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365 Days of Musical Theater: 286-300


Photograph of a pair of large headphones laying sideways above the numbers 286 - 300

Hitting song number 300 is a huge deal! It means we have come a very long way in this adventure and that we don't have my longer to go to reach our conclusion. Here, as in the occasional past entry, I focus on classics. These are songs from the older musical theater world, though many of them are performed by more contemporary artists. I love knowing that older music is having new life. It makes my heart happy. I hope you enjoy this music too.



286. 'Will He Like Me?' from She Loves Me (Laura Benanti as Amalia)

Broadway HD (2015)

There are two songs from this musical that my voice teacher wanted me to sing when I was in high school. One was 'Vanilla Ice Cream,' but I never liked it. The other was 'Will He Like Me?'--and I liked that much better. It's the sort of song people should listen to when they are worried about going on a blind date or meeting someone they've only ever spoken to through technology. It's about depicting nervous energy and tentative hopefulness, while also displaying an extremely relatable self-consciousness. Watch here.


287. 'Shuffle Off to Buffalo' from 42nd Street (Jonathan Freeman as Bert, Mary

Testa as Maggie, Mylinda Hull as Annie, and Girls)

Broadway Revival Cast (2001-2005)

'Shuffle Off to Buffalo' is a song I love to hate. It's a harmless classic with a bouncy rhythm about going to Buffalo and Niagara on the honeymoon. It has always gotten stuck in my head, which drives me a little crazy, but I know a lot of people who love it. Listen here.


288. 'There Once Was a Man' from The Pajama Game (Harry Connick, Jr. as Sid and

Kelli O'Hara as Babe)

Harry on Broadway (2006)

This is a classic song that raises the roof as a love anthem. It isn't a cheesy ballad, it's an over-the-top excited declaration of mutual attraction. It's the sort of song you sing when you want to jump on a table and shout how excited you are to realize you both feel the same way and you don't care who else hears you. It's hard to listen to this song and resist getting hyped. Listen here.


289. 'Marian the Librarian' from The Music Man (Robert Preston as Harold Hill)

Original Broadway Cast

When I was a young soprano my voice teacher assigned Marian's ballad 'My White Knight' to me, and I hated it. It matched my voice well, but not my personality at all, and it made me think I'd dislike The Music Man as a whole. However, I had a very different reaction when I eventually heard 'Marian the Librarian' for the first time. As Harold Hill attempts to win over Marian he sings this wonderful song that plays with pacing and rhythm and, when done by a capable actor, can ooze charm and attractiveness. I never came around to 'My White Knight', but I'm all about 'Marian the Librarian,' and I hope you are, too. Listen here


290. 'So Much You Loved Me' from Rex (Penny Fuller)

If It Only Even Runs a Minute (2018)

Before there was Six, there was Rex, a much less successful musical (it closed on Broadway after only a few dozen performances) about the life of King Henry VIII. This song is performed by Penny Fuller, who played both Anne Boleyn and Princess Elizabeth in the original Broadway production in 1976. It isn't always in the show when it is produced, but when it is, it is sung by Anne Boleyn, so imagine her as that character. It's a very different musical vibe than the modern, concert-y Six, but I love using this opportunity to share a lesser-known royal musical. Watch here


291. 'Johnny One-Note' from Babes in Arms (Melissa Rain Anderson

New York Cast (1999)

When I was in high school, I had a friend who was absolutely obsessed with this song. She was a belter while I was mostly singing traditional soprano music at this point. I knew other music from this show, but I didn't know this one until she sang it for me. It's a delightful number that is supposed to be part of a show (within the show) and it is literally about a man who can only sing one note--but that one note allows the performer to really express themself when they sing it. I don't know if it's still popular now, but if not, it should come back, because it is a good time. Listen here


292. 'Star Tar' from Dames at Sea (Bernadette Peters as Ruby)

Off-Broadway Cast (1969)

'Star Tar' is a song all about, yes, being a star/celebrity/the best and it doesn't take itself too seriously. I chose this song entirely for the purpose of showing off a young Bernadette Peters. The woman has always been a force of nature (I'll never, ever forget sitting up close for her turn as Rose in Gypsy) and it's really fun to hear how she sounded early in her career. Listen here


293. 'All Through the Night' from Anything Goes (Howard McGillan as Billy, Kathleen

Mahony-Bennett as Hope)

New Broadway Cast (1987-1989)

When I was younger and had to sing 'All Through the Night,' I initially didn't realize it even included two singers, I thought it was a solo. It isn't as boisterous or fun as 'There Once Was a Man' up at number 288, but 'All Through the Night' is a passionate love song about how the couple, even when they're apart, cannot stop thinking about each other. Listen here


294. 'The Dream' from Fiddler on the Roof (Zero Mostel as Tevye, Maria Karnilova as

Golde, Sue Babel as Grandma Tzeitel, Carol Sawyer as Fruma-Sarah and Villagers)

Original Broadway Cast (1964-1972)

In Fiddler on the Roof, Tevye promises his daughter that she can marry the man she loves even though he knows his wife will hate the idea. To get her to agree with it, he concocts the story of a dream where an ancestor (Grand Tzeitel) tells him the match is a good idea. It is a brilliant piece of storytelling, comedic and heavy-handed, but intentionally so, and importantly, it does the trick. I love pretty much everything about Fiddler, but this complex scene depicting Tveye's dream is iconic to the extreme and the highlight of any production (any the film). Listen here


295. 'He was Too Good to Me' from Simple Simon (Barbara Cook)

Barbara Cook Sings from the Heart (1959)

The first time I heard this song was in 2010 when I was attending Cap21's summer intensive and it was assigned to one of my classmates. I've never heard it performed since in a musical theater capacity, though it has been sung by many a famous performer from Carly Simon to Nina Simone. I'm always partial to the theater style, which is why I chose this lovely Barbara Cook version. The song is a different kind of love lament. It isn't every day that a love song that is so blatantly about missing someone who treated you so well that now you are completely lost without them. I appreciate the explicit nature of its point, that someone who treats you like a queen simply cannot be easily replaced. Listen here


296. 'Love, Look Away' from Flower Drum Song (Lea Salonga as Mei-Li)

New Broadway Cast (2002-2003)

I very much wanted to see Lea Salonga in Flower Drum Song but for reasons I don't recall, I was never able to make it to the theater. However, I loved her version of 'Love, Look Away.' It's a plea to avoid the pain of unrequited love by never feeling the emotion again. The sentiment is something that many can appreciate, even if it isn't a positive one. Listen here


297. 'Begin the Beguine' from Jubilee (Ron Raines)

So in Love with Broadway (2004)

Much like 'He Was Too Good to Me', 'Begin the Beguine' has been sung by many, many people outside of its original context. Although the Beguine here is actually a dance, the reason I chose the song was because my dear friend and Footnoting History colleague Lucy once did an episode about a group of women, called beguines, who lived religious lives. Every time I see that episode in our archive, I think of this song. Listen here


298. 'I'll Follow My Secret Heart' from Conversation Piece (Julie Andrews)

A Little Bit of Broadway (1988)

My voice teacher has always absolutely loved this song, which made me happy to sing it. Originally performed in the 1930s, Conversation Piece is set a century prior. This song is both an assurance that the singer will not ruin the plans of another and, more importantly, a vow to always hold one's dreams in a place of high priority with a conviction that at least one of them will come true. Listen here


299. 'It Wonders Me' from Plain and Fancy (Gloria Marlowe as Katie)

Original Broadway Cast (1955-1956)

I've always thought the phrase 'it wonders me' was so beautifully odd. It isn't something I've ever heard in conversation on Long Island, though I've learned it is common among the Amish of Pennsylvania, who are the focus of this musical. This sweet song is about all the things in the world that can amaze someone and I've always appreciated its simple melody and appealing turn of phrase. Listen here


300. 'We Need a Little Christmas' from Mame (Angela Lansbury as Mame,

Company)

Original Broadway Cast (1966-1970)

I tweeted this song as we were entering the run up to Christmas and I intended to keep the holiday theme for several days in a row. As soon as I decided on that, 'We Need a Little Christmas' popped into my head because I remembered singing it as part of my giant high school choir back in the day. It's a cheerful tribute to the joys of the traditions of the holiday season and great for any time when you are either decorating the tree or wishing it was that time already. I often find myself listening to it in the summer, when I dream of escaping the heat and getting ready for Christmas. Listen here



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