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Getting involved in musical theatre can be a tremendous boost to your interpretive skills as a singer. It can strengthen your ability to make an emotional connection with a song that resonates in the heart of the audience.

One of the challenges that many singers face when auditioning for a role in a musical is that often a singer relies on their voice without giving proper attention to interpretive skills. The same applies to auditioning for any live music venue such as night clubs, cruise ships or theme parks.

Think about it. Some of the most gratifying moments in musical theatre are songs performed by character actors. They may not be the best singers technically in terms of their vocal range, phrasing, or pitch, but their ability to move an audience and win them over through taking the song to heart hits home. Performing in musical theatre provides opportunities to strengthen both your technical and interpretive skills as a singer.

Critical Tips

When trying out for a musical you will typically be asked to perform a song. The material you choose not only tells the director something about your singing voice but it must also show your natural ability to assume a character that delivers the message of your song. Again, your acting ability will help you sell the song. So, in choosing what to sing for your audition make sure the pieces showcase both your vocal and acting chops.

To make your connection as an actor look at the lyrics of your songs and find the ones that you can relate to. You’ll make a stronger impression if you sing a song that you understand and can relate to. So the first step in choosing material is to search through lyrics as if they are dialogue you’ll be acting out. That will be round one in selecting potential material for your audition. Then, view those pieces musically to see which ones best showcase your singing skills. After that, choose the song or songs that are best suited for the show and roles you’re trying out for.

Preview Your Audition

To constantly refine your auditioning skills, get a few people together to watch and provide feedback. Ask questions like: what did this tell you about the character? How did it make you feel? What did you enjoy? Was there something that seemed phony? And most importantly, whenever possible record the performance and review it with your own critical eyes. Review your taped audition in the company of someone you feel is qualified to objectively provide critical feedback.

Brett Manning challenged one of his former students, vocal coach Chris Keller, to move him to tears because Chris was so technically proficient that he didn’t make himself vulnerable when singing. He didn’t allow himself to let go completely and invest in a song emotionally. This kept him from deeply moving his audience.

Chris wrote a song about seeing his grandfather before he died. The song recaptured those moments of that last touch. It resonated with Chris in a way that made him surrender his emotions to the song and become a child singing for the love of someone he lost. This moved both Chris and Brett Manning to tears when he sang the song. His technique was still as strong as ever, but his artistry found its wings once his voice took flight interpretively.

Communication Is Key

Musical theatre really is a fantastic training ground for blending artistry and technique while enhancing your ability to reach the heart, mind, and soul of your audience. For a singer the song really is incomplete without someone to hear it, receive it, and take it to heart. The musical theatre experience can help you become a better communicator on stage, on the road, in the recording studio, anywhere you have the opportunity to sing.

Check out for lots of valuable information on how to audition. The musical theatre experience can truly help you become a natural at a selling a song.

Randy Moomaw

Author Randy Moomaw

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