Laura Dreyfuss stars as Zoe Murphy in the original contemporary musical Dear Evan Hansen by Benj Pasek, Justin Paul, and Steven Levenson. Before she landed at the Music Box Theatre in one of the hottest shows of the season, Dreyfuss walked into the audition room with only a piano player and her audition repertoire. Here, she explains how she booked the job and flips through her book of songs, revealing what material she uses at auditions.
What song did you sing to book this job?
Laura Dreyfuss: A short cut of “Requiem” from the show and I think the Eva Cassidy version of “Fields of Gold.”
What are two other go-to audition songs you sing?
“Here You Come Again” by Dolly Parton and “Ain’t No Sunshine” [by Bill Withers].
What have you used at auditions when casting directors switch to an 8-bar cut?
I don’t think that has happened to me since college, but I always have a fantasy of just singing the Law & Order theme song with a straight face.
Any advice on finding the perfect cut? Do you work with a rep coach?
I’ve been taking class with Craig Carnelia for the last six years, and he is amazing. I usually try out all of my songs there and work with him and the accompanist to find a cut for a song that works both dramatically and musically. I think less is more when it comes to pop songs. People usually get an idea of your skill set within the first five seconds, so it helps to find a song that can briefly help you communicate some sort of story or perspective so that people can get a sense of who you are.
Where do you look for inspiration? How do you keep your book fresh?
Class. I never stop taking class. Just watching the incredible people in my class work on material is so inspiring.
You obviously nailed the Dear Evan Hansen audition, but do you have a story of a terrible audition?
Yes. I had an audition for Mary Poppins for the role of Mary, and I decided as an acting choice I was going to tidy up the audition room while singing “Practically Perfect.” I noticed a blanket near the reader, so I went over to fold it better. It ended up being a six-foot-long dusty piano blanket, and it unraveled everywhere. The whole song became about this random blanket and me being very flustered with it. I hastily tried to put it back in a messy clump and in the process kicked over the reader’s water bottle. Needless to say it was far from practically perfect.