Welcome to the fourth entry in my 365 Days of Musical Theater Series. In this one, we have several songs from musicals based on historical events, the Deaf West production I wish I had seen in full, a travel essential, my favorite song from the musical production I've seen the most, and a one from a show that probably doesn't technically qualify for this list, but I have no regrets about including. As always, it is full of beautifully-voiced people singing gorgeous music and I hope you enjoy them.
All entries in my 365 Days of Musical Theater Series can be found here.
46. 'I'm Martin Guerre'/'How Many Tears?' from Martin Guerre (David Campbell
and Maria Friedman)
Hey, Mr. Producer!: The Musical World of Cameron Mackintosh (1998)
In addition to the concert My Favorite Broadway: The Leading Ladies concert that I've mentioned in past posts, I also loved watching Hey, Mr. Producer! as a kid because it covered such a wide array of musical theater, much of which I had not yet seen on stage at the time. One of the musicals showcased was a then-upcoming production of Martin Guerre. Based on a medieval French incident involving an absent man returning to find someone impersonating him and trying to take his family, I was intrigued by it. The two songs performed here are perhaps the musical high points of the score, and the second song ('How Many Tears?') is one I've always enjoyed singing when the opportunity arises. Watch here.
47. 'Where Do I Go?' from Hair (Julia Murney)
Actors Fund Benefit Recording (concert 2004, album release 2005)
Hair has never been a show that really resonated with me, but when the recording of the Actors Fund Benefit Concert was released, the new interpretations of classic songs was something I appreciated. Of all the performances captured on it, Julia Murney's rendition of 'Where Do I Go?' was possibly the one I listened to the most, that's why I shared it here. Listen here, especially to her gorgeous crescendo.
48. 'Buenos Aires' from Evita (Elena Roger as Eva, Ricky Martin as Che)
Broadway Revival Cast (2012-2013)
'Don't Cry for Me Argentina' gets all the attention when it comes to talking about songs from Evita, but for me 'Buenos Aires' has always been the best song in the show. It's confident, sassy, and bouncy. I loved Elena Roger in the 2012 Broadway revival, and the recording that features her is my favorite (sorry, Patti LuPone), so that is the one I used. Watch here.
49. 'The Schmuel Song' from The Last Five Years (Norbert Leo Butz as Jamie)
Off-Broadway Cast (2002)
Just over 20 years ago I went to see a musical called Thou Shalt Not (based on Thérèse Raquin, I will probably use it one day in the future) My favorite performance in that show was from one Norbert Leo Butz, and after it, he told me about this show he was working on called The Last Five Years, so I made sure to keep my eyes out for it. This turned out to be a wonderful life choice, because The Last Five Years is one of those shows I will never stop loving. It is a two-character piece following the arc of the marriage between Jamie (an author) and Cathy (an actress), in which he tells their relationship story from start to finish while she tells it simultaneously from finish to start. Their timelines only coincide once, at a special point in the center, and the whole show is as beautiful as it is tragic. It was nearly impossible to pick a song from this show because I love them all (I even considered a song cut from the show called 'I Could Be in Love with Someone Like You' that I think is the absolute height of romance), but ultimately I chose 'The Schmuel Song' because it doesn't get the attention it deserves and it is a beautiful story song about love, time, and dreams. Listen here.
50. 'Confrontation' from Jekyll & Hyde (Robert Cuccioli as Dr. Henry Jekyll and
Original Broadway Cast (1997-2001)
Robert Cuccioli's turn as Henry Jekyll and Edward Hyde is something I will never forget. In particular, I was mesmerized by his performance of the song 'Confrontation' during which he had to play both Jekyll and Hyde in continued rapid succession as they fought against each other (or, he fought against himself.) With a simple flip of his hair (back for Jekyll, in his face for Hyde) and deft use of body language, Cuccioli switched back and forth with a mastery that left me breathless. I've always regretted that when the show eventually sold shirts for charity that said 'Hair Switch Project' (a wink to 1999 film The Blair Witch Project), I did not get one. I remain disappointed that the Broadway revival utilized projections for Hyde during 'Confrontation' because I feel like it removed the performance magic and left the actor only actively playing one of the two sides of the character. As such, Cuccioli and the original production will always be superior to me, and this song is the one I think of when Jekyll & Hyde is mentioned. Listen here.
51. 'Gethsemane' from Jesus Christ Superstar (Paul Alexander Nolan)
Exclusive Fan Concert (2012)
The first time I saw Jesus Christ Superstar was in my Catholic grade school when we watched the film. I've often joked (because I know how untrue it is likely to be, historically speaking) that the film's lead, Ted Neeley, is exactly how I picture Jesus in my head and JCS is a staple in my listening rotation, especially during Holy Week as Easter approaches. I knew that at some point during Holy Week I would use 'Gethsemane,' the famous solo Jesus has in Act II where he goes through a torrent of emotions regarding his fate of death. I've seen it performed with varying degrees of impact, but the only one I've ever felt rivaled Neeley's was Paul Alexander Nolan's, so that is what I chose. Luckily, a concert (non-costumed) version of his interpretation was professionally filmed. Watch here.
52. 'Barrett's Song' from Titanic (Brian d'Arcy James as Frederick Barrett)
Original Broadway Cast (1997-1999)
For the anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic, of course I was going to pay tribute and choose a song from the Tony-winning musical. I will never forget seeing this show on Broadway. As the ship began to sink, it tilted on the stage, something so wonderful that few other moments of technical stage wonder have ever come close to touching its place in my heart. The stage production opened around the same time as the film, though they told very different versions of the ship's story, and I remember telling people (and probably annoying them with it) that the musical was far superior. This song, with energy I love and well-written foreshadowing, shows the perspective of a stoker named Barrett who questions the wisdom of the orders he receives to help increase the ship's speed. Listen here.
53. 'Commencing in Chattanooga' from The Scottsboro Boys (Joshua Henry as
Haywood Patterson + Company)
Tony Awards Performance (2011)
After Titanic, I was in the mood for another musical inspired by history (yes, I know, when is that not my mood? humor me!) and the first thing that popped into my head was the brilliant Tony Awards performance by The Scottsboro Boys in 2011. The Scottsboro Boys is based on the story of a group of African-American boys who were put on trial for the alleged rape of two white women. Their lives were ruined (understatement) by the ordeal and the last of the boys were not fully exonerated until 2013. This song comes from early in the show, before everything goes awry. For the emotional core of it, listen to 'You Can't Do Me', but beginning with 'Commencing in Chattanooga' is always a good idea. Watch here.
54. 'Muddy Water' from Big River (Michael McElroy as Jim, Tyrone Giordano as
Huckleberry Finn, Daniel H. Jenkins as Voice of Huckleberry Finn)
Broadway on Broadway (2003)
Broadway on Broadway was one of my favorite events when I was a young theater fan. It took place in Times Square before crowds that filled multiple blocks. Sometimes, promoters gave out fans or bandanas for current Broadway shows. It was so much fun. I loved going with my family and seeing all the shows perform. In 2003, Big River performed. I didn't know much about this musical based on The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and it was my first time seeing a sample of a Deaf West production. I was thrilled to find a video of it to share with everyone for this project. The Deaf West/Roundabout production of Big River combined traditional musical theater with ASL and utilizing both hearing and Deaf talent. This one, short number was enough to completely revolutionize my understanding of what musical theater could be. I will always be sad that I did not see this production in full, but in a future post you will see that I did see a different Deaf West production, and I loved it. Watch here.
55. 'Ariadne' from The Frogs (Nathan Lane as Dionysos)
Broadway Cast (2004)
As much as I love Stephen Sondheim music, The Frogs (based on an Ancient Greek comedy) has never been at the top of my list. However, I have always enjoyed the song 'Ariadne', in which Dionysos sings about his late wife. I've found it is rarely heard out of context, so I chose it. Listen here.
56. 'Ring of Keys' from Fun Home (Sydney Lucas as Small Alison, Beth Malone as
Original Broadway Cast (2015-2016)
I have a dear friend named Eric who I met back in 2004. No one I've met loves Fun Home (the musical adaptation of Alison Bechdel's autobiographical graphic novel of the same name) the way Eric does. I picked this song, where young Alison is out to eat with her father and sees a butch delivery woman whose existence speaks to her on a cellular level. This one is for him. Listen here or watch the Tony Awards (2015) performance here:
57. 'Are We the Waiting' from American Idiot (Stark Sands as Tunny, Joshua Henry,
Original Broadway Cast (2010-2011)
On April 20th I decided to tweet a song from American Idiot in honor of the anniversary of its opening on Broadway. Although I think the show has no weak spots, there was also no question about which song I would use. 'Are We the Waiting' is my favorite moment in the show, due to the nuance and beauty of Stark Sands' turn as Tunny (the member of the main trio who decides to join the armed forces.) This show resonated with me on many levels, and as my friend once commented, it felt like the Hair of our generation. It's no wonder then, that it is the single Broadway production I have seen the most. Back when it was running, the cast did an AOL Sessions performance that included this song. Stark's performance there was as pure and wonderful as it was on the stage during the show. I was disappointed to be unable to find that anywhere that allowed me to embed it here, but I highly suggest that you click here to watch it. If that's not your thing, then you can also just listen here.
58. 'Once Upon a Time' from Brooklyn (Eden Espinosa as Brooklyn)
Broadway on Broadway (2004)
There was a period (c 2004) where everyone who fancied themselves a belter decided they needed to since 'Once Upon a Time,' the big number from Brooklyn, a musical where the cast portrayed a group of homeless New Yorkers who, in turn, were performing the story of a girl named Brooklyn who was searching for her father. I'm not kidding when I say it was done into the ground by these young Broadway belter hopefuls. This is 'Once Upon a Time' as it was originally sung for the Broadway stage by Eden Espinosa. Watch here.
59. 'Haven in the Sky' from Tell Me on a Sunday (Denise Van Outen)
London Production (2003)
I was in a traveling mood this day, but I had nowhere to go, so instead I chose 'Haven in the Sky' for my song of the day. This song has been my go-to whenever I am on a place since, well, 2003. I find it hypes me up, but not so much that I can't just relax and enjoy the flight. To me it symbolizes the start of an adventure, and any time an opportunity arises, it has always stayed with me. The lyrics are so embedded in my mind that I cannot travel without asking myself if I've found peace of mind in terminal four. Listen here.
60. 'Bye, Bye, Blackbird' from The History Boys (Samuel Barnett as Posner, Jamie
Parker as Scripps, Dominic Cooper as Dakin, James Corden as Timms, Russell Tovey as Rudge, Andrew Knott as Lockwood, Sacha Dhawan as Akthar, Samuel Anderson as Crowther)
Film version (2006)
The History Boys is a play. That is why it does not belong on this list. However, it is a play that had multiple scenes including music. It is also the play that I love most. I will never forget seeing the marquee go up on the Broadhurst. I didn't know much about the show, but the premise (a group of boys in a 1980s British school attempt to gain entrance to Oxford and Cambridge) spoke to me, a then-undergraduate pursuing a BA in history. The play marries drama with humor and tackles complex issues from educational methods to the relationships between teachers and students and further, the not-so-simple task of growing up. It is no secret that I saw this production 24 times in the approximately 24 weeks it ran on Broadway, and that I was mesmerized every time. I'm not a major crier, but I cried during the 'Bye, Bye, Blackbird' scene every single time. There have been many full-blown musicals that I don't think employ songs in as impactful a way as The History Boys. So, when the anniversary of the play's opening on Broadway arrived, I broke my own rules to share this song...but I must warn you, if you watch the scene, it is a major plot spoiler. I do not suggest watching it without reading the script or watching the film from the beginning. Watch here.
(warning a second time: this video has plot spoilers!)