NMT on NMT: #NMTWriters Pick Audition Songs
We asked #NMTWriters for audition song recommendations – specifically, one song that they wrote and one song that they didn’t write. Read on to find out their top picks!
When She Smiles. I heard a girl sing this song of Lewis Flinn’s in a master class and it felt fresh and young and it surprised and delighted me. Surely, not everyone can pull that off but I love gender-bending in an audition. It shows your confidence. It makes me sit up and pay attention.
On that note, here’s one of our songs that works great in an audition. Our friend Josh Young told us the reason he likes to use it in an audition is because as an actor, you’re asking for something from your audience. It’s easier to get the audience on your side than it is with a stationary ballad. But this version is in a girl’s key, which is a little less expected. BTW, we also have a lower girl’s key if this one is too belt-your-face off. That’s the key I use.
One of my favorite songs by one of my favorite NMT writers is “Deep In February” by my fellow Bay Area transplant, Gaby Alter. He writes the hell of a song. This song gives the performer so much room for interpretation. And showcases are so used to show a belt, but this song speaks. This song is such a simple thought turned into a relatable venture, and it takes more than just a singer. It takes a great performer.
One of my songs that I’d recommend is a song called “The Last Loser In The Universe.” Lovable nobodies are a tried and true method of character writing and acting. I think this song allows for vastness and smallness. It’s a toe tapper too…. shit… at least I hope it is. My mom thinks it’s good… so there’s that
“Happy” – music by Joy Son, lyrics by Jill Abramovitz. Ok, so I’m a little biased because my wife wrote the lyrics. But they’re amazing lyrics! This is one of the great comedy songs for women with music that perfectly expresses the utter exasperation of the character while staying sublime from start to finish.
“What Am I Afraid Of” – music by me, lyrics by Adam Mathias. If you’re looking to show your way-dramatic side, this bite-sized song from SEE ROCK CITY & OTHER DESTINATIONS is sung by “Kate,” who finds herself at the top of Niagara Falls on her wedding day, paralyzed by her fear of “taking the leap.” It’s a short song but packs in a lot in terms of range, intensity and vulnerability.
WILL VAN DYKE
I’m always a huge fan of auditioning with music that fun and catchy enough that beyond your time in the room, it leaves the person behind the table humming. Sometimes a great tune is just as important as a great performance. For that reason I recommend: Stroke By Stroke by Ryan Scott Oliver. My tune that I recommend is Marie and Me.
“Random Black Girl” by Kooman and Dimond. This song equally for showing vocals and comedy. Lots of beats, lots of space to show chops. Also, always fun to hear it the room.
“Me” from A Lasting Impression. This song is great to sing if you have a rock/soul edge to your voice. It also has a depth of hurt and pain, that unravels over the course of the song so you can take different cuts and get different arcs.
“Jeff” by Joe Iconis: I love Joe’s stuff because it’s so unexpected. This song takes a turn you never see coming, and it may not be appropriate for the stuffier showcases/auditions, but intelligent audiences with a sense of humor will appreciate both the great situation the character is in, and the opportunities it gives the actor who’s playing him.
“Welcome the Change” by me: this was a song that was cut from GLORY DAYS because the plot changed, but I always thought it’d make a good audition song because not only is it musically rangy and full of a ton of words to spit out, but it’s also got a big journey in it which is always useful in a situation where you need to show a lot of yourself in 3 minutes or less.
Carner and Gregor’s “All At Once” from UNLOCK’D is a remarkable tenor solo — an amazing roller-coaster ride that unfolds in just a little over two minutes. The economy of it means that in certain circumstances, you might be able to perform the entire song at an audition… which is always a good thing, because then you get a full arc as intended by the writers. But even in excerpt, the song offers such a wide range of effects… delicate, magical moments realization… expansive, belt-your-face off exuberance… it’s all in there! This is a character who has just discovered a new love, and the song beautifully captures the thrilling emotions of that experience.
I have a song called “The Lady Must Be Mad” from ILLYRIA, which is another young-tenor-in-love moment. The song is based on Sebastian’s monologue in act 4, scene 3 of Twelfth Night. My song is not as economical as the Carner & Gregor song, and at auditions most people seem to do the final verse of it, which offers a challenging minute-long cut and a high A at the end. As with “All At Once,” what I like about the song as audition material is that there is a pleasing cocktail of confusion and exhilaration that all comes together in the home stretch of the song. An actor has a lot to play here in the small time allowed for an audition.
Keep reading for suggestions from Adam Gwon, Ryan Scott Oliver, and more!