New year, new batch of musical theater songs to share! At first glance, there is no theme to the songs chosen for this leg of the journey through 365 days of musical theater. However, 13 of the 15 songs featured here were recorded after the year 2000 and prior to the year 2020. This two-decade span was the prime time for my attendance of Broadway productions, and whether they were new ([title of show], Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark) or revivals (Side Show, Sweet Charity) I did my best to see them. The result is that I have a particularly in-depth knowledge of this era. I'm glad that, despite not planning it, I get to showcase a lot of it here.
181. 'Nine People's Favorite Thing' from [title of show] (Susan Blackwell, Hunter
Bell, Heidi Blickenstaff, Jeff Bowen)
Original Cast (2006)
This quirky little show had a rabid off-Broadway following, and many of those fans followed it to its Broadway run. I remember sitting near them when I attended a performance. They knew every second of it by heart and had Big Opinions about the cast and the attention they deserved. In it, the cast plays themselves in a meta look at the creation of a musical. To me, the best song in it is 'Nine People's Favorite Thing,' and I listen to it whenever I'm feeling a bit unfulfilled. Its premise is that it's better to create (or be) the absolute best to nine people than to be lower ranking to a larger group of people and it pushes you to take creative risks. I'm a fan. Listen here.
182. 'I Will Never Leave You' from Side Show (Erin Davie as Violet, Emily Padgett as
Revival Cast (2014-2015)
Side Show tells the story of Daisy and Violet Hilton, performers who were conjoined twins and lived from 1908 to 1969. The version of this musical that was popular when I was growing up starred Emily Skinner and Alice Ripley, but I was never able to see it. What I did get to see was the moving 2014 revival. Davie and Padgett were above and beyond as worthy successors to Skinner and Ripley and their emotional duet anthem 'I Will Never Leave You' touched my heart. Listen here.
183. 'The Rhythm of Life' from Sweet Charity (Rhett G. George as Daddy Johann
Sebastian, Denis O'Hare as Oscar, Company)
Broadway Revival Cast (2005)
There are so many songs from Sweet Charity that are well known, like 'Rich Man's Frug' and 'Hey, Big Spender,' but I have a huge soft spot for 'The Rhythm of Life.' It occurs when Oscar takes Charity to 'church' which happens to really be a gathering of those who are heavily embedded in the hippie world. It makes me sway every time I hear it and always stays in my head. It's my favorite sung music in the whole show. By the time Oscar (played here by Denis O'Hare) gets moved to sing along, I have already been doing so for a few minutes. I hope you will too. Listen here.
184. 'And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going' from Dreamgirls (Jennifer Holliday)
My Favorite Broadway: The Leading Ladies (1998)
My first ever encounter with Dreamgirls (the musical about the rise to stardom of a girl group called the Dreams) was not the cast recording or the eventual film, it was Jennifer Holliday's performance in this concert. By this time, Dreamgirls' Broadway opening was over 15 years in the past, yet Holliday (its original Effie) blew the roof off of the place like not a moment had passed. It was a stunning moment, and I am so glad that it was filmed, because otherwise people like me might never have been able to see it. To this day, when the musical gets mentioned, this one performance is what immediately comes to my mind. Watch here.
185. 'Something Wonderful' from The King and I (Ruthie Ann Miles as Lady Thiang)
Broadway Revival Cast (2015-2016)
I had always intended to use 'Hello, Young Lovers' as my song to represent this show, solely because it was one of the first two musical theater songs assigned to me by my voice teacher when I was young teen. You've all learned by now that I am a sucker for nostalgia, so it shouldn't be a surprise. However, at this point in my tweeting journey I was thinking a lot about the announced production of The Light in the Piazza with the fabulous Ruthie Ann Miles as Margaret. This production has since been postponed, but I was (and am) very excited about it. That, in turn, led me to thinking about how wonderful she was in the revival of The King and I, and so I changed my original intention and went with her 'Something Wonderful,' because everyone should hear it. Listen here.
186. 'Boy Falls From the Sky' from Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark (Reeve Carney as
Original Broadway Cast (2010/2011-2014)
Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark was one of those shows where the drama around it was as interesting (honestly, more interesting) than the show itself. I saw it in one of its earliest incarnations and I considered using the infamous and eventually cut song 'Deeply Furious' for this selection. It involved Arachne (a woman with a half spider body) and her fellow spider women singing about shoes. It was as ridiculous as you can imagine. However, I wanted to keep this list to songs that I actually find enjoyable. As a result, you get 'Boy Falls From the Sky' which, in my opinion, is a powerful song about Peter Parker fully embracing his call to be a hero. Listen here.
187. 'I Believe' from The Book of Mormon (Andrew Rannells as Elder Price)
Tony Awards (2011)
Given that The Book of Mormon came from a combination of the folks behind South Park and the composer behind Avenue Q, it is no surprise that it holds nothing back in terms of choosing what to skewer. I chose 'I Believe' because I think the creators and lead actor Andrew Rannells understood the nuance required to make this show work. Certainly, it remains controversial, but 'I Believe' is a powerhouse of a number wherein Rannells' Elder Price uses his conviction in his Mormon faith to give him power as he seeks to convert a Ugandan Warlord. It sets you up to believe this will be his big moment...but (spoiler alert) it certainly is not. Yet, the building momentum and Rannells' embodiment of the Mormon missionary drawing on everything he knows about his faith came together for a phenomenal performance. Watch here.
188. 'School Song' from Matilda (Company)
Original Broadway Cast (2013-2017)
I tweeted this song when the fall semester was beginning, to herald the end of summer and the return to work. It's witty way of working the alphabet into lyrics about how school can be a foreign and scary place for children raised as their parents' angels was my favorite part of the show, hands down. Listen here.
189. 'Times Are Hard for Dreamers' from Amélie (Phillipa Soo as Amélie)
Original Broadway Cast (2017)
A sweet song from a sweet show sung by the wonderful Phillipa Soo. I'd never seen the film this musical is based on, but the show was quietly enjoyable and as a dreamer myself, this song appealed to me. Listen here.
190. 'Someday' from The Wedding Singer (Laura Benanti as Julia)
Original Broadway Cast (2006)
One of my favorite things about the stage musical adaptation of The Wedding Singer (the original film starred Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore) is that it kept the songs the film made famous, while adding wonderful new music that felt like it was straight out of the 1980s. This song, 'Someday', sees Julia fantasize about what life will be like when she finally gets engaged. It is poppy, fun, and it gets stuck in your head plus, it occurs early in the show so you get a great tone set for the rest of it. Listen here.
191. 'Try to Remember' from The Fantasticks (Jerry Orbach as El Gallo)
Original Cast (1960)
Thanks to the popularity of the television series Law and Order, I feel like most people focus on that aspect of the career of Jerry Orbach. However, before he was helping put fictional criminals away on television, he was lending his voice to musicals of the stage and screen. One of those musicals (and the oldest performance in this entry) was The Fantasticks, where he was tasked with singing 'Try to Remember' a song many people know without even having seen the show. Its whimsical melody and lyrics that conjure the calmest of Septembers caused it to be covered by innumerable artists and performed in countless venues. Here, you get to listen to his wholly original take from over sixty years ago. Listen here.
192. 'Someone Else's Story' from Chess (Lea Salonga)
The Broadway Concert (2002)
My main engagement with Chess came from being assigned songs from it, like this one, by my voice teacher. I picked this version to share because Lea Salonga's voice will always be one of my favorites. Whenever the option to listen to her arises, I take it. Watch here.
193. 'I Know It's Today' from Shrek (Leah Greenhaus, Marissa O'Donnell, Sutton
Foster as the 3 ages of Fiona)
Today Show (2008)
I was a fan of the film Shrek (about the loveable ogre named in the title) but I wasn't sure how it would translate to the stage. It turns out, it translated well, and I very much enjoyed it. In particular I enjoyed 'I Know It's Today' in which Princess Fiona, stuck in a tower, perpetually is certain that today will be the day she is freed. Instead of a static song about longing, it is used as a means of showing how today was decidedly not the day for a very long time. It was a treat to see the character go from child to teen to adult all in the span of a few moments, and it's a rare moment in musical theater where the performers for three different ages of the same character sing together. Watch here.
194. 'Doll on a Music Box / Truly Scrumptious (Reprise)' from Chitty Chitty Bang
Bang (Emma Williams as Truly Scrumptious, Michael Ball as Caractacus Potts)
Original London Cast (2002)
When most people think of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, they think of the flying car in the film. When I think of it, I think of the brief scene where Truly Scrumptious performs with Caractacus Potts while dressed as two life-sized dolls. I don't know why that song (and the over-the-top 'Chu-chi Face' sung by the villainous characters) has always stuck with me, other than that it has a lovely melody and the commitment of the performers is essential to its success. Whatever the reason, the fact remains that I find this song delightful. Listen here.
195. 'A Bowler Hat' from Pacific Overtures (Michael K. Lee as Kayama)
New Broadway Cast (2004-2005)
My first exposure to Pacific Overtures (and, in truth, this period of Japanese history) was through the 2004 Broadway production, which is why I chose to showcase that cast recording over the original. It was difficult to pick just one song from it because there are so many that I think do a wonderful job of bringing this era to life. It centers around the 'opening' of Japan - when Americans arrived in Japan in the 1800s to try and get the country to trade and generally deal with the western world again, something Japan had avoided for about 200 years. I decided to use 'A Bowler Hat' not just because it is an iconic number from the show, but also because it is so moving. In it, Kayama, chronicles the increasing intrusion of western culture into Japanese life. It is poignant and beautifully performed and, I believe, the heart of the show. Listen here.