06 August, 2017

The Best of Broadway, Part I: 1977-1987

A friend recently posted a Vulture article that I immediately clicked on. Rachel Shukert chose the best Broadway songs of the past 40 years. I had thought she was going to choose one for each season, but she basically chose 30 of her favourite songs, no matter the season. She says herself that it's "a list that is deeply personal, probably idiosyncratic, and certainly may not please everyone."  Truer words were never spoken. ;)

So I decided I'd create a list of the best musical/s from each season over the past 40 years, as well as the best song/s from that show. And because I'm terrible with decisions, there will be runners-up. Oh, and revivals count! 

Why 40 years? Well, for all the reasons Rachel mentioned and for another, more personal reason. I'll tell you later. 

Considering how long it's taking me (and how long the blog post will be), I'm going to break it up into parts and publish over several days.

I've created a Spotify playlist* to accompany these posts. Feel free to listen as you go, or after you've finished. Or not at all, if you want to be a numpty about it. :p

Are you ready to nod your head in agreement as you do jazz hands? Or perhaps yell at your computer screen and furiously write a comment on just how wrong I am? (I'm so not wrong.) Nevertheless, Rachel's caveat applies here, as well. This is "a list that is deeply personal, probably idiosyncratic, and certainly may not please everyone."

*If that version wasn't available, I went with other Broadway versions or the soundtrack, and in some cases, both.

Curtains Up! 


Not a great year for musicals, other than revivals. So out of the Hair, JC Superstar, and Hello, Dolly revivals, I'm going with...

Jesus Christ Superstar
I loooove this musical and frequently break out into many of the songs. So much so, I'm not sure which song to choose! But I must. 

Favourite Song: 
"Gethsemane (I Only Want to Say)" -- I mean, come ON!
Runners up: 
"Superstar" (obvi), "Heaven on Their Minds", "Everything's Alright"

Lyrics I catch myself singing most often: 
"Try not to get worried, try not to turn onto problems that upset you (ohhh). Don't you know everything's all right? Yes, everything's fine."


This one's easy-peasy.

Sweeney Todd
How many Sondheim and Lloyd Webber musicals will end up on this list?

Favourite song: 
"The Ballad of Sweeney Todd" (of course)
Runners up: 
"Not While I'm Around", "No Place Like London", "By the Sea"

Lyrics I catch myself singing most often: 
"But there's no place like London!"

*Shout out to my father-in-law Arthur Kopit, whose play Wings opened this particular season. A revival opens at the Young Vic in London this September!


Another easy one! And another Lloyd Webber.

Don't cry for Patti.  I hear she's doing okay.

Favourite Song: Oh, jeez. Oh, man. 
"High Flying Adored", "Rainbow High", "A Waltz for Eva and Che"  (I know, I know. This was tough.)
Runner up: 
"I'd Be Surprisingly Good For You"

Lyrics I catch myself singing most often: 
"Better to win by admitting my sin than to lose with a halo." Questionable, Eva, but I get it.


Another year of mostly revivals. Between Camelot, Brigadoon, and The Pirates of Penzance (which could be considered new-ish, with all the changes), I'll go with...

I loved this movie growing up and listened to the cassette tape all the time. (Yes, cassette.)

Favourite song: Another toughie. I'm choosing 
"The Lusty Month of May", but I could go with half a dozen others and be fine! The movie version of "Guinevere" would be tops, if I could choose that one. :)
Runners up: 
"I Wonder What the King is Doing Tonight?", "Take Me to the Fair," "Before I Gaze at You Again", "What Do the Simple Folk Do?", "Fie on Goodness", "I Loved You Once in Silence."

Honorable mentions go to "I'll Go Home with Bonnie Jean" from Brigadoon and "Modern Major General" from Penzance.

Lyrics I catch myself singing most often: 
"C'est moi, c'est moi, 'tis I! I've never strayed from all I believe; I'm blessed with an iron will. Had I been made the partner of Eve, we'd be in Eden still!"

I told you! Even LMM agrees!


There were actually three good original musicals to choose from! Dreamgirls, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (hey--I like it), and Nine. I choose...

Obviously! (See mention of Arthur Kopit above.) I'm incredibly embarrassed to admit that I've never seen it, and have barely heard the album (literally putting it on right now*). I've been warned away from the movie, as Daniel Day-Lewis was miscast, so I'm biding my time until a decent production pops up. :)

Favourite song: I had to ask Ben for his. :/ 
For lyrics, "Guido's Song". For music, he landed on "Unusual Way", but also really likes "The Bells of St. Sebastian" and "My Husband Makes Movies."
*Now I can add my two cents, and I'm seconding "Unusual Way" as my favourite all-around.

Honorable mentions go to "Potiphar", "Close Every Door", and "Those Canaan Days" from Joseph, and "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" from Dreamgirls

Lyrics I catch myself singing most often: 
"Eh, bien. Raise your berets to zose Canaan days."

(Do you know how hard it is to find Nine gifs?)


So many of these years were much better for plays. Luckily, this season I can choose...

Again: hey--I like it! You get introduced to things at an early age and you'll always like 'em. 

Favourite song: Ugh. A lot. I mean, 
"Memory" really is my favourite, but everyone's so tired of it. I'll pick "Macavity."
Runners up: 
"Grizabella: The Glamour Cat" and "Mungojerrie and Rumpleteaser."

Lyrics I catch myself singing most often: 
"Who would ever suppose that that was Grizabella the Glamour Cat?"
"It was Mungojerrie or Rumpleteaser, and there's nothing at all to be done about that!"
"Bustopher Jones is not skin and bones. In fact, he's remarkably fat."
"His name...is really Asparagus, but that's such a fuss to pronounce."
And, of course, the entirety of "Memory."


Oh, no. We've got La Cage aux Folles and Sunday in the Park with George. I choose...

Favourite song, La Cage aux Folles: "I Am What I Am."  Just...perfection.
Favourite song, Sunday in the Park with George: "We Do Not Belong Together."

Lyrics I catch myself singing most often: 
La Cage: "Life's not worth a damn till you can shout out, 'I am what I aaaaaam!' "
Sunday: "I want my glasses!"


Well, I was never really interested in Big River, so I'm going with another revival:

The King and I
Because who doesn't like this one?

Favourite song: *sigh* There are a LOT of good ones. I officially choose 
"We Kiss in a Shadow," "I Have Dreamed," and "Shall We Dance?"

Lyrics I catch myself singing most often: 
"Shall we dance? On a bright cloud of music, shall we fly? Shall we dance? Shall we then say goodnight and mean goodbye? Or perchance, when the last little star has left the sky, shall we still be together with our arms about each other and shall you be my new romance? On the clear understanding that this kind of thing can happen, shall we dance? Shall we dance? Shall we dance?"


Oh, hands down...

Song & Dance
I would LOVE to do this revival. This was one of the (many, many) musicals that I'd act out in my bedroom or the living room growing up. Or the bathroom mirror. Or the shower. In my head. Look, just accept the fact that I'm always in a musical in my head, even if I'm not actively acting it out.

Favourite songs:
"Tell Me On a Sunday" (naturally), "I Love New York/So Much to Do in New York", "Unexpected Song", "Finale - Let Me Finish (Reprise)/What Have I Done?/Take That Look Off Your Face (Reprise)."

Lyrics I catch myself singing most often: "Don't want to know who's to blame, it won't help knowing. Don't want to fight day and night...bad enough you're going. Don't leave in silence with no word at all. Don't get drunk and slam the door, that's no way to end this. I know how I want you to say goodbye...Don't run off in the pouring rain! Don't call me as they call your plane! Take the hurt out of all the pain...Take me to a park that's covered with trees. Tell me on a Sunday, please."

*sniff, sniff*


Ah, now we get to the one that started it all for me (a few years later).

Les Misérables
Yes, ladies and gentlemen. For decades, this was my all-time absolute favourite musical. "Obsessed" doesn't even begin to cover it. I had the original French concept album, the original London cast recording, the original B'way cast recording, the International symphonic album. I fangirled out on the cast and creators. I wore out my VHS of "Les Mis: Stage by Stage." I used "On My Own" as an audition song (and school recitals) for a decade. I had black lace-up granny boots in middle school and high school because that's what Eponine wears in the show. When no one was home, I'd go into the living room and sing "A Little Fall of Rain", using pillows as my Marius. I died on those pillows at least once a week. To this day, every 4-6 months, I will suddenly decide to act out Les Miz in the shower. And to this day, when I hear the opening notes of the Prologue, I tear up. And I cry during the finale. Eponine was always my Dream Role, The One Above All Other Dream Roles. I came *thisclose* to playing her, too, but was instead cast as Cosette in Heidelberg, Germany. Namby pamby, one-dimensional Cosette. I hated Cosette. It was years before I could listen to Les Miz again. 

Hey, Universe, I'd still like to be Eponine someday.

Favourite Song: 
"On My Own."
Runners up: 
"One Day More," "A Little Fall of Rain," "Bring Him Home", "Look Down", "Do You Hear the People Sing?", "Turning", "Finale." And a lot more. 

Lyrics I catch myself singing most often: 
Um, all of them? No, seriously...all of them.

See you soon for Part II!

Tally So Far
Sondheim: 2
ALW: 4