Hi, I’m your resident theater nerd who has no singing or acting experience whatsoever!
I’ve already talked about the movie musicals I grew up watching and the Broadway shows I’ve seen in the past, but I haven’t touched upon my favorite songs from the canon of musical theater and why they stick out to me. I wanted to highlight some favorites – both serious and a little silly – and share some beautiful lyrics from the songs!
“One Day More” (Les Miserables)
The time is now / The day is here
My best friend and I were both introduced to Les Mis our sophomore year of high school when it was the fall Drama Club production. For the remainder of high school, we’d text each other lyrics of this song the night before our last final every semester. It’s not too applicable now, because we’re at different colleges on different schedules, but if you ever need the ultimate singalong song, this has to be it.
2. “No One Is Alone” (Into the Woods)
You are not alone / Believe me / No one is alone
I first saw Into the Woods in the form of the movie around this time last year. During this song in the movie, I was honestly blown away by how moving and emotional the lyrics were. This entire show is really a lyrical surprise, because so many of the songs initially seem just fun, quirky, or upbeat, and then when you actually listen to them, they’re so symbolic and meaningful.
3. “Astonishing” (Little Women)
There’s a life / That I am meant to lead / A life like nothing I have known / I can feel it / And it’s far from here / I’ve got to find it on my own
This is one of my ultimate self-encouraging songs. I’ve played it on repeat before high school graduation, college move-in day, and my semester abroad. Surprisingly, I haven’t listened to it very much recently, yet I feel that some of my goals and aspirations are closer to happening than ever before. Plus, I like to think of Jo March as a role model for any and all types of serious writers, and the passion and determination seeping in these lyrics is just perfect.
4. “I’m Alive” (Next to Normal)
I am more than memory / I am what might be / I am mystery / You know me / So show me
I don’t have much of an emotional connection to this song, and I don’t know the plot of Next to Normal. This is more of just a song I love to listen to because it has a fun beat and great vocals. I distinctly remember discovering this song in high school and listening to it over and over throughout one particular morning bus ride to school.
5. “He Plays the Violin” (1776)
When heaven calls to me / Sing me no sad eulogy / Say I die, loving bride / Loving wife, loving life
I said how some of these wouldn’t be serious songs, right? Don’t judge me for this song choice, because I don’t even understand my love for it. Maybe because it’s the only female solo in 1776 and happens to be the most exciting song of the show? Maybe because its presentation in the movie is equally fun? I might even just be jealous of this actress’s voice and wish I could sing like that.
6. “I Can Do Better Than That” (The Last Five Years)
I thought about what I wanted / It wasn’t like that at all
In a way, this is another self-encouraging song. The thought of going beyond the norms of my hometown has rung true since I was in middle school. While I have never had a romantic relationship that rectifies everything as depicted in this song, the feeling of recognizing that you’ve reached something better on your own is perfectly shown in this song and is something I’ve definitely experienced before.
7. “Goodnight My Someone” (The Music Man)
But I must depend on a wish and a star / As long as my heart doesn’t know who you are
I have always loved the songs from The Music Man, but am not actually a fan of the show as a whole. The musical lineup is just great, but then when it comes to the plot, I just…don’t care? A few months ago, the 2003 TV movie version was on, and my sister and I watched, enjoying the musical numbers and then realizing how much we disagreed with the storyline. Plot aside, this song is gorgeous and simple.
What about you? Do you consider yourself a musical theater fan? What are some of your favorite shows or songs?