Audition advice: Pre 60s Golden Age Musicals

golden age of musicals

Are you auditioning for a musical theatre course, or building an audition book? Including at least one song from a pre-1960s show is mandatory in many of these instances. This blog post will explain the Golden Age of musicals and give you a snapshot of the key writers and musicals. Also, there is a selection of 40 audition songs for men and women.

The Golden Age

In 1943, Rogers and Hammerstein’s production of Oklahoma delighted wartime audiences and ran for an astonishing 2,212 performances. The production ushered in a new period of American Musical Theatre now referred as The Golden Age that continued for another 20 years into the 60s.

By integrating music, strong story-telling and dance, the Golden Age musicals built on a foundation established earlier in the 1927 production of Show Boat and went on to become America’s first blockbuster shows. Story lines often revolved around themes of ‘boy meets girl’ and settle down together. Some shows touched on social issues, while others were adapted from classic literature.

The style of singing most often required for singing music from this period is known as legit. Based on classical singing, this style features an even vibrato, rounded, tall and dark vowels, smooth transitions between the vocal registers and clearly understood text. Some well-known legit singer-actors from this time period include Julie AndrewsAlfred DrakeBarbara Cook, and John Raitt.

Musical Theatre from the 40s

  • Oklahoma! (1943)
  • On the Town (1944)
  • Bloomer Girl (1944)
  • Carousel (1945)
  • Annie Get Your Gun (1946)
  • St. Louis Woman (1946)
  • Beggar’s Holiday (1946)
  • Street Scene (1947)
  • Finian’s Rainbow (1947)
  • Brigadoon (1947)
  • Allegro (1947)
  • Kiss Me, Kate (1948)
  • Where’s Charley? (1948)
  • Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1949)

Key Writers from the 40s

Musical Theatre from the 50s

  • Guys And Dolls (1950)
  • Call Me Madam (1950)
  • The King And I (1951)
  • Wonderful Town (1953)
  • Me and Juliet (1953)
  • The Threepenny Opera (1954)
  • The Pyjama Game (1954)
  • Damn Yankees (1955)
  • My Fair Lady (1956)
  • The Most Happy Fella (1956)
  • Bells are Ringing (1956)
  • West Side Story (1957)
  • The Music Man (1957)
  • Flower Drum Song (1958)
  • The Sound of Music (1959)
  • Fiorello! (1959)
  • Gypsy (1959)

Key Writers from the 50s

Audition songs for men

  • Kansas City from Oklahoma (1943) – Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein
  • Lucky to be Me from On The Town (1944)- music by Leonard Bernstein. Book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green
  • My Defences are Down from Annie Get Your Gun (1946) – Music and lyrics by Irving Berlin
  • Take Love Easy from Beggars Holiday (1946)  – Music by Duke Ellington, Lyrics by John La Touche
  • Old Devil Moon from Finian’s Rainbow (1947) – book by E.Y. Harburg and Fred Saidy, lyrics by Harburg, and music by Burton Lane
  • When I’m Not Near the Girl I Love from Finian’s Rainbow (1947)
  • Once in Love with Amy written by Frank Loesser and recorded 1948
  • Some Enchanted Evening from South Pacific (1949) – Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein
  • Pass the Football from Wonderful Town (1953) – lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, and music by Leonard Bernstein
  • Goodbye Old Girl from Damn Yankees (1955) – music and lyrics by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross
  • On the Street Where You Live from My Fair Lady (1956) – book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe
  • Maria from Westside Story (1957) – book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
  • Something’s Coming from Westside Story (1957)
  • All I need is the Girl from Gypsy (1959) – music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and book by Arthur Laurents
  • Beautiful Girl from Singing in the Rain

Audition songs for Women

Works for both Men and Women

Duets for men and women


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