Updated: Aug 1
This entry contains a true mix of musical theater genres and time periods, beginning with a currently-running production and ending with a modern recording of a musical originating in the 1940s. It also contains the only song I've ever truly loved from Grease!, which probably isn't one that people would guess, or even remember.
There are two songs in particular that I feel I should point out. One is 'I've Decided to Marry You' from A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder and the other is 'Almost Like Being in Love' from Brigadoon. These both hold a special place in my heart. The former because it proved that new musicals showcasing traditional musical theater sound could still be successful, and the latter contains one of my favorite phrases to sing. You can watch them below as you investigate this selection:
76. 'El Tango de Roxanne' from Moulin Rouge! (Aaron Tveit as Christian, Company)
Original Broadway Cast (2019 - Present)
I didn't grow up as a fan of the film Moulin Rouge like many of my friends, but when it was announced as a Broadway-bound stage production I drove to Boston with my friend to see it. I was taken most of all by the ornate set design that enveloped you as soon as you entered--especially the stunning elephant! Later, the show did transfer and my friend developed a love for Aaron's version of 'El Tango de Roxanne' so I chose that song for her. Listen here.
77. 'Full Moon Lullaby' from King Kong (Christiani Pitts as Ann Darrow)
Broadway Cast Thanksgiving Day Parade Performance (2018)
When King Kong was on Broadway, I saw it multiple times. I instantly fell in love with the gorgeous puppetry used to make the gigantic ape come alive. I fantasized about a professional video recording of the show as a whole so that those who could not make it to the theater could still marvel at the beauty of the production. I loved the show's color scheme, thought the casting was wonderful, and was hooked on the score from the opening notes...but there was never even a cast recording. I was concerned that this would make it difficult to include a show I loved deeply in this list, but then I found this tender performance of 'Full Moon Lullaby' that was filmed for the Thanksgiving Day Parade. Now you can see how beautiful the show was and how wonderful Christiani Pitts sounded and join me in lamenting the show's unrecorded fate. Watch here.
78. 'Belle (is the only word)' from Notre-Dame de Paris (Garou as Quasimodo,
Daniel Lavoie as Frollo, and Steve Balsamo as Phoebus)
English Version/London Cast (2000)
Although I am an established fan of Disney, their famous version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame was never one of my favorites. However, when I first heard this non-Disney approach to the story, 'Belle (is the only word)' instantly was added to my regular rotation. The show never made it to New York back in those days, though this July--over two decades after the recording I used for this entry--a production has finally reached this city. But, whether or not you love the novel or the Disney one, you should listen to 'Belle (is the only word)' because it is one heck of a pop-centric power trio. Listen here.
79. 'Imagine' from Lennon (Will Chase, Chuck Cooper, Julie Danao-Salkin, Marcy
Harriell, Chad Kimball, Julia Murney, Michael Potts, Don Scardino)
54 Sings Lennon: A Broadway Reunion (2017)
As with King Kong, Lennon did not get a cast recording, and that makes me sad. The show was interesting, with all of the cast members taking their turns depicting John Lennon at different points of his life. They did not have character names, and it was a true ensemble piece. It was also not a success, but I loved it, and I was in no way a John Lennon fan going into it. I thought the arrangements and talented performers made his music soar. 'Imagine' would not have been my first choice from this show, but this video from the reunion concert I attended was one of the clearest representations of the way the music was done that I could find (Note: Don Scardino, far right, was filling in for missing original cast member Terrance Mann). My actual favorite number was the powerful yet heartbreaking 'Mother' performed by Chad Kimball, Will Chase, and Julie Danao-Salkin. To this day, I can't listen to the actual John Lennon version without hearing echoes of their stunning interpretation in my head. I'm not going to share bootleg videos on my blog for obvious reasons, but, you know, you might be able to find that song around somewhere if you looked...Watch 'Imagine' here.
80. 'Find Your Grail' from Spamalot (Sara Ramirez as Lady of the Lake, Tim Curry as
King Arthur, Michael McGrath as Patsy + David Hyde Pierce, Hank Azaria,
Christopher Sieber, Steve Rosen as the Sirs)
Original Broadway Cast (2005-2009)
Having grown up loving Monty Python and the Holy Grail, when Spamalot came to Broadway I thought, this is either going to be hilarious or horrible. It was hilarious. The comedic timing of all involved was fantastic and songs like 'I am Not Dead Yet' and 'I'm All Alone' never cease to bring a smile to my face. In the middle of this was Sara Ramirez as the Lady of the Lake, who took the show to a whole new level with their killer pipes on songs like this showstopper, 'Find Your Grail.' You can watch the Tony Awards performance below or listen to the original cast recording version here.
81. 'Simply the Best' from Tina: The Tina Turner Musical (Adrienne Warren as Tina,
Original London Cast (2019)
Watching and/or listening to Adrienne Warren as Tina Turner often feels exactly like watching and/or listening to Tina Turner herself. The woman is a chameleon who disappears into the character with such totality that it cannot help but impress you, so I had to feature her. Listen here.
82. 'The Parisians' from Gigi (Vanessa Hudgens as Gigi)
New Broadway Cast (2015)
I knew absolutely nothing about Vanessa Hudgens before I saw her in her Broadway debut as Gigi, but I thought her performance was darling. The show centers around a young woman (Gigi) who develops a relationship with a wealthy man while she is preparing for a life as a courtesan, but the score is not as dark as the idea of such a plot might make you expect. In fact, Gigi's 'The Parisians' is an amusing rumination on the obsession that Parisians appear to have with love. It's perfect for when you want something a little bit bouncy and easy to enjoy. Listen here.
83. 'The Music and the Mirror' from A Chorus Line (Donna McKechnie as Cassie)
Original Broadway Cast (1975-1990)
One of my earliest musical theater memories is listening to A Chorus Line's cast recording (on cassette) with my mom in the car. Even though I had never seen the show and had no idea what the dance number looked like that accompanied 'The Music and the Mirror', I fell in love with the lyrics and the passion for the performing arts that they conveyed. Although I was also a huge fan of Charlotte d'Amboise's version of the song when I eventually saw the Broadway revival, I knew that it was the original, by the brilliant Donna McKechnie, had to be the one I showcased or my mom would never forgive me. Listen here.
84. 'Rain/Hold On' from Ghost (Caissie Levy as Molly, Richard Fleeshman as Sam,
Original London Cast (2012)
I had never seen the film Ghost when I went to see the stage production. In fact, I still don't think I've seen it in it's entirety. That said, I enjoyed the state production, especially the moodiness of the music. It combined with stellar lighting to truly draw you in. I loved 'Rain/Hold On' in particular so much because of the pulsing beat at it's core...in fact, I liked it so much that it was my ringtone for some time. Listen here.
85. 'Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered' from Pal Joey (Marin Mazzie)
My Favorite Broadway: The Leading Ladies (1998)
Whenever the opportunity arises to share a song as interpreted by the incomparable Marin Mazzie, I take it. Hers was one of the voices I dreamed of having, and when she passed away, I cried. Although I'm saving my favorite song that she recorded for later, I couldn't hold back any longer on bringing her into this list. She was pure class and talent. If you didn't love her before coming across this list, now is your chance to watch greatness. Watch here.
86. 'A Boy from Nowhere' from Matador (John Barrowman)
Reflections from Broadway (2000)
After I saw John Barrowman in Putting it Together (which I talked about here) I starting looking for other things he did. To this day, his Reflections from Broadway album remains in my regular rotation, and although I've never seen Matador, I've listened to 'A Boy from Nowhere' so often that I feel like I should know the show well. I also think more people should know it, especially if you're looking for an underutilized solo that has an appealing emotional arc. Plus, well, I just wanted to share another song that showcased Barrowman's talent. Can you blame me? Listen here.
87. 'Corner of the Sky' from Pippin (Matthew James Thomas as Pippin)
Broadway Revival Cast (2013-2015)
I'm that person you know who listens to Christmas music all year. Around the time I tweeted this song from Pippin, I was listening to the beautiful version of 'The Cherry Tree Carol' that Michael James Thomas and Rachel Bay Jones contributed to the 2013 volume of Carols for a Cure. They did this duet to represent the cast of Pippin, so I decided it was time to share my favorite song from that show. 'Corner of the Sky' is a gentle song exploring the desire to have it all and find one's place in the world and it's got an earnestness to it that I appreciate. Listen here.
88. 'I've Decided to Marry You' from A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder
(Lauren Worsham as Phoebe, Lisa O'Hare as Sibella, and Bryce Pinkham as Monty)
Tony Awards Performance (2014)
I've trained as a traditional/classical soprano since I was a young teen, but as I grew up that style lost popularity in favor of mixing and belting. I learned that, too, but I always lamented that modern musical theater composers rarely chose to showcase a traditional sound...then A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder came around. Set in the early 1900s, the show follows a man called Monty as he seeks to knock unsuspecting family members out of the way so that he can be the heir to the D'Ysquith family fortune. The show is a complete comedy, the pinnacle of which (for me) is reached in this brilliant number where Monty finds himself caught, quite literally, between his mistress and his distant cousin. As a lover of traditional sound, seeing it employed in this fashion was fresh, exciting, and amazing. The production's success made me truly hope that more new shows would embrace this style of singing. Watch here.
89. 'Those Magic Changes' from Grease (Sam Harris as Doody, Company)
Broadway Revival Cast (1994-1998)
As a child, I always hated Grease. I didn't understand why everyone liked a film (I had only ever seen the film) where, in order to get a boy to like her the lead girl had to completely change who she was. It didn't make sense to me. However, when I went to see the mid-90s Broadway revival with my family, one song made a significant impression on me, 'Those Magic Changes.' Doody is a secondary character that no one ever really talks about and 'Those Magic Changes' doesn't get a lot of love. In fact, in some productions I've seen, Doody can barely carry a tune. However, one of the hills I'm willing to die on is that Sam Harris produced the single greatest version of 'Those Magic Changes' ever done. I was captivated by his voice, with all of its different colors and sheer power. Doody may be a small role in a show made famous by Danny, Sandy, and Rizzo, but Harris made the character a true rock star. Listen here.
90. 'Almost Like Being in Love' from Brigadoon (Patrick Wilson as Tommy and Kelli
O'Hara as Fiona)
New York City Center Cast (2017)
I've been performing 'Almost Like Being in Love' any chance I get for years, thanks to my voice teacher introducing me to it. In fact, it contains one of my favorite lyrics of all time to sing: 'All the music of life seems to be/Like a bell that is ringing for me!' Something about the note progression feels so sweet and perfect when I do it, and if you're a singer, you know what I mean. It's a true gem when used as a soprano solo, and not one you hear as often as, say, 'I Could Have Danced All Night.' Here, you get to hear it as it appeared in a Brigadoon production for New York City Center, as a duet performed beautifully by two modern Broadway icons, Patrick Wilson and Kelli O'Hara. After using Gentleman's Guide to show some recent musical theater written for a traditional sound, it is unsurprising that I was drawn to showcasing old school musical theater again so soon. Watch here.