics and find the story behind the song. Make sure you have a clear story and a clear character so that you can showcase your acting skills.
    This song isn’t from a show, it comes from Jason Robert Brown’s solo album, so you could interpret it how you wish. Really dig into the lyrics and find the story behind the song. For me it is about a woman keeping her vow, you need to work out her vow to who or what, sometimes as an actor it is worth not going for the obvious and seeing how that changes the delivery.
  • Stars and The Moon is a popular one, so make it your own.
    A twist on the saying “Be careful what you wish for, because it might just come true”. The woman singing tells of the three men in her life and how she rejects the two dreamers and chooses the rich man. The song is about the misapprehension that being financially rich makes you rich in life. The women finds out only too late in life what she has missed out on.
    A gem of a song to show off storytelling, acting and singing ability.
  • Cathy is taking her new boyfriend Jamie to meet her parents. She tells him about her past relationships and how she is not going to end up like her friend from high school
    Remember this is at the start of their relationship so should be acted with that kind of daft enthusiasm which you ‘put on’ when you are trying to impress someone you fancy! A great story song which is full of character.
  • The last song in The Last Five Years, and in context is a real heartbreaker as it is sung when Cathy has first met Jamie (but in the back to front show, it actually happens on stage after we have witnessed Jamie telling his lover that he is leaving Cathy. In this song Cathy is ecstatic after her first date with Jamie. She sings goodbye. She proclaims that she has been waiting for Jamie her whole life.
    This should be sung full of excitement and energy and a real zest for life. Full of the butterflies you feel and adrenaline rush when you realise you have just met ‘the one’, the one you are going to spend your life with.
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