It can be intimidating for a classically-trained singer to approach musical theater repertoire. However, as a professional singer, many auditions and performance opportunities that come your way will require you to sing some musical theater pieces, which tend to be very popular and accessible to audiences of all ages. Large opera companies are even starting to add musicals to their show rotations. It's a very good idea for a singer to have a musical theater audition piece or two in his or her back pocket.
Many of the current Broadway shows lean closer to pop music than classical music, and you've probably heard most of the "legit" musical theater pieces from the 40s, 50s, and 60s a thousand times. But not all hope is lost – there are still contemporary musicals that are being written with songs that are perfect for classical singers. Check out these pieces for your next musical theater audition!
The Light in the Piazza (2005)
Based on the novella by Elizabeth Spencer, The Light in the Piazza is set in the 1950s. The story revolves around wealthy Southern woman Margaret Johnson and her developmentally-stunted daughter, Clara, who are spending their summer in Italy. When Clara falls in love with Fabrizio, Margaret is forced to reconsider Clara’s future as well as her own.
“Il Mondo Era Vuoto” – Fabrizio Naccarelli (Tenor)
Having just met Clara, Fabrizio sings this heartfelt declaration of love to himself, hoping that he will be able to win her heart.
“The Joy You Feel” – Franca Naccarelli (Soprano/Mezzo-Soprano)
Fabrizio’s sister-in-law, Franca, takes Clara on a tour of the family’s home and warns her about how quickly love can fade in a marriage.
“The Light in the Piazza” – Clara Johnson (Soprano)
When Margaret tries to convince Clara to leave Florence and Fabrizio, Clara comes forth with this declaration of love for Fabrizio.
“Love to Me” – Fabrizio Naccarelli (Tenor)
When Clara becomes worried about her mental state and her ability to marry Fabrizio, Fabrizio reassures her of their love with this song.
A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder (2013)
Monty Navarro has just found out that he is the ninth in line to inherit the earldom of Highhurst, seat of the wealthy D’Ysquith family. He decides to make his claim for the earldom by killing all of the heirs in front of him. To fully accomplish his scheme, he also must balance his love for Miss Sibella Hallward, a wealthy social-climber, and Miss Phoebe D’Ysquith, his recently discovered kind-hearted cousin.
“I Don’t Know What I’d Do” – Sibella Hallward (Mezzo-Soprano)
Sibella expresses her appreciation for Monty, but she refuses to marry a poor man.
“Foolish to Think” – Monty Navarro (Baritone)
Having been rejected by Sibella regarding his feelings for her, Monty dreams about the idyllic life he would have if he were to inherit the D’Ysquith fortune.
“Inside Out” – Phoebe D’Ysquith (Soprano)
Ever the optimist, Phoebe tells Monty about her views on the world and on love.
“Sibella” – Monty Navarro (Baritone)
Though Sibella is married, she and Monty have been carrying on an affair for quite a while. Monty sings about his lover in this beautiful piece.
Grey Gardens (2006)
Based on a 1975 documentary, Grey Gardens follows the story of Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale (“Big Edie”) and her daughter Edith Bouvier Beale (“Little Edie”). The two women, originally rich and sophisticated aristocrats, eventually end up largely isolated in a decrepit home. Their mother-daughter relationship is explored as they progress through the show.
“Will You?” – Big Edie (Soprano/Mezzo-Soprano)
At the end of Act I, Big Edie has been deserted at Grey Gardens by all of her guests and by her daughter. She sings this song to herself, the one she had planned to sing to her guests.
“Around the World” – Little Edie (Soprano/Mezzo-Soprano)
By Act II, Little Edie has been stuck taking care of her mother for twenty years and sings this song full of regret and bitterness.
The Bridges of Madison County (2014)
The Bridges of Madison County is also based on a book by the same title about Francesca, an Italian war bride and wife of a farmer in Iowa. She meets and falls in love with Robert, a visiting photographer, beginning an affair that threatens to tear apart her family.
“What Do You Call a Man Like That?” – Francesca (Mezzo-Soprano)
Francesca has just met Robert, who was lost and needed help finding his way around town. She sings this song to herself as she considers the feelings she already has for him.
“Almost Real” – Francesca (Mezzo-Soprano)
Francesca explains to Robert how she came to live on an Iowa farm with her husband and family.
“Before and After You” – Francesca (Mezzo-Soprano)
Considering whether or not to run away with Robert, Francesca describes the reality of leaving her family behind.
Love Never Dies (2010)
The sequel to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera, Love Never Dies picks up ten years after Phantom ends. Christine has been invited to perform at Phantasma, a new attraction on Coney Island, and brings along her husband Raoul and her son Gustave. What she doesn’t know is that it was “The Phantom” who invited her to Brooklyn in the first place.
“Till I Hear You Sing Again” – The Phantom (Tenor)
The Phantom has been yearning for Christine for over ten years, and sings this song dreaming for her to come back to him.
“Love Never Dies” – Christine (Soprano)
After being given a choice to stay with Raoul or sing for the Phantom, Christine performs this song for an excited audience.
Musical theatre doesn't have to be off-limits to classical singers! Experimenting with musical theatre repertoire can help you be a more versatile singer, and with these modern musicals under your belt, you'll be ready for any audition you encounter.