This installment of my 365 Days of Musical Theater Series marks the first time I started to lean into themes. The majority of the songs featured in this batch are of the older variety, many of which I first heard during my high school years. Once I used 'Madeleine' for song #105, my mind continued to conjure up songs that originated earlier than recent memory. You'll see what popped into my head at the top of the list below.
The tail end of this begins my first intentionally curated songs. I spent two weeks from mid-June to the start of July on a road trip/vacation to Walt Disney World. Here, you will find the songs I chose to go along with the legs of my drive down and arrival in the Happiest Place on Earth. My next entry will cover my time Walt Disney World and the drive home.
As always, all of these songs are ones I find enjoyable and hope you do, too.
106. 'Everybody Likes You' from Carnival! (Jerry Orbach as Paul)
Original Broadway Cast (1961)
I first encountered Carnival! when it was chosen as the musical for my high school in the early 2000s (I was not in it). It's a strange little show about a girl named Lili who becomes part of a carnival. Among the employees, is a puppeteer named Paul who makes his puppets thrill audiences with delight while struggling with depression and bitterness exacerbated by becoming disabled through injury. In this song, Paul (as played by Jerry Orbach) contemplates how unhappy and unliked he is in comparison with the puppets audiences--and Lili--love so much. It's not a song you hear too often, but it is one I have always appreciated. Listen here.
107. 'Masquerade' from The Phantom of the Opera (Company)
The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall (2011)
There are a lot of famous songs in The Phantom of the Opera, but coming off of the sadness of my selection from Carnival!, I wanted something big and splendid and majestic. As a result, I chose 'Masquerade' because it checks those boxes as well as also being associated with high school in my mind, because we sang it in choir. Put on your favorite costume and sing along. Watch here.
108. 'Everybody Says Don't' from Anyone Can Whistle (Jenn Colella)
MCC Miscast (2017)
The plot of Anyone Can Whistle centers around a town where a faux miracle is hyped in order to draw money to a town that is suffering from economic woes, and in the show 'Everybody Says Don't' is traditionally performed by a male character...but you know I love when someone who wouldn't usually sing a song takes it on and slays it. Well, Jenn Colella is a force of nature, 'Everybody Says Don't' is a fast-paced number that can serve as a call to arms for going against the grain and works extremely well out of context, and the combination of the two is a home run you need to watch. Watch here.
109. 'Falling in Love with Love' from The Boys from Syracuse (Rebecca Luker)
My Favorite Broadway: The Leading Ladies (1998)
As with others in this adventure, 'Falling in Love with Love' from The Boys from Syracuse (based on Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors) is a song I sang regularly when I was first training as a soprano in my early teens. I particularly loved singing the opening section of this song, with its delicate underscore, and the soaring traditional soprano sound it showcased. This version, by the forever-missed Rebecca Luker, was my favorite, so it was the one I chose. Watch here.
110. ‘Bidin' My Time' from Crazy for You (The Manhattan Rhythm Kings as the
Cowboy Trio) Original Broadway Cast (1992-1996)
My freshman year of high school, I was introduced to Crazy for You when my friend was in the pit for the school's production of the show that is filled with Gershwin classics. While there are some extraordinary numbers in it (like 'Slap That Bass'), my friend and I always liked to sing the languid 'Bidin' My Time' to each other, both in its original form and the French version that comes later in the show. Is it deep or moving or a scene stealing act ender? Not in the slightest, but it is a small bit of comedy that has always stayed with me because, to this day, when I'm sitting around feeling lazy, this song comes to mind. Listen here.
111. 'Johanna' from Sweeney Todd (Benjamin Magnuson as Anthony)
Broadway Revival Cast (2005-2006)
There are multiple versions of the song 'Johanna' in Sweeney Todd. The first, and most famous, is features the character of Anthony vowing to be with the woman who fascinates him. The second, and most disturbing (in truth, it is very high on my Most Disturbing Musical Songs List, likely at #2) involves Judge Turpin flagellating himself while he thinks about his obsessive lust for the girl. The third is a quartet featuring the titular Sweeney Todd, Anthony, Johanna herself, and a beggar woman. All three are extraordinary and should be appreciated. However, for this list, I went with the first version of the song, because I wanted to showcase Benjamin Magnusson's vocals, which always send a shiver down my spine. Listen here.
112. 'Forget About the Boy' from Thoroughly Modern Millie (Tony Yazbeck, Eddie
Korbich, ensemble) Broadway Backwards (2016)
'Forget About the Boy' was always a popular song from the musical Thoroughly Modern Millie, and why wouldn't it be? It's catchy and features some really fun dancing with a sentiment that is incredibly similar to South Pacific's 'I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair'. As we've established though, I love seeing these songs done in a new/nontraditional way, and much like Jenn Colella's 'Everybody Says Don't', Tony Yazbeck taking on 'Forget About the Boy' left me grinning from ear to ear. Watch here.
113. 'The Simple Joys of Maidenhood' from Camelot (Julie Andrews as Guenevere)
Original Broadway Cast (1960-1963)
'The Simple Joys of Maidenhood' was one of the songs my voice teacher assigned to me when I was a young teen learning technique and interpretation. My first memories of it aren't of Julie Andrews singing it, but of my teacher recording herself singing it on cassette tape for me. It's a sweet number where the future queen, Guenevere, prays to St. Genevieve because she is unhappy with her (arranged marriage) fate and longs for, well, the simple joys of maidenhood--like men fighting for her hand. Listen here.
114. ‘Waving Through a Window' from Dear Evan Hansen (Ben Platt as Evan Hansen)
Original Broadway Cast (2016-2022)
The day I tweeted this song, my mother had just watched the film version of Dear Evan Hansen, a musical that I saw on Broadway with the original cast. I have a track record of loving music composed by Pasek and Paul (see my obsession with the soundtrack to The Greatest Showman), but my feelings about Dear Evan Hansen are mixed. When I was a junior in high school, a classmate of mine died by suicide and although I barely knew him, the loss was a kick to the stomach of the school community, resulting in numerous tributes to him throughout the remainder of the year, the chorus I belonged to singing at his funeral, and our junior prom being postponed so that students could attend his wake. To quote The History Boys, 'someone dies at school and you remember it all your life.' As a result, I was incredibly sensitive to the material in Dear Evan Hansen (the plot, after all, centers around the aftermath of a teenager's suicide when the titular Evan Hansen fabricates a tale of friendship with him that makes him the undeserving object of people's attention and sympathy), and my rage festered and bubbled and boiled over as the show progressed and I found myself unable to do anything but loathe Evan and feel heartbreak for those legitimately mourning. That said, I thought Ben Platt did a tremendous job portraying a character I will never like, and I found 'Waving Through a Window' (which comes very early in the show and reveals Evan's struggling outsider status) to be compelling, thus its inclusion here. Despite all my feelings about the rest of the show, this song always makes it on my playlists. Listen here.
115. 'Hey, Tom Sawyer' from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (Company)
Original Broadway Cast (2001)
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is a musical based on the novel of the same name, which has many of its plot points intact, and was presented as with a smiling, energetic cast that included the now-famous Kristen Bell as Becky. In truth, if it was made now, it would likely be a different show, with more (better) attention paid to cultural representation and historical context, and maybe one day that will happen. My main memories from attending its brief Broadway run when I was in high school (an unintentional recurring theme of this installment) are being charmed by the cast and thinking several parts of the score were full of life and truly darling (see: 'This Time Tomorrow' and 'Angels Lost'). I remember vividly that I wanted to hear some of the numbers again, which is why I included one here. I went with the opening number, 'Hey, Tom Sawyer', because it was an exuberant company song that introduced Tom and his world and made young me tap my toes. Listen here.
116. 'Somewhere That's Green'/'Suddenly Seymour' from Little Shop of Horrors
(Ellen Greene as Audrey, Teddy Kempner as Seymour) Hey, Mr. Producer!: The Musical World of Cameron Mackintosh (1998)
Some people just become so synonymous with a character that is hard to picture anyone else playing the role as well. As much as I've enjoyed other people I've seen play Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors, to me (and many others) no one has matched the quirky vulnerability of Ellen Greene, so I had to share this performance of her two biggest numbers in the show from the Hey, Mr. Producer! concert, because it is a wonderful opportunity to not only hear, but also watch, embody Audrey on a stage. Watch here.
117. 'Veronique' from On the Twentieth Century (Madeline Kahn as Lily Garland)
Original Broadway Cast (1978-1979)
No one loves On the Twentieth Century (a musical comedy about the hubbub that occurs while riding on the famous train, the Twentieth Century) as much as my father, so I chose to showcase it on Father's Day in his honor. I picked the song 'Veronique' because Madeline Kahn is just delightful on the cast recording as an actress called Lily Garland who played a character named, you guessed it, Veronique. Listen here.
118. 'When I Drive' from Bonnie and Clyde (Jeremy Jordan as Clyde Barrow,
Claybourne Elder as Buck Barrow) Original Broadway Cast (2011)
I am an absolute sucker for Frank Wildhorn musicals, and Bonnie and Clyde is one of my favorites. This musical came out at a great time for me, it was the same year I took a road trip with my friend from New York to Louisiana to see where the real Bonnie and Clyde were killed. 'When I Drive', in which Clyde (played by Jeremy Jordan) sings about his love of being in a car with his brother Buck (played by Claybourne Elder) quickly became a staple on my road trip playlists. The date in June that I tweeted this was the start of my drive from New York to Disney World in Florida, so of course I listened to it, and tweeted it. It's been over a decade since I first heard the song, so skipping it was unfathomable. Listen here.
119. 'By the Sword/Sons of Dixie' from The Civil War (Broadway All Stars)
The Complete Work Recording (1999)
I didn't realize I placed two Frank Wildhorn songs in a row until just this minute, but here we are. I didn't get the opportunity to see The Civil War on Broadway, but the score was something I listened to regularly. Its fictional depictions of the various phases of the US Civil War, peppered in with readings from history, were a wonderful way to enter learning about the topic. There are a great many songs from this show that I think all people should hear (including 'Virginia', 'Freedom's Child', 'Missing You (My Bill)', and my friend Jill's favorite, 'Sarah') but when I drive from my home in the north down across the Mason-Dixon line, I always listen to 'By the Sword/Sons of Dixie' because it introduces the Union and Confederate soldiers with their own musical themes as they are filled with confidence at the start of the war and serves as a perfect contrast to the later song 'How Many Devils?' which visits the soldiers as the war has crawled on and they have faced death and continual hardship. Listen here.
120. 'Kiss the Girl' from The Little Mermaid (Tituss Burgess as Sebastian, Animals)
Original Broadway Cast (2008-2009)
Arriving at Disney World's beautiful Art of Animation Resort, which I'd always dreamed of staying in due to it's amazing theming, meant sharing my favorite song from The Little Mermaid to commemorate staying in the area with décor inspired by the film. In both the film and stage production, 'Kiss the Girl' is my favorite number, for its perfect use of romantic crooning (here provided by Tituss Burgess, whose voice I always love) and a hint of humor from the backup animals. It may not be as boisterous as 'Under the Sea' or as infamous as 'Poor, Unfortunate Souls' but it always makes me smile. Listen here.