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Ten Top Audition Tips for Musical Theater Actors

Updated on December 31, 2008

How to prepare for your best audition!

Ten important tips to get you ready for that all important audition. From a director who has cast a LOT of musicals!

Ten Tips for a Most Excellent Audition

Local Theater or Major Audition - These Tips Will Always Apply!

Let's say you've never auditioned for your local regional theater but you're dying to try. What's holding you back? Probably that all important dose of confidence!

As the director of over 50 full scale musicals, I can't improve your talent in this article, but I can give you important information on how to make the most out of what you've got!

To find great Audition Resources scroll down!

Top Ten List of Audition Do's and Don'ts

10) DO - Look up the show you are auditioning for before
you plan your audition material.

  • The internet is loaded with resources for finding plots, listening to soundtracks, seeing videos of past productions. Get a good idea of the style of the show and educate yourself about the characters. I will include some helpful resources in this article.

9) DO- Show up prepared!

  • Being prepared makes an important first impression on the director and music director. It shows you are reliable and will be trustworthy.

8) DO - Choose a song which is appropriate for your voice.

  • Don't choose a song that's too obscure (because you think it will show your vast knowledge of Musical Theater repertoire), or out of your range (too high or too low), or out of your character type (too old, too young, different gender).

  • I prefer to hear a song which is written well for the voice, which shows the quality of the voice and a person's musical ability. This most likely will mean a more classical musical theater piece which has stood the test of time.

  • If I am not sure of your range, I will have you do a couple scales to see your ability.

  • I am much more interested in hearing your quality and musicality on a piece which is well written for a singer.

  • I have been at auditions for major theaters where the director has asked for a third piece though it wasn't required in the audition information. So, be prepared just in case.

  • You would think it goes without saying but, memorize your piece thoroughly. Never use a lyric sheet or hold music. It makes you look very unprepared. Take a half hour and learn the song thoroughly! This is another reason to PLAN AHEAD!

  • Also remember - the accompaniest may be sightreading, so choosing a piece that has a difficult accompaniment may not help your case.

7) DO- In regards to accompaniment, have your sheet music taped together so it lays out flat.

  • If using a book, make sure it will lay flat for the accompaniest and still, it's not a bad idea to make a copy instead.

  • When you enter the room and have introduced yourself, it is appropriate to check your song's tempo with the accompaniest and quietly go through the first few measures together to make sure you're in sync.

  • KNOW YOUR INTRODUCTION! and make sure the pianist knows the intro you are expecting.

6) DO NOT- Do not plan on using a cd accompaniment unless the theater has specified that this is acceptable.

  • Many theaters will not allow cd accompaniment and insist on sheet music for an accompaniest. Check ahead!

  • Singing accapella is expressly forbidden for auditions in most theaters. Why? For one thing, your audition needs to show your ability to match pitches accurately. If you sing accapella, chances are your pitch will be all over the place.

  • Singing with accompaniment shows a different, higher level of musicality.

  • It also shows you didn't bother to prepare with sheet music. Very amateurish!

5) DON'T- Don't make excuses for yourself!

  • This is perhaps my greatest pet peeve as a director. I couldn't care less if you've had a cold for the past week or your allergies are kicking up. Some people who audition for me over and over are constantly sick! I don't want to cast people who make excuses. I want people who do the work no matter what!

  • Most directors can hear through the phlegm. And if you are too sick, you just may have to wait till the next time. Just don't tell the director your sob story. Bottom line, they still have to cast the show with good singers.

4) DO - Wear appropriate clothing.

  • Take the time to dress nicely. This makes a positive statement about you and how serious you are about doing theater.
  • No hair in your face or skirts too short. If there are dance auditions, make sure you bring shoes you can move in. Flipflops and stallettos just don't cut it.

3) DON'T- Don't hand the director a four page resume.

  • One page is sufficient. Even if you can't fit all your achievements on one page, pick the best and most recent things you've done. Your resume is not what will get you the part -- your audition will!

2) DO - Introduce yourself when you enter the audition room.

  • Be friendly, charming and professional. Remember, the director is looking for people who will be easy to work with so no big ego statements about how good you are or unreasonable demands.

  • Stand back away from the director's desk and don't infringe on his/her personal space.

1) DO - Prepare what is asked for in the audition information.

  • If they want 16 bars, prepare your BEST 16 bars. If they want 32 bars, do your best 32 bars. A "bar" is a measure (the vertical lines on a page of music). The introduction is not included in your number of bars.

  • Don't be offended if they cut you off before the end. It doesn't mean they don't like what they hear.

  • Plan NOW for that next audition. Don't wait until the day before to start looking for music. Have three or four pieces ready at all times. Yes you can sing the same piece for each audition if it shows off your voice.

MOST IMPORTANTLY -- Have fun!

  • You learn from every audition you do. Don't expect to get the lead your first time out.

  • You will most-likely have to pay your dues and should be willing to do so. Be patient and gracious about it. Show the director what you've got and what a great person you are. Sometimes this takes a little time.

    It can be great fun to audition and it probably won't kill you to try! In fact, you may grow to love it! And very soon, you will be appearing in the footlights!

    Here are a few of my favorite audition resources to help you prepare! Best of luck!

  • To order Downloadable Sheet Music online just click below:

    Musicnotes.com has an impressive catalog of over 60,000 digital sheet music titles that has been built on the strength of content agreements with Sony, Alfred (Warner Bros. Publications), BMG, Universal Music Publishing, Famous Music, Peer Music, EMI Christian, Bug Music and others. They also carry a complete catalog of over 260,000 mail-order items in their online catalog. The Musicnotes multi-genre catalog includes everything from Josh Groban and Coldplay to George Gershwin and Beethoven.

    Free Sheet Music Downloads!

  • Sheetmusicplus.com

    Find all the sheet music and music collections you need online. Quick and simple ordering. Fast delivery!

Sheetmusicplus.com is a comprehensive resource for music books and single copies for all instruments and catagories of music. Great selection!

Do you want to hear a piece or learn it by listening? Check Apple iTunes out! Apple iTunes is a wonderful resource for downloading actual performances to your desktop or iPod. I only wish there had been a resource like this when I was a young voice student. You can look up and download classical solos, wedding pieces, symphonies, operas, art songs in numerous languages, etc. I use this resource with my voice students and it greatly increases their ability to learn a piece, regardless of the language!

Broadway Music Resources from Amazon! - Get music, dvd's, sheet music and collections!

Amazon has a vast selection of shows and plays to choose from. Take a look around!

New YouTube vids -

Favorite Broadway Musicals! - What's your favorite soundtrack?

You can vote on your favorite Broadway Show and introduce your favorites to others.

Rent (1996 Original Broadway Cast)
Rent (1996 Original Broadway Cast)

Into Broadway's creative vacuum of revivals, movie adaptations, and Hollywood star vehicles comes Rent, the story of squatters, junkies, performance artists, struggling musicians, drag queens, aspiring filmmakers, and HIV-positives (and you thought Miss Saigon's helicopter landing was cool). Undoubtedly among the defining pop cultural events of 1996, Rent has already won four Tony awards and a Pulitzer Prize for Drama. More importantly, it threatens to bring substance back to the Great White Way. Transposing Puccini's 100-year-old opera La Bohème into modern day Bohemia (19th-century Paris's Left Bank becomes late-20th-century New York's East Village where the scourge of tuberculosis becomes the plague of AIDS) Rent celebrates life among the young, sick, and unconventional. While Broadway shows are hardly the place for authentic portrayals of the latest marginalized hipsters, composer Jonathan Larson (who died at age 36, days before his musical opened) managed to sculpt vivid characters and scenes that bring Avenue A as close as it will ever come to 42nd Street. And by telling a socially relevant story of living without the guarantee of a future (renting, that is), Larson does his own little bit to define an X'ed generation. At worst, Rent is the Hair of the '90s. For the majority of us who won't be seeing Rent anytime soon, the Original Cast Recording is more than just an after-show souvenir. Well-packaged with a complete libretto, the two-CD set is a worthwhile album separate of live performance. Full of songs that are funny and catchy, inspiring and touching, smart and hip and not overly sentimental, Rent mixes showtune pop with elements of rock, R&B, dance, gospel, and tango to make one of the best albums of the year--certainly the best rock opera in decades. La vie bohème, indeed. --Roni Sarig

 
Into the Woods (1987 Original Broadway Cast)
Into the Woods (1987 Original Broadway Cast)

A Classic Stephen Sondheim Musical Available Now at a New Low Price! Featuresbonus tracks, digitally remastered and new liner notes.

 
Disney's The Little Mermaid (2008 Original Broadway Cast)
Disney's The Little Mermaid (2008 Original Broadway Cast)

Bring home BROADWAY'S NEWEST HIT, LITTLE MERMAID! The Brand-New Cast Recording of Broadway's Sparkling New Musical featuring the beloved hits from the film PLUS 10 ALL-NEW SONGS from the Broadway Show!

 
The Lion King (1997 Original Broadway Cast)
The Lion King (1997 Original Broadway Cast)

An Oscar win might suggest a score that would need a miracle to be bettered--but this colorful stage adaptation of Disney's The Lion King does so with flair. Composers Mark Mancina and Lebo M worked closely together to fuse the movie's many disparate elements. Where there was a veritable army exercising creative influences for the animated tale, this brings it all under the wings of a like-minded few. This is genuinely apparent as one track flows into the next. The African rhythms--both vocal and in instrumentation--come across as authentic and original all at once. No doubt this is largely through Mancina's passion for peculiar instruments and the possibilities suggested from nightly live performances. "Grasslands Chant" is a good place to hear this. The hit favorites are here of course, but both "Circle of Life" and "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" are pleasingly unrecognizable with chorus and shifting beats. Better still is the likelihood they will now be eclipsed by some of the new numbers. Mancina's own "He Lives in You" being a strong contender. With a sound mix as crisp as you'd hope to find, this is rousing stuff. --Paul Tonks

 
Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific
Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific

The landmark musical's first-ever Broadway revival! The curtain rang down on Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific in 1954 after five years of extraordinary acclaim and countless awards including nine Tonys and a Pulitzer. Based on James Michener's Pulitzer Prize winning book Tales of the South Pacific, the musical is set on a tropical island during World War II and tells the sweeping romantic story of two couples - U.S. Navy nurse Nellie Forbush and French plantation owner Emile de Becque and Marine Joe Cable and a young local native girl Liat - and how their happiness is threatened by the realities of the war and by their own prejudices. Considered by many the finest musical ever written, the score's songs include such musical theater classics as "Some Enchanted Evening," "Younger Than Springtime," "Bali Ha'i," "There is Nothin' Like a Dame" and "A Wonderful Guy."

 
Broadway: The Great Original Cast Recordings
Broadway: The Great Original Cast Recordings

Sony celebrated the millennium with its mammoth 26-CD collection, Soundtrack for a Century, but fortunately starving actors and other theater lovers can satisfy themselves with the 2-CD installment, Broadway: The Great Original Cast Recordings. Beginning with what most consider the dawn of the modern musical, Show Boat, the set goes on to sample songs from Kiss Me, Kate (the first cast recording issued on LP) and many other of the greatest shows ever written for the stage (My Fair Lady and West Side Story have the most selections--three each). The set is limited to recordings from the Columbia Records vault, but it was a treasure trove under the primary direction of producer Goddard Lieberson. The 1940s and '50s are marked by major shows by Rodgers and Hammerstein, Lerner and Loewe, and Leonard Bernstein, to name only a few, while the 1960s and '70s see new takes on the traditional forms, with Cabaret and works by the young Stephen Sondheim (even Anyone Can Whistle). Things begin to thin out in the last two decades of the century, as Columbia missed out on the mature Sondheim, the Andrew Lloyd Webber & Co. blockbusters, and the surge in revivals; the '80s are represented by Nine and the '90s by Cy Coleman's Will Rogers Follies and The Life. Of course, it's impossible to capture a whole century of Broadway music in only 153 minutes, but few fans could quibble with more than a handful of these smart selections. Practically worth the price of the package itself is the beautiful 64-page booklet, which includes an essay by Frank Rich, notes on every show, plus some brief sidebars, album covers and theater posters, and photos from both the stage and recording studios. --David Horiuchi

 
Wicked (2003 Original Broadway Cast)
Wicked (2003 Original Broadway Cast)

WICKED, STARRING KRISTIN CHENOWETH, IDINA MENZEL AND JOEL GREY. Decca Broadway proudly presents the original cast recording of WICKED, Broadway's most talked about new musical. The box office is already over $10 Million! With a score by Stephen Schwartz (Broadway's Pippin, Godspell), libretto by Winnie Holzman (TV's My So-Called Life) and based on the best-selling novel by Gregory Maguire, the musical is a prequel to the legendary classic, THE WIZARD OF OZ. WICKED explores the early life of the witches of Oz: Glinda and Elphaba. One witch, born with emerald green skin, is smart, fiery and misunderstood. The other is beautiful, ambitious and very popular. WICKED stars Tony Award® winner Kristin Chenoweth (You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown) as Glinda, Idina Menzel (Rent) as Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, and Tony® and Oscar® Winner Joel Grey (Cabaret) as The Wizard. The Original Cast Recording -- featuring an essay by Wicked novelist Gregory Maguire, original color photos from the show and a complete libretto.

 
Jersey Boys (2005 Original Broadway Cast Recording)
Jersey Boys (2005 Original Broadway Cast Recording)

Recounting the rich history and reliving the timeless sounds of the phenomenal Frankie Vallie & The 4 Seasons, the new Broadway musical Jersey Boys answers the musical-and philosophical question, "How did four would-be wise guys from Newark, NJ, become one of the greatest chart-topping successes in pop music history?" Jersey Boys celebrates legendary Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito, and Nick Massi who, as the 4 seasons, wrote their own songs, invented their own identity, and sold 175 million records worldwide-all before they were 30.

 
Legally Blonde (2007 Original Broadway Cast)
Legally Blonde (2007 Original Broadway Cast)

Like Wicked, this show is a girl-friendly extravaganza; the main difference--and it's a big one--is that the score of Legally Blonde is better. Based on the hit Reese Witherspoon movie, the zippy, frothy show tells the story of SoCal, pink-loving sorority girl Elle Woods, who enrolls at Harvard Law and goes on to prove that appearances can be deceiving. The opening number, "Omigod You Guys," gives an idea of what the Broadway-pop score by Laurence O'Keefe (Bat Boy--The Musical) and Nell Benjamin is up to, embracing its over-the-top cheer with goofily infectious energy. Sure, a couple of numbers feel a bit derivative (the show with the witches has "Popular," this one has "Positive"), and the Celtic detour ("Ireland") is rather puzzling, but overall the songs are firing on all cylinders. Just check out the use of a marching band on "What You Want" for instance. Laura Bell Bundy (Amber von Tussle in Hairspray) is a charming Elle, and she delivers numbers such as "So Much Better" with the requisite elan. But this is not a one-woman show, and Bundy is surrounded by a crack team, including the endearing Christian Borle as Elle's love interest Emmett, power-piped Orfeh as hairdresser Paulette and up-and-comer Leslie Kritzer as Delta Nu's Serena. --Elisabeth Vincentelli

 
In The Heights (Original Broadway Cast Recording)
In The Heights (Original Broadway Cast Recording)

Get ready to experience an exhilarating journey into one of Manhattan's most vibrant communities, named "BEST MUSICAL OF THE YEAR" by NewYork Magazine and "BEST OF 2007" by The New York Times. With an amazing cast, incredible dancing and a gripping story of hope and self discovery, In The Heights is your ticket into a world where the coffee from the corner bodega is light and sweet, the windows are always open, and the breeze carries the rhythm of three generations of music. Find out what it takes to make a living, what it costs to have a dream, and what it means to be home...In The Heights.

 
Gypsy - 2008 Broadway Cast Recording
Gypsy - 2008 Broadway Cast Recording

The Gypsy soundtrack includes bonus tracks.Curtain Up! The smash Broadway musical comes to life in this all new cast recording! It's the new 2008 revival of Gypsy, starring Tony and Olivier award-winner Patti Lupone as the indomitable Momma Rose. This classic American musical by Arthur Laurents, Jule Styne and Stephen Sondheim about a fractured family stars the larger than life, true Broadway diva Lupone heading the cast as the "stage mother of all stage mothers," determined to make a star out of at least one of her children. Four time Tony-winner Boyd Gaines is the beleaguered Herbie,a gentlemanly candy salesman and reluctant theatrical agent who loves Rose, and Tony-winner Laura Benanti is the wallflower-turned-world-famous-stripper Gypsy Rose Lee, one of Rose's two daughters.

 
Spring Awakening: A New Musical
Spring Awakening: A New Musical

Decca Broadway presents the cast recording for the acclaimed new Broadway production, SPRING AWAKENING. Written by pop music composer Duncan Sheik and playwright/lyricist Steven Sater, the musical explores emotional earthquakes in the lives of teenagers. SPRING AWAKENING is based on Frank Wedekind's controversial 1891 drama, which was scandalous in its day for addressing sex violence and suicide. The story, dialogue and costumes suggest the 19th Century, and are perfectly wedded to a beautiful alternative pop music score by Grammy® nominated singer/songwriter Duncan Sheik. The creative team also includes Tony® Award Winning director Michael Mayer (Thoroughly Modern Millie) and legendary choreographer Bill T. Jones.

 
Disney's Beauty and the Beast: The Broadway Musical (Original Broadway Cast Recording)
Disney's Beauty and the Beast: The Broadway Musical (Original Broadway Cast Recording)

Way back in 1991, many of us saw the single-handed salvation and revival of the old-fashioned American-style Broadway musical comedy. True, it was in the form of a feature-length Disney cartoon, but Beauty and the Beast had it all: a wonderful, tuneful score (including a huge hit title-song), off-the-wall choreography, a great opposites-attract love story with an ultimately happy ending, comic subplots, colorful period costumes, a romantic location in small-town France, and an irresistible cast, including Angela Lansbury as the voice of a teapot. Alan Menken's songs, with lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, literally introduced the characters ("Belle" and "Gaston") and carried them gracefully through the old fairy tale with its new animated twists. Disney understandably decided to transpose this cinematic miracle to the Broadway stage in 1992. Beauty and the Beast at the fabled Palace Theatre has done as much as anything to revive New York's theatre district; it led to a similar animated film-to-stage transfer of The Lion King, which allowed for the magnificent restoration of the 1902 New Amsterdam Theatre, which was the cornerstone of the cleanup of 42nd Street, which in turn transformed Times Square and "Broadway" into the world's number-one tourist destination. And we're all terribly grateful. But, on stage, Beauty and the Beast was flat, and most of that lack of fizz is, alas, captured on compact disc. The good songs are all here, such as "Be Our Guest," but the performances of them are mostly perfunctory--the exception being the vocal renderings of Susan Egan as Belle, the Beauty. Further, the Disneyfication of the Broadway musical seems to extend to faceless and interchangeable (read: cheap to hire) players, a practice that extends to The Lion King. The only "names" in the original Beauty and the Beast cast were Beth Howland as the teapot and Tom Bosley, a mere shadow of his former Fiorello, as Belle's father. Even worse, unlike The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast was not reinvented for the stage. It's my theory that the kids who made up the live audience (and many of their parents) were filling in the blanks from repeated viewings of the cartoon on video. If you're willing to do the same when only listening, this CD might do. But why, when the movie soundtrack album is available? --Robert Windeler

 
Curtains (2007 Original Broadway Cast)
Curtains (2007 Original Broadway Cast)

Curtains is an entertaining play within a play, as well as a "whodunit" new musical comedy featuring one of the last scores by legendary, Tony Award-winning songwriters John Kander and Fred Ebb (Cabaret, Chicago, New York, New York). Starring David Hyde Pierce (Spamalot, "Frasier") and Debra Monk, the Curtains original Broadway cast album is produced by nine-time Grammy Award-winner Jay David Saks.

 
Young Frankenstein (Original Broadway Cast Recording)
Young Frankenstein (Original Broadway Cast Recording)

ORIGINAL CAST RECORDING YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN MUSIC AND LYRICS BY MEL BROOKS -- IT'S ALIVE! From the creators of the record-breaking Broadway sensation The Producers comes this monster new musical comedy, YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, based on the Oscar-nominated smash-hit 1974 film. A wickedly inspired re-imagining of the Frankenstein legend based on Mel Brooks' classic comedy masterpiece, the story follows bright young Dr. Frankenstein (that's Fronkensteen) as he attempts to complete his grandfather's masterwork and bring a corpse to life. Together with his oddly shaped and endearing helper Igor (that's Eye-gor), his curvaceous lab assistant Inga, and in spite of his incredibly self-involved madcap fiance, Elizabeth, Frankenstein succeeds in creating a monster - but not without scary and quite often hilarious complications. With such memorable tunes as "The Transylvania Mania," "He Vas My Boyfriend" and "Puttin' On The Ritz," The New MEL BROOKS Musical YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN is scientifically-proven, monstrously good entertainment...and the only place you'll witness a singing and dancing laboratory experiment in the largest tuxedo ever made. YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN features music and lyrics by the three-time Tony Award® winner Mel Brooks, book by Brooks and three-time Tony Award® winner Thomas Meehan, and is directed and choreographed by five-time Tony Award® winner Susan Stroman. The show stars Roger Bart ("Desperate Housewives"), Megan Mullally ("Will and Grace"),Tony-Award winner Sutton Foster ("Drowsy Chaperone"), SCTV's Andrea Martin and Christopher Fitzgerald ("Wicked"). YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN opens at Broadway's Hilton Theater - Friday, November 9th! Young Frankenstein Photos More from Mel Brooks The Producers (Musical Highlights) The Producers (2005 Movie Soundtrack) The Producers (2001 Original Broadway Cast) The Mel Brooks Collection The History of the World, Part I High Anxiety Spaceballs Blazing Saddles (30th Anniversary Special Edition) Twelve Chairs

 
Mamma Mia! The Musical Based on the Songs of ABBA: Original Cast Recording (1999 London Cast)
Mamma Mia! The Musical Based on the Songs of ABBA: Original Cast Recording (1999 London Cast)

Put together by Abba's own Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, Mamma Mia! manages to cram over 20 of the Swedish supergroup's songs into a threadbare plot. It goes a little like this: Young Sophie is getting married and she's trying to identify which of three men is her father. That's about it. Wisely, the musical doesn't mess around with the songs, save for the insertion of some dialogue or for having some of them performed by a man (it works amazingly well). Abba fans will jump on this import of the London production, but traditional fans of musical theater should consider it as well. After all, Andersson and Ulvaeus's songs have always felt as if they were more than isolated pop gems and actually belonged to a longer narrative. --Elisabeth Vincentelli

 
Camelot
Camelot

For one brief, shining moment, there was a place known as Camelot--and this 1961 recording is the only document available of JFK's favorite musical, the one that's been used to describe his presidential administration ever since. Truthfully, Lerner and Loewe's musical score for this retelling of the King Arthur story doesn't measure up to My Fair Lady, which was still playing when Camelot opened on December 3, 1960. That being said, the three principals here were stronger musically than their 1968 film counterparts--Julie Andrews and Robert Goulet (who became a star as Lancelot, thanks to "If Ever I Would Leave You") could sing, while the pre-Liz Richard Burton could recite those great lines with Shakespearean flair, even if he never scored a hit with "MacArthur Park." --Bill Holdship

 
Fiddler on the Roof (1964 Original Broadway Cast)
Fiddler on the Roof (1964 Original Broadway Cast)

Fiddler on the Roof is one of Broadway's great classics. Based on the tales of Sholem Aleichem, the musical tells the humorous and heartbreaking story of the milkman Tevye as he tries to maintain the simplicities of his traditional life even as his daughters grow up and Russia heads toward revolution. Many of Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick's songs have become touchstones of popular culture, including "Tradition," "If I Were a Rich Man," and "Sunrise, Sunset." As Tevye, Zero Mostel leads--and at times dominates--the original 1964 Broadway cast, displaying irrepressible swagger and bluster. A young Julia Migenes plays his middle daughter, Hodel, while those who only know Bert Convy as a game-show host will be surprised by his pleasant voice as her suitor. The CD includes two previously unreleased songs but no lyrics. --David Horiuchi

 
Monty Python's Spamalot (2005 Original Broadway Cast)
Monty Python's Spamalot (2005 Original Broadway Cast)

As gleefully silly yet wickedly smart as the beloved British comedy troupe and their 1975 cinematic savaging of the Arthurian legend that inspired it, this adaptation of Monty Python and the Holy Grail by MP's Eric Idle and longtime musical co-conspirator John Du Prez has much more on its feverish agenda than merely trashing King Arthur and firmly upending his Round Table. The film's plot remains largely intact, but its core songs ("Knights of the Round Table," "Brave Sir Robin") and comic thrust have been both expanded and satirically redirected, a musical comedy shotgun that takes dizzy aim at pop culture in general, and Broadway in particular. After typically Pythonesque distractions that somehow find us in "Finland..," stars David Hyde-Pierce, Tim Curry, Hank Azaria and company get busy conjuring the Lady of the Lake with the unlikely help of "Laker Girls..," while cast members Sara Ramirez and Christopher Sieber deliciously skewer contemporary Broadway cliches via the loopy showstopper "The Song That Goes Like This," a tune whose reprise also deliciously sends up every overwrought stage diva from Merman to Minelli. Idle has shrewdly ripped off--well, interpolated--Life of Brian's "Always Look On the Bright Side" for the new show, and even a snatch of "The Lumberjack Song" in "He Is Not Dead Yet." "You Won't Succeed on Broadway" reveals the frankly Semitic secret to stage success, and the French get can-canned on "Run Away!" Meanwhile, our bravest knight is de-closeted on the Manilow-mauling "His Name is Lancelot" before the familiar sound of clomping coconut shells brings down the curtain on the season's goofiest if satirically dead-on comic delight. --Jerry McCulley Have Fun with More Irreverent Musicals Urinetown The Rocky Horror Picture Show The Frogs Zanna Don't Hedwig and the Angry Inch Avenue Q

 
Evita (1978 Original Broadway Cast)
Evita (1978 Original Broadway Cast)

Evita was Andrew Lloyd Webber's last show with Tim Rice before he went on to projects with less interesting collaborators, so it's no surprise that it remains his most consistently involving and rewarding work. Loosely based on the life of Eva Peron, the charismatic wife of post-World War II Argentine president Juan Peron, Rice's compelling story of one woman's rise from poverty to power is complemented by Lloyd Webber's colorful music as propelled by vigorous Latin rhythms. The showstopper, of course, is "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina," but the score is full of gems, including "On This Night of a Thousand Stars," "Oh, What a Circus," and "Another Suitcase in Another Hall." Headlining the 1978 Broadway cast, Patti LuPone is fabulous in the title role, showcasing her big voice and brash egotism in the role she was born to play. Mandy Patinkin is Che, the Greek-chorus character commenting on and criticizing the Perons, and his tenor is sweet on the ballads and powerful on the driving numbers. LuPone and Patinkin made their names with Evita (and took home well-deserved Tonys), but it's the third principal, Bob Gunton, who elevates this cast to the stratosphere. As Peron--a role often filled by a nonsinger--Gunton inflects his strong voice with both menace and sensitivity. Forget the movie; this is the definitive version of this score, and an essential cast recording. --David Horiuchi

 

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      anonymous 8 years ago

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