Not many people know this about me, but I am a huge musicals fan and have been for a very long time. I studied drama in high school and tried to get any form of music I could into performances, then moved on to a more performing arts based course in college which meant I could write my own music, create my own choreography and use them both in a fully realised script. I absolutely loved the course and it opened me up to so many musicals I had never seen or even heard of before; some of them now being my all time favourites. I find the soundtracks from musicals now shape a soundtrack to my own life, and I wanted to share all the raw emotion in my favourite songs from my most beloved musicals, as I find the best time to enjoy a musical is the festive period.
Seasons of Love – Rent
This song highlights the amount that can change in the space of a year, which is incredibly fitting for the music which starts and ends on New Years Day. The song is sung by the whole cast, including some extra members to sing the especially challenging solo sections. Every cast recording I have heard of the song is exceptional, however, I am very excited to see what the cast of Rent Live will do with the song at the end of January, especially Keala Settle (of The Greatest Showman fame) when she tackles the almost impossible scales at the end of the song. Seasons of Love has stuck with me since I first heard it as it is such a stunning song even out of context, and is the perfect song to listen to when you feel nothing is really going your way; you never know what could have changed by this time next year.
My Shot – Hamilton
If you haven’t heard of Hamilton, where have you been for the last two years? Even those who aren’t too fond of musicals will have heard that the Lin Manuel-Miranda masterpiece is the biggest thing to happen to the stage in a very long time, and I feel My Shot encapsulates the plot perfectly and actually incredibly relatable. The lyrics tell the story of Hamilton’s humble beginnings, but his hunger and drive to become something for himself, something most people have felt themselves. I feel the music in Hamilton is much more accessible for a wider audience than the typical musical soundtrack due to it’s hip hop flare and inspiration coming from slam poetry alongside music which is currently in the charts. If this song doesn’t make you want to rise up and do something with your life, nothing will. I am also incredibly excited about the prospect of a potential trip to London to see the musical next year which will be a dream come true.
Patience – Dreamgirls
There are so many songs from musicals which stand the test of time, but Patience in Dreamgirls is even more relevant now than it was during the rise of Motown, when the production is set. The song begs for the younger generation to have patience and that the world will get better if you help each other, rather than going to war or finding fault in others. Watching the movie for what must be the 100th time today, I listened to the lyrics and realised how fitting they are for today’s political climate, with racial tensions building and living on the brink of wars. Standing among Listen and And I Am Telling You, a lot of the Dreamgirls soundtrack goes incredibly underrated, especially Patience, and I feel it is much more deserving of the attention some of the more widely recognised songs get.
Big, Blonde And Beautiful – Hairspray
It’s so difficult trying to choose just one song for this list from Hairspray, and I wish I could choose all of them. I saw the musical in Manchester in April this year and it was absolutely phenomenal. I have never seen a production like it; the casting was perfect and full of incredibly talented individuals, the staging was brilliant and the direction made the movie look amateur, there’s just nothing like hearing the cast sing live. I settled on Big, Blonde And Beautiful as it screams the message that there is nothing wrong with being curvy, in fact, it’s best to eat what you want as you’re beautiful however you are. Sung by the utterly iconic Motormouth Maybelle (played by Queen Latifah in the film, and Jennifer Hudson in the live TV special), it is the perfect anthem for anyone who is feeling slightly insecure about how they look.
Roxie – Chicago
Most of the Chicago soundtrack is typical of the 1920s/30s era the musical is set in, however, Roxie is especially jazzy and fitting into the musical theatre trope. With a conversational section in the middle, it wouldn’t feel out of place in a cabaret show or variety show typical to the time. I love the arrangement of the whole piece both musically and performance-wise that I was planning on doing the number for my final examination piece for my Performance Studies practical exam in college, before I left anyway. I absolutely adore the glitz and glamour of the piece, despite the fame of the song’s title character stemming from the murder of her husband. If you haven’t seen Chicago, I would suggest using is as a gateway into the darker side of musicals, as the whole show has a truly dark plot, whilst the music is so light and airy, and honestly sometimes far too catchy.
Do you have any favourite musicals to watch over Christmas, or anything you would swap out on the list? I would absolutely love to know!