Every time I discover a contemporary musical theatre song for a legit soprano, it’s a bit like spotting a rare, endangered bird. I’m afraid to get too close for fear that it might disappear, and it could be a very long time before I find another one. OK, I’m exaggerating somewhat. In truth, contemporary musical theatre songs (that term!) for legit-esque sopranos are out there- it just takes some digging. Why is this the case?  Generally speaking, most new Broadway musicals today are heavily influenced by commercial music styles like pop and rock.  Chances are, you aren’t going to find legit sopranos on the Billboard Top 40.

2015 has been a particularly bittersweet year for new Broadway musicals featuring legit-type singing, with shows like Doctor Zhivago, It Shoulda Been You, The Visit, and Amazing Grace all closing within months after opening.  However, there is one shining light for fans of this music/vocal style: the Tony Award-winning musical, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, which has played on Broadway for the past two years.  Although that production will close in January, a national tour will continue on.  Broadway revivals of Golden Age musicals will probably always be around as well- though I propose the singing in those productions may have changed over the years.

To be clear, just because a musical flops on Broadway doesn’t automatically make it a ‘bad’ show.  It just means that show wasn’t commercially successful (for any number of reasons).  For the past five years, Jennifer Ashley Tepper and Kevin Michael Murphy have produced a popular series of concerts in New York City featuring songs from under-appreciated musicals called “If It Only Runs a Minute”.  It is a wonderful series, and I strongly recommend checking out the videos online.  For now, I will offer up ten musical theatre songs for legit-esque sopranos from musicals that have run on Broadway from the year 2000-present.  Enjoy!

P.S. If you need further assistance finding repertoire for yourself or for your students, make sure to ‘like’ the Kevin Michael Jones Voice Studio & Repertoire Services page on Facebook!

1. “Poor Monty” from A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder (2013)
Music by Steven Lutvak;  Lyrics by Robert L. Freedman & Steve Lutvak
Performed by Lisa O’Hare

2. “The Beauty Is” from The Light in the Piazza (2005)
Music and Lyrics by Adam Guettel
Performed by Kelli O’Hara

3. “Will You” from Grey Gardens (2006)
Music by Scott Frankel; Lyrics by Michael Korie
Performed by Christine Ebersole

4. “Almost Real” from The Bridges of Madison County (2014)
Music and Lyrics by Jason Robert Brown
Performed by Kelli O’Hara

5. “When the Music Played” from Doctor Zhivago (2015)
Music by Lucy Simon; Lyrics by Michael Korie and Amy Powers
Performed by Kelli Barrett

6. “After Midnight Dies” from The Wild Party (2000)
Music and Lyrics by Michael John LaChiusa
Performed by Sally Murphy

7. “What Only Love Can See” from Chaplin (2006)
Music and Lyrics by Christopher Curtis
Performed by Erin Mackey

8. “Somebody” from Amour (2002)
Music by Michael Legrand; Lyrics by Didier Van Cauwelaert
Performed by Melissa Errico

9. “A Little Bit Less Than” from It Shoulda Been You (2015)
Music by Barbara Anselmi; Lyrics by Brian Hargrove
Performed by Sierra Boggess

10. “Higher” from Allegiance (2015)
Music and Lyrics by Jay Kuo
Performed by Lea Salonga

Kevin Michael Jones

21 thoughts

  1. So grateful for this list, thank you! Some videos were unavailable so I’m not sure if they were all ballads or not. Do you have a similar list of upbeat soprano songs? I’m always stuck for those!

    1. Hi Kathy, thank you! I’m not sure if the song is available to purchase or not, unfortunately. The show only ran for 17 performances on Broadway, so it might not be. You might try Googling the show’s creative team members (Michel Legrand, Dieder van Cauwelaert, and Jeremy Sams) and ask if one of them might send you the music. Best, Kevin

    1. i’ve searched and searched and searched and basically, the answer is nowhere. i had to transpose the lyrics for “when the music played” completely by hand because i couldn’t find those while i was digging either. there’s a youtube account which makes instrumental versions of songs and i put in a request for it, but no promises. (if they do it, i’ll link it to you!)

  2. Wonderful list, but I find it discouraging to have pieces listed that we can’t get ahold of yet. About how long does it usually take a new musical to get their sheet music commercially available? I know MTI says it will have “It Shoulda Been You” available this spring for companies to put up the entire show, but that’s not the same as commercial sheet music for individual songs.

  3. This is so helpful! I always struggle to find audition songs for contemporary musicals that fit my vocal range!

  4. Hello and thank you for the legit list very helpful. Can I ask a question please? I have a singing student who is a very very bright young woman and is very keen to pursue a pro career in musical theatre. The difficulty is that she has a tiny very light and high soprano voice which is just not built for your average contemporary show . Whilst respecting her wishes I feel a degree of responsibility to warn her of just how difficult it will be in an industry which is overloaded with budding performers many who can present a much broader vocal package . I would value some input as I don’t want to discourage her but I also don’t want to see her wasting prescious years of study . She is not with out talent but does not stand out as an obvious choice in the present climate . Thank you

  5. Hi there,

    I am a professional theater and audition accompanist, and my 2 cents is to NOT choose “Wild Party” or “The Beauty Is” (or any other songs by Adam Guettel) for auditions….I just played several of these songs in a cabaret and the music is far too complex for the singer and pianist to be able to put any of it together on the first try. Also, these scores are extremely articulate for the orchestra, and my experience is that singers get lost trying to follow the accompaniment, even if played as written, without previous rehearsal. Best to stay away from Finn or Jason Robert Brown too…I LOVE these composers, but trust me…your audition will be stressful.

  6. I absolutely love When the Music Played, but I can’t seem to find the sheet music for it anywhere. Does anyone have it or know where to find it? Thank you so much <3

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