Spotlight: The Top 10 Musical Theatre Breakup Songs

FEELS TRAIN!

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One of the great things about the arts is that is can shape our emotions. As humans, we are often very driven by those emotions. Therefore, tapping into the right ones can bring about a great deal of social/personal change. But, I’m getting a little ahead of myself. This list is fairly basic: just a compilation of, in my humble opinion, the most powerful, sob-inducing musical theatre songs about the end of a relationship.

~Always Starting Over (If/Then)

“My love, our life is over, but love, I’ll make you one last vow…to start over and over and over somehow. My new life starts right now!”

~The Winner Takes It All (Mamma Mia!)

“I don’t want to talk about things we’ve gone through…I’ve played all my cards, and that’s what you’ve done too. Nothing more to say, no more ace to play.”

~The Music That Makes Me Dance (My Man) [Funny Girl]

“What’s the difference if I say I’ll go away, when I know I’ll come back on my knees someday? For whatever my man is, I am his forevermore.”

~Burn (Hamilton)

“The world has no right to my heart…you forfeit all rights to my heart! You forfeit the place in our bed…with only the memories of when you were mine!”

~Small World (Reprise) [Gypsy]

“Lucky, you’re a man who likes children. That’s an important sign. Lucky, I’m a woman with children. Small world, isn’t it?”

~Losing My Mind (Follies)

“I spend sleepless nights to think about you. You said you loved me, or were you just being kind? Or am I losing my mind?”

~Be On Your Own (Nine)

“And you’ll take with you all you own, from A to Z, and all of me.”

~This Nearly Was Mine (South Pacific)

“Now, now I’m alone. Still dreaming of paradise, still saying that paradise once nearly was mine!”

~Send in the Clowns (A Little Night Music)

“Isn’t it rich? Isn’t it queer? I thought that you’d want what I want- sorry, my dear…but where are the clowns? There ought to be clowns. Well maybe next year.”

~We Do Not Belong Together (Sunday in the Park with George)

“No one is you, George, there we agree. But others will do, George. No one is you and no one can be. But no one is me, George, no one is me…I have to move on!”

“The Limbo”

by Amanda DeLalla

I’m stuck between two places,

My mind flies through times and spaces.

(Remembering days I spent with you.)

Sadness touches thoughts of you, boy,

Memories that once brought me Joy.

(Like you carrying me into your room.)

This is the limbo, I suppose,

Before you walk down the path you chose.

(Or gazing at the city, under the moon.)

Been crying myself to sleep at night,

And if you just came back, things would be right.

(That time you bought me tiramisu.)

Not even a week since you’ve been gone,

And I avoid Facebook for fear you’ll log on.

(We laughed together at Chekhov’s gloom.)

It’s just like Oscar Hammerstein said,

I may not wanna live but I’m scared of being dead.

(I’ll relive this all again by tomorrow afternoon.)

INSIDE OUT

Eight Musicals That No High School Should Be Doing

And select community theatre groups, also. (An unrelated note: this blog has almost reached 4000 visits!)

Let’s face it, friends: as good as high school productions can be, they have their limits. Most of those limits have to do with budget, while others involve the talent pool at hand. That being said, there are some shows that could make even the LaGuardia School look like a ragtag troupe performing in a basement.

Brief disclaimer: I am not writing this post to bash anybody’s productions or act like the elitists I despise. Rather, I’m doing this as a calm smackdown, a warning to directors who both overestimate and underestimate their own power. It is strictly based on personal experience and what I know about theatre. The purpose of a non-professional director is twofold: you’ll want to showcase your fellow thespians as well as produce quality material…with respect. And, barring a miracle, selecting one of the following shows can fast plunge you into a world of trouble.

  1. Boublil and Schonberg’s Miss Saigon…This is one of those shows in which budget and talent pool both play an important role. The helicopter scene alone should bankrupt any school’s theatrical finances. In addition, unless you’ve got a bunch of Asian-American actors in your drama club, you’re going to commit “yellowface.” And ain’t nobody got time for that.
  2. Sondheim’s Pacific Overtures…See above about Asian-American actors. But the second reason this show is a bad choice for amateur theatre groups is because- wait for it- all the roles are played by men! We’ve all heard the old cliche about no guys in the school play. Finally, this piece also caters to a very specific audience; that means that even successfully producing it doesn’t guarantee an emotionally invested audience. Leave the bowler hats and chrysanthemum tea to the pros!
  3. Sheik’s Spring Awakening…Despite my general distaste for this show, I do have a legitimate reason for including it on my list. As you probably know, the piece is replete with explicit content, and not many schools are liberal enough to be 100% cool with that. As a result, putting it on will force directors to bowdlerize the material and sap any of its impact (or, as I call it, shock value) right out.
  4. Menken and Schwartz’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame…I will never forgive Disney or whoever for not allowing the stage adaptation of the masterful animated movie to grow more. Alan Menken himself may not have wanted this to get to Broadway, but I did. It needs to be there. And in a similar vein, the lavish visuals and complex choral arrangements that the show calls for are simply too demanding for the average amateur producers. Maybe someone will prove me wrong on this one.
  5. Kern and Hammerstein’s Show Boat…It pains me to include this one, but I respect the importance and beauty of the show too much to let it be done poorly. Although the score and period sets are elaborate, I actually think a good amateur group could handle them. The problem here lies in the ethnically diverse cast. Attempt the work without that, and you’re gonna commit some blackface- uncalled for in the modern theatrical world.
  6. Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I…I’m probably going to get some flack for this one. Again, it would appear (sadly) that there is an even greater dearth of Asian performers in most American talent pools. Even the definitive King of Siam, Yul Brynner, was not Asian. However, the fact that the most recent Broadway revival of the show was able to fill every ethnic role proves that it can be done. It’s just more likely to be done when casting is done professionally.
  7. Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George…Oh boy. This is probably Sondheim’s most difficult score, both for the orchestra and the singers. As a result, I’d hate to see East High’s band kids struggle their way through “Putting It Together” for four performances while a pubescent Georges cracks on the final note of “Sunday.” Don’t torture your students. Pick a tamer Sondheim show.
  8. Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera…Yes, folks, outside of the NYC area, high schools and community theatres are permitted to stage the grandest mega-musical ever spawned. That, of course, doesn’t mean they should. Between leading ladies who must sing an E6, an enormous chorus in period costume, and a falling chandelier, this work will bleed seasoned novices (oxymoron?) bone-dry on many levels. Worse yet: young performers not ready to hit Christine or the Phantom’s notes risk doing permanent damage to their voice.

 

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What is It with These Broadway Kids Today?

Listen well, my younger readers. One of the most important pieces of advice I can give you if you’re searching for your place in the industry is to BROADEN YOUR HORIZONS. Look beyond the Tveit. Peer through the Emerald Curtain. Swap the Newsies cap for a turn-of-the-century hat, complete with feathers. And really explore the world you long to see beyond the barricade.

I guess what I am trying to say is that I’m concerned that I’m reading stuff from you kids about the same ten shows/actors all the time. Spring Awakening, Wicked, The Phantom of the Opera, Laura Osnes, Sierra Boggess, Aaron Tveit, Idina Menzel, etc. Now I totally get that different shows speak to you in different ways; there’s absolutely nothing wrong with loving any of the shows you love. But you cannot fairly praise them as the best thing since sliced bread if they’re the only shows you’ve really heard. Take a chance and listen to that obscure show that ran for less than 10 performances on Broadway (*cough* Anyone Can Whistle *cough*) and you just may find some brilliant music there. And that’s another way a piece of art will have done its job in touching your heart.

Or you may find a new performer that blows you away with their interpretation of this new music. And then hopefully we’ll see some appreciation posts of them on your social media channels! And then more people will see them and want to learn about them! And so it continues infinitely! Okay, I’m getting a little too enthusiastic. But you get my drift. Here are some performers and shows I think you guys will love based on the current trends I’m seeing on various blog tags:

  • If you like Wicked…try Into the WoodsPippin, and Thoroughly Modern Millie.
  • If you like Hamilton…try Pacific Overtures and An American in Paris.
  • If you like Les Miserables or Phantom…try Carousel and Miss Saigon.
  • If you like First Date…try Company and She Loves Me.
  • If you like Laura Osnes or Sierra Boggess…check out Barbara Cook, Victoria Mallory, and Julie Andrews.

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Pictured: Victoria Mallory’s daughter, Ramona, in the same role her mom once played on Broadway! What are your favorite “lesser-known-but-still-amazing” stars of the stage and screen?

How to Mount Any Golden Age Musical

Warning: Massive tongue-in-cheekiness ahead!

It’s a question directors have pondered for decades: how does one successfully create a musical reminiscent of the Golden Age of Broadway? Well, my friends, ponder no more! Today, I’m going to demonstrate how to shape an old-fashioned show for the ages, in just six easy steps.

Step 1: Find subject matter that is both heartwarming AND tragic. Theatergoers dig those stories.

Step 2: Give your leading male any name that starts with the letter B. Not optional.

Step 3: Incorporate showbiz into the plot somehow.

Step 4: If the chorus doesn’t do have a big signature dance number, you’re probably doing it wrong.

Step 5: You must have a woman of a certain age for the Act 1 finale in which she inspires the leading lady.

Step 6: Make sure the music has a perfect balance of soaring ballads and fast-paced comedy songs. And remember…

For the first time ever, I’m filling out a full Tony Awards ballot.

Tony Awards PicksI don’t know; can you guys read that? Maybe if you right-click that and zoom. I’m not disclosing whether or not these are who I think will win or who I want to win. Feel free to share your own selections. The Tony Awards will be hosted this year by Kristin Chenoweth and Alan Cumming and are broadcast live on CBS at 8pm June 7th.