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Tuesday, 2 August 2016

My Top 5 Showtunes

Musical Theatre is my life. Literally, I am secretly living my life as if I am the lead character in my own musical: my main ballad belters are sung from the driving seat of my car and in the spot-lit playroom at the piano. All of you in my life are unknowingly the ensemble and chorus parts...your just slightly unaware of this fact until now :)  

Disclaimer: Please read there is a lot of sarcasm in this post. I'm really not this big-headed in real life (promise!)

So in true style of a leading lady on the West End (in my head) I have accepted the challenge (again made up, boohoo) of choosing the WhatOnStage Top 5 Showtunes. Now Showtunes is much too broad a category so I'm breaking it up (because I'm allowed to as I have authorized myself for this article) in Female, Male and Chorus sub-categories.

I love these lists as it lets me discover new musicals, vocalists and songs to add to my music library so I hope you find this interesting to some degree! It's also not a list of all the best showtunes out there- there are so many to choose from! and I wish I could add 'If I were a bell' from Guys and Dolls, 'Tell Him' from Slipper and the Rose, 'Coloured Women' from Memphis the Musical, 'On the Steps of the Palace' from Into the Woods and many many more but *ahem* the rules states 5 only.


Belinda's theatre credits include Angel (School Nativity), The mother who has 4 words to say and then promptly dies in the Children of Lier (School Hall- no grudge held), Carpe Jugulum, Sweeney Todd, Trojan Women and Oh What a Lovely War! (Riverside Arts Centre), most recently Belinda starred as 'cannibal' in a local panto of 'Dick Whittington and she is currently starring as herself in her own musical: Belinda The Musical. 

We caught up with Belinda and asked her: "If you were stranded on a desert island, which five show tunes could you not live without?"

G  I  R  L  S

 You Can Always Count On Me from City of Angels

When I studied my degree at drama school the musical theatre course performed the notoriously difficult production of City of Angels (no, not the Nicholas Cage film). The musical is a homage to Film Noir and consists of 2 plots, one set in the real world of a writer trying to turn his book into a screenplay and the second set in the fictitious world of said screenplay. I was probably the only one who enjoyed this 1940s old fashioned musical comedy but I loved the suave vintage vibe and this perfect belter of a song that suits a rich alto voice. The song is sung by Oolie aka Donna and is about feeling used by men. It's quirky and fun as a solo piece and I would choose this piece to perform for an audition (if one came along).

Your Daddy's Son from Ragtime

A musical that I haven't had the option to see yet! It came to my attention in 2012 when it was performed at Regent's Open Air Theatre, London. 'Ragtime weaves together three distinctly American tales -- that of a stifled upper-class wife, a determined Jewish immigrant and a daring young Harlem musician -- united by their courage, compassion and belief in the promise of the future'- The musical, written by  Stephen Flaherty includes marches, cakewalks, gospel and ragtime. This gorgeous solo is sung by Sarah, a woman who was seduced and abandoned by her baby's father, and left in a state of fear, anger, and pain. Prior to this song she tried burying the child alive but it is rescued and they are reunited. The song reflects her love and fear and acts as a sort of lullaby to the child. It's so sorrowful and affecting and one of those songs that you can feel the sense of pain that the character is going through. 

Someone To Watch Over Me from Oh, Kay!

This is a nostalgic piece. It was used in an amateur pantomime production of Aladdin my drama group did back in the 90s. The princess sang this song and it must have resonated with me/ I am also a huge fan of Gershwin's music. This well-known piece is from the musical Oh, Kay!
'The plot revolves around the adventures of the Duke of Durham and his sister, Lady Kay, English bootleggers in Prohibition Era America- Wikipedia'. The piece is just lovely- again on the subject of men but with a more optimistic outlook. I think this piece is under-rated and should be sung more! There are many versions of this song but my favourite is performed by the unknown singer in the video I made above.

I Miss the Mountains from Next To Normal

The story centres around a mother, Diana (Alice Ripley) who has been diagnosed with Bipolar-Disorder and the struggles her family face with coping with the effects of this long-term illness. Upon seeing her daughter with a new boyfriend Diana feels that the best years of her life have been and gone and so she sings this song reflecting on missing the highs and lows of life (that have become a blur of numbness since being on medication to stablise her mind). Other than being a 'nice' song to sing for my range I can relate to it to some small extent.  This rock musical is composed by Tom Kitt. 

Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again from The Phantom of the Opera


Now making one of these lists I can't not put in a Phantom of the Opera song and this one is particularly lovely. It is sung by leading-lady Christine who comes to her Father's tomb and sings this song to him. She is then visited by the Phantom who she believes is the Angel of Music that her Father promised to send to her. However this old disfigured gent basically wants to seduce her for her voice *yeh wrong on many levels in this day and age* but it's Ooooh sooo enchanting! This piece has so much emotion and rawness in it. It starts with a haunting reprise of the The Phantom of the Opera theme *cue goosebumps*, then of Christine reciting something her Father told her as a child and then begins this beautifully, bewitching, yearning song of vulnerability. This is how it's meant to be sung also check out Tabitha Webb's rendition, don't bother with the movie version as that my friends, is sh*t. I've seen phantom about 12 times (front, backstage and wings) and still weep buckets!

B  O  Y  S

Music of the Night from The Phantom of the Opera
 --Watch out for the jarring organ sound after 5 mins--

I grew up listening to a cassette tape of The Phantom of the Opera highlights performed by Claire Moore (who is much better than Sarah bitchy Brightman) and Michael Crawford. At the age of 3, I would sweep across the room wistfully along a blue blanket (as a 'river' oh yes I was a highly imaginative child) holding all my cuddly toy animals. Anyway this piece is sung by the phantom to Christine after luring her down to his lair. It is a highly sensual song where the Phantom speaks of his love for Christine and lures her into a trance-like state in an attempt for her to forget 'the world and life she knew before.' The last note he holds at the end is so haunting as it goes through key changes but still hangs on until the key resolves back to D minor. *Goosebumps*.

 To be continued...