hey altos/belters

In my system, A isn't really for alto; it's for attitude. Before you buy AUDITION CUTS FOR ALTOS/BELTERS ask yourself "Am I an amusing, audacious, all-around awesome A-list gal like Adelaide... or am I a sweet, syrupy, soporific songbird like Sarah Brown?" Yes, most of these songs are meant to be belted... but some are better mixed. Yes, most of these songs are comic... but some are more serious. The one constant here is attitude.

"And So Do I" is from HONOR, an adaptation of As You Like It set in feudal Japan... but you don't have to be Japanese to use this cut. The character, Mitsuko, is based on Shakespeare's Phoebe, so the apple of her eye that she's singing about here is, of course, a girl disguised as a boy. Musically, the song has an old-fashioned style, which would make it an appropriate choice if you were auditioning for one of those Golden Age shows.

"Breaking Up" is a duet, but I found a nice cut and did a little further arranging to make it work as a solo. The gimmick of the song is that a couple is having a big "relationship" talk via cell phone, but the signal is breaking up... so he misses some of her words. Singers always ask me what the missing words are supposed to be. Answer: I don't know. But acting-wise, it's important to mouth something for those missing words... which I'm told is quite the challenge!

"Cautiously Optimistic" is from THE TAXI CABARET, which was the first show I wrote, and concerns a group of young New Yorkers during their first year in the city. The tone of the song is young, innocent and hopeful. Karen has just met someone new and she has a good feeling about things... but she doesn't want to jinx it. So there's a fun acting bit with the song: a young woman trying to keep ecstatic mood in check.

"Chapter One" is also from THE TAXI CABARET, but it's a different character and a very different attitude. Unlike Karen, C.C. is tough, jaded and worldly-wise -- or at least that's the front she puts up. The cut gives the chance to show two different sides of the character, and two different vocal styles. In the first pattery half of this cut, she cyncially explains how she's got the city all figured out, and she's over it. Then in the second more lyrical half, she reveals that she's still a sucker for the romance of NYC.

"The Deleted Song" is from a revue called LONELY RHYMES. Unlike most of the songs here, it's not for a particular character in a particular story; it's a stand-alone novelty song. It shares a certain similarity with "Chapter One" in that the cut consists of two parts in two very different moods: bright and boppy in the first part; schmaltzy in the second. This might be a good song to use if you're auditioning for one of those ironic, self-aware, meta-musicals of the modern ilk.

Two cuts from "It's Amazing The Things That Float" are included here. The song is from THE FLOOD, and it's for a character, Susan, who has just lost her home to the Mississippi River, so the tone is more serious, sincere... but far from mournful. Instead, Susan discovers a strange new sense of freedom in losing everything that she had... a chance to start her life over. Musically, the song is a contemporary sounding "ballad with energy."

"Let's Don't" is a duet from THE PURSUIT OF PERSEPHONE. Edmund and Marie have been set up on a date, and both are less than thrilled about it. Neither believes in romance, and each is given a verse to explain in no uncertain terms that there will be no such foolishness between them on this date. Naturally, in the course of the song, they realize that they are kindred spirits, and that they have... gulp... chemistry. Musically, the song is a period pastiche and has an old-fashioned sound; a mixier vocal style is best.

"Meyerville" is another song from THE FLOOD, for the same character who sings "It's Amazing The Things That Float." This is earlier in the show, before the levee breaks. But the river is high and the whole town is nervous; no one can sleep, including Susan. The tone is more serious, and has a dark, foreboding quality. The opening phrases are held back and tense, while the later part offers a release of the tension and a chance for the singer to open up a bit vocally.

"Mind Your P's and Q's" is a comedy song for Hester Prynne from The Scarlet Letter. The game of the song is that she starts with her 'A' for adultery and then proceeds to go through the whole alphabet giving her side of the story. Especially fun is the long-ish verse intro to the song, done in a freewheeling gospely/jazzy style, which is melodically adventurous and only gradually reveals who the infamous singer is...

"Sixteen Bars" is from THE TAXI CABARET and is sung by a character who may be much like you -- C.C. is an aspiring actress who has come to New York to make it on Broadway. Unfortunately, no one will give her more than 16 bars to show her stuff... It's a song about be young, ambitious and above all, impatient. Here, C.C.'s frustration has reached the breaking point and she decides that she's gonna sing her whole damn song! This cut has a nice little "stunt" head voice section, followed by some fierce belting.

And last, but not least, there's "Spam" This is the purest belting song of the various selections. The notes are a mile long and you can really show off some power with this one. The subject of the song is not the Monty Python kind of spam, but rather the kind in your e-mail inbox. It's an homage to all those unwanted solicitations, and how wonderful life might be if you actually responded to them all.

Musings Past