I have an opinion on everything (director, remember?), but realize whoever may be reading this will have their own particular theatrical interests. Whether you are a performer, fellow director, or just someone with a general interest in stage stuff, I hope there will be discussions here and there that are of value. I’ll try to keep the posts to one page, so some topics might span several posts. I welcome your comments.
First off, I want to address auditioning, as I am holding auditions next month for two completely different productions. First is Xanadu, the wacky Broadway musical, loosely based on the 1980's film that people love to hate. The other one is a religious musical program originally designed as a readers' theater, but which we are staging in a more theatrical way. So, I have two very different groups to look at, two sets of requirements, but the kinds of things I look for are similar in a lot of ways.
Auditioning is not a chance to show off, but the opportunity for the director to see if you fit in with her vision of the show. (To avoid him/her confusion, I'll just stick with the female pronouns ... since I'm a girl.) When casting a musical, singing ability is the starting point (although there are many other factors I consider, too). Selecting a song that will showcase your voice is an important first step. Usually you will want to select a song that is similar in style to the show for which you are auditioning.
Xanadu, for example, is all 1980's pop music. If someone comes in and sings something like "You'll Never Walk Alone" from Carousel as an audition piece, it is going to tell me very little about how appropriate their voice might be for Xanadu. I will learn some things about their voice, and it may pique my interest, but they are basically doing themselves a disservice.
Do some research, not only about the show, but about the desire of the director. Some directors specifically do not want you to select a song from the show for which you are auditioning. Some specifically do. There are good reasons for either way of doing it, but be sure you are presenting the picture she wants to see. Try to familiarize yourself with the songs from the show, even if you aren't auditioning with one of them. I've seen on the spot requests to sing a section of a song from the show if the director likes what she hears. You'll do better, appear more sincere and make a better overall impression if you come prepared for whatever you may be asked of you.