Acting in Plays, Singing/Legally Blonde Audition

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Question
Dear Mr. Martinfield,

I have been checking your site often for quite some time now for general advice, and it's helped me out so much so far, with tips on auditioning and new songs to learn.

I finally have an opportunity to audition for my dream role in my town -- Elle Woods in Legally Blonde. However, I've had trouble finding the perfect audition song, as I usually go into auditions for other shows with "So Much Better" from Legally Blonde! While I am confident that I can communicate Elle's personality through any song, it's difficult for me to find a song that reflects her voice-type, described as a "Soprano Belt."

I have found many songs that could showcase my range as a soprano, but they are all much more "legit"-sounding than Elle's material, and I'd like to be able to show off some of her belty side too. This would be no problem if I could use two songs for the audition, but it calls for only one!

Do you have any ideas for a song that could highlight a "Soprano Belt?" I know that's a bit of a contradiction, but I guess that's the character of Elle Woods!

Some additional information: I participate mostly in local fringe-festival-type musicals, so I have not played too many roles within the repertoire, but here are some of my favourite songs for auditions, to give you an idea of what I'm comfortable with: "It Might as Well be Spring" from State Fair, "I'm in Love with a Wonderful Guy" from South Pacific, "Feelings" from the Apple Tree, "You've Got Possibilities" from Superman, and of course, "So Much Better." I'm comfortable belting to an E5, and singing up to A5, higher on a great day.

Thank you so much for everything!
Jordan

Answer
Hello, Jordan --

Thank you for the question. I can appreciate your enthusiasm for the role of "Elle" in LEGALLY BLONDE.

The standard range of a Soprano—with or without a belt—is a two octave stretch between C4 and C6. To have a consistent High C in performance, most standard sopranos know they can exercise to D6.

If I'm on your audition panel and you look like what the Producer and Director are looking for, then I'm going to ask you to demonstrate your Low G-flat, i.e., as heard in "So Much Better". You know you will not be on a mike at this audition. If the audition is in the theater where the show will be produced and the panel is sitting out in Row M — will we hear it? In the first nine measures of that song, the range floats from Gb3 to the major 5th above, Db4. That is where Sopranos go to die.

Elle's full vocal range extends between Gb3 and Eb5. Not the range of a Soprano, even one with a belt. This is the territory of a young lyric Mezzo-Soprano with a belt. If you have enjoyed success using "So Much Better", then you are a Mezzo-Soprano with a belt. The same is true for the other songs you mention.

All my young mezzo-sopranos sing to at least Bb5 on an average day, most go higher on a great day. That does not mean they are sopranos in disguise. To sing an audible Gb3 without a microphone, in a standard theatre, you want to know before going out the door that you have exercised down to an audible whole step lower, i.e., E3. Again, not what Sopranos do, especially if they want to avoid really bad wear & tear.

Just to drive the point home, the role of "Nellie Bush" in SOUTH PACIFIC is written for a very spirited lyric Mezzo-Soprano. Mary Martin, the original Nellie, is the perfect example of that vocal category. In its original key, "I'm in Love with a Wonderful Guy" is absolutely not written for a Soprano.

Audition notices that describe Elle as a "Soprano" are misleading. What they WANT is a voice with a bright young Pop sound that sits in the Mezzo-Soprano range. Such sound for such a character suggests freshness, vitality and, more importantly, Innocence. Unlike the mezzo-soprano role of "Aldonza" in MAN OF LA MANCHA, Elle is one of those sassy college-types who is hanging on the fringe of (maybe) being able to wear white at her wedding.

"You've Got Possibilities" is a good song. Also consider "Gimme Gimme" from THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE. Go to this web site to purchase the song on-line. When you are at the site, notice that the range extends from Ab3 to D5. That sits right within Elle's range. Go prepared to sing an excerpt in the event they are pressed for time. Consider the last three pages, beginning with "I don't care if he's a nobody" or the last two pages, beginning with "Gimme that thing called love. I wannit."

Gimme Gimme:
http://www.musicnotes.com/sheetmusic/mtd.asp?ppn=MN0076600&

Whatever you choose for your audition, be prepared to sing any of Elle's material—just in case.

I am a vocal coach to working singers in the San Francisco Bay Area. I'm also an entertainment critic for HuffingtonPost.com – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sean-martinfield and Classical music reviewer for Examiner.com – http://www.examiner.com/user/4557381/articles. Let me know when you're ready to come to San Francisco for some vocal coaching.

Check out my web site: http://FabulousFilmSongs.com

See my interview with popular TV host, David Perry, on "Ten Percent":
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKeeTYTYMAI

Below are links to my articles and youtubes on the San Francisco Bay Area entertainment and cultural scene:

Nonsemble 6 presents Schoenberg's 'Pierrot Lunaire' – in corsets
http://www.examiner.com/article/nonsemble-6-presents-schoenberg-s-pierrot-lunair

'Onegin' – A Must-See at San Francisco Ballet, Final Performances 3/26—28
http://www.examiner.com/review/onegin-a-must-see-at-san-francisco-ballet-final-p

David Klein and Nick Wooley of 'Billygoat' play at Switchboard Music Festival
http://www.examiner.com/article/david-klein-and-nick-wooley-of-billygoat-at-swit

Tenor Noah Stewart Debuts with Berkeley Symphony in World Premiere of New Work by Steven Stucky
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sean-martinfield/noah-stewart_b_2899344.html

Marnie Breckenridege, A Modern Soprano for Contemporary Opera
http://www.examiner.com/article/marnie-breckenridge-a-modern-soprano-for-contemp

A Profile of Choreographer John Neumeier and his "Nijinsky"
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sean-martinfield/profile-choreographer-john-neumei

Peggy Cummins Honored at San Francisco's Noir City Film Festival
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sean-martinfield/noir-city-film-festival_b_2569333

In Conversation with Peter Gallagher – Coming to the Venetian Room
http://www.examiner.com/article/in-conversation-with-peter-gallagher-coming-sund

Melody Moore steps into Tosca — Opening Night at San Francisco Opera
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sean-martinfield/tosca-san-francisco-opera_b_21965

Patricia Racette – A Definitive 'Tosca' at San Francisco Opera
http://www.examiner.com/review/patricia-racette-a-definitive-tosca-at-san-franci

'Moby-Dick' opens at San Francisco Opera: A Conversation with Composer Jake Heggie
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sean-martinfield/moby-dick-san-francisco-opera_b_1

'Drama Queens' – A Conversation with Mezzo-Soprano Joyce DiDonato
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sean-martinfield/drama-queens-a-conversation_b_214

Vasily Petrenko, BRIT Male Artist of the Year, Conducts SF Symphony, 10/5–6
http://www.examiner.com/node/53741556

Marco Vratogna Is Sensational as Rigoletto at San Francisco Opera
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sean-martinfield/marco-vratogna-is-sensati_b_19070

A conversation with Joshua Bell, featured guest artist at opening of SF Symphony, 9/19
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sean-martinfield/a-conversation-with-joshu_b_18824

Jazz vocalist Nicole Henry makes San Francisco debut
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sean-martinfield/jazz-vocalist-nicole-henr_b_18536

Norma Shearer and Joan Crawford duke it out at The Castro Theatre's 90th Anniversary
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sean-martinfield/norma-shearer-and-joan-cr_b_17750

The Wizard of Oz Meets the San Francisco Symphony
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sean-martinfield/wizard-of-oz-san-fran-symphony_b_

The "It" Girl, Clara Bow, A Featured Star at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, July 12–15
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sean-martinfield/the-it-girl-clara-bow-a-f_b_16613

Jun Kaneko's 'Magic Flute' Is Stunningly Visual
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sean-martinfield/magic-flute-jun-kaneko_b_1633445.

Samuel Ramey is Leo the Great in San Francisco Opera's 'Attila'
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sean-martinfield/samuel-ramey-attila_b_1586131.htm

'Victor Herbert, Collected Songs' – A Great CD
http://www.examiner.com/review/victor-herbert-collected-songs-a-great-cd-for-mem

Tom Judson Is Making It Big In San Francisco
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sean-martinfield/tom-judson-cabaret_b_1498594.html

A Look at Gennadi Nedvigin, Principal Dancer with San Francisco Ballet
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sean-martinfield/gennadi-nedvigi-ballet_b_1427319.

Organist Christopher Houlihan Makes A Powerful Debut at Davies Symphony Hall
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sean-martinfield/christopher-houlihan_b_1398351.ht

RICHARD WINSOR – An Interview With the Star of 'Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake in 3D'
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sean-martinfield/richard-winsor-swan-lake_b_135148

DEANNA DURBIN – The Leading Lady of NOIR CITY, Wednesday at The Castro Theatre
http://www.sanfranciscosentinel.com/?p=166623

KRISTIN CLAYTON– A Conversation with "The Diva" of Teatro ZinZanni
http://www.sanfranciscosentinel.com/?p=166029

DIANE BAKER – Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK
http://www.sanfranciscosentinel.com/?p=32007

CAMERON CARPENTER – An Interview with Seán Martinfield
http://www.sanfranciscosentinel.com/?p=24462

AT LAST! – ANN HAMPTON CALLAWAY – An Interview with Seán Martinfield
http://www.sanfranciscosentinel.com/?p=27122

MARNIE BRECKENRIDGE – An Interview with “La Princesse” of Philip Glass’ Orphée
http://www.sanfranciscosentinel.com/?p=109326

A Conversation with Elza van den Heever
http://www.sanfranciscosentinel.com/?p=99268

CUBAN BALLET – An Interview with Octavio Roca
http://www.sanfranciscosentinel.com/?p=86049

A Look At "Giselle" with Ballerina Lorena Feijóo
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33-a6Oa-0j4

ZUILL BAILEY – A Conversation
http://www.sanfranciscosentinel.com/?p=58241

Best regards,
Sean Martinfield

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Sean Martinfield

Expertise

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: BroadwayBelters@yahoo.com I am also a music and cultural critic for HuffingtonPost.com and Examiner.com. I interview internationally recognized musicians, singers, dancers, and recording artists -- particularly those who are now appearing or scheduled to perform in San Francisco.

Experience

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: Broadwaybelters@yahoo.com

Publications
HuffingtonPost.com Examiner.com FabulousFilmSongs.com SanFranciscoSentinel.com

Education/Credentials
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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