“DO NOT” lists – Overdone Songs and Monologues

“DO NOT” lists can be controversial but can also be a great starting place to figure out if your singing something everyone else will be singing as well.  The following can serve as a starting place for your rep search.  I will update this list as I receive updates from agents, colleagues, etc.

In general:

Nothing with excessive profanity

Nothing that puts yourself up on a pedestal/says look at me!  (i.e. Gorgeous from Apple Tree)

Nothing with excessive sexual innuendo

Do not play a mentally challenged person

Do not ask rhetorical questions of a sexual nature to the audition panel

Nothing from a current Broadway show

Nothing made famous by a specific artist (i.e. Barbara Streisand or Kristin Chenoweth)

From a top agent in NYC:

  • Anything Jason Robert Brown
  • Anything from Phantom of the Opera
  • Girl in 14 G
  • Taylor the Latte Boy
  • Gorgeous (Apple Tree)
  • Take a Chance on Me
  • Run Away with Me
  • I Gotta Run
  • Neverland (Scott Alan)
  • Mama Says
  • Forest for the Trees
  • Not for the Life of Me (still)
  • Gimme Gimme (still)
  • everything from Wild Party
  • Screw Loose (this has been HUGE lately, and it’s just not a good audition song — kind of like Privilege to Pee — just screechy and annoying)
  • Privilege to Pee
  • Here I Am
  • Astonishing (still!)

Top Monologues:

  • Joan Cusack’s monologue (Is there, oh, ANY OTHER TIME you could have told me this?) — this has been VERY popular for at least three years now. Give it a rest.
  • Squeaky Fromme from Assassins
  • Darleen Dances
  • Bridal Registry from A My Name is Still Alice
  • Belize’s monologue about the national anthem from Angels in America
  • Mom’s Ashes from I Think I Love You — I can’t BELIEVE this is STILL so popular… it is really getting ridiculous
  • Murder Your Fish/Mess up your life a little… don’t know what it’s from but it must be in a monologue book somewhere because HOLY COW
  • Diana from Moving (Quaker school… awards… someone is going to prick your bubble)

From: http://www.musicaltheatreaudition.com/performance/auditions/overdoneauditionsongs.html

Overdone Audition Songs Not Associated With A Specific Show

  • I Get a Kick Out of You
  • Miss Bird
  • Embracable You
  • New York, New York

Entire Overdone Shows That Directors Are Sick Of

Watch Out For… Songs that are Problematic

(These songs may not necessarily be overdone, but have something that may make them inappropriate for auditions)

  • Over The Rainbow fom The Wizard of Oz (this song belongs to Judy Garland)
  • Any other “Signature Song”
From My Experience Behind the Table (seeing a lot of people performing these)
  • Breathe and It Won’t Be Long Now from “In the Heights”
  • Pulled
  • I believe (although I love it, so go ahead and sing if for Shenandoah 🙂
  • Live Out Loud
  • Pretty Funny from “Dogfight”
  • How ’bout a dance (again, I like it so feel free to sing it at SU)
One Last Thought
Almost every voice teacher in this country owns the Musical Theatre Anthology published by Hal Leonard.  If the song you are planning to use is out of that book, there’s a strong possibility its overdone (not always) but if every voice teacher owns it, your odds for hearing others sing it are high.  To increase your chances of finding something unique, try finding songs from books specific to a certain shows i.e. Vocal Selections from Aida.  If you have a library in your home town, try looking for complete vocal piano scores of Golden Age shows.  Also, remember most schools are only looking for a cut.  If there is a part of a larger ensemble piece or duet, but it makes a good cut, you can use it.
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20 comments

  1. Thanks so much for all of this advice on this blog! To add to the ideas on this page: I went to a master class with Jason Robert Brown recently who said that, yes there are things that are overdone, and do avoid the current or recent “hit” shows, but that there are dangers of doing songs way on the other end of the spectrum. Don’t do a song from a completely unknown or unproduced show – do stuff with pedigree, that shows that you know the repertoire and that you know what good writing is. Don’t bust your gut to try and do a song that no one else will be doing – you end up auditioning the song and not your performance of it. – all his words.

  2. Hi! I love your blog; it’s been an incredible help to me. I was just curious if I could get your opinion on a song choice of mine? I have a very important audition coming up where I am supposed to sing a contemporary musical theater piece, and I was thinking about “Everything Else” from the musical Next to Normal. I’ve performed it before with a lot of success, and I feel comfortable enough with it to use it for an audition. In your opinion has Next to Normal been overly popular for contemporary auditions?

  3. Is it generally a bad idea to do songs from musicals such as Honk, Seussical, Just So, etc, because the characters singing aren’t actually human? As obviously an animal can’t really be classed as your ‘type’…?

    1. It depends on the situation. If you were auditioning at a big open call for multiple companies, such as the Strawhat auditions or the Southeastern Theater Conference auditions, a song for one of those shows could work. It would need to relate to the monologue that you presented or to you as a person. For instance, “Wait a Bit” can work really well because it relates to normal human struggles. You could also use any of these songs for a show that had similar types of animal characters.

  4. Hi!

    I want to audition for the NYU Steinhardt master in musical theater program but I am having a bit of trouble choosing two audition songs. They say the songs must be contrasting but no “pop, jazz or rock songs”. What would you recommend??

    Thank you,

    Jennifer

  5. My voice teacher wants me to audition with “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” for “The Wizard of Oz” with a theater company that she’s part of. I’ve read a lot of audition tips and all of them say to never sing this song. I get why but I still wonder if it would be okay for a middle/high school show. Any thoughts?

      1. Ok thanks I just wasn’t really sure because she’s stopped giving classes for personal reasons and I couldn’t really ask her.

  6. Would it be unwise to do Rose’s Turn for a recorded audition tape? I can really nail the song but it is not age appropriate as I am a high schooler; should I do it nonetheless?

  7. Hi! Thanks for the advice. I’m auditioning for a musical theatre performance bachelor program and they want 2 songs one contemporary one golden age. I was thinking of doing The Light In the Piazza and Wonderful Guy from South Pacific? I was wondering how overdone these are/ would you recommend them? Thank you!

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