The KW Symphony recently presented “Sing-Along Musicals”! I got tickets even though Jean is not so big on “singing along”. When I saw the program, I wasn’t so sure how much of that I would be doing, either. South Pacific? Oklahoma? The King and I? Those are some old-timey musicals! Did I even know any of the songs from those?
Turns out I did, at least somewhat. “I’m Going to Wash That Man Right Outta my Hair” has not always been a shampoo jingle, it turns out. Oklahoma includes “Oh What a Beautiful Morning”, “The Surrey with the Fringe on Top”, “ I Can’t Say No”, and “People Will Say We’re in Love”. The King and I has “I Whistle a Happy Tune”, “Getting to Know You”, and “Shall We Dance”. And they projected the lyrics, so you didn’t need those memorized.
The second half got a bit more modern, with “Defying Gravity” (done as a solo, mind you), selections from The Sound of Music, and a surprise encore of “Let It Go” from Frozen. The whole evening was fun, the concert featuring a youth choir, two talented young singers leading the sing-along (when they weren’t solo-ing), and young dancers making an appearance during some numbers. Conductor John Morris Russell, of the Cincinnati Pops, was lively as usual. So Jean enjoyed it also.
It got me thinking, though: What would be my picks if programming a sing-along musicals concert? Excluding any musicals based on the works of great rock and pop artists (such as We Will Rock You, Tommy, American Idiot, Mamma Mia, and Jersey Boys), because that would be cheating. And I guess that also excludes Moulin Rouge, though kudos to Baz Luhrmann for truly re-imagining all those pop songs in that music.
But merely having mentioned Moulin Rouge, I can now include this Virtue and Moir dance video, right?
First up, musicals with multiple great numbers in them, so we could do a bit of a singalong medley with those. In no particular order…
1. Jesus Christ Superstar
The first collaboration between Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Weber, and maybe the best. The songs from this are so good, if lyrically a little weighty, given the subject matter. I loved the Stratford version of this play (which later went on to Broadway).
Roger Daltrey’s take on “Heaven on Their Minds” (because, why not Roger Daltrey’s take)
I believe that sing-along versions of the movie Grease actually are a thing. And it is a bunch of great songs. Even if the gender dynamics of the whole movie are a bit troubling, at this point. (“Did she put up a fight?” “She’s a real pussy wagon”)
But Rizzo, women are under no obligation to have sex just because they batted their eyes and danced close! (Still a nice tune, though.)
Sing-along-wise, all the rapping sections would be problematic. I think we’d all have to stop at that point and leave those bits to a solo rap artist. There’s also the issue that only the privileged few have managed to see Hamilton at this point (me not among them)—though anyone can listen to the soundtrack on Spotify (just sayin’). And it’s such good music.
4. Rocky Horror Picture Show
Creepy, wonderful fun here—I’m planning to see the Stratford production this summer. Everyone knows “Time Warp”, but it also has “Hot Patootie”, “Touch-A, Touch-A”, “Superheroes”, and the theme song:
Adam Lambert was the only good thing about Fox’s Rocky Horror TV remake, however
5. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Once More with Feeling
Once upon a time, there were live showings of the Buffy singalong, whereupon this season five episode in which all the characters magically found themselves singing, as though they were in a musical, played on a big screen with subtitles, while people sang along. But the poo-poo heads at Fox shut it down before I could get myself to one.
The beauty of singing along with this is—some of these actors don’t sing a whole lot better than you do, probably, so it’s much less intimidating. And the songs are surprisingly catchy.
Spike’s big number in the musical, the rockin’ “Rest in Peace”
Then a few individual pieces from musicals.
1. “Seasons of Love” from Rent
Maybe Rent has a bunch of other good songs, but I only know this one, the most famous one.
“Seasons of Love” from Glee, where it was used in tribute to Finn / Cory (and it still kills me)
2. “I Got Life” from Hair
We’re allowed to sing about “tits” and “ass” in these days, aren’t we? Especially as it’s not in a sexual context here?
Treat Williams was amazing in this movie
Actually, with “Aquarius”, “Good Morning, Starshine”, and “Where Do I Go”, Hair almost qualifies for the medley treatment—though a lot of its other songs are considerably more problematic, lyrically, than “I Got Life” (once taken out of context of the play / movie, at any rate).
[I’m being all serious here, as if I’ve actually ever going to program a musical concert.]
3. “The Rainbow Connection” from The Muppet Movie
Look, it’s a beautiful song, and it’s been covered by everybody.
4. “America” from West Side Story
West Side Story is a brilliant musical and I love it. But I don’t find myself listening to the soundtrack much. Except for “America”.
5. “Dogs in the Yard” from Fame
Leaving the obscurest for last, this is a song from the 1980 movie Fame that I think was just played over the credits. But I had the soundtrack LP, and I’ve always loved this song.
You wild man—you go and play poker! Live a little!