December 28, 2013


The other night, I was texting with my friend and fellow theatre-goer, Heather, when we came to a very important realization. We realized that our old and comfortable Broadway cast albums sometimes unintentionally deter us from discovering new Broadway show tunes! Frequently, we become “stuck” on a few select cast albums or songs, which we promptly play on repeat for days and weeks (maybe months?) at a time. Why? Because (for whatever reason) these endorphin-producing songs leave us with abounding feelings of happiness and inspiration. Who wouldn’t want to reproduce those feelings... over and over and over again?  Who needs the new stuff? (just kidding)

Anyway, this led to a fabulous conversation about our top five (or maybe ten) cast albums or songs that cause us to get “stuck” in the “old stuff” (in a good way!). I thought some of my followers might enjoy reading our lists, which contain some random and unexpected choices (as well as some obvious choices). ENJOY and please share your own favorites below! :) 

Name: Kris
Occupation(s): nurse practitioner and Standing Ovations Blogger
Favorite shows: The Sound of Music, Wicked, Evita, Cabaret, Memphis, Fiddler on the Roof, Next to Normal, A Little Night Music (in no particular order)

1.) Carrie the musical (Off-Broadway, 2011)

MY GUILTY PLEASURE. Yes, I admit it- I love this cast recording. My favorite “on repeat” song is “The Destruction.” It’s fierce. 

2.) “Dyin’ Ain’t So Bad” from Bonnie and Clyde

Give me a break, I’m a nurse. I’m comfortable with death, and I absolutely believe in these lyrics. Dyin’ ain’t so bad/ not if you both go together/ only when one’s left behind does it get sad/ but a short and lovin’ life/ that ain’t so bad. And Laura Osnes is one of my favorites! 

3.) “Fly, Fly, Away” from Catch Me If You Can

All I can say is that this song causes my brain to release massive numbers of endorphins. Maybe it’s Kerry Butler’s insane belting at the end.  I also like to listen to this song on repeat when I fly in an airplane. It just feels appropriate. 

4.) Evita (Broadway revival, 2012)

Andrew Lloyd Webber may be a jerk (according to Ms. Patti LuPone), but he is a genius. In my opinion, this is his best score (yes- better than Phantom of the Opera). I love almost every song on this cast recording, and because there is no dialogue in the show, the listener can hear the story from start to finish without any major gaps. And while Elena Roger may not be the strongest singer, I really like her accent and phrasing as Eva Peron. 

5.) “Air” from Hair

This song is the most frequently played song in my iTunes library, probably because it’s only a minute and a half long. I’m not suggesting that pollution shouldn’t be taken seriously, but this song is just so much fun. I love clever, quirky lyrics. Vapor and fume at the stone of my tomb/ breathing like a sullen perfume/ eating at the stone of my tomb/ I’m looking rather attractive/ now that I’m radioactive. I'm not making this stuff up. 

6.) “Defying Gravity” from Wicked

Wow, this is a really obscure choice. But allow me to clarify. I don’t like the Original Broadway Cast Recording of Wicked. I wore it out when I was in grad school and now I rarely listen to it. Kristin and Idina’s rendition of “Defying Gravity” is so firmly ingrained in my memory that I really don’t ever need to hear that version again. 

Instead, I listen to bootlegs on YouTube. This is my go-to exercise song. I can’t explain it, but I burn more calories when I exercise to this song. My arteries thank you, Stephen Schwartz. 

7.) Ghost

Another guilty pleasure. I actually think this cast album and the show in general were underrated. Or maybe I just like songs about death? I love cast albums that I can listen to from start to finish without skipping the less appealing tracks, and this is one of those albums for me. It's solid. 

8.) “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly” from My Fair Lady

I have never seen My Fair Lady, but I love Julie Andrews and I think this song is so much fun. 

9.) Grease, specifically "Freddy, My Love" and "Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee"

Grease is fun. It was the musical that got me interested in theatre when I was 14 years old. Is it terribly profound?  Not at all. I wore out the 1995 Broadway cast recording when I was in middle school. (Megan Mullally was Marty and Billy Porter was the Teen Angel). In high school, I even wrote my own satirized version of "Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee" about my soccer coach, who was a miserable human being. I still remember some of the lyrics

"Look at me, I'm Miss Leary, (FYI name has been changed)
lousy with malignity. 
Won't beat O-R till I go to the bar,
I can't, I'm Miss Leary.

Watch it, hey- I'm Mia Hamm. 
Move or I'll give you a slam." (That's all I remember)

And that's why I'm not a songwriter. I've also matured quite a bit since I was 14. 


Name: Heather
Occupation: nursing student
Favorite shows: Hair, Rent, Next to Normal, In the Heights, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, The Book of Mormon, Wicked, Promises Promises, Rock of Ages, Memphis (in exactly that order)

1.) Ok, Rent is my quintessential show. It's the first show that I "branched out" on, meaning it was the first one I ventured away from the "classics" for. I listened to RENT exclusively for a year and a half when I first got the cast recording. Today, the songs are just as fresh as they were 16 years ago. The music has something for everyone, and it can pick me up from any mood. I have a song for every occasion, I can quote it at any time, and the slightest thing can trigger a memory or a song.

2.) many songs are applicable to my life now..."For Good" is how I feel about people I meet, or people I'm no longer friends with as every encounter is a learning experience. "Defying Gravity" makes me feel empowered and strong. "No Good Deed Goes Unpunished" is how I feel when I do things for people that goes unappreciated. "I'm Not That Girl" seems to relate to every guy who sparks my interest. I feel Wicked is very "now," extremely applicable to not only me but everyone. I think almost everyone has felt these emotions. Wicked can be pulled out for any occasion. I get stuck on Wicked when I need a confidence booster, or when I'm sad, or feeling under-appreciated.

3.) Next to Normal I love. And what's NOT to love?? Such a heavy topic broached with rock music and explained in such a way that you can feel all the emotions a person going through a manic depressive episode could go through. "You Don't Know" helps me with frustration, "Light" let's you know it will all be okay, "Didn’t I See This Movie?" reveals how people react when something traumatic could be happening, "Everything Else" I use when I dream of escaping reality, "Superboy and the Invisible Girl" I play when I feel my brother has been the only one of us that matters to my mom, "I'm Alive" is a song I use when I need a jump start in the morning, it wakes me up and gets me going. "Why Stay/A Promise" reminds me of the kind of man I deserve, and "Maybe" reminds me that “I don't need a life that's normal... but something next to normal would be okay.” I can't get enough of this album. 

4.) In The Heights...first, anything by the marvelous Lin Manuel Miranda is automatically deemed fantastic by me!! I love his rhymes, they are clever and flow well. His beats are catchy too!  I listen to “Breathe” when I need to calm down when I'm overwhelmed, "96000" when I need to dream. "Paciencia y Fe-” what a powerful song of overcoming odds and dealing with situations while always maintaining patience and faith. I use this when I feel I need guidance. "Sunrise" is such a tender song, good for newly being in love. "Alabanza" and "Everything I Know" are interchangeable to me. When I'm extremely sad I play these. "Everything I Know" is special to me, as I rewrote the lyrics to fit my family in September of 2008 when my grandfather passed. I was lucky enough to be able to tell Mr. Miranda how his song touched my life, which was so important for me to do. This show and its songs touch your heart strings in so many ways.

5.) Shrek. Such an odd choice one may think. Yes, it has fun songs-I get stuck on "The Ballad of Farquaad" because I love love love the references to fairy tales- same with "I Know It's Today." "Make A Move" is one I love to play for a potential boyfriend interest to hopefully get something to sink in. Same with "When Words Fail," as I tend to communicate heavily through music more than anything. "Build A Wall" is essentially me. I love to keep myself "safe" by hiding behind emotions."Freak Flag" is the ultimate ‘accept everyone for who they are’ song. And "This Is Our Story" basically shows acceptance of yourself. Surprisingly great songs for a musical that is for kids, and fun!

6.) Billy Elliot. For those who know me, they may be surprised to see this on the list, as I refused to see it for the longest time. Then it closed and went on tour. Much to my dismay, I started seeing Billy Elliot tour ads on my TV. The music became catchy and I bought the cast album. I should have known that Sir Elton John wouldn't let me down! "The electricity sparks inside of me..." And that's what this show was. Electric. I finally got to see it live on tour, and I was blown away, but sad I hadn't seen it before. Anyway, I'm constantly listening to the whole album! "Merry Christmas Maggie Thatcher" just cracks me up every time I hear it. "Solidarity" is simply amazing. I love how they band together for their beliefs and cause. "Angry Dance" is great to feel emotion and great for when you don't quite know how to express yourself. Speaking of "Expressing Yourself," that song has to be my absolute favorite. Another empowering song, it tells you to be who you are, and not be afraid to show it. "Deep Into The Ground" is so soulful to me, like a wistful memory. It is surprising that I like it, as I'm not a ballad person, but this a beautiful piece. I've learned a lot about myself from Billy Elliot.

7.) Godspell. Another one that may surprise people who know me, as I'm not exceedingly religious. But one of my favorite songs comes from Godspell- "By My Side." Another ballad. Beautiful. It really makes me think. The song is about Jesus being by your side, but it can also relate to people you know in real life. Who really is "by my side?" "Turn Back O Man"- a sassy piece with innuendo that I could see myself performing. "On The Willows" is beautifully haunting. It gets stuck in my head constantly. "All For The Best" I saw as a wonderful tongue twister challenge that I mastered. Most Godspell songs are feel-good, and make me feel good!

8.) Murder Ballad. It's funny that a show I never actually saw made the list. But I love the music! "I Love NY" is a great rock song that makes me happy because I Love NY. "Troubled Mind/Promises" describes how I feel about trusting in relationships. "Coffees On" is always stuck in my head. The music is catchy, and for about 4 months was all I would listen to. I like how the music is mostly softer, as it helps to de-stress.

9.) Bring It On. Another great one by Lin Manuel Miranda. I get hooked on "I Got You," which emphasizes the importance of valuing your friendships over material things. Always a good life lesson to keep remembering. "It's All Happening" is about putting your dream or goal together to achieve it, a great philosophy which reminds me of how you much effort you need to get things in life. "It Ain't No Thing" reminds me to "love who you are and the world will adore you, and the couple that don't- well they can ignore you." Definitely helps boost my self esteem. A great feel-good musical.

10.) Hair. My #1. What can I say? It mellows me out and calms me down-without the use of drugs. The music is almost ethereal, ahead of it's time in my opinion. It's beautiful yet strong and peaceful and the whole cast album speaks to me. Hair is an unwind soundtrack for me.

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