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Dear West End Producer: ‘What audition songs do you love, but want people to stop singing?’

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Sometimes I find myself in old village halls, cradling a lukewarm coffee, with a pile of headshits in front of me, willing the next person in the room to be right for the role of ‘Prostitute 25’ in Les Mis. It’s a difficult, tiring, trying task – made even more painful when it’s littered with bad song choices.

Choosing the correct song is one of the most important things an actor can do in their audition. Not only does it show off their voice and acting skills (staring blankly in front and taking two steps forward during a key change), but it allows an actor to stand out. If we hear a new song, or something that hasn’t been performed in a while, it is incredibly exciting – we like discovering new songs as much as performers do (in some cases a new song can even wake my casting director up, dear).

There are songs that make me shake with fear and wish I was at home with my Miss Saigon blow-up doll

Inevitably, there are also songs that make me shake with fear and wish I was at home with my Miss Saigon blow-up doll. These are the songs that we hear over and over in auditions, and are the main reason why so many directors and producers end up in rehab (‘I’ve heard 500 versions of Stars this week – please, someone, make it stop’). Of course, there is a reason why some songs are so popular (and please God never sing Popular) and that’s because they are good. But singing a good song should only be done if you’re really good at it (we will have heard it so many times that to make it stand out it has to be sensational – I’m talking Bonnie Langford standard, dear). So – what songs should be avoided at all costs?

I’m Still Hurting (The Last Five Years). This makes me actually want to hurt someone.

I Dreamed a Dream (Les Mis). The dream quickly turns into a nightmare, dear.

On My Own (Les Mis). Singing this song will just sum up your career.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow (Wizard of Oz). Only if you’re wearing ruby slippers, dear.

Anthem (Chess). To make matters worse this song is usually shouted, not sung.

Vanilla Ice Cream (She Loves Me). Definitely not! And definitely not on a burning summer’s day when we’re trapped in a sweltering church hall.

Close Every Door (Joseph). Makes me heave multicoloured vomit, dear.

Corner of the Sky (Pippin). This is done so much. And is usually performed far too excitedly (on a side note – too much smiling during songs does nothing but show off the colour of your teeth).

Memory (Cats). Gives me fur balls.

This is the Moment (Jekyll and Hyde). It is never the moment.

Mr Cellophane (Chicago). Makes the singer literally turn into Mr Cellophane.

Being Alive (Company). When I hear this in auditions it makes me feel dead inside.

Suddenly Seymour (Little Shop of Horrors). Suddenly bored.

Not While I’m Around (Sweeney Todd). Never sing this while I’m around, dear.

Why God Why? (Miss Saigon). Precisely.

Send questions to your dear agony aunt via Twitter @westendproducer. Read more of West End Producer’s weekly advice columns every Wednesday at thestage.co.uk/author/westendproducer

Dear West End Producer: ‘What are the cardinal sins of auditioning?’

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