As many of you know, besides blogging, occasional freelancing, and (even more occasional, these days) coaching young singers and actors, I make my primary living as managing director of a touring children’s theater company. In recent conversation with a colleague, whose background is primarily in clowning, she said to me, “Well, I’ve seen a lot of theater, and I didn’t like any of it.”
As a long-time theater lover and veteran of the business, my first reaction was a deep desire to drag her off to the nearest professional theater production (for grownups, natch), preferably something both well-written and well-produced, with a heavy visual/physical component that I know would appeal to her in particular. Unfortunately, where we’re located, that’s easier said than done.
What she also enjoys, however, is music, and as I thought about that, I realized that the one component of theater that has been effectively bottled for enjoyment off the stage is, in fact, its music. With that in mind, I want to ask you, dear readers, to help me compile a list. Yes, a list of favorite showtunes.
A couple of thoughts before we dig in: First, I am not looking for a collection of “THE GREATEST SHOWTUNES OF ALL TIME,” the kind you’d find in the supermarket or in a Broadway TV special. You need not feel obligated to identify the medium’s most influential or most popular tunes. I’m simply looking for a few songs/scenes/numbers that particularly resonate with you, whether you’d include them in musical theater’s official “canon” or not. If those happen to be influential or popular, that’s perfectly fine. But they don’t have to be.
Also, what’s even more important to me than what you’d pick, is why. All reasons are valid, but I really want you to share them with me. For instance, were I to include something like “Winter’s on the Wing” (The Secret Garden) or “Bali Ha’i” (South Pacific), I’d be doing so for the orchestrations, even more than the songs themselves, because that is what I think makes them transcendent.
Lastly, if you prefer a specific cast recording, please include that information as well. For instance, were I to list “The Ballad of Booth” (Assassins), I’d specify the Playwrights Horizons cast, with Patrick Cassidy and Victor Garber (no offense to NPH or Michael Cerveris, both of whom I fangirl heavily), because I think those performances translated better to audio.
Feel free to interpret “song/scene/number” as you will. For instance, on my list, I’d surely include the first twenty or so minutes of Carousel, from the overture through “If I Loved You,” which is, for my money, the most perfect example of dialogue and song intertwined in the history of theater, and the primary subject of my ongoing, very tedious lecture, “Why Oscar Hammerstein was a genius.”
So, if you’re willing to indulge me in this matter, please list your selections, including the following information (in any order):
Title of song/scene/number
Title of musical
Why you think the song is great
Preference (if any) of cast recording (cast listing optional)
Geeking out is TOTALLY ACCEPTED. No suggestion is embarrassing. Even if you only like one showtune, come tell me about it! Come one, come all! Help me spread the sheer awesomeness of musical theater!
Please respond in comments or on Twitter with the hashtag #bringmeyourshowtunes!