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Acting in Plays, Singing/Help finding an audition song?


I'm currently 16 (17 in December), and am auditioning for a community theatre production of the musical Winesburg, Ohio. Hardly anyone has heard of it! The description of the show is: "Winesburg, Ohio is a coming-of-age musical set in a small mid-western town in the early 1900s. The apparently ordinary citizens of Winesburg unveil the tragedies and joys of their secret lives through a beautiful folk-inspired score. At their center is 18-year-old George Willard, who must choose between remaining comfortably in Winesburg or pursuing his artistic dreams in the big city."

I've been having a lot of trouble finding a 16 bar cut for this audition. Every song I picked couldn't have 16 bars cut, because they ended mid-verse or at an awkward moment. I.m looking for a song that shows off my talent and is memorable. I've made the mistake of choosing boring audition songs before and it didn't end very well. I don't know what my exact range is yet, but I do know I'm more comfortable singing mezzo, but I can hit a few notes that are higher up. I'm not really a belter either. I was thinking about I Dreamed A Dance from Next To Normal, but I'm afraid it might be a little too boring. Do you have any suggestions?

Hi, Meghan --

Thank you for the question.

The range of a standard mezzo-soprano is a two octave stretch between A3 and A5. The vast majority of Broadway repertoire written for standard mezzos sits between A3 and C5. The lower voiced mezzos (or contraltos) sing to F3. There are other examples, of course, which go higher and lower.

I would not suggest a song from NEXT TO NORMAL for this audition.

The vocal selections from WINESBURG, OHIO are not available. But the lyricist says that the songs reflected folk music from the 1920s and ‘30s.

If the audition notice does not specifically indicate a “Broadway song” -- but does state that you bring your sheet music in the key of your choice -- then you have a bit wider choice of material. Consider some popular ballads from that period or songs from films about that period. Below are some titles listed in the “Great American Songbook”:

I’m Always Chasing Rainbows -- by Joseph McCarthy and Harry Carroll
Consider transposing to E-flat

Alice Blue Gown -- by Joseph McCarthy and Harry Tierney
Consider transposing to B-flat

You Were Meant For Me -- by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown
Consider transposing to E-flat or D Major

Somebody Loves Me -- by George Gershwin
Consider transposing to F Major

One way to choose your 16-measures is to count backwards from the last measure. Don’t worry about how long the final note may last, i.e., an extra measure or two. Most standard songs (not including the Introduction) are 32 measures long. If you sing an extra couple of measures, no one is going to stop you.

If there is an ingenue role, then you are the perfect age. Your job at this audition (for a show without any recording or published material) is to prove that you can carry a tune in your range, and be heard and understood by the audition panel. If you are what the producers are looking for, they will know it before you open your mouth.

I am a vocal coach to working singers in the San Francisco Bay Area.

I'm also a music critic for – and – When you want to make an appointment, contact me at:

Below are links to my recent articles and interviews:

GREG FEDDERLY – A Comprimario Tenor Extraordinaire

Olivier Latry – Organist at Notre Dame de Paris, at Davies Hall, 10/12

A Conversation with Soprano Alexandra Silber – This week at Feinstein’s, 10/11-12

SF Jazz Center Goes Baroque - A Conversation with Countertenor David Daniels

Tobias Picker’s Dolores Claiborne—A Daring World Premiere at San Francisco Opera

San Francisco Opera Opens 2013 Season with Boito’s “Mephistopheles”

Audra McDonald joins San Francisco Symphony in Opening Night Gala

Introducing Cheyenne Jackson and Alexandra Silber as San Francisco Symphony’s Tony & Maria in “West Side Story”

THE GERSHWINS AND ME – A Conversation with Michael Feinstein

A Conversation with Ted Neeley, Hollywood’s ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’

On ‘Billy Budd’—A Trio from Merola: Alex DeSocio, Thomas Richards, Robert Watson

Lawrence Brownlee—On ‘Carmina Burana’, with the SFSymphony—Tuesday, July 30th

On “The Joyless Street” at the Silent Film Festival—An Interview with Matti Bye

Nathan Gunn Is ‘Yeshua’ in San Francisco Opera’s “The Gospel of Mary Magdalene”

Natalie Dessay on ‘Becoming Traviata’—French Soprano bids ‘Adieu’ to opera stage

‘Tales of Hoffmann’ Fizzles at San Francisco Opera

‘A Grand Romance’—A Spectacular CD from pianist Jeffrey Biegel

Philippe Sly Debuts In 'Cosi fan tutte' at San Francisco Opera

Nicole Henry redefines the '70s with her latest CD, 'So Good, So Right'

Nonsemble 6 presents Schoenberg's 'Pierrot Lunaire' – in corsets

Tenor Noah Stewart Debuts with Berkeley Symphony in World Premiere of New Work by Steven Stucky

Marnie Breckenridege, A Modern Soprano for Contemporary Opera

A Profile of Choreographer John Neumeier and his "Nijinsky"

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'Drama Queens' – A Conversation with Mezzo-Soprano Joyce DiDonato

Marco Vratogna Is Sensational as Rigoletto at San Francisco Opera

A conversation with Joshua Bell, featured guest artist at opening of SF Symphony, 9/19

Samuel Ramey is Leo the Great in San Francisco Opera's 'Attila'

Tom Judson Is Making It Big In San Francisco

A Look at Gennadi Nedvigin, Principal Dancer with San Francisco Ballet

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RICHARD WINSOR – An Interview With the Star of 'Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake in 3D'

CUBAN BALLET – An Interview with Octavio Roca

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ZUILL BAILEY – A Conversation

Best regards,
Sean Martinfield

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Sean Martinfield


I am a professional vocal coach in San Francisco. I have published over 3300 responses related to vocal training - particularly as it relates to Musical Theatre, Pop/Standard, and Opera. I have 30 years of experience as a personal trainer to working singers and actors in the San Francisco Bay Area. I sang professionally for 20 years and know what it means to live the life of a musician. I can determine your voice category, i.e., Tenor, Baritone, Bass, Soprano, Mezzo-Soprano, Alto, Alto Belter, etc., and how to broaden and strengthen your range. Need an audition song for a Broadway Musical? I can assist you with your song selections and help you build an audition portfolio that demonstrates your vocal category and meets the requirements specified in the audition notice. I have created a vocal methodology, "The Belter`s Method". It will enable those in Cabaret and Musical Theatre to practice more efficiently because it focuses on the vocal demands of professional performers and will keep you performance-ready. If what you want is a better voice and more control over your career moves and choices, contact me at: I am also a music and cultural critic for and I interview internationally recognized musicians, singers, dancers, and recording artists -- particularly those who are now appearing or scheduled to perform in San Francisco.


As a vocal coach, I work primarily with singers and actors throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. My students range from absolute beginners to working professionals, from kids to senior citizens. The vast majority of my clients come to me through recommendation. I know how to identify any singer's vocal category, i.e., soprano, tenor, alto, baritone, etc. I know how to muscle-up every singer's vocal range and to expand it beyond conventional definitions. I have developed a vocal methodology for those who want to know how to belt, THE BELTER'S METHOD. There are a number of major components to my work as a vocal coach. The first is to identify the client's vocal category and to strengthen and maximize the vocal range accordingly. Then it's about teaching a reliable vocal workout that will enable the client to gain better control of their musicianship. That includes scale work to expand the vocal range and to improve placement, breath control, and diction. Then we work on material for the audition portfolio, the immediate job or assignment, a recording session, etc. My task to is to better equip singers and actors who are hoping to or relying upon their performance skills and vocal endurance to maintain a career in the Performing Arts. My clients regularly appear in cabarets and musical productions throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Some have worked in New York and gone on National Tours. For more information, Contact me at:


San Francisco State University – BA in Theatre Arts; graduate work in Theatre, Philosophy, and Comparative Reiligion. Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley – Graduate work in Ethics

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