Nail Your Next Audition With These Top 10 Songs for Tenors

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If you’re a tenor who aspires to become a musical theater legend like Danny Gurwin or John Cameron Mitchell, the first step is choosing the right audition song. To help you get started, here’s a collection of 10 great selections for tenors, featuring a mix of uptempo and ballad, obscure and old favorites.

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10 great audition songs for tenors

“Lost in the Wilderness” from “Children of Eden”

 

This brother-to-brother song from Stephen Schwartz’s 1991 “Children of Eden” might have made overdone lists about 10 years ago, but after an anecdotal drop in popularity, it feels like time to bring it back. It’s driving, rousing, and a little bit angsty. Despite being nearly 35 years old, its timeless sound makes it an appropriate choice for any contemporary tenor audition. It’s also a great offering in that it’s a call to adventure rather than a song about love (which is harder to find than you think!). 

“I Met a Girl” from “Bells Are Ringing”

A wonderful uptempo offering, this song from the 1956 Comden and Green show is both rangy and sweet—and can be a great comedic feature if played right. It’s a great alternative to the more often used “She Loves Me” from the musical of the same name.  

“Fifty Million Years Ago” from “Celebration”

Likely the most obscure addition to this list, this uptempo number from 1969’s “Celebration” would be a welcome addition to any tenor’s audition book. Optimistic, earnest, and driving, it would be great to bring in for other more often produced Schmidt-Jones offerings (such as “The Fantasticks”) and as a replacement for more commonly sung young mangenue songs of the same era, such as “Corner of the Sky” from “Pippin.”

“Winter’s on the Wing” from “The Secret Garden” 

Though written in 1991, “Winter’s on the Wing” is a great uptempo choice for a tenor whose voice skews more toward a traditional musical theater sound. This song is a little more technically difficult than other inclusions on this list, making for an impressive offering in the room—especially if you want to show off something that leans towards patter without being strictly a patter song, which sometimes doesn’t show enough range-wise.

“Take a Chance on Me” from “Little Women”

If you’re looking for a choice from a classic novel turned musical, “Take a Chance on Me” is worth a look. It’s exuberant and catchy, and while it’s by no means obscure, it’s a great pairing for the pop-tenor sound that’s so hot these days. This is a great option alongside similar offerings from the early 2000s, such as “What Do I Need With Love?” from “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and “I’m Alive” from “Next to Normal.” 

“I Chose Right” from “Baby”

Maltby and Shire’s 1983 “Baby” may not be produced very often, but it’s full of great songs, and “I Chose Right” is no exception. A simple declaration of love, its conversational style makes it a good opportunity to show off acting skills within the confines of a ballad. This one might even sound better with a single piano than it does with the full orchestral arrangement presented on the album.

“Easy to Love” from “Anything Goes”

This romantic Cole Porter standard was originally written for 1934’s “Anything Goes”—though it was actually cut from the original staging and only restored for later revivals, including the most recent Broadway revival in 2011. Sung in the style of the show, this one is an excellent alternative to more commonly used golden age offerings like “Younger Than Springtime” from “South Pacific” or “Ten Minutes Ago” from “Cinderella.” Its prior legacy as a jazz standard means it would take only a little stylistic tweaking to use for your next jazz musical audition as well.

“She Was There” from “The Scarlet Pimpernel”

This moving ballad from Frank Wildhorn’s “The Scarlet Pimpernel” is a great choice if you’re looking for something earnest without being inherently boyish, as many of these tenor songs can end up reading (mostly just the nature of the beast—most young characters are written to have higher voices). Romantic, sweeping, and intense, “She Was There” lends itself to the young and mature tenor alike. And, though not the sole reason for its inclusion on this list, it does feature a fantastic key change. 

“Later” from “A Little Night Music”

No audition list would be complete without at least one offering from the Sondheim canon. Brooding, introspective, and a little bit neurotic, “Later” is a great way to demonstrate both a grasp of the Sondheim style and acting ability. It also features an impressive sustained B4, so if you only have a few seconds to show off your range, this would be one quick way to get the job done.

“Where Do I Go?” from “Hair”

Written for what is widely accepted to be the first rock musical, “Where Do I Go?” is a great choice for a pensive ballad with a stellar beat. It’s also another ever-elusive ballad that isn’t about love, so depending on the role you’re auditioning for, this may be a particularly attractive option.

What makes a good audition song for tenors?

It shows off your range. A good audition song will give casting a strong sense of what you bring to the table as a performer both vocally and as an actor, as quickly as possible. 

It’s memorable. Ideally, it will help you stand out among similar auditionees, whether through the uniqueness of the tune, an original point of view, or the acting choices you make while performing it.

It fits the audition format. As with all audition pieces, it has to be something that easily lends itself to a logical 16- to 32-bar cut. (Or even eight bars. Thanks, audition season!). As much as we all would love to bring in all seven minutes of “Soliloquy” from “Carousel,” it’s simply not feasible. 

It fits you. The most important feature of a great audition song is that it resonates with you. Nothing makes a person shine more than when they really enjoy the material they’re singing. It makes them a joy to watch and (hopefully!) a joy to cast.

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