Overdone Songs for Musical Theater Auditions

by Amy Sundberg

I have compiled two different lists: one with specific musical theater songs that are generally used A LOT in auditions, and the other more general with lists of shows and composers that you should consider avoiding. If you find your song on one of these lists, it doesn't necessarily mean that you shouldn't use it. Just keep in mind that it will either probably be used by someone else at the same audition, or that the auditioning committee have probably heard that song way too often over the years. If you choose a song that is a little less popular, it is more likely that the panel will be able to pay attention to your individual singing and acting capabilities instead of comparing you to others or immediately dismissing you out of boredom.

In the list of shows and composers to avoid, keep in mind that some songs will be more overdone than others. For instance, in The Sound of Music, I would be more likely to audition with "I Have Confidence" than with "Sound of Music". If you are auditioning for a Sondheim show, it is perfectly reasonable to audition with another Sondheim song from a different musical in order to show that you can handle the difficulty of his music.

Also please keep in mind that inclusion on these lists does not reflect poorly on the song or show mentioned. Most of these songs are up here because they are very popular, not because people necessarily dislike them. A lot of these songs may be great to learn and perform in other settings, just not at auditions.

Remember, the single most important thing when choosing a song is that you choose something that you're comfortable with. I've had students get lead parts using songs from "Annie", "My Fair Lady", and "The Fantastiks", among others. One time when I was in "Joseph", the girl who was cast as the narrator sang "I Have Confidence". I can't emphasize enough that the most important things are that you choose a song you can sing well and that you are prepared.

Please note that this list is most relevant for ADULT singers planning for auditions. Several of the below mentioned songs and shows are not overdone in children's theater or high school settings.

Overdone Audition Songs

1. Adelaide's Lament from Guys and Dolls
2. All That Jazz from Chicago
3. Any "Signature Song" (song that one performer is very strongly identified with)
4. Any song from the show for which you are auditioning, unless specified on the audition notice
5. Big Spender from Sweet Charity
6. Broadway Baby, from Follies
7. Can't Help Lovin'Dat Man from Show Boat
8. Castle on a Cloud from Les Miserables
9. Climbing Up Hill Last Five Years
10. Corner of the Sky from Pippin
11. Defying Gravity, from Wicked
12. Don't Cry For Me Argentina, Evita
13. Embraceable You
14. Good Morning Baltimore from Hairspray
15. Hard Hearted Hannah, Follies
16. He Plays the Violin, 1776
17. Hero from Footloose
18. Hit Me With a Hot Note from Follies
19. I Can't Say No from Oklahoma!
20. I Could Have Danced All Night from My Fair Lady
21. I Don't Know How to Love Him from Jesus Christ Superstar
22. I Enjoy Being A Girl from Flower Drum Song
23. I Get a Kick Out of You, Cole Porter
24. I Hate Men from Kiss Me Kate
25. I Know Things Now from Into the Woods
26. I'm not that Girl from Wicked
27. If I Loved You, Carousel (possibly)
28. If I were a Bell, Guys and Dolls
29. Johnny One Note
30. Let's Hear It For The Boy from Footloose
31. Little Girls from Annie
32. Lonely Room
33. Maybe, Annie
34. Memory from Cats
35. Miss Bird
36. Much More from the Fantasticks
37. Music of the Night from The Phantom of the Opera
38. My New Philosophy, Charlie Brown
39. New York, New York
40. Nobody Does It Like Me, Seesaw
41. Not While I'm Around, Sweeney Todd
42. Oh What a Beautiful Morning, Oklahoma
43. On my Own from Les Miserables
44. Over The Rainbow from The Wizard of Oz (this song belongs to Judy Garland)
45. Past is Another Land from Aida
46. Popular from Wicked
47. Purpose, Avenue Q
48. Ribbons Down My Back, Hello Dolly
49. Seasons of Love from Rent
50. Shy from Once Upon a Mattress
51. Some Enchanted Evening, from South Pacific
52. Someone Like You, Jekyll and Hyde
53. Someone to Watch over Me
54. Somewhere That's Green, Little Shop
55. Summertime from Porgy & Bess
56. Surrey With The Fringe On Top, Oklahoma
57. There are Worse Things I could do from Grease
58. They Call the Wind Mariah from Paint Your Wagon
59. This Nearly Was Mine, South Pacific
60. Tomorrow, Annie
61. Vanilla Ice Cream, She Loves Me
62. Wash That Man from South Pacific
63. What I Did For Love, A Chorus Line
64. Wizard and I from Wicked
65. Wouldn't it be Loverly from My Fair Lady
66. You Can Always Count on Me from City of Angels
67. Not for the Life of Me from Thoroughly Modern Millie
68. Cockeyed Optimist, from South Pacific

Shows and Composers to Avoid

1. Aida
2. Annie
3. Any show that the company you are auditioning for has done recently
4. Jason Robert Brown's songs tend to be sung a lot.
5. Chorus Line
6. Evita
7. Fantastiks
8. Footloose
9. Grease
10. Jekyll & Hyde
11. Les Miserables
12. Little Shop of Horrors
13. My Fair Lady
14. Mystery of Edwin Drood
15. Phantom of the Opera
16. Rent
17. Sondheim, Stephen - while Sondheim might sometimes be appropriate, keep in mind the extreme difficulty of the accompaniment on some of his songs, and choose accordingly
18. Sound of Music
19. Thoroughly Modern Millie
20. Webber, Andrew Lloyd
21. Whatever the "Hot New Musical" is (for example, Spring Awakening is pretty popular right now in 2010)
22. Wicked

Also be wary of anything still on Broadway.

This list is meant to be used as a helpful reference as you are choosing your audition pieces. Ultimately, choosing the "perfect" audition song will only take you so far. If you have chosen a song that really shows off your singing and acting abilities, regardless of how overdone it is, you should have a successful audition.

design copyright 2003-2004 Joe Jaquette
content copyright 2003-2006 Amy Sundberg