Hello, and welcome (back?) to my adventure in creating a list of 365 musical theater songs for the 365 days of a year. If you missed the first entry (#1-15) you can view that here. I continue to hope that it will delight readers either by reminding you of shows you forgot or by introducing them to new ones as much as it delights me while I make it.
If you follow along with this series of entries for long enough, you will also likely learn a lot about my taste. Spoiler: I love solo numbers and there are some performers I could (and often do) listen to on loop so they will creep in regularly. I am enjoying this process a lot, and it is helping me build a killer playlist, that's for sure.
This entry features a severely underrated act one finale, a future pop star, a bit of Bollywood, and a flurry of Ireland-inspired songs from the week of St. Patrick's Day. I happened to use a lot of songs with videos available on YouTube during this period so you'll see those embedded below and get to watch some of the performances in action.
16. 'Comfort and Joy' from Bat Boy (Sean McCourt as Dr. Parker, Kerry Butler as
Shelley, Kaitlin Hopkins as Meredith, Deven May as Edgar/Bat Boy, etc.)
Original (Off-Broadway) Cast Recording (2001) This absurd but darling musical had an off-Broadway run that overlapped 9/11. One of my major memories of it is seeing it three days before 9/11 and then, following it, the production did an initiative that gave tickets to the show to first responders. The recipient list might have been broader than that, but it's been 21 years and my memory is obviously imperfect. I swear they did something, though. Bat Boy was inspired by an article in the tabloid Weekly World News in the early 1990s. In it, Edgar (the titular Bat Boy) gets taken in by the Parker family, but it isn't an easy life. The show is filled with dark humor but also a surprising amount of heart and commentary on how those who are viewed as different are wrongly treated. 'Comfort and Joy' is a full company number, tying all the various characters together regardless of their current states of mind, and in my opinion it is a Top 10 act one finale. Listen here.
17. 'It Can't Be True' from 13 (Elizabeth Gillies as Lucy, Caitlin Gann as Molly,
Ariana Grande as Charlotte, Brynn Williams as Cassie + cast)
Original Broadway Cast (2008-2009) I was watching an episode of the reboot of Dynasty this night, and of course it made me think of 13 because Elizabeth Gillies (Fallon Carrington) was one of the most memorable characters in that show. In 'It Can't Be True' her character, Lucy, masterminds a song reminiscent of Bye, Bye Birdie's big telephone number in which a rumor spreads like wildfire through the teenage population. The song also features a pre-fame Ariana Grande, who my friend Andrew and I always hoped we'd see go on for one of the main roles, but it never happened. 'It Can't Be True' is a fun number that sticks in your head. I promise you will be singing 'Everything Charlotte says is a lie' to yourself for days if you give it a try. Listen here.
18. 'I Dreamed a Dream' from Les Misérables (Ruthie Henshall as Fantine)
10th Anniversary Concert, London (1995) On March 12, I wanted to celebrate Les Mis because it was the anniversary of its opening night on Broadway in 1987. To do it, I turned to the version of Les Mis that I saw first: the concert done in 1995 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the original West End production. When that concert aired on PBS, young me developed a lifelong love for it. One of my favorite parts of that concert was (and still is) Ruthie Henshall's turn as Fantine. Despite seeing Les Mis in a wide variety of incarnations over the years, Henshall's Fantine and her haunting 'I Dreamed a Dream' has always been my favorite take on the role. Watch here.
19. 'Breeze Off the River' from The Full Monty (Patrick Wilson as Jerry)
Original Broadway Cast (2000-2002)
The Full Monty is one of those shows where there isn't a song I don't like. After I tweeted this one (which is a sweet song about Jerry's love for his son) because I was in a warm, fuzzy kind of mood, I thought about how if it had been a different day I would have tweeted 'Big-Ass Rock' or 'You Walk with Me,' which shows just how much I think you should listen to the entire cast recording. Ever since there was a private presentation of the show in 2019 with Stark Sands, I've been dreaming of a revival with him in the lead. It is one of those shows that just, in my opinion, really works and doesn't have any dull spots. Listen here.
20. 'Shakalaka Baby' from Bombay Dreams (Preeya Kalidas as the singing voice of
Rani/Ayesha Dharker acting as Rani, Raza Jeffrey as Akaash, + cast)
Original London Cast (2002-2004)
One of my go-to songs for when I want to feel happy is 'Shakalaka Baby.' The song involves the characters of Rani and Akaash (and a phenomenal ensemble) dancing in a fountain on stage. Yes, some people had quibbles at the time about there being lip syncing involved, but that was part of the plot: they were filming a Bollywood dance number, and in most cases, movie musical numbers are recorded with the performers using a track recorded at a different time. If you're looking for something a little more serious, I also suggest listening to 'The Journey Home.' Watch here.
21. 'The Wedding' from The Pirate Queen (Áine Uí Cheallaigh as Evleen + cast)
Original Broadway Cast (2007)
This next series of tweets was during the build up to St. Patrick's Day so I was in the mood for music with Irish inspiration behind them. Although The Pirate Queen (which is about Grace O’Malley) wasn't the blockbuster success some people were hoping it would be before it opened, I became obsessed with 'The Wedding' and I've always thought that if I ever got married, this would be played at some point during either the ceremony or reception. Listen here.
22. 'Gold' from Once (Steve Kazee as Guy + cast)
Original Broadway Cast (2012-2015)
'Falling Slowly' may be the most well-known song from Once, in both the original film and the stage adaptation, but 'Gold' will always be my favorite. In the Broadway production, Steve Kazee's tender vocals around lyrics like 'And I love her so/I wouldn't trade her for gold' spoke to my heart. I was thrilled when his work in this show was recognized with a Tony Award. The fact that I first saw it St. Patrick's Day weekend and it is set in Ireland is why I decided to treat myself (and now, all of you) to 'Gold' at this point. Watch here.
23. 'The Streets of Dublin' from A Man of No Importance (Steven Pasquale as
Original Off-Broadway Cast (2002)
For St. Patrick's Day I decided it was time to post the song I regularly cite as one of my all-time favorite musical theater songs. A vibrant, bouncy, and gorgeous number where the character of Robbie (who says he lacks the words to express himself) expertly describes the atmosphere of Dublin, it has everything I love in theater: exquisitely descriptive lyrics, soaring vocals, perfect mood-setting music, and the opportunity to display emotional power. A lot of people have performed it since Pasquale (my second-favorite performance of it was Jason Danieley's in a concert production), but the first one I heard--the one that made me declare it a favorite--had to be the one I featured. I admit to being the annoying person who sings this song whenever she goes to Dublin, and I'm not ashamed of it. I love it that much. Listen here.
24. 'Astonishing' from Little Women (Sutton Foster as Jo March)
Original Broadway Cast (2004-2005)
Growing up, whenever I engaged with the story of Little Women, I always thought of myself as someone others called a Jo but who wanted to be a Meg. I loved the story for what it was, but never really felt a deep connection to one of the characters like my friends did. When I was older and saw the Broadway production of Little Women, my appreciation for the story expanded. Songs like 'Some Things are Meant to Be' and 'Take a Chance on Me' delighted me, but the idea of singing Jo's big act one finale number ('Astonishing') was the first time I didn't mind that people seemed to think she was the character I was most like. Listen here.
25. 'We'll Take a Glass Together' from Grand Hotel (Michael Jeter as Otto, Brent
Barrett as Felix)
1990 Tony Awards (Original Broadway production, 1989-1992)
I have never seen Grand Hotel, but I have watched this energetic (and elastic!) clip from the 1990 Tony Awards dozens of times over the years. Jeter's performance in this number is one I always wish I had been able to see live. Since I was too young when the show was on Broadway I didn't get to see it, but I am still celebrating how great it is by giving it a day on my list. Watch here.
26. 'Where is the Life that Late I Led?' from Kiss Me, Kate (Brian Stokes Mitchell as
Fred Graham / Petruchio)
Broadway revival cast (1999-2001) After thinking about Grand Hotel, I decided to go with a pair of songs from older musicals, but because I attended revivals of them that I loved, I used those versions over the originals. In this one, it's Brian Stokes Mitchell slaying 'Where is the Life that Late I Led?' as his character Fred performing as Petruchio in a musical version of The Taming of the Shrew. His pairing with Marin Mazzie (whose 'I Hate Men' was as stellar as you'd expect) was my introduction to this musical, and I am glad for it. Listen here.
27. 'Old Devil Moon' from Finian's Rainbow (Cheyenne Jackson as Woody, Kate
Baldwin as Sharon)
Broadway revival cast (2009-2010)
When it was announced that Cheyenne Jackson was doing Finian's Rainbow for Encores!, of course I was in. It was a sweet production and I thoroughly enjoyed it, so I was happy when it transferred to Broadway and I got to see it again. Jackson and Kate Baldwin played well off of one another and their 'Old Devil Moon' was simply charming. Watch here.
28. 'The Ballad of Booth' from Assassins (Neil Patrick Harris as the Balladeer,
Michael Cerveris as John Wilkes Booth)
Broadway Cast (2004)
I've long considered Assassins to be a musical that should be used in classrooms as a gateway to the discussion of the darker side of American history. It is a grim show, with bits of humor, that looks at those who either succeeded in or attempted to assassinate US Presidents. The music styles reflect the eras of the events and the songs are a mixture of the characters themselves and an outsider called the Balladeer (who, SPOILER, later becomes Lee Harvey Oswald.) I could have picked any song from this show and been happy with my choice, but I landed on 'The Ballad of Booth' because Cerveris' characterization of Booth is something I don't think can be topped. I waited many years to see this show on Broadway (I was preparing to finally see one when it was canceled, understandably, in the wake of 9/11) and the 2004 cast that we finally got was everything I hoped it would be. This song, and this show in general, contains many potentially (likely) upsetting aspects, so considering that before diving into it is a good idea. It is, to me, a way of approaching the history of the assassins while staying far away from anything that could be misconstrued as agreeing with or glamorizing them. Listen here.
29. 'The Glamorous Life' cut from A Little Night Music (Audra McDonald)
Sondheim! The Birthday Concert (2010)
Although this magnificent solo number is not in A Little Night Music in the form depicted here, it is a true classic. It is a rollicking number for a traditional soprano that I call a Singer's Song, meaning that regardless of whether audiences like it (though I think they do) it is one hell of an adrenaline rush to sing. Intended to be sung by a girl about her absent actress mother, it is usually performed by adult women (like Audra, famously) and with good reason: it's a beautiful beast of a number. I sang it regularly in my musical theater class days and it's one that I will never, ever get tired of singing or hearing others sing. Watch here.
30. 'Meadowlark' from The Baker's Wife (Tituss Burgess)
r Family Cruise (2009) The Glamorous Life' and 'Meadowlark' are completely different but they both display what I enjoy about powerful solos. 'Meadowlark' is another one I've loved singing for years, but my favorite version of it is not the famous Patti LuPone version on the cast recording. No, mine is by Tituss Burgess. (Confession: I am an absolute sucker for songs being gender switched, or at least performed by people who would not usually be cast in the roles.) I first saw Tituss perform 'Meadowlark' in a concert that featured those types of switches--Broadway Backwards 4--but that particular one is not online to my knowledge although there are pictures of it here. As such, I have gone with a video of him singing it on an r Family Cruise instead. Whenever I return to this rendition, my heart gets caught in my throat for the duration. Burgess takes this song originally about a woman using the story of a meadowlark and a king as a means of working through her debate about leaving her husband for a younger man and brings it to a level of beauty I've never seen anyone else capture. Watch here.
Until next time, happy listening!
As this series grows, you will be able to find every entry here.