365 Days of Musical Theater: 211-225
There are a lot of fun songs in this group (which I know I always say), but there is a trio of songs here that I view as particularly interesting. If you scroll down, you'll see that 216, 217, and 218 are related. In 216, I talk about Donna Murphy's turn as Lotte Lenya in LoveMusik. Then, in 217 and 218, I feature the actual Lotte Lenya singing. It is a wonderful opportunity to think about performer's interpretations and to compare Donna Murphy's interpretation of Lotte Lenya with the original person's vocals. If you do nothing else with this entry, I hope you will listen to those.
These songs were originally tweeted between September 21, 2022 and October 5, 2022.
211. 'How?' from Flying Over Sunset (Carmen Cusack as Clare Boothe Luce)
Broadway.com Exclusive (2022)
Carmen Cusack has one of the best voices on the modern stage. Flying Over Sunset was an extraordinarily strange show. It fictionalized a period where three historical figures (Clare Boothe Luce, a conservative politician; Cary Grant, a famous actor; and Aldous Huxley, a writer) join together and experience LSD trips that give them new perspectives on life. I admit the show didn't sit as well with me as I would have liked, but Carmen was truly the stand out. Her second act solo, 'How?', was a powerful self-examination and existential reckoning. It is always worthy of watching. Watch here.
212. 'She Thinks I'm Old' from Daddy Long Legs (Paul Alexander Nolan as Jervis
Original Off-Broadway Cast (2015-2016)
After posting a song from Carmen Cusack, I couldn't help but think of Paul Alexander Nolan. Their work together on Bright Star is always in my heart even though I showcased another performer when I featured that show. Now, though, I decided to follow up one of her songs with one of this. Daddy Long Legs is a musical based around letters and how writing to someone can form an impression of them that might not match up when you meet. Here is one of his solos from it. Listen here.
213. 'Wait a Bit' from Just So (Julie Atherton as Kolokolo Bird)
World Premiere Cast (2005/2006)
When this sweet song about learning to take a leap of faith instead of being overly cautious was assigned to me years ago by my voice teacher, I had no clue what Just So was about. It turns out that it is an adaptation of Rudyard Kipling stories. Luckily, it works out of context so my lack of research (utterly out of character!) didn't hurt me. Listen here.
214. 'Wild Bird' from The Spitfire Grill (Liz Callaway as Shelby)
Original Off-Broadway Cast (2001)
Similar to the song above, this was assigned to me by my voice teacher and I was unfamiliar with The Spitfire Grill, both as a film and a stage production. That said, even more than with 'Wait a Bit' I fell in love with this song. It is a lullaby that soothes and also, in my experience, a wonderful opportunity for interpretation and the purity of the voice to be shown off. Listen here.
215. '50 Percent' from Ballroom (Dorothy Louden)
My Favorite Broadway: The Leading Ladies (1998)
Continuing a theme of songs I learned about outside of the context of their shows, I chose '50 Percent'. When I was first watching My Favorite Broadway: The Leading Ladies, I had never heard of Ballroom, but I found this song moving and upsetting. Later I learned that this song (as you might expect if you listen to it) is about a woman who just learned her paramour is married and does not intend to leave his wife. Watch here.
216. 'Alabama Song' from LoveMusik (Auditioners, Donna Murphy as Lotte Lenya)
Original Broadway Cast (2007)
In 2007 when I went to see LoveMusik, I didn't know much outside of the basic facts about Lotte Lenya or Kurt Weill as artists or their shared personal lives. I knew a few of Weill's songs, but not this one. When the incomparable Donna Murphy sang 'Alabama Song' as Lotte Lenya, I was blown away by her interpretation...I also left with the song stuck in my head. At home, I began listening to the actual Lotte Lenya, and I appreciated it even more. Check out the songs listed after this, and you can compare, too. Listen here.
217. 'Pirate Jenny' from The Threepenny Opera (Lotte Lenya as Jenny)
Original Broadway Cast (1954)
'Pirate Jenny' is a song about revenge, but here I chose it because it is one of Lotte Lenya's most famous recordings and I wanted you to have her voice come directly after Donna Murphy's interpretation of her. Listen here.
218. 'September Song' from Knickerbocker Holiday (Lotte Lenya)
Lotte Lenya: American Theater Songs (1958/1999)
Another fine example of Lotte Lenya's sound that I featured entirely so you could continue comparing the real woman to the artist who portrayed her in LoveMusik. Listen here.
219. 'That Guy' from Blood Brothers (Paul Crosby as Mickey, Mark Hutchinson as
London Cast (1995)
In the early 2000s, I took my first trip to the UK. I was so excited to finally see shows on the West End and it was important to me to see something that had not been available to me in New York. The show I chose was this one, and I loved it so very much. It tells the story of two brothers who were separated at birth. In this number, each brother observes the other and wishes that's who he was like. It tugs at my heart every time. Listen here.
220. 'Omar Sharif' from The Band's Visit (Katrina Lenk)
Build Series (2018)
This ode to performers Umm Kulthum and Omar Sharif features moody music, evocative language, and envelopes the audience in a comforting blanket of wistful nostalgia. Watch here.
221. 'Live Out Loud' from A Little Princess (Sierra Boggess as Sara)
Premiere Cast Recording (2011)
The Secret Garden stage musical (rightly) gets a lot of attention, but the adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett's other famous novel rarely gets mentioned. In fact, the only song I regularly come across from it is this one. It's a great I-Want style song, especially for young vocalists. In it, the main character, Sara, vents her frustration with life and explores all the things she wants to do when she breaks away from her current situation. It's a great number to use when you want to tell someone you want to sing, fly, and soar, when you feel they haven't let you. Listen here.
222. 'Before the Parade Passes By' from Hello, Dolly! (Adrienne Warren)
When the pandemic sent everyone into lockdown in 2020, it didn't seem like there would be a way for events like Miscast to continue, which would have been a shame. I've always adored seeing performers sing songs that they normally wouldn't. Thankfully there was a virtual Miscast in 2020, or else the world might have missed out on Adrienne Warren singing the hell out of 'Before the Parade Passes By' and making a case for someone to find a way to give her a reason to sing it on a stage nightly. Watch here.
223. 'Holding to the Ground' from Falsettos (Stephanie J. Block)
Broadway Originals (2017)
Falsettos is one of those shows that was always a part of my awareness, but I never got to see. I was really upset with myself that I somehow missed out on the 2017 Broadway production, but thrilled to see this video of Stephanie J. Block performing my favorite song from the score (about resilience and conflict and life not going how you planned) so I had to share it. Watch here.
224. 'All for Laura' from The Woman in White (Maria Friedman as Marian, Angelia
Christian as Anne)
Original London Cast (2004-2006)
The stage adaptation of Wilkie Collins' The Woman in White is perhaps best remembered for three things: the fat suit worn by Michael Crawford for his turn as Count Fosco making him sick, the frightening moment when it looked like a train was coming directly at you, and this song which is half contemplation and half shrill emotional explosion. Listen here.
225. 'Once You Lose Your Heart' from Me and My Girl (Maryann Plunkett as Sally)
Original Broadway Cast (1986-1989)
Next time you need a sweet soprano solo that doesn't get featured very often, look up 'Once You Lose Your Heart'. It has a traditional sound and lyrics that can be interpreted well out of context. I've been sharing a lot of quiet audition song tips in these last few posts, and I think this is another one of them. You can all thank my voice teacher. Listen here.