12 Broadway Bangers for Baritones to Audition With

Article Image
Photo Source: “Hamilton” Credit: © 2020 Lin-Manuel Miranda and Nevis Productions

If you’ve got the type of baritone that can shake the boards like Hugh Jackman’s or Josh Groban’s, there’s no shortage of great audition songs to pick from. The challenge is narrowing down the list. Here are 12 fantastic options from musicals throughout history, plus advice on choosing the right song for you.

Baritone audition songs

“I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General” from “The Pirates of Penzance” (1879; music by Arthur Sullivan, libretto by W.S. Gilbert)

There’s no better way to impress the room than deftly performing a tongue-twisting patter song. If you want to show off your command of playful language, this selection from Gilbert and Sullivan’s landmark operetta is for you. Make sure to warm up with articulation exercises beforehand. 

“My Time of Day” from “Guys and Dolls” (1950; music and lyrics by Frank Loesser)

“Luck Be a Lady” is the tried-and-true option from this iconic musical. But if you want to go the less obvious route, opt for this brief, impactful number sung by charming gambler Sky Masterson. Push your charisma to the fore so you can woo the room the same way Sky woos the uptight Sarah Brown. (Though you should resist the urge to imitate, it can’t hurt to check out Marlon Brando’s performance in Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s 1955 film adaptation.) 

“Put on a Happy Face” from “Bye Bye Birdie” (1960; music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Lee Adams) 

Infectious enthusiasm in the face of disappointing news isn’t for everyone; but if you’re looking to convey a playful midcentury vibe in the room, this charming classic may be for you. If you’re auditioning for a golden age musical, “Put on a Happy Face” effortlessly speaks to that rhythm and tone.

“Camelot” from “Camelot” (1960; music by Frederick Loewe, lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner)

“Camelot,” sung by King Arthur, is one of the more straightforward picks for baritones, as it falls perfectly in your range. Still, it’s worth considering this pleasant ditty if you want to show off your charm. If your baritone is on the higher side, opt for Lancelot’s “If Ever I Would Leave You.”

“Being Alive” from “Company” (1970; music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim)

This Sondheim showstopper has grown in popularity thanks to Adam Driver’s memorable performance in Noah Baumbach’s 2019 film “Marriage Story.” It’s arguably the song to perform if you’re looking to show off both your acting and vocal chops. When the perpetually single Bobby is surrounded by his married friends at the end of “Company,” he finally admits that he wants to fall in love with someone he can truly open up to. Be warned: You’ll need to have a broader range for this one, as it includes some high notes. 

“Pretty Women” from “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” (1979; music and lyrics by Sondheim) 

It’s hard to go wrong with this deliciously dark Sondheim classic. Though “Pretty Women” is a duet, it can easily be trimmed down to a solo. Really dig into the part; playing the titular Victorian murderer invites performers to go big. Don’t be afraid to make memorable, unexpected choices at every turn.

“Stars” from “Les Misérables” (1980; music by Claude-Michel Schönberg, lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer)

In this dramatic solo, antagonistic police inspector Javert, swears that he’ll bring his longtime nemesis, Jean Valjean, to justice. “Stars” demands an aura of authority, so sing it with conviction. And remember, every villain believes they’re the hero of the story, so this song should come off as a noble pledge rather than an oath of vengeance—even if the audience knows better.

“Me” from “Beauty and the Beast” (1993; music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice)

Playing a Disney villain is a great opportunity to go big. The showboating Gaston’s proposal to Belle ticks all the boxes for delivering a deliciously campy performance. This ode to machismo is a popular choice, so make sure you put your own spin on it. 

“Make Them Hear You” from “Ragtime” (1996; music by Stephen Flaherty, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens)

This rousing protest anthem is guaranteed to blow the doors off of the audition room. Sung by Black activist Coalhouse Walker in the moments before he goes to face his death, this belter affords bass-baritones the opportunity to boldly work their magic and convey big emotions.


The Brain” from “Young Frankenstein” (2007; music and lyrics by Mel Brooks)

Baritone musical theater actors don’t often get the chance to show off their fun side in song. This hilarious tune from Mel Brooks’ horror send-up is a wonderful exception, allowing you to show off your comic timing. When performing this triumphant number from the titular mad scientist, going big could mean the difference between a callback and rejection.

“Yesterday, Tomorrow, and Today” from “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown” (2010; music and lyrics by David Yazbek)

This musical adaptation of Pedro Almodóvar’s Oscar-nominated 1988 film is one of the lesser-known shows on this list—which means choosing a piece from it can help you stand out in the room. Embrace the cheesiness of this uptempo seduction number while maintaining a straight face. Throw self-consciousness to the wind so you can pour real emotion into verses like:

The book of love has many pages
My Filofax has only three
But give me your home number, darling
I’ll call you when a slot is free.

“Wait for It” from “Hamilton” (2015; music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda)

Ironically, pulling off Aaron Burr’s ode to playing your cards close to the vest calls for an Alexander Hamilton level of ambition. Though Leslie Odom Jr. delivered his iconic performance in his smooth tenor, the lower range of the song can work just as well for a baritone. “Wait for It” mixes R&B and pop-music styles; and since it’s shot through with potent emotionality, it’s a great opportunity to show off your acting range as well as your vocal one. Add weight by digging deep into Burr’s personal history and psyche.

What makes a good baritone audition song?

The first thing to consider is whether your voice is more baritone-tenor, bass-baritone, or something in between. Once you’ve established your range, here are a few factors to think about when choosing a song.

It fits you. Pick a piece that allows you to fully embody the character singing it, meaning one that’s castable for you both in terms of utility (gender, age, accent) and the emotions you’re best able to portray.

It reflects the show you’re auditioning for. If you’re trying out for a role in “Ragtime,” it’s probably not a good idea to pick a comedic song from “Young Frankenstein.” Your selection should match the tone of the project you’re going in for. 

It has a strong narrative arc. Whether you’re singing a whole song or a few bars, your piece should take the audience on a journey and leave them wanting more.

It conveys powerful feelings. Whether it’s an uplifting ode to love or a devastating dirge, the piece you choose should allow you to connect to listeners on an emotional level.