-You are choosing a Pop song for a MUSICAL THEATRE AUDITION and NOT for a Gig with a Mic or a Gig with a band or a recording studio session. Bearing this in mind is absolutely crucial. Please do NOT choose Pop songs which rely on a drum kit/studio production/band to make them sound good. Please do not choose Pop songs which rely on microphone technique to work ( very breathy mic sounds etc). Look for songs which work acoustically, work with a piano and have a reasonable melody. If you can sing your song a capella and make it sound good then that is a good indication that it might work in a Musical Theatre Audition.

-Bear in mind that you are expected to have a healthy and well functioning, technically able voice in an MT audition. There are many Pop singers we all love listening to ( Nick Cave, Anthony & The Johnsons etc) who would probably fail an MT Pop audition as their voices are not strong/healthy enough to sustain 8 shows a week.

-Please be brutally honest with yourself about which Pop styles you can sing extremely well and which you cannot. If you have a folksy sound and tend to interpret music very ‘literally’, singing exactly what is written on the page without bending notes or enhancing riffs, then steer clear of styles which demand great ‘R&B/Soul’ phrasing and riff agility. This does not mean it might not be something you want to work and improve on. However the ability to take a ‘Soul’ song and make it sound authentic is simply in some people’s blood and not in others. You may love it. That does not mean you can sing it.

-The music in Pop songs is mostly sung before it is notated. Some of the vocal notated riffs are a GUIDE and do not need to be learned as written. Experienced singers make these their own. There are some exceptions. Know the performance history of your song.

-Choosing repertoire which suits you and lies well in your voice takes time! However it is well worth the investment. Pour yourself a glass of wine and listen to Spotify and You Tube. Sing along and see whether the song lies well in your voice and whether you match the required technical demands at THIS stage. Choose songs you can sing NOW. Choose songs which suit your casting and which have lyrics which mean something to you. Choose songs you WANT to sing again and again as you love them.

-Know the performance history of your chosen song. For example if you choose ‘Both Sides Now’, it might not be the best idea to suddenly turn it into a ‘Soul Ballad’, unless you know that you are completely changing the ‘folk’ character of it.

-Beware of singing opposite gender songs. It is allowable. However if you do so you will probably have to change the key as it will sit in a very different place in your voice. For instance; if a boy sings a female Pop song, then the high, exciting female passages are likely to sit in a very easy place in the middle of your voice. The song is written for females so that the tessitura of an emotionally heightened passage sits high in the female voice, making it more ‘exciting’. In the same key in a male voice, it will not be as exciting as it will lie in an easy place in your voice.

-Cut the song if it is too long. Go to an MD or a singing teacher who is a good musician for help with this. 3mins max.

-Prepare songs suitable for your casting. If you are white and blue eyed, it is unlikely you will audition for Lion King. If you are black and have a great Soul voice, it is unlikely you would audition for Jersey Boys. Make sure you have Pop songs suitable for YOUR specific casting.

-Prepare a 60’s/70’s Pop/a contemporary Pop/ a Rock song and a Pop song from a contemporary Pop (eg. Pasek & Paul/ Kerrigan Lowdermilk/Sarah Bareilles) & any JukeBox Musical Theatre show you might be cast for. That should hopefully cover most auditions.

-The best way to practice your Pop Audition Rep songs is to rock up at the many London Open Mic events. Plan at least 3 Open Mics you will attend over the next 3 months. Look out for the Open Mic night we run at 100 Wardour Street.

-Remember that the panel in an MT audition will want to hear what you are vocally capable of. They do not want to hear what you are NOT vocally capable of. Sing what you sing brilliantly. If many singers will sing it better than you, don’t sing it. And show off a bit of range and a few different voice qualities so that the panel knows what you can do.

-Don’t be afraid to move in a relaxed and cool fashion in a Pop MT audition. That does not mean swing your arms about or move erratically. It simply means the way you move when you sing a Pop song is a little looser than the way you move when you sing ‘Think of me’.

Good luck!

Leontine Hass
Vocal Coach

Leontine Hass – CEO

Founding Principal | Vocal Coach
Leontine Hass is an internationally renowned Vocal Coach and Principal of the Associated Studios London Performing Arts Academy.

Leontine Hass is currently vocal coach for Motown at The Shaftesbury Theatre London. She has served as vocal coach to Matt Henry (Lola in Kinky Boots West End), Alice Stokoe (Sophie in Mamma Mia, West End), Gloria Onitiri (Lead in The Bodyguard & Hair, West End), Claire Sweeney (Tell Me on a Sunday) and many other leads and swings in the West End, national and international tours of productions such as Thriller-Live, Oliver!, Carousel, Parade, Tell Me on a Sunday, The Lion King, The Phantom of the Opera, Witches of Eastwick, Nine, The Wizard of Oz, Ragtime, Sweeney Todd, Cats, Sister Act, We Will Rock You, Footloose, Wicked, The Sound of Music, Ghost, Hairspray, Porgy and Bess, The Bodyguard, Jesus Christ Superstar, Jersey Boys, Barnum, Miss Saigon, Book of Mormon, Mamma Mia, In the Heights, The Color Purple, Memphis, Spamalot, Les Miserables, Miss Saigon, Aladdin, Chicago, The Pyjama Game, Kinky Boots and the upcoming production of Dreamgirls.

Leontine coaches members of The Swingle Singers, Collabro, The Magnets, The Sons of Pitches and classical singers with ENO, Welsh National Opera and ROH, as well as Pop/Rock/Jazz singers. Leontine was the Vocal Coach for shows including the London premiere of Bernarda Alba the Musical, and currently the a cappella hit, ‘Gobsmacked’.

Leontine teaches workshops and lectures internationally on singing, voice and performance. She rehabilitates voices after surgery, or as surgery prevention. She has taught at leading Music & Drama Schools including GSA Conservatoire, the Oxford School of Drama, Mountview, LSMT, YMT, The Brit School, La Salle (Singapore), the Queensland Conservatorium, Centre Stage and The VCA (Melbourne).

Leontine has acted as vocal consultant to various music management/production companies, including ITV and the BBC. Leontine is vocal coach for ‘The Voice’ for BBC TV. She was featured as a mentor/vocal coach on the Gareth Malone show, ‘The Naked Choir’, for BBC2 and will also be involved with Series 2. She is a regular columnist at voicecouncil.com and for The Stage newspaper. She is a contributor to ‘The Singer’s Complete Guide to Vocal Health’ (Oxford Uni. Press), and advisor/contributor to ‘The Ultimate Guide to Singing’ published by TC Helicon in 2014.

Having originally trained as a classical singer (BA, Melb. Uni, BMus. Kings College London, Dip. RAM), Leontine has performed as a singer and actress in concert, theatre and TV.

Leontine is the CEO/Founding Principal of the Associated Studios Performing Arts Academy London, which she founded in 2007, then based at The Royal Academy of Music. Associated Studios provides full-time and part-time training and professional development in Musical Theatre and Opera (www.associatedstudios.co.uk). The Board of Directors includes Rory Bremner (Chair), Patrick Lawrence QC and Dr Christopher Stewardson. Patrons include Sir Tim Rice, Jeremy Irons, Jeremy Herrin, Timothy West and Scott Alan.

Leontine is represented by Lesley Duff at Diamond Management.