What is it about a great Broadway song? You know, the songs that you are humming as you leave the theater, and when you brush your teeth, and when you wake up the next morning! In our upcoming The Tonys: Broadway’s Best show on February 22 and 23, we’ll be featuring many classical Broadway song types.
Of course, there’s the opening number, which ideally takes the audience right into the heart of the musical and sets the stage. The opening of Cabaret, “Willkommen,” is a classic example, with the character of the Emcee welcoming us to the world of the show. It quite literally sets the stage by taking us right into the Kit Kat Klub and making us members of the Klub’s audience. Here, we can leave our troubles behind! “Another Opening, Another Show” from Kiss Me Kate is another “welcoming” song that takes you to where the show is happening – in this case, the classic backstage view of a cast literally preparing to put on the show itself.
“Charm songs” are there to make us like a character (or more than one) and feel connected to them. We’ll perform a great example: “Heart” from Damn Yankees, in which the coach of the lousy Washington Senators baseball team bucks up his players by singing, “You've gotta have heart, All you really need is heart, When the odds are sayin' you'll never win, That's when the grin should start.” This charming song is our introduction to the baseball players, and we’re immediately won over.
A charm song can also show the singer charming the other characters, while the audience knows he or she is not worthy of admiration. This is the case the first time “Seventy-Six Trombones” is performed in The Music Man. We already know that Professor Harold Hill is up to no good in River City, and so when we see him bamboozling the locals with his song about the marching band, he’s charming them but we know his real motive. Nonetheless, we are charmed too, because it’s such a great song and he delivers it so well!
“I Want” songs usually come early in the show to define what’s driving the main character (and what’s propelling the story). “With One Look” from Sunset Boulevard is a classic “I Want” song, with faded movie actress Norma Desmond announcing that she’s coming back and that the audience will “rejoice I’ve returned at last.” We know that this is Norma’s dream and we see her determination; we also see the conflict because we understand that she’s delusional.
The “11:00 Number” is another memorable Broadway song type. Broadway shows used to start at 8:45 PM. This meant that most shows would be wrapping things up at around 11:00 PM, and musical creators began crafting a penultimate number for the main character that would really stop the show. We’ll do two of the most classic 11:00 Numbers – “Being Alive,” from Company, and “Gimme Gimme” from Thoroughly Modern Millie. Both are powerfully emotional songs that let the star of the show shine. Both happens towards the end of the second act. And both feature a moment of revelation, at the most deeply-felt point of the character’s story.
We’ll also feature triumphant finale songs “You Can’t Stop the Beat” from Hairspray and “Tomorrow is a Latter Day” from The Book of Mormon, high-energy emotional celebrations that leave a terrific last impression. You’ll definitely be humming these songs later!
Don’t miss our celebration of Broadway’s best: songs from Tony-winning musicals from yesterday and today that will knock your socks off and leave you wanting more! Tickets are going fast for The Tonys: Broadway's Best but good seats are still available. If you’re looking for matinee seats, your best bet is Saturday February 22 at 3:00 PM. Visit capesymphony.org or call 508.362.1111.