365 Days of Musical Theater: 256-270
Like every section of this adventure, there are a variety of awesome songs listed below. However, if you only choose one to watch or listen to, I highly suggest you choose 'Eyes on the Prize' from Choir Boy (No. 269) or 'With Cat-Like Tread' from The Pirates of Penzance (No. 270). They are from different time periods, contain different styles, and are in very different productions, but they are both truly phenomenal. Either one should make you feel awe for the performers that lasts a long time.
These songs were originally tweeted between November 5, 2022 and November 19, 2022.
256. 'It's a Shame' from Benny & Joon (Hannah Elless as Joon, Bryce Pinkham as
The Old Globe (2017)
I love Bryce Pinkham (see A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder and Ghost to find out why!) and Hannah Elless (her 'Asheville' in Bright Star was everything) and the idea of them teaming up was exciting for me. I wish I'd gotten the chance to see them in this musicalized adaptation of a film I remember seeing regularly on Blockbuster shelves in the early 1990s. The official website describes it as "Sweetly romantic and genuinely touching, it tells the story of Joon, an eccentric young woman, her protective older brother, and the charming and whimsical Sam, whose exuberant love for Joon changes them forever." If the song 'It's a Shame' (which I love) is a proper example, and I think it is, then the show is as quirky as one could hope. Watch here.
257. 'On the Sunny Side of the Street' from After Midnight (Fantasia Barrino)
Original Broadway Cast (2013-2014)
To see After Midnight was to feel like you were watching a show at the historically-famous Cotton Club. It was a true ode to music by epic folks like Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, and Dorothy Fields. I chose this song not only because Fantasia sounds great singing it, but also so you could get the proper feeling of transportation to a bygone era that this show provided. Watch here.
258. 'I Won't Grow Up' from Peter Pan (Cathy Rigby as Peter Pan, Boys)
The Rosie O'Donnell Show (1998)
My mother is a huge fan of Peter Pan as an entity in all of its various forms and interpretations and I have such a strong memory of seeing this production with her back in the day. When it came time to share a song on her birthday, I was thrilled to find a video (however grainy) of Cathy Rigby's turn as Peter Pan from this era, plus 'I Won't Grow Up' is definitely a feeling we embrace in my family. It is nostalgic for me and I hoped many of you would enjoy seeing this true blast from the past. Watch here.
259. 'You Can't Stop the Beat' from Hairspray (Marissa Jaret Winokur as Tracy,
Matthew Morrison as Link, Company)
The Today Show (2002)
Hairspray, with its 60s vibe and over-the-top pop score was not my favorite thing. Sometimes, just seeing the cast perform while looking so happy would make me feel tired on their behalf. Still, 'You Can't Stop the Beat', the show's celebratory closing number, was everywhere--really, you couldn't escape it--and it got stuck in my head on a regular basis. It may not be one of my favorite shows (or songs) but I know so many people who felt tremendous joy watching it, so I had to include this super popular number. Watch here.
260. 'Memory' from Cats (Betty Buckley as Grizabella, feat. Cynthia Onrubia as
Tony Awards (1983)
Cats is one of those shows that, whether you love it or hate it, you probably know it if you have even a passing interest in theatre. I'm one of those people who loves it (in fact, I own a dog costume and a fish skeleton set piece from the original Broadway run) and think the score is enchanting, playful, and touching. 'Memory' is perhaps its most well-known number (with 'Mr. Mistoffelees' coming in a close second) and it has been done by so many phenomenal performers that you could spend hours doing a deep dive into them all. However, when it came to showcasing Cats here, the Tony Awards performance that showcased Betty Buckley was the obvious choice. This is for all the children who, like me, spent ages singing "Touch me/It's so easy to leave me/All alone with my memory/Of my days in the sun" along with the cast recordings and filmed production far before they were old enough for it to truly resonate with them. Watch here.
261. 'Generation Apathy' from Glory Days (Adam Halpin as Skip)
Original Broadway Cast (2008)
Glory Days was one of those shows that had a blink-and-you-miss-it run. It did 17 preview performances and then closed on opening night. I am very proud to say I am one of the people who saw a preview performance, but it was a depressing one to attend. Just a day or two before opening night, I sat there in the theater and I was able to quickly count the total number of audience members. It was a long time ago, but I'm very certain it was 50 or below. I remember texting my family about it, because I was so shocked. Nevertheless, the cast was passionate, giving their all to tell the story of four high school buddies who were reuniting on a football field. I remember a lot of the action being going up and down bleachers. While the majority of Glory Days' reputation revolves around the shortness of its run, that doesn't necessarily mean the show as a hot mess. I remember thinking that it would be great for a black box theater and enjoying the song 'Generation Apathy.' What at the time felt almost like a musical theater attempt at a pop-punk song about the changing of society and a generation that doesn't care now feels like a nostalgic period piece about a time when any generation could afford to not care. It's a good song from a show few people actually got to see. Listen here.
262. 'Mad About You' from Head Over Heels (Andrew Durand as Musidorus, Male
Original Broadway Cast (2018-2019)
My father is a big fan of the music of The Go-Gos so before I saw this completely bizarre jukebox musical I was well aware of the band's history of catchy numbers. Head Over Heels perpetually leans into the bizarre, using the poptastic radio hits to tell a story set in the 1500s. My favorite part, surprising no one, was whenever we got to hear male voices on these well-known female songs so, when Andrew Durand took the lead on 'Mad About You' I enjoyed every minute of it. Listen here.
263. 'All Fall Down' from Romance in Hard Times (Ann Harada)
If It Only Even Runs a Minute, 7 (2011)
Romance in Hard Times is one of composer William Finn's lesser-known musicals. Originally produced in the 1980s, it's set decades prior during the Depression, as a pregnant woman looks at how bad things have gotten for people and doesn't want to have her child until she can feel better about the state of the world it will be born into. Ann Harada not only elevates everything she sings, but is also a major fan of Finn's work, so when I was poking around for ways to showcase her voice and this video of her performing a song from it at a 2011 concert popped up, I knew I had to share it. Watch here.
264. 'Outside Your Window' from Knoxville (Jason Danieley as Author/James Agee,
Paul Alexander Nolan as Jay Follet, Company)
World Premiere Recording (2022)
Ahrens and Flaherty have written some of my favorite scores (think Ragtime and A Man of No Importance, for example) so I was really excited to hear that they wrote a new show, Knoxville, and then sad that I wouldn't be able to go down to Florida to see it. That disappointment was slightly lessened when they decided to release a cast recording. The story focuses on James Agee (played by Jason Danieley) both as an adult author having difficulty with his newest project and as the child he used to be. I hope that it comes to New York soon, because I'm dying to do more than just listen to it. Listen here.
265. 'Soon as I Get Home' from The Wiz (Myles Frost)
'Soon as I Get Home' is traditionally sung by the character of Dorothy in The Wiz. We all know how much I love when someone who wouldn't usually sing a song tries their hand at it. Here, Myles Frost--best known, perhaps, for his Tony-winning turn as Michael Jackson in MJ the Musical--put his special spin on it, and it is vibrant and fresh and just as impactful as when it is performed in context, by a woman. Watch here.
266. 'I am a Child of the Philippines' from Here Lies Love (Conrad Ricamora as Ninoy
Aquino, Ruthie Ann Miles as Imelda Marcos, Ensemble)
Good Day New York (2014)
I remember when Here Lies Love, which looks at the life of Filipino political powerhouse Imelda Marcos, was a hot ticket. I never got the chance to see even though I wanted to (and now it is coming to Broadway, so I will get the chance!) I try not to listen too much to shows I think I will soon be able to see live, but I knew I wanted to share something from this due to my high interest in the topic. So, I turned to the internet and finally listened to it, then was super happy to find this performance from Good Day New York. If you want to get a look at a show that is coming to Broadway in the near future, this is for you. It involves a disco-y vibe, music from Fatboy Slim, which is bound to be interesting. Watch here.
267. 'With Cat-Like Tread' from The Pirates of Penzance (Kevin Kline as The Pirate
King, Rex Smith as Frederic, Company)
Delacorte Theatre (1980)
To celebrate my father's birthday, I had to share this song from The Pirates of Penzance. It's the first show I remember knowing he loved. We watched the film together all the time when I was younger and he and my mother went to see it on Broadway multiple times together, well before I was born. 'With Cat-Like Tread' is special because it shows off the tremendous talent and comedic timing of the majority of the cast. It's a bombastic number about how quiet the pirates can be and, in my mind, it is perfectly hilarious. Watch here.
268. 'Glitter and Be Gay' from Candide (Barbara Cook as Cunegonde)
Original Broadway Cast (1956-1957)
It is nearly impossible to be a coloratura (read: super high-voiced) soprano and not learn 'Glitter and Be Gay' at some point. It is a fun one to sing, and I used to do it often. It's from a scene where Cunegonde is simultaneously lamenting her fate/life experience while also singing about enjoying the finer things in life. Done well, it can really steal a show, it is awesome. Listen here.
269. 'Keep Your Eyes on the Prize' from Choir Boy (Jeremy Pope as Pharus,
Manhattan Theatre Club (2018)
The only other time I broke my self-imposed rule and featured a play instead of a musical here was all the way back on day 60. Then, I shared the performance of 'Bye, Bye Blackbird' that was a part The History Boys. Like that song, this one is also in a play about a group of boys in school together. However, the focus of Choir Boy is different. It follows the story of a gay student named Pharus (Jeremy Pope) who is extraordinarily talented in music but whose school life isn't entirely filled with acceptance and ease. The production featured multiple musical numbers, thanks to the school's choir (and Pharus' role in it) being essential to its plot. One of my regrets is that I only got to see the production once, but one of my joys is that officially-filmed clips were released so I could share one with you. The tight vocals and choreography manages to not only show each character but to let you into their world and imagine what the audiences watching the school's choir would see. It's phenomenal. Watch here.
270. 'Out There' from The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Michael Arden as Quasimodo)
Disney on Broadway/Studio Cast Recording (2016)
As much as Michael Arden is a phenomenal director, I'll always take every opportunity possible to talk about his beautiful voice. I was never a fan of the Disney animated film The Hunchback of Notre Dame, but when the stage production and the cast recording featured Michael Arden singing Quasimodo's famous "Out There", his song expressing a dream of being like ordinary people walking around Paris, I realized maybe I could enjoy it. Michael Arden's vocal color could probably make me like anything, as that's been its effect for roughly two decades. Watch here.