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Excavating the Song:

Tools for the Modern Singing Actor

Excavating the Song: Tools for the Modern Singing Actor Neal Richardson Fall 2013

Neal Richardson Fall 2013

About the author BM Piano, Belmont; MM in piano performance, Baylor, MM in music theory, Baylor; Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Doctoral work in piano performance with a cognate in music theory. I have been teaching musical theatre for the past 17 years––Northern Kentucky University for 2 years and Webster University for 15 years. I entered the world of musical theatre as a music director/pianist/conductor/vocal coach. At Webster I teach all four levels of musical theatre, sometimes in collaboration with my cherished colleague, Lara Teeter and sometimes alone. I’ve described my teaching duties below. In addition, I teach the sophomore advanced theory and musicianship for the musical theatre majors. I also work with each of our majors as vocal coach on a regular basis, working both on their voice studio material and their classroom material. The goal for these coachings is to bridge the divide that we have found sometimes occurs between the voice studio and the classroom. It consists of equal parts of musical theatre vocal styles and acting work. For the last 10 years, I’ve worked freelance for Hal Leonard publishing as an arranger, working primarily in musical theatre. I was the arranger for the vocal selections of Spamalot, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Brooklyn, Jersey Boys, The Drowsy Chaperone, Grey Gardens, The Color Purple, The Pirate Queen, Young Frankenstein, The Little Mermaid, Passing Strange, Legally Blonde, Memphis, 9 to 5, Women on the Verge…, People in the Picture, Newsies, Ghost, A Christmas Story, NOW.HERE.THIS among others. The newest project for Hal Leonard is The Broadway Singer’s Edition which are new, exhaustively researched editions of shows along with a piano performance CD. The first batch of shows is Les Miserables, Rent, Sound of Music, Wicked and Annie.

Other professional work

• Principal arranger for Gateway Men’s Chorus, Men Alive (Orange County), The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington D.C. Others include Portland Gay Men’s Chorus, Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus, San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, Buffalo Gay Men's Chorus, Huntington Men's Chorus and many others.

• Musical Director at The Muny, St. Louis. The nation’s oldest and largest outdoor musical theatre venue.

• Church music and composer for the last 30 years.

• Principal Composer and Musical Director for The St. Louis Repertoire’s Imaginary Theatre Company. Original shows include The Elves and the Shoemaker, The Tortoise and the Hare, Robin Hood, A Peter Rabbit Tale, My Father’s Dragon and Hansel and Gretel: The Next Generation. Shows licensed through Playscripts Inc.

• Music published by Yelton-Rhodes

• Paper presented at the International Musical Theatre Educator’s Conference, January 2013. Song Analysis as a Key to Interpretation.

Neal Richardson, Webster University Conservatory of Theatre Arts Teaching Duties

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• Freshman Intro to Musical Theatre, Fall (Musical theatre and actors are combined). In this class, we focus on learning the musical theatre literature from the 20s to today. It’s not so much a history class as a crash course in what musical theatre is, the most important composers and shows, the changing styles, and how to listen with better understanding.

• Freshman Intro to Musical Theatre, Spring (Musical theatre and actors are combined) Introduction to singing on stage.

• Sophomore, Fall (Musical theatre and actors are combined). Song study continued.

• Sophomore, Spring (Musical theatre only). Advanced song study looking at more difficult literature such as Sondheim, Rock styles, music from the 20s and 30s, and preparing a role.

• Junior, Fall (Musical theatre only) Scene study with Neal and a director, currently Tim Ocel

• Junior, Spring (Musical theatre only) Neal and Lara teach audition and ensemble work with a large unit on the integration of song and dance.

• Senior, Fall and Spring. These last two semesters are focused on Showcase, Senior cabaret, auditions and various other finishing touches.

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Introduction to Excavating the Song

Excavating the Song is a multifaceted guide to modern musical theatre performance and repertoire. It is intended for the modern musical theatre singer. I believe it is a unique book. It is not an acting book, an audition book or a book about singing. Instead it is about all of these skills and about the ways that you can integrate your acting, your singing and auditioning skills as you reach your career goals. It is my hope that it will help you in many different ways to become more secure in your craft.

This book is a companion to great new books for the serious musical theatre singer which I highly recommend. At the top of my list of recent must-reads are Acting in Musical Theatre: A Comprehensive Course (Routledge), Get the Callback: The Art of Auditioning for Musical Theatre (Scarecrow Press), The Enraged Accompanist's Guide to the Perfect Audition (Hal Leonard), Rock the Audition - How to Prepare for and Get Cast in Rock Musicals (Hal Leonard), and The New Broadway Song Companion (Scarecrow Press). Each of these books should be on your reading list. It’s my hope that you will keep this book with your audition book and refer to it when you are stuck or in need a bit of inspiration and encouragement. Put in your audition bag and peruse it as you’re waiting for an audition. Each topic discussed is presented in a way that can be easily read and digested in one sitting. The book contains many repertoire lists and reference guides that will help you find great songs that you don’t yet know.

An Introduction to Song Performance

Even if you dance beautifully and have strong acting skills, in musical theatre, in most cases, the skill that will make you stand out more than anything else is your ability to sing a song honestly, with a strong objective and other, with a clearly devised and actable situation and sing it well. If you can do that and make us believe the song is being created by you in the moment, you can create a bit of magic in a small, poorly lit audition room. Of course, it doesn't guarantee you will get cast, but it will go a long way toward getting you in the "Yes pile" more often. Your dancing and acting skills matter a great deal, but being able to sing a song with these attributes is the secret that will help you more than anything.

The exercises discussed in Excavating the Song were created to provide a structure and process to insure that you leave no stone uncovered when you sing a song. It is more than a worksheet or a "by the numbers" process, but instead, it is a tour guide to the work that can be accomplished when studying these great songs. The word, excavating, connotes the image of an archeologist digging deeply into their chosen subject while being curious and scientific about her work. As singers, it is too easy to think of a great performance as something mysterious and illusive. It is too easy to think of a great performance you admire as something like alchemy. Like magic. It is not. It can be understood and achieved with practice, time, and thoughtful consideration.

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begin using some of the ideas in this book when I started teaching musical theater over 20 years

ago. I would notice that often I would see strong acting in scenes from actors who could sing well. But when called upon to sing, the character, which the actor had presented in a clear and truthful manner, disappeared once the singing started. The quality that is so special and unique in musicals is that you can have something highly realistic combined the something that can't be quite explained with mere words––music. When someone sings in the middle of a scene, something special happens. The audience is allowed inside the character's mind and we are privy to a life that goes beyond words. Songs can go deeper than words because music allows a character to express things that he would not say aloud.

Much of what I discuss when preparing a song is influenced and inspired by David Craig's "On Singing Onstage," published in 1978. This important book was the first to explore what it means to sing a song in a theatrical context. I have tried to clarify, simplify and update his work to aid in mastery. There is a progression to the steps with one step building off of what has been gained earlier.

I wanted to take a moment to talk about the word in the title––excavate. We can use the image of

the pyramid when talking about great works of art to connote and suggest that it takes a great deal of effort and time to build, step-by-step, block-by-block something significant and lasting. In the process discussed in this book, we are looking at the building blocks of creating a meaningful and significant song performance.

But stepping back for a moment, now think of the song itself as the pyramid––as something that

a composer and lyricist worked very hard to get just right. Most likely, the lyric has rhyme, has a syntax that strikes a balance between prose and poetry, and has meanings and associations that go beyond the surface of the words. In addition, the composer has crafted a melody and harmonic framework that supports the lyric and helps to make its point even more clearly. Good songs and especially good theater songs are more than just nice tunes. They support the all- important lyric while providing a structure that the audience can take in and make sense of. These songs deserve, even demand, to be excavated thoroughly.

Excavating the Song: A Guide to Repertoire

Considering the vast numbers of Broadway and Off-Broadway musicals not to mention theatrical songs from un-produced or unfinished works, knowing the repertoire can be overwhelming. Finding the right song for the right situation is daunting. In my work on the faculty of Webster University for the past fifteen years, I’ve made discovering great under-sung songs a high priority as well as matching songs from this literature with the singer. This book will help everyone, no matter their voice type or character type, to find songs that suit them and get them noticed.

What Does It Take?

We all have favorite singers—ones who inspired us and helped us to decide to follow the dream of musical theatre. Some of your favorites may include Judy Garland, Idina Menzel, Sutton

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Foster, Liz Callaway, Audra McDonald, Alfred Drake, Marc Kudisch, Brian Stokes Mitchell or Gavin Creel. These singing actors are unquestionably great, but what makes their performances so compelling? Is it simply their voices? Their acting skills? Their personality? Or is it combination of these?

And what do they have in common? Did they attend one of the great musical theatre training institutions? Do they share similar interpretative styles? Did they coach with great acting coaches? Each of their journeys to greatness was different and so was their training. Your path will be your own as well.

You may say, “I am a good singer and a good actor, what else do I need except the chance for a breakthrough role?” You may have many skills in your back pocket but there are probably still some things you have difficulty with. You may struggle with do with your hands when you sing, or where your focus should be, or difficulty in auditions. The resource you hold in your hand will address these things and many others.

There is a great chance that some of the things discussed here will be things you already know well. There may be, however, other things that will inspire an “ah-ha” moment. Some things may frustrate you. Some things may thrill you. Some things may bore you and some things may just be the break-through you need in your performance. I encourage you to engage with the tasks detailed here and give them a chance to work.

Without a doubt, the skills required of the modern singing actor pose an enormous challenge. The objective of this resource is to simplify and clearly articulate some of the tasks you will be doing on a daily basis during your career.

Throughout the book, there will be a need for the reader to do dig up a recording of the song being discussed. Nowadays, people generally go to YouTube if they don’t have the cast album. Take the time to find the song and listen to it.

Rules or Guidelines?

Do we need rules for something as ephemeral and specialized as singing a song on stage? Judy Garland breaks many of the so-called rules. Does that mean she’s not a good performer? Of course not. The guidelines here will simply give you a starting point from which you can employ your unique creative gifts. Let me restate that, it is a starting point only. Some of the activities in this resource may not work for every singing or acting opportunity, but, as the saying goes, you can’t break the rules unless you know what rules you’re breaking. If you go into each singing opportunity without a process, you’ll be reinventing the wheel with each song.

In your career you will be asked to sing many different kinds of songs. Some of these songs will be classics. Some will be clunkers. Some songs you will “get” immediately and some may have

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you throwing up your hands in despair. With these resources however, you will have tools in your tool chest to tackle many issues you will face. Three Things

There are three things that make up a great performance of a song: singing , acting (including physicality) and musicality. Singing pertains to the vocal sound and may include things such as

vocal color, pitch and breath support. When we speak of acting in a song, as opposed to acting in

a straight play, we mean things like, does the singer communicate the story of the song clearly,

do they inhabit the physical life of the character, and is there a connection between singer and material? Without question, singing a theatrical song is complicated by adding the subjective, sensuous element of music.

Musical theatre acting isn’t exactly naturalistic. And yet, in the today’s productions of new shows and in revivals of classics, naturalism, or maybe more specifically, realism, is the style of our time. Audiences today want “real.” If it’s not real then it’s fake. If it’s fake, the audience tunes out. But naturalism and musical theatre aren’t exactly compatible. The scale of musical theatre is much bigger than our daily lives, not to mention that there is an orchestra accompanying us as we sing about the things we want from life on stage. I do believe, however, that realism and musical theatre are a perfect match. The humanity, the warmth, the pure emotion of music is directly related to the kinds of things we think, feel and do on a daily basis.

The third element, musicality, is one that is oftentimes the scariest for singers. You may struggle with learning music or you may know that you are not taping into a song’s full potential. The most exciting singers are the ones who can take what the composer and lyricist have given them

a make it extra-special. A part of this intangible quality is musicality. If we were suddenly unable to see your performance, would we still be able to understand the moments from what we were hearing? A great performance is more than correct notes and rhythm. Sometimes singing the correct notes and rhythm lacks musicality. This may seem like a paradox. Music notation is highly imprecise and it takes a great deal of sensitivity and study to sing stylistically.

The Challenge

There is no other kind of singer working today that has more asked of them than the musical theatre singer. You are asked to belt, asked to sing so-called legit, asked to sing pop and rock, asked to sing in jazz styles, and asked to sing in a style that can only be called the Golden Age musical theatre style, something that is an amalgamation of many styles. You are also asked to do the work of an actor: to be “in the moment”, to pursue objectives, and to embody the life of your character. This is a Herculean task and I haven’t even mentioned dancing!

The objective of this book is to help the singing actor become more confident in their work and to dig deeper into a song. Its aim is no less than to help you truly excavate all the amazing things that are waiting for you and your audience. You are on your way to greatness!

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Helpful Tools As you read this book I would encourage you to keep a journal of your thoughts about exercises and questions you might have. You might be able to answer them yourself in time. A computer or smart phone will also be helpful as you will want to listen to examples I will discuss. Many things are on YouTube but I will help you find them if they aren’t.

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Contents !

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Improve these chapter titles !

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Introduction !

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Acting the Song !

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An Introduction to Song Study !

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A Guide to Preparing Your First Song !

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Guidelines for Different Types of Songs !

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Creating Situations !

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Qualities of a Great Musical Theatre Performance !11

Cabaret Styles !

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Post-millennium Style !

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Musical and Vocal Considerations !

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Expectations of Modern Musical Theatre Singers ! 11

Musical Theatre Singers to Know!

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Learning Songs !

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Musical Terms to Know !

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Vocal Colors !

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Riffing !

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Important Musical Terms !

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Analyzing Songs !

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Other Musical Considerations !

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Critical Listening!

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Learning from other singers !

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Memorizing Songs !

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Musical Style through History !

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Choosing Songs !

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Creating your Audition book!

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Include topics from Creating the perfect audition book !

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Audition Book Song Categories !

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Choosing Audition Songs !

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Choosing Songs for Cabaret !

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Post-millennium Composers !

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Guide to Repertoire !

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Repertoire Lists !

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The Perfect Audition Book!

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Glossary !

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Bibliography ! Acknowledgements

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A Guide to Preparing Your First Song !

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Expectations of Modern Musical Theatre Singers !

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Improve these chapter titles Introduction

Contents

Acting the Song An Introduction to Song Study A Guide to Preparing Your First Song Guidelines for Different Types of Songs Creating Situations Qualities of a Great Musical Theatre Performance Cabaret Styles Post-millennium Style

Musical and Vocal Considerations Expectations of Modern Musical Theatre Singers Musical Theatre Singers to Know Learning Songs Musical Terms to Know Vocal Colors Riffing Important Musical Terms Analyzing Songs Other Musical Considerations Critical Listening Learning from other singers Memorizing Songs Musical Style through History

Choosing Songs Creating your Audition book Include topics from Creating the perfect audition book Audition Book Song Categories

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Choosing Audition Songs Choosing Songs for Cabaret Post-millennium Composers Guide to Repertoire Repertoire Lists The Perfect Audition Book

Glossary Bibliography Acknowledgements Repertoire sections:

Standard Ballads Standard Uptempos Movie Songs Standard rep Disney Non standard rep Sondheim songs Operetta and Gilbert and Sullivan songs

Excavating the Song: An Introduction to Song Study

Excavate [eks-kuh-veyt]—to expose or lay bare as if by digging

Excavating the Song is about creating memorable live performances of songs, but before we get into the nuts and bolts of how to do it, I want to share an exemplary performance with you. Do a YouTube search for "Kate Baldwin" and "I Don't Need a Roof." As you watched, what did you notice? Did you notice the subtle ways that she colored important words and that there was a clear journey from beginning to end? Did you notice how she's fighting to convince her husband that things will be alright and the way she didn't give into the sad emotion of the situation? Did you notice the way her physicality communicated subtext? What else did you see?

I have been fortunate to see her in four great lead performances in four wildly differing productions. Kathy in The Last Five Years at The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Babe in The Pajama Game at The Muny, Sharon in Finian’s Rainbow on Broadway and Big Fish. From a small black box theatre in St. Louis to an 11,000 seat outdoor auditorium to the finest Broadway houses, Kate Baldwin has truly shown in every production. As someone who lives for great performances, I have to ask myself if her performances were great because she’s beautiful and sings magnificently, regardless of whether she’s belting or singing legit soprano. While these characteristics are notable, what makes her performances so compelling is that she completely lives in her character while giving her songs shape and variety while utilizing vocal colors that communicate the inner meaning of what’s she’s thinking and feeling.

We could do this exercise with any number of great performances but I wanted to start with a single, clear example of the things I will be discussing. Kate Baldwin did not read this book nor do I know her process, but I do know that she is doing all the things that this moment in Big Fish needs. We could be blown away and left speechless by the skill that she brings to her work or we can learn from it. I believe the craft of theatrical singing can be broken down for examination and that songs can be excavated for deeper meanings. My goal is to help you do that for yourself when you sing onstage.

Nearly every written or taught system of acting theatrical songs is Stanislawski-based, asking who, what, when, where and why questions. Based on twenty years of research and teaching, the system I’ve devised is a method of sorting through the many things that should be considered when you prepare a song for performance. You may already be doing many of the things I'm asking you to do, but by following these guidelines, you will have thoroughly excavated the song and left no questions unanswered. There may be some activities that are new and might be strange to you, but I guarantee that they will pay off.

First, we want to ask questions about the text. We want to know who the singer is, where they are, what they're doing and who they are singing to. It's very important to start with this text work first so that we don't allow the sensuous nature of music to cloud critical questions. We

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must start with the text, making thoughtfully considered decisions based on our insight, intuition and instincts.

Next, we want to look at the song as a monologue, separate from its music. At this point, the music is disregarded and we can rehearse and explore the monologue as we would if it were from a straight play. The most important piece of the puzzle is understanding our objective, which we will discover by asking, “What am I really saying?” “What am I doing to my partner?” “Why do I need to do it?” and “What do I need to accomplish by saying these words?”

We will also want to pay special attention to the physicality that we bring to the monologue. Pursuing an objective will cause the body to move and move in a manner that is congruent with the text being communicated. If you give yourself over completely to pursuing your objective, you won't be bothered with the common nagging question, "What do I do with my hands?"

Before we perform the song, we will do some preliminary work with the music in order to pay special attention to phrasing, musical inflection and pacing. This is a specialized part of the process that is not often written about or discussed. Phrasing comes quite naturally to some people, while for other people it is more of a challenge. But phrasing is not mysterious. It is something that can be learned with practice.

It is only at this point that we are ready to sing the song.

Before we move on, it's important to mention that while some songs will suit you well, others will not. This is a fact that we cannot change and one that has nothing to do with talent. I like to use this image with my students. Imagine that you’ve visited a department store to pick out a suit or a dress for an important event. You go to the racks and pick out what you think will look best, but it is only after trying on the clothes that you can tell which one looks best on you. It is the same with songs. Give songs a period of time to settle before you sing them for an audition or you choose to discard them. Later in the book, I will give you a broad survey of song literature from the 1900s to today, theatrical and non-theatrical, in order to help you choose the perfect song for every occasion.

Excavating The Song Process

In the followings pages, the Excavating the Song Process will walk you through a song and guide you with selected activities and questions.

1. Write the lyrics in prose form, carefully observing punctuation marks.

Song title: Dancing Through Life Composer/Lyricist: Stephen Schwartz Show Title: Wicked

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The trouble with school is they always try to teach the wrong lesson. Believe me, I’ve been kicked out of enough to them to know. They want you to become less callow, less shallow, but I say, “Why invite stress in? Stop studying strife and learn to live the unexamined life’”… Dancing through life, skimming the surface, gliding where turf is smooth. Life’s more painless for the brainless. Why think too hard when it’s so soothing? Dancing through life? No need to tough it when you can slough it off as I do. Nothing matters, but knowing nothing matters. It’s just life so keep dancing through… Dancing through life, swaying and sweeping, and always keeping cool. Life is fraughtless when you’re thoughtless. Those who don’t try never look foolish… Dancing through life…Mindless and careless, make sure you’re where less trouble is rife… Woes are fleeting, blows are glancing…when you’re dancing through life… Let’s go down to the Ozdust Ballroom. We’ll meet there later tonight. We can dance till it’s light. Find the prettiest girl…Give ‘er a whirl right on down to the Ozdust Ballroom–Come on follow me, you’ll be happy to be there…Dancing through life, down at the Ozdust, if only because dust is what we come to… Nothing matters but knowing nothing matters. It’s just life so keep dancing through.

2. What are the facts of the song? In other words, looking only at the lyrics without adding your interpretation, what can we deduce about the character and situation? This can be called the objective interpretation. It’s about a guy who thinks that life shouldn’t taken too seriously and that just having fun is the best way to live.

3. Once we have deduced the facts of the song, now begin thinking about your interpretation of the song by answering the following questions. This will will lead you to your subjective interpretation of the song.

A. Who is the Singer? Describe your idea of the character using specific and precise statements. He’s not very bright. He is afraid of not succeeding. He is good-looking. For him, success is having the best time with the prettiest girl. Underneath his exterior, he’s insecure. B. Who are you singing to? Choose a person or persons that will create interest and

conflict. I am singing to the prettiest girl in my class, Samantha, who also happens to the best student in school.

C. When is it? At the end of last period. I’ve just seen her talking and flirting with my biggest rival, Roger.

D. Where are you? The more specific your location, the more real it will be for you.

Outside the library–she was flirting with Roger in the library just before this. E. Why do you need to say these words? The stronger the need, the better. I’ve just broken up with my girlfriend and the prom is this weekend. The idea of not going to the prom is unthinkable and if I don’t go, I’ll consider myself a failure. So will all my friends. F. What changes during the song? I’m able to convince her to go with me.

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G. What do you want? What will happen if you don’t get it? I want her to say yes. If I don’t get it, my status as the most popular guy in school will be lost. That is the most important thing to me and the thing that my self-worth is based on.

H. Why sing this song now and not yesterday or tomorrow? My girlfriend just broke up with me. I can’t wait until tomorrow because she might go to the prom with Roger.

Write a defining sentence. This sentence will be, in essence, a shorthand for the actor’s journey through the song. This is a song about a boy (a girl, a man, Dr. Monroe) who These words should sum up in a concise sentence or two your version of what happens during the song and what your objective is. Note that this sentence may include both the objective observations about the lyric and your subjective interpretation. This is a song about Frank, me, who needs to hold on to his status as the coolest guy in school. I must convince Samantha to go with me to the prom or risk losing that status.

Notice how different this sentence is from the one above: “It’s about a guy who thinks that life shouldn’t taken too seriously and that just having fun is the best way to live.” This is the difference between objective and subjective interpretation.

Songs Arcs

Now that the objective of the song has been explored, it’s time to get more specific with the

song’s moments. All novels, short stories, plays and films have an arc. Think of your song as a 3 minute one-act play that has been thought through from beginning to end so that the conclusion

is satisfying. There are four possible arcs:

• The winning arc

• The losing arc

• The “ending up where you started” arc or spiral arc 1

• The serendipity arc - ending in a place you hadn’t anticipated.

1. Winning Arc

A winning arc is the most common shape. The song ends with your character achieving their

objective and getting what they’ve been fighting for. But, as in life, nothing is easy and there are many obstacles you must face. Perhaps your other doesn’t want to hear what you are saying and you have to fight to get their attention. Or perhaps they don’t believe what you are saying and begin to walk away. Romantic comedies films share this story arc. In this kind of film, the couple has things that they must work through to be together—former boyfriends, a job that requires them to relocate or a complication with their sex life. Overcoming these obstacles gives the film

1 Joe Deer Acting in Musical Theatre: A Comprehensive Course

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shape and makes of a satisfying conclusion. There are moments of loss but in the end, there is triumph.

There are moments of loss but in the end, there is triumph. 2. Losing Arc The

2. Losing Arc The losing arc is like the winning arc, only inverted. There is a final losing moment but there are also some wins before that. One of my favorite examples of a losing arc song is “Good Thing Going” from Merrily We Roll Along. The lyric ends with “We had a good thing going, going gone.” But the ending is a bit of a surprise because throughout the song, the relationship has been described in mostly positive terms. “It started out like a song,/We started quiet and slow with no surprise./And then one morning I woke to realize:/We had a good thing going.”

song,/We started quiet and slow with no surprise./And then one morning I woke to realize:/We had

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3.

Spiral Arc

In the spiral arc, we end at the same place we began. The Wizard of Oz is the clearest cinematic example of this. It starts at home and ends at home. But the journey is quite an adventure and we go many places before we arrive back where we started. I see this as a sort of variation on the winning arc if the beginning place is a positive one. But if the song calls for it, the beginning and ending could be a place of struggle, making it a losing arc. The middle sections need to be the opposite of the beginning and ending. You will need to find a maximum number of contrasts to successfully achieve this story arc.

number of contrasts to successfully achieve this story arc. 4. Serendipity Arc This final story arc

4. Serendipity Arc

This final story arc is rare but can be powerful. There is a logical, predictable beginning and middle but the ending is a complete surprise. This is a variation on the winning or losing arc depending on the ending direction.

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Further Exploration: “I’m Not Afraid” from Songs For a New World is a unique song

Further Exploration:

“I’m Not Afraid” from Songs For a New World is a unique song in that all four types of arcs are possible. Explore these questions:

•For a winning arc, what are the obstacles, how do you overcome them and what is the nature of the victory at the end? •For a losing arc, what do you lose at the end and what are the wins before that? •For a spiral arc, what is the beginning and ending place? Where do you go in the middle? •For a serendipity arc, what is the ending surprise? Where do you start and what does the middle look like?

Let’s move to a different song, one with a losing arc and get more specific.

“I Had a Dream About You” from Maury Yeston’s December Songs.

I had a dream about you, we were together again as we had always been. It was the happiest dream I think I ever have had that you and I’ve been in. It was a dream I don’t need to explain. We’re in the care and We’re driving in Maine. It’s so incredibly beautiful I don’t know where to begin. We’re driving into the night and from a magical height we see two orange moons, they’re hangin’ up in the sky like a pair of contented balloons. And as we stare into space in astonishment, I turn to look at your face and you kiss me… All in an instant inside of a wonderful dream. Oh, I remember two orange moons rise in the sky to sound of loons and you were there, my dream. I had a dream about you, we were together again, an old familiar pair. It was the kind of a dream so absolutely convincing you believe you’re there. The open road and the dotted white lines, the crispy smell in the air of the pines, the overwhelming sensation you’re up and awake everywhere… And when we look in the sky, they’re getting higher and higher, those two orange

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moons. There’s one for you and for me and, impossibly, both of them gleam. And I am holding your hand for eternity and you’re beginning to say that you love me. If only it really had happened, if only it all really happened. I had a dream about you but, of course i t was only a dream…It was only a dream…It was only a dream…I had a dream about you but, of course, it was only a dream.

What are the facts of the song? It’s about a women relating her dream to her former partner. It starts nicely but by the end, she knows that this dream is not reality.

Who is the singer? Describe the character using definite statements. She is 28 years old and works in a bookstore that she owns. She’s very intellectual but has difficulty in staying in a relationship.

Who are you singing to? Choose a person or person that will create interest and conflict.

I am singing to my boyfriend, Frank. We broke-up over our disagreements about having a child. He wanted a child. I am not ready.

When is it? It’s 11:00 AM.

Where are you? We’ve run into each other unexpectedly at Starbucks. It’s like it was ordained by the stars!

Why do you need to say these words? The stronger the need, the better. I’ve just come from my therapist where we were talking about my relationship with Frank. We did not, however, talk about the dream because we ran out of time. The dream has been going through my mind constantly though. I’ve been trying to figure out what the two moons in the song mean. When I see him, I can’t help myself. I’m so happy to see him and without thinking about the wisdom of it, I start into my dream.

What changes during the song?

I finally hits me for the first time that there is no chance for us. I see from his reaction, that he wants to desperately leave. As I tell him the dream, I can see how uncomfortable he is. He was never a fan of fact that I was so into my head. The meaning of “of course, it was only a dream” changes during the song. The first time I say it, I’m trying to make fun of myself and make light of the fact that I’m “in my head” again. By the end of the song, it’s as if I’m waking from the dream of us ever being together.

What do you want? What will happen if you don’t get it? I’m 28. I’m not ready to have a child but I am more than ready to have my “one great love.” I thought Frank was it. I thought we could work through our issues with children. I’ve placed everything, my hope for security, my dreams for a house and financial security on Frank. If I

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don’t win Frank back, and this is my last chance, I will work in the bookstore all my life and never fulfill my dreams of becoming a writer.

Why sing this song now? We are here together unexpectedly and must tell him how I feel quickly because I have to get back to the store.

Write your defining sentence. These words should sum up in a concise sentence or two your version of what happens during the song and what your objective is. Note that this sentence may include both the objective observations about the lyric and your subjective interpretation. This is a story about me, Janice, who needs to seize this opportunity to win back the man I love in order to achieve the security I am lacking.

Basis Structural Music Analysis An examination of the song’s musical structure will help you complete your work. Look for verse and refrain in songs before 1970 and for verse, chorus and bridge in songs after 1970. There is more about musical form in the next chapter. Also look for repeated musical sections. Below are some additional guidelines for structural analysis that will help in breaking down the song into beats. These places usually mark beat changes.

1. The change from verse to refrain.

2. The change between sections (i.e. from A to B or from B back to A). Most standards and Golden Era musical theatre begin with a verse preceding the refrain. In the refrain, there are often at least four sections of music (i.e. A, B and possible C sections). In pop/rock inflected musical theatre, this terminology is changed to Verse, Chorus and Bridge with the most common form being Verse/Chorus/Verse/Chorus with a possible Bridge someplace.

3. Changes in tempo

4. Changes in style

5. Changes in accompaniment

Read the lyric again and mark places that seem like appropriate beat changes. You will also want to take musical structure and changes into consideration. The form of this song is unusual:

AABAAC.

The Song Broken Down into Beats

Having looked at the song structurally, let’s break it down into beats.

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I had a dream about you, we were together

again as we had always been. It was the happiest dream I think I ever have had that you and I’ve been in. It was a dream I don’t need to explain. We’re in the car and we’re driving in Maine. It’s so incredibly beautiful I don’t know where to begin.

The first A section, rolling accompaniment. She begins telling a story, a nice story about her dream. She awakens him in order to get his attention. She is successful.

We’re driving into the night and from a magical height we see two orange moons, they’re hangin’ up in the sky like a pair of contented balloons. And as we stare into space in astonishment, I turn to look at your

The second A section. Same accompaniment. The dream gets stranger with the image of two moons but concludes with a kiss. She seduces him with this exotic story in order that he will find her charming and kiss her. In the dream

face and you kiss me… All in an instant inside

he kisses her but in actuality, he does not. She

of a wonderful dream.

is

unsuccessful.

Oh, I remember two orange moons rise in the

B

section, the accompaniment changes. No

sky to sound of loons and you were there, my dream.

new dramatic information. She is reminding him of the image of the two moons. She worries that she is losing his attention so she pulls him by reminding him that this is a magical dream with two moons, one that represents her and one that represents him. She is successful in the objective which heartens her, propelling the song to a higher key.

I had a dream about you, we were together

again, an old familiar pair. It was the kind of

a dream so absolutely convincing you believe

you’re there. The open road and the dotted white lines, the crispy smell in the air of the pines, the overwhelming sensation you’re up and awake everywhere… And when we look in the sky, they’re getting higher and higher, those two orange moons. There’s one for you and for me and, impossibly, both of them gleam. And I am holding your hand for eternity and you’re beginning to say that you love me.

Key change! Back to the accompaniment of the A sections. The situation intensifies with the key change. With the key change, her objective is to encourage him to kiss her and tell her that he will love her forever. She is unsuccessful in this objective.

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If only it really had happened, if only it all really happened. I had a dream about you but, of course it was only a dream…It was only a dream…It was only a dream…I had a dream about you but, of course, it was only a dream.

New musical material. She realizes for the first time that they will never be together and this is less of a dream and more of a nightmare, the repeated “It was only a dream” is as if the singer is waking up to the reality of the doomed relationship. She ends up in a place she didn’t know she would end up. This is not what she expected. She realizes that she will never get what she wants from him. She convinces him to say that everything will be okay. She is unsuccessful.

Avoiding Traps

Every song has a trap—something that must be avoided when you rehearse the song so that it is successful. The key to avoiding traps is to answer this question: What is the most obvious interpretation of the song? The most obvious things are to be avoided. Your audience is smart and you need to stay well ahead of them.

The danger in singing a losing arc song such as “I Had a Dream About You” is to play the losses from the very beginning. The actor, who knows how the song will end, needs to be careful not to give the ending away. The character doesn’t know how it will end. Playing the end of the song from the beginning is the trap of this song. It is your job to identify the trap of the song and not fall into it. “Good Thing Going”, as discussed earlier has a similar trap. In the song, the singer speaks of all the good things that were part of their lives together. He tempers it with some clarifications that not everything was perfect. It is not until the very last word of the song, “going, going, gone,” that the singer must face the truth of the end of the relationship. If you play the end of the relationship at the beginning of the song, there is no arc, only a straight line.

Actions

For each beat, I ask you to choose an action verb that will give shape to your physicality for that beat. Choose verbs that are actable that will inspire your body to move. Below you will find a list of well-chosen verbs that work. You can begin by thinking about what you are doing to you partner. Are you lifting them or pushing them down? Are you reaching out to them or drawing them to you? There are four broad categories of action verbs in two pairs of opposing categories:

helping verbs vs. hurting verbs and reaching verbs vs. gathering verbs.

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Helping verbs

Hurting verbs

Reaching verbs

Gathering verbs

to uplift

to destroy

to share

to invite

to build

to crush

to open

to welcome

to excite

to bombard

to push

to seduce

to support

to mock

to reassure

to pull

to overwhelm

to annihilate

to encourage

to caress

to celebrate

to belittle

to convince

to charm

to paint

to punish

to overwhelm

to prepare

to suppress

to inspire

Use a thesaurus to help you find others. Actions: The Actor’s Thesaurus by Marina Caldarone and Maggie Lloyd-Williams is an especially good resource. Choose words that can be physicalized easily. Remember, these are things that you are doing to achieve your objective. Most of the time, your actions will be on your unseen scene parter, your other. You are mocking them, or reassuring them or caressing them. But you may also choose actions that you are performing to affect your partner. You could paint a picture of what your life will be together or you could build a world that you two could share or you annihilate the obstacle that stands in your way.

Song as Monologue Here are the steps to explore when looking at the song as a monologue. The pianist is not brought into the work until step 5. I’ve created a pneumonic device that will help you remember these steps and their order.

The Six Components of Preparing a Song

E-Energized speech X-EXplore objectives through movement CAV-Combine action and verse A-Act. True monologue T-Tune. Accuracy of phrasing E-Elevate your performance. Everything combined

1. Energized speech. Using a high level of vocal energy, speak the words without inflection with speed so that the words form on your tongue without stops and starts. The purpose of this is to aid in memorizing and getting the words securely into your muscle memory. Do this until you can do it without any hesitation. Do not do this, however, so quickly that the words have no meaning or can’t be understood.

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Additional activities:

A. You may also choose to speak the lyrics as a dramatic recitation, savoring the images and biting into the words as you might bite into an apple. Imagine that you’ve written the lyrics and are reading them at a poetry reading. Savor every image, rhyme and alliteration.

B. Locate the images in your song. As you do the monologue, physicalize the images such

as love, heaven or fear. At this point, it’s preferable that you go too far in indicating the images. This will help you to see the images in later steps. In other places in the book, I discuss the pros and cons of indicating in a song. Don’t worry about that for now.

2.

EXplore objectives through movement. Physicalize the active verbs in each beat hearing the lyrics in your head but without speaking them. Once a section is finished, move on to the next verb. If it will be helpful, have a friend hold up cue cards with that verb written on it to remind you. Start in a neutral position (focus forward Center, weight on both feet and arms to your side) by saying to yourself the defining sentence. Then when you see the inciting event, begin to hear the monologue in your head while employing complete physical involvement. Don't plan what you are going to do. Let it be spontaneous.

3.

Combine action and verse. Physicalize the monologue while saying the lyrics. Start in a neutral position (focus forward, Center, weight on both feet and arms to your side) by saying to yourself the defining sentence. When you see the inciting event, begin to speak the monologue with complete physical involvement. This is not a verbal exercise, it is physical. Whisper or shout if you need to. Get down on the floor or stand on a chair if it is appropriate. The lyrics are of secondary importance to the physical life. Be sure to make a clear distinction between each action. To check this, have a friend watch and then list the actions that they saw you do. If they don’t tell you the correct actions, that means that you can be more specific with them.

4.

Act. Next, speak the monologue keeping in mind the active verbs you assigned to each beat. The words to the monologue become more important than in the previous exercise but allow your body to respond to the action of the monologue. You may use the cue cards again. Keep your focus forward, center and on your partner. Have a friend stand in for you scene partner if you find that helpful. Do an improvisation with a friend standing in for the scene partner to clearly establish the moment before.

5.

Tune. Having the pianist only play chords or a simple, out of tempo, accompaniment, sing the song repeating step 4. Take the same pauses you would take while doing the monologue. You are doing the same monologue but simply adding pitch. This is a excellent way to work on phrasing and pacing. The goal of this activity is to take full possession of the song and make it yours. The music in songs can have the tendency to take over the story-telling. You must avoid this at all costs. Songs are stories.

6.

Elevate your performance. Next, have the pianist play the actual accompaniment as you sing the song. Physicalize each moment to the degree you feel is appropriate. Do not allow the accompaniment to make your work less specific.

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Further Exploration:

Watch the videos on the DVD that demonstrates each step. Choose a song in your repertoire and apply the six steps. It’s important that each activity is secure before moving on to the next. When you get to step 4 or 5, I suggest returning to earlier activities to refresh your work. It’s likely that they will be stronger now.

Moment Before

I’ve mentioned repeating the defining sentence before beginning each activity. Repeating the

defining sentence before you begin is an efficient way to remind you of the objective of the song and its arc. Once you have done that, there is another step before you begin singing, seeing the moment before. The moment before consists of three steps:

1. Seeing the event (what do you see?)

2. Taking it in (what effect does it have on you?)

3. Responding to it (what is your response?)

In “I Had a Dream About You,” the inciting event is the surprise of seeing Frank at Starbucks. Janice has been “in her head” after coming from the therapists office. She is still trying to put all the pieces together and she’s distracted. She sees Frank. She’s surprised and happy. Take this moment in. Respond to it. This response is called the active first beat and this is the moment when the pianist begins playing the introduction. In this song, the introduction is short but you’ll need to fill this moment with an action. You must always remember to give some consideration to the introduction of a song and the ride-out. The ride-out is the music after you complete your last note. The first verb in our analysis is “to awaken.” You are awakening Frank during the first chunk of the lyrics but possibly the introduction is you awakening from the haze you’ve been in.

I find that doing an improvisation with fellow actor helps tremendously to make this active first beat more solid. Choose a partner and explain the situation, giving them an idea of what you need for them to do. Play the scene before the song begins. At the appropriate time, the pianist starts the introduction and the scene partner can stay in the scene. Your focus is on them but, just as a gentle reminder, we don’t always look at the person we’re talking to. Your focus, however, is still on them. Once the moment before is secure and you are confident in knowing what this moment is, repeat the exercise without the scene partner.

Further Exploration:

Choose a love song such as a standard ballad that is open to many types of interpretations. Do the activities such as locating beat changes, assigning actions to each beat and deciding on the three elements of the moment before. “You’re Nearer” or “Our Love is Here to Stay” are good choices.

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Sing the song given these three following contrasting situations and compare the results.

Song: “Love is Here to Stay” by George and Ira Gershwin Situation #1. I’m going away on a work assignment for 9 months and we won’t be able to see each other during that time. The objective is convince my wife of 5 years that things will be okay and our relationship will stay secure while I’m gone. Suggested actions: to reassure, to paint, to caress, to pull, to uplift.

Situation #2. My wife has given me hints that she’s going to end the relationship. The objective is heal over any of the problems that we have and convince her that our relationship is meant to last. Suggested actions: to reassure, to crush, to celebrate, to open, to pull.

Situation #3. My fiancé and are having dinner in our favorite restaurant and this is a proposal. My objective is to convince her that our love can withstand any problem that we face. Suggested actions: to prepare, to caress, to pull, to paint, to celebrate.

“Love is Here to Stay” The more I read the papers the less I comprehend (Action 1) The world with all its capers and how it all will end. Nothing seems to be lasting. But that isn't our affair; We've got something permanent, I mean in the way we care. It's very clear our love is here to stay; (Action 2) Not for a year but ever and a day. The radio and the telephone and the movies that we know (Action 3) May just be passing fancies, and in time may go. But, oh my dear, our love is here to stay; (Action 4) Together we're going a long, long way. In time the Rockies may crumble, Gibraltar may tumble, (Action 5) They're only made of clay, but our love is here to stay.

How did singing the song with these three differing situations change the vocal colors? The tempo? The stakes? The transitions?

Conclusion

This process will help you to find your unique interpretation of a theatrical song taken out of context. The process may seem long and arduous, but you will see the benefits in your work because it will help you to personalize the material and to dig deeply into the emotional life of the song. The more you apply this process to the songs you sing, the faster it will go. You will discover that you will need to adjust your process with other songs in other contexts such as:

• Preparing a song for a role in a full musical

• Preparing songs that were not intended to be theatrical, such as pop songs

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• For a cabaret setting or similar situation where you are singing as yourself

You will find worksheets for these other situations in the following pages.

Consider this process as a basic tool–a foundation to build your pyramid on. As you grow in your artistry, you will develop other tools that you will find helpful and develop your own process.

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A Guide to Preparing Your First Song

Nearly every song you sing has been sung by countless other performers. You may wonder how you can bring something new to the song or how you can make your interpretation of the song unique and interesting. The Excavating the Song process was created in response to these questions. Your interpretation of any song begins with a thorough understanding of the music and lyrics as well as how these two are interrelated. A nuanced, original and specific final performance is dependent on careful analysis, study and making smart, well-reasoned choices.

Here are some things to consider when learning a new song.

Lyric

1. What are your first impressions of the lyric? What does it say to you and does it touch on your life experience somehow?

2. What is the story of the song? What is it about?

3. Write out the lyric in prose form in longhand. Underline rhyming words. Are the rhyming words somehow significant? Look for internal rhyme by speaking the lyric aloud.

4. Observe the punctuation. How will the punctuation affect your phrasing?

5. Are there any words or images in the lyric that you don’t understand? Look those up.

6. What are the important images in the lyric? How do they help illustrate and enrich the song?

Music It is assumed that you know the music and can sing the correct pitches and rhythms before you do this section.

1. Observe the musical indications such as tempo markings, style indications, dynamics, crescendo/decrescendo, etc. How do these things support the song and help to communicate the lyric? Look up any words you do not know.

2. How does the music tell the story of your song? Does it work with the lyric or somehow against the lyric?

3. What is the musical form? Is there something special that happens in the B section?

Interpretation

Although you may sing a song that many other people sing, you can bring your own interpretation to it by asking these questions.

1. How does this song reflect your personal experience? Trust that information and the unique subtext that that information gives you.

2. While we want to personalize songs so that it will appear to the listener that you are the character that is singing, they should not be sung as yourself. Instead, the character should be one you have created. But I encourage you to create a character that is similar to you in some ways.

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3. Who is your character singing to? You may not be singing it to someone who is physically present. You must find a way to externalize your partner, even if you’re singing to yourself. In such cases, imagine that one part of yourself is singing to another part of yourself. Maybe your timid side is singing to your braver self. Or, perhaps your intellect is singing to your heart.

4. What do you want? What’s at stake?

5. Create a world in which your character exists and needs to say these words. Where are you? When is it? What are you wearing? These kinds of questions are invaluable. Come up with details that help make your situation more real and visceral to you.

6. What changes happen during the song? Musical Theatre songs are special moments in which a character undergoes some kind of change. As we are taking these songs out of context, you can decide what changes happen during your song. This is one of the ways that your interpretation will differ from others.

Always begin by reading the lyric. No matter how much you like the music, a song is not a good choice for you if you do not connect meaningfully with the lyric. For this chapter I have chosen “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye” by Cole Porter. Essentially, the lyric is about the effect the other’s absence causes. While it is tempting to look at the lyric as a sad one and concentrate only on the negative aspects, I encourage you to always make an attempt to find the positive in every song. While a losing arc or a serendipity arc are possible for this song, a winning arc is nearly always preferable.

The reason a standard from the first part of the 20th century is such a good starting point for song study is that the dramatic layout and form of the song is so clear. This particular song, like many other standard ballads, begins with a verse followed by a refrain with an ABAB form. The verse sets up the circumstances and conflict within the song and the refrain allows each performer a wide variety of variations on the basic story. Standards have a wonderful combination of specific action and story mixed with a certain openness to interpretation.

Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye

From Seven Lively Arts

Music and Lyrics by Cole Porter

Verse:

We love each other so deeply / That I ask you this, sweetheart Why should we quarrel ever, / Why can't we be enough clever, Never to part?

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Refrain:

Ev'ry time we say goodbye / I die a little Ev'ry time we say goodbye / I wonder why a little Why the gods above me / Who must be in the know Think so little of me / They allow you to go When you're near / There's such an air of spring about it I can hear a lark somewhere / Begin to sing about it There's no love song finer, But how strange the change from major to minor Ev'ry time we say goodbye Ev'ry single time we say goodbye

Context and Situation

It is traditional to take classic American popular songs from the first half of the 20th century out of their show contexts, even when they were written for a stage musical. “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye” first appeared in Seven Lively Arts—an interesting musical revue that celebrated the art forms of music, theatre, ballet and painting. The context of this song in its original setting, while interesting, is of no real value to a modern audience. It will be much more interesting and valuable for you to create your own story. Of course, there will be opportunities when you will want to sing a song using the givens of the show that it is from, but for now, let’s be creative with the storytelling.

Read the lyric carefully. Look for keywords and phrases. Also look for the song’s conflict. All great dramatic literature has conflict and that conflict is the fuel for a strong performance. Great lyrics are akin to poetry, and as such, they contain hidden treasures that you must discover through thoughtful excavation. Failure to excavate these treasures runs the risk of a performance lacking specificity and nuance. A few keywords or phrases in the verse are “love,” “deeply,” “sweetheart,” “quarrel,” “clever,” and “never to part.”

It is useful to think about how the Verse/Refrain song form came about and how verses function

in relationship to the refrain. A song beginning with a verse originates in early musical theatre as

a way to transition seamlessly from dialogue into true song. Without the verse, the transition could be awkward or even laughable. We can understand the verse as having a characteristic more closely aligned with speech—more rhythmically free and less about melody and more about setting up the context for the refrain.

In the following analysis, I make a clear differentiation between objective observations and subjective observations. The objective observations are based directly on meanings inherent in

the words of the lyrics. The subjective observations are the ones you, the performer, make about

a song. You must begin with the objective observations which are in black and white in the text.

These are the ones that any singer coming to the material, no matter their stylistic differences will or should see. From the text, we can draw the conclusion that the singer has a significant

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love for the other, enough to use the word “sweetheart.” But there is a conflict involving something that causes them to be separated. With this separation comes quarreling. The singer wishes that they could be smart enough, or clever enough, to find a way to not be separated. This is the objective observation. Next comes the subjective interpretation.

Subjective Interpretation

By the time you begin this step of the work, you should have written out the lyrics in longhand and taken note of the punctuation. Punctuation is especially important later when we choose where to take breaths. The commas in the verse after “this” and “clever” will be places that cry out for a slight pause (if not a full breath) before the next word. The act of writing the lyrics cannot be over emphasized. It is too easy to overlook details and slowing down to write the lyrics will force you to take a deeper look.

Consider what questions remain that need to be answered and which answers will lead to a more satisfying performance. Think carefully about what is not in the lyric. What is left unstated between the lines? You may ask, “Why are these two separating?” and “What is the nature of the relationship?” and “How long have they known each other?” and “How long are they separated?” There are other questions that may occur to you. The big question that is among the first that must be answered is “Who is the other?” The answer to this question will inform nearly every other question and answer.

I find that many young singers choose the most obvious answers to their questions. The conventional wisdom is that the choices with the most turmoil provide the greatest fuel for a performance. There is a logic to this way of thinking and finding the conflict in songs is excellent. But “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye”, with its slow tempo and static melody, has a musical and an emotional intensity that may lead you down the wrong path. Remember, the positive choice is usually the better one. Some may choose a situation where the other is a spouse and that the two are separating due to irreconcilable differences. Maybe there is a divorce looming or maybe a lover is choosing to enter the military during a time of war to avoid a marriage proposal. While these kinds of choices may result in a useful analysis leading to a satisfying interpretation, I will ask you to look for positive choices.

Sample Interpretations

What follows are a couple of different possibilities for an original situation.

Situation 1: A 20-year old college student with a girlfriend of one year has to say goodbye to his sweetheart, Grace, for summer break. Grace wanted them to stay at college during the summer and take classes together and spend time at the beach. Fredrick needs to work to earn money for college and the best place for him to do this is at home in his family’s business. They quarrel over this repeatedly. The reason he needs to sing this now is because it is the last day before summer break and his father needs him for a big project in the morning. Fredrick must catch the

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train and convince his sweetheart that he will call her everyday, that he will miss her terribly and that his love for her is real and lasting.

Lyrics such as “I die a little” are evidence of how enduring his love is for her. “The gods who think so little of him” is perhaps not so much from a sense of desperation or sadness but a somewhat comic hyperbole. Maybe he is using poetry and humor at the same time. It is an excellent tactic. The lyric “They allow you to go” must be reinterpreted in the singer’s mind to mean “They allow us to be separated.” You will need to do minor reinterpretations such as this often in your work if it does not destroy the intent of the lyric.

Situation 2: A young mother must say goodbye to her 7-year-old daughter who is going to summer camp. She must sing these words to comfort her daughter before she gets on the bus. The daughter feels as if she is being punished by being sent away. The mother sings this song to reassure her that she’s not being punished and that she will be missed terribly. She will be coming back in a month and everything will be the same when she returns.

The benefit in choosing a situation like this is that the moment is quite rich. The mother is upset about having to say goodbye but must put on a brave face to comfort the child and to keep her from crying. While there is sadness and longing, it becomes more about the love the mother has for the daughter than the separation. It has conflict, but it is more positive than negative.

As a side note, we are often told to make life and death choices in our acting. This is wise advice, but can lead us to a morass of angst and “feeling sorry for one’s self.” This is a trap that is to be avoided at all costs. Musical theatre songs are at their most powerful when they are about working through a problem by making positive, life-affirming choices. “The sun’ll come up tomorrow/bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow there’ll be sun” and “Look for the silver lining/ whene’er a cloud appears in the blue” are two great examples. You may think these songs are corny but they are great theatre.

Analyzing the Refrain

Once you have created the situation for your song, the real work of interpretation begins. Often people make the mistake of stopping their exploration and asking questions once they have created the situation. This is only the beginning of the process. You will need to analyze the poetry, analyze the form, consider the ways that the music and the lyrics are related, then look for ways to keep the song “in motion” and active. You must find ways for the song to progress through time such that discoveries are made and that there is a clear beginning, middle and end. Remember, lyrics are like poetry. Let’s look at the poetic devices in the refrain.

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Rhyme

Musical

scheme

form

Ev'ry time we say goodbye / I die a little

A

A

Ev'ry time we say goodbye / I wonder why a little

A

Why the gods above me / Who must be in the know

B

B

Think so little of me / They allow you to go

B

When you're near / There's such an air of spring about it C

A

I can hear a lark somewhere / Begin to sing about it

C

There's no love song finer,

D

B

But how strange the change from major to minor

D

Ev'ry time we say goodbye

E

Ev'ry single time we say goodbye

E

Coda

The refrain falls into a traditional scheme of four pairs of rhymed couplets (A,A,B,B,C,C,D,D) with a coda. The Coda, or tag, has two lines, each of which ends with “goodbye.” The rhymes in each A section are notable because they are quadruple rhymes – “die a little” rhymes with “why a little” and “spring about it” rhymes with “sing about it.” A good rhyme emphasizes important words. The italicized words are made more important because of their rhyme. You will need to consider why these rhymed words are important. The two B sections contain the rhyming pairs of know/go and finer/minor.

The musical form of this song is ABAB with a tag. This means that the first section and the third section of the refrain are closely related, or are an exact repetition (with different lyrics, of course). The second section and the last section are also related. Note that we call this last section a “B” even though it ends differently than the first B section. Cole Porter then adds an additional 4 bars of music for the lyric, “Ev’ry single time we say goodbye.” Approximately 15 percent of standards have an ABAB form. The most common form, AABA, is found so frequently that it is referred to as “Song Form.”

Most American popular songs of this period were composed first and the lyrics were added later. But since Cole Porter was both the composer and lyricist for this song, we are not sure which came first. According to at least one source 2 , Porter’s lyrics may have come first. Whichever the case, it is clear that there is much word painting 3 in the refrain. Each A section is notable in that

2 Forte, Allen. Interview with Andrew Ford. The Music Show. January 4, 2003

3 Word painting is the musical technique of writing music which reflects the literal meaning of a song

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the melody stays fixed on a single note (eight repetitions!) before changing pitch (figure 1). The note change always corresponds with an important word like “die” and “why.”

Figure 1

an important word like “die” and “why.” Figure 1 This static melody may suggest a sense

This static melody may suggest a sense of hesitation or a desire to make time stop. The B sections are much more melodic and higher in pitch (see measure 19 and following in the full

song reproduced in figure 2, below). This musical change is in response to the lyric, “Why the

gods above me

second B section, there is a remarkable musical moment when the lyric, “the change from major to minor” is reflected in a change in harmony from A-flat major to A-flat minor. Other instances of word painting are discussed in figure 2 (below).

Think so little of me” and “There’s no love song finer.” At the end of the

You might wonder why this is important or how someone without an advanced degree in music theory can find such connections between the music and lyric. The reason this is important is that great songs work on multiple levels. When the art forms of music and poetry are combined, the results are complex and subtle. When you are singing a great song, it is your responsibility to understand it to the best of your ability. Finding these kinds of connections does not take any special knowledge but it does take time and careful listening.

Digging Deeper into the Refrain

Now that you have a better understanding of the refrain’s structure, you can put your “actor hat” back on. You have answered many of the questions from the Actor’s Homework such as “Who is the singer?”, “Who are you singing to?”, “Where are you?”, and “Why do you need to say these words?” But we have not addressed the all-important question: “What changes during the song?”

Refrains generally fall into 4 sections of approximately 8 bars each. There is no fixed rule about this, but I encourage you to give each of these sections a difference action. It is possible to combine sections into a single action but having 5 actions, the four from the refrain plus and additional action for the verse, will give the song more shape, more variety and more colors.

I have chosen situation #1 from above: A college student with a girlfriend of one year has to say goodbye to her for the summer.

A 20-year old college student with a girlfriend of one year has to say goodbye to his sweetheart, Grace, for the summer. Grace wanted them to stay at college during the

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summer and take classes together and spend time at the beach. He needs to work to earn money for college and the best place for him to do this is at home in his family’s business. They quarrel over this constantly. The reason he needs to sing this now is because it is the last day before summer break and his father needs him for a big project in the morning. He must catch the train and convince his sweetheart that he will call her everyday, that he will miss her terribly and that his love for her is real and lasting.

The pertinent details of this situation are:

1. I need Grace to know that I will return to her after summer break if I can make money at home.

2. I need Grace to understand that I must earn money this summer or I cannot return to school in the fall.

3. I know that Grace is very upset with the fact that I am leaving.

4. I don’t want to fight about this anymore.

5. I must catch the train.

6. I have to tell Grace all of these things carefully or I run the risk of leaving on a sour note.

7. I want Grace to be okay and to understand that I must leave. I need for her to accept this decision.

8. I need Grace to know that my love for her is real and lasting.

These are the givens. They are the things that I must accomplish during the song. They are my objectives. Once you have done this work, you can create the defining sentence: “This is a song about a college student who needs my girlfriend to understand that I must work during the summer so that I can be with her in the fall. I need her to understand that our relationship can stand three months of separation.” The defining sentence incapsulates your story in a concise way so that you can repeat it to yourself before beginning to sing.

What follows is an example of how I might assign different actions, based on our givens, to each section to give the song a clear shape.

We love each other so deeply That I ask you this, sweetheart Why should we quarrel ever Why can't we be enough clever Never to part

To Prepare. I know this could be very difficult so I must prepare Grace for the words I need to say by assuring her that I do love her and that I do not want to live my life without her. The tone of this opening verse will be very conversational and yet loving.

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Ev'ry time we say goodbye

I die a little

Ev'ry time we say goodbye

I wonder why a little

Why the gods above me Who must be in the know Think so little of me They allow you to go

When you're near

There's such an air of spring about it

I can hear a lark somewhere Begin to sing about it

There's no love song finer, But how strange the change from major to minor Ev'ry time we say goodbye Ev'ry single time we say goodbye

To Convince. I must convince Grace that I have to leave or I cannot return in the fall. I will use logic. While my action is to persuade, I have to be careful with my words so as not to allow her to interrupt me. I must be firm but gentle. This will likely prompt me to sing this passage with a great deal of legato.

To Tease. I need to bring in a little humor at this point because she is beginning to get upset. I will cry out to the gods about how unfair the situation is and do so in an overly dramatic way to get her to laugh, or at least smile. When I say, “They allow you to go,” I really mean that the gods have created a situation where I have to leave in order to work for my father. I hope that by giving this a heightened tone that she will first understand how hard this is for me and also laugh. This will prompt me to make much of the fact that the tune becomes much more melodic and higher. I will “milk” this in a playful manner.

To Overwhelm. I will shower her with my affection and the beauty of my words. I want her to know what her presence does to me and how hard it will be for me to be away from her. I need her to know that my love is real and lasting. This will cause me to sing with a great deal of warmth and expression.

To Pull. I need to ready her for my departure because the train is here now. I may want to speed up this section a bit because I have to get on the train.

These five verbs are just some that are possible. Work to achieve a sequence of actions that vary in texture and emotion. The verbs will delineate beats and give structure to the song. Notice that in my sequence of verbs there is a variety of actions and tactics. Creating this kind of variety will give your interpretation distinctive qualities that will set it apart from other interpretations.

Putting your Choices into Action All of this work is well and good but is only theoretical until we make the song “live” in real time, moment to moment. The only way to do this is by building it layer upon layer. The image of a pyramid is helpful. All the work we have done thus far has laid the foundation of the

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pyramid. Now we must build upon this solid foundation by doing the “Song as Monologue” exercises.

1.

Energized speech. Using a high level of vocal energy, speak the words without inflection with speed so that the words form on your tongue without stops and starts.

The purpose of this is to aid in memorizing and getting the words securely into your muscle memory. Do this until you can do it without any hesitation. Do not do this, however, so quickly that the words have no meaning or can’t be understood. Additional activities:

A. You may also choose to speak the lyrics as a dramatic recitation, savoring the images and biting into the words as you might bite into an apple. Imagine that you’ve written the lyrics and are reading them at a poetry reading. Savor every image, rhyme and alliteration.

B. Locate the images in your song. As you do the monologue, physicalize the images such

as love, heaven or fear. At this point, it’s preferable that you go too far in indicating the images. This will help you to see the images in later steps. In other places in the book, I discuss the pros and cons of indicating in a song. Don’t worry about that for now.

2.

EXplore objectives through movement. Physicalize the active verbs in each beat hearing the lyrics in your head but without speaking them. Once a section is finished, move on to the next verb. If it will be helpful, have a friend hold up cue cards with that verb written on it to remind you. Start in a neutral position (focus forward Center, weight on both feet and arms to your side) by saying to yourself the defining sentence. Then when you see the inciting event, begin to hear the monologue in your head while employing complete physical involvement. Don't plan what you are going to do. Let it be spontaneous.

3.

Combine action and verse. Physicalize the monologue while saying the lyrics. Start in a neutral position (focus forward, Center, weight on both feet and arms to your side) by saying to yourself the defining sentence. When you see the inciting event, begin to speak the monologue with complete physical involvement. This is not a verbal exercise, it is physical. Whisper or shout if you need to. Get down on the floor or stand on a chair if it is appropriate. The lyrics are of secondary importance to the physical life. Be sure to make a clear distinction between each action. To check this, have a friend watch and then list the actions that they saw you do. If they don’t tell you the correct actions, that means that you can be more specific with them.

4.

Act. Next, speak the monologue keeping in mind the active verbs you assigned to each beat. The words to the monologue become more important than in the previous exercise but allow your body to respond to the action of the monologue. You may use the cue cards again. Keep your focus forward, center and on your partner. Have a friend stand in for you scene partner if you find that helpful. Do an improvisation with a friend standing in for the scene partner to clearly establish the moment before.

5.

Tune. Having the pianist only play chords or a simple, out of tempo, accompaniment, sing the song repeating step 4.

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Take the same pauses you would take while doing the monologue. You are doing the same monologue but simply adding pitch. This is a excellent way to work on phrasing and pacing. The goal of this activity is to take full possession of the song and make it yours. The music in songs can have the tendency to take over the story-telling. You must avoid this at all costs. Songs are stories.

6. Elevate your performance. Next, have the pianist play the actual accompaniment as you sing the song. Physicalize each moment to the degree you feel is appropriate. Do not allow the accompaniment to make your work less specific.

Use this pneumonic device to help you remember the order of the monologue steps.

E-Energized speech X-EXplore objectives through movement CAV-Combine action and verse A-Act. True monologue T-Tune. Accuracy of phrasing E-Elevate your performance. Everything combined

Conclusion Doing all of this work is crucial in making your performance more specific, detailed and nuanced. It may seem time-consuming and may be frustrating. But if you do it, step-by-step, and build it layer upon layer, it will show in your performance. You will find that the song will be shaped organically, moment to moment with a clear beginning, middle and end. There will be a clear pursuit of objective. You will also find that being specific will keep you from getting distracted with thoughts such as, “How am I doing?” or “Do I sound okay? or “What do I do with my hands?” Your singing will be more effortless and your work more specific.

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Figure 2

Figure 2 40

40

41

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Guidelines for Different Types of Songs:

The Actor’s Homework

The three sets of questions which follow will guide you in preparing three different kinds of songs for three different contexts. The first is for creating an original situation. It is recommended that you do this for most of your songs, including songs for an audition. The second is for preparing a role in a show. The story and situation is supplied for you and it is your job to bring the character to life and for the song to make sense at that exact location in the show. The last is for a kind of song I call the “I Am” song. The process described for this kind of song is for such situations as a cabaret or simply when it is desirable for the character in the song to be YOU. This kind of work is especially beneficial when you need to personalize a song no matter what context.

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The Actor’s Homework:

A Song With a New Context and Situation

Song title:

Composer/Lyricist:

Show title:

Write the lyrics in prose form, carefully observing punctuation marks.

Objective Interpretation What is this song about objectively? Looking at the lyrics, and without adding your interpretation, what is the song about and what happens? One or two sentences.

Subjective Interpretation

A. Who is the singer? Describe the singer using clear, definite statements.

B. Who are you singing to? Choose a person or persons that will create interest and conflict.

C. When is it?

D. Where are you? The more specific your location, the more real it will be for you.

E. Why do you need to say these words? Obviously, the stronger the need, the better.

F. What changes during the song?

G. What do you want? What will happen if you don’t get it?

H. Why sing this song now, and not yesterday or tomorrow?

Your Created Situation Write the details of the situation you have created. If you are using the situation from the show, use the next set of questions.

This is a song about

Defining Sentence

that

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(continue the sentence below)

Song Analysis What is the arc of your song? Winning, losing, “ending up where you started”, or a serendipity arc?

Looking at the sheet music, do an analysis of the music making specific note of the relationship between the lyric and the music. Make mention of the song’s formal structure, changes in tempo, changes in style, and changes in accompaniment.

Read the lyric and make decisions as to where beat changes occur. Deciding where beat changes happen is a delicate balance between musical understanding, dramatic understanding and intuition. Summarize the beats below. You may want to include a few lyrics that indicate beat changes. Choose a strong, active verb for each beat.

Helping verbs

Hurting verbs

Reaching verbs

Gathering verbs

to uplift

to destroy

to share

to invite

to build

to crush

to open

to welcome

to excite

to bombard

to push

to seduce

to support

to mock

to reassure

to pull

to overwhelm

to annihilate

to encourage

to caress

to celebrate

to belittle

to convince

to charm

to paint

to punish

to overwhelm

to prepare

to suppress

to inspire

Describe the three moment before events: seeing the event (what do you see?), taking it in (what effect does it have on you?) and responding to it (what is your response?).

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The Actor’s Homework:

Using the Givens from the Musical

Before you complete this sheet, it is assumed that you have read the libretto and are able to sing the song in the correct style with the correct pitches and rhythms.

Song title:

Show title:

Year of the show’s opening:

Composer/Lyricist:

List a few of the important musicals this team wrote:

Write the lyrics in prose form, carefully observing punctuation marks.

Character Analysis

1. List and briefly describe the significant relationships your character has with other characters

in the musical. (For example: Curley in OKLAHOMA!) Laurie - the love of my life. Judd - my adversary. He's the guy that stands in the way of my happiness with Laurie. Aunt Eller

2. In one paragraph, write the essential story of your character from their first entrance to their

last scene. What is their story arch and super objective?

3. Describe the important details about the location and time period of the events in the musical.

Song Analysis

1. Why have the show's creators decided that this moment in the musical is better sung than

spoken? This question is, of course, subjective but nonetheless important to consider.

2. What information about the character and situation is revealed in the song?

3. What information do we get about the character and/or situation from the music (without the lyrics)? You will want to listen just to the piano accompaniment.

Who, What, When, Where & Why

Describe your character using clear, definitive statements.

Who are you singing to?

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When is it?

Where are you?

Why do you need to say these words?

What changes during the song?

What do you want during the song? What will happen if you don’t get it?

Why sing this song now and not yesterday or tomorrow?

Defining Sentence

The form of the defining sentence is slightly different for book musicals. Follow this model. Soliloquy is the moment where Billy decides that he will do whatever it takes to provide for his child.

The Bigger Picture

What is the arc of your song? Winning, losing, “ending up where you started”, or a serendipity arc?

Looking at the sheet music, do a simple analysis of the form. What does the music communicate about the character and the situation?

Read the lyric where the beat changes occur. Look for musical changes as well as changes in the lyric. Summarize the events of the song in one or two paragraphs making note of the beat changes.

Considering what you now know about the character, situation and the song’s arch, choose a strong, active verb for each beat and write that verb next to the beat in the section just above. I would advise you to choose verbs that are what the character is actually doing with their words and body for each beat. Actions such as caress are fine if that is actually what your character is doing. In other words, don’t choose caress if it is a metaphorical caress.

Describe the three moment before events: seeing the event, taking it in, and responding to it. Also consider your character’s history, story arch and super objective as you think about the moment before.

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The Actor’s Homework”

The “I Am Song”

Define the I Am Song

When singing an "I Am" Song I suggest choosing a real-life situation you can sing about. One caveat, please don't choose truly painful situations. This will likely lead to a performance that is too inward looking and the discomfort it will bring up will not helpful to your work. Really recent events are also problematic. An actor friend of mine calls this "picking wounds." When working on this kind of song, you'll want to steer clear of playing mood or emotion. It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking, "This song is sentimental" or "This song is sad." Instead, you will be much more specific and the song will be more interesting if it has a conflict, an objective and has a beginning, middle and ending.

But I am not saying that you should only use happy situations for an "I Am" Song. Tears may come in your work and that is not a bad thing. But crying during a performance is not a good thing for all the obvious reasons. Tears come either when we make a connection to something or someone or a connection is broken. These things aren't necessarily bad. My best advice about tears during a song is that you should allow the tears to come if you're singing about a lost connection but only during your rehearsal. Let them flow freely because in doing so, you'll be able to work through the situation in a healthy manner that will help the song. The feelings you felt in your rehearsal will still be evident in the final performance but you'll be able to avoid them. I like this image. Think of tears and situations that cause them as a fire. If you feel cold, move toward the fire or the feelings. If you feel too warm, move away from them by thinking of something less painful and more positive.

I want to share a beautiful cabaret video by Karen Mason illustrating this point beautifully. Youtube: Karen Mason “We Never Ran Out of Love”

You’ll want answer the questions and do the associated activities keeping the work very personal, so personal that you’ll want to keep it private.

This set of questions can be used when you prepare a song for a cabaret.

Song title:

Composer/Lyricist:

Write the lyrics in prose form, carefully observing punctuation marks.

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Beginning Questions

Why are you the perfect person to sing this song? What it is about you that makes this song a good choice for you?

What do you need to say through this song?

What are the traps of this song?

Are there ways that the music, accompaniment or melody, could or should be adjusted for the story you want to tell?

Describe the situation.

Who, What, When, Where & Why

Who are you singing to?

When is it?

Where are you?

Why do you need to say these words?

What changes during the song?

What do you want during the song? What will happen if you don’t get it?

Why sing this song now and not yesterday or tomorrow?

What is the arc of your song?

Describe the three moment before events: seeing the event, taking it in, and responding to it.

1.

2.

3.

Defining Sentence

Write your defining sentence in a form that makes sense for your situation. You might begin

with: “This song is about

.” or “This song is the moment where

.”

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Inner Monologue

“Power of Two” by the Indigo Girls

This is a song about me in which I must awaken my partner of 2 years, Francis, to the depression she’s in that is affecting our relationship. We must both break out of the patterns we’ve been following or risk having an unhappy life together. I’ve been under a lot of stress at work because my job might be eliminated. I also have recently been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. I’m singing to Francis who is very distracted by the long hours at work and a rigorous travel schedule.

The trap of the song is that since it’s so positive I could just make this a straight ahead love song and forget about the conflict. I had to remember a time where it would make sense for me to say these words

It is the morning of our drive to her parents for Thanksgiving.

I need to say these words because we are stuck. We aren’t going to see each other for the next

two weeks. We both feel the weight of each of our lives impacting us to the point of despair. When I woke up, I had a moment of clarity where I know we need to put everything aside for a period so that we can get our lives figured out and make plans for a more productive existence.

During the song, I’m able to get Francis to admit to her depression and for us both to begin making plans for our future.

I need real peace and happiness for us both and for us to spend more time together.

I need to seize this moment to confront the situation because I can’t continue in the way we’re living. We’ve both been complaining about our lives but not doing anything about it.

The moment before is when I hear Francis say that he’s going to be traveling for 2 weeks and when she gets back she has a huge project that must be completed. At first this makes me mad but then it lights a fire in my heart to try to make some changes. My response is unlike my typical response. Instead of being sad, I decide I have to take action. It’s a winning arc because I am able to awaken Francis and create a space where we can talk about the changes we need to make.

I will ask my Musical Director/Pianist to make the song a little more gentle than the original

version. I also think it would be smart to simplify the accompaniment in both of the verses so that I can tell the story and not feel like I’m just singing a pop song.

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Now the parking lot is empty, everyone’s gone

Francis, I have

You and made a

To paint

someplace. I’ll pick you up and in the trunk I’ve packed a cooler and a two-day suitcase. Cause there’s a place we like to drive way out in the country. And five miles out of the the city limit we’re singing and your hands upon my knee

something serious that I need to talk about. I know you hate talking about work but you have to admit that it’s coming between us. Can we use

I’m painting the picture of how our life is right now and how it needs to change.

So we’re okay, we’re fine. Baby I’m here to

this time to reconnect?

To caress

stop you’re crying. Chase all the ghosts from your head. I’m stronger than the monster beneath your bed. I’m smarter than the tricks played on your heart. We’ll look at them together and we’ll take them apart. Adding up the total of a love that’s true. Multiply life by the power of two.

commitment to each other 2 years ago that we would stick together and work our our problems. In that time you’ve helped me make more sense of my life and I’m happier with you. I often feel like you’re the only person who’s understood me.

I’m reminding Francis of our commitment and telling her that things will be okay. Things aren’t going to be perfect but they can be perfectly fine. I need to caress her in a way that comforts his heart and soul and reaches into her core.

Now we’re talking ‘bout a difficult thing and

I don’t know what’s

to lay bare.

your eyes are getting wet. But I took us for better and I took us for worse. Don’t you ever forget. The steel bars between me and a promise suddenly bend with ease. And the closer I’m bound in love with you, the closer I am to free.

going to happen with my health. I don’t know how it’s going to affect me but through it all, I can be strong with your help. And I can help you with your struggles too if we could just talk about it. You give me the

I’m laying bare my heart and saying I don’t know what the future is going to hold for us and that we have to take hold of the moment and make our lives into what we truly want.

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So we’re okay, we’re fine. Baby I’m here to stop you’re crying. Chase all the ghosts from your head. I’m stronger than the monster beneath your bed. I’m smarter than the tricks played on your heart. We’ll look at them together and we’ll take them apart. Adding up the total of a love that’s true. Multiply life by the power of two.

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I love you and I want to spend the rest of our lives together.

to Celebrate

What am i doing?

Creating Situations for Songs

In a musical, songs exist in a specific context within the story. All the details about the character, the situation, the character’s relationship to other people and the reason for singing the song are given to you. Just because you are given this information doesn’t mean that singing the song is easy. You will still need to do a great deal of excavation to make the song believable and you’ll need to explore what is really going on with the character beyond the surface level. Great Pop music also has an associated story but it’s not always as obvious or clear.

Why do we need to create situations for songs if most of the songs we sing are theatrical? Creating your own story for a song will make it more personal and make it more as if you are saying these words and making them up as you go. You will be telling your story and not the story of character that someone else created. You’ll be better able to live in the moment because you’ve made it personal. A great situation does a lot of the work for you. Work toward creating a situation that gets your juices flowing.

What follows is a discussion of what makes a great situation for a song. There are a number of traps you’ll want to learn to steer clear of. For instance, using a “best friend” as a partner is usually a trap as it doesn’t have enough conflict. In addition, try to steer clear of making the song and your story too negative. It’s very difficult if your situation has too much negativity in it.

What makes a good situation?

1. It has conflict.

2. It has interesting details (location and characters).

3. It has a strong other (the person you are singing to).

4. It must give your character a chance to change during the song.

5. It must have a why. It should give you a strong need to say these words.

Conflict Conflict is an important aspect of every good story. Without it, the story is without a reason to exist. Conflict comes in many different forms. The conflict could be that your intended lover is interested in someone else. The conflict could be that it seems that no one truly understands you and you need for them to understand why you feel the way you do. Be aware that conflict does not need to take your song into a negative space. Overcoming obstacles is wonderful and something to be celebrated.

Interesting details The devil is in the details. If you know where you are, who you are and what time of day it is, it will be more real to you and easier to perform. You will sing the song differently if your character is a hero than if they are cowardly. You will sing the song differently if the time is 3:00 in the morning than if the time is 3:00 in the afternoon. You will also sing the song differently if you are in the street than if you are in your lover’s apartment.

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It has a strong other Choose a partner that will add great detail and stir your creativity. If your other is yourself, something that is common in many musical theatre songs, you must, in a sense, separate yourself into two parts and have one part sing to another part. Have the “intellect” sing to the “heart” or the other way around. Or have the brave side sing to the more cowardly side.

Change happens within the character Composers, lyricists and book writers create songs for moments of volatility. Change is always in the air. The nature of songs, because they are exceptional, begs for emotional change within characters.

It must have a “Why” Because music is involved, the stakes will need to be high. If the situation is too prosaic or ordinary, doing something as exceptional as singing is not required. You will often hear acting teachers to say, “Raise the stakes.” This is why it is important. The moment where a song, any song occurs, is intrinsically of great importance.

Throughout the preceding chapters you have read some situations for songs I have created. Perhaps you are already getting the hang of it. Let’s look at a song specifically with the idea of creating a situation that brings life to the song and stirs your creative juices.

“I Got the Sun in the Morning” from Annie Get Your Gun

Taking stock of what I have and what I haven't What do I find? The things I got will keep me satisfied Checking up on what I have and what I haven't What do I find? A healthy balance on the credit side Got no diamond, got no pearl Still I think I'm a lucky girl

I got the sun in the morning and the moon at night

Got no mansion, got no yacht Still I'm happy with what I got

I got the sun in the morning and the moon at night

Sunshine, gives me a lovely day Moonlight, gives me the Milky Way Got no checkbooks, got no banks Still I'd like to express my thanks

I got the sun in the morning and the moon at night And with the sun in the morning

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And the moon in the evening I'm all right

What is the song about objectively? It’s about a person declaring their good fortune in life despite not having much of what people might think makes them happy.

Who might say these words?

This is where things begin to get tough. Be careful to choose someone who can say these words and mean them truthfully. It makes the most sense for your other to be someone who needs to hear these words. Try singing to a family member who is wealthy, someone you love who needs

to enjoy the simpler things in life as you do. You are worried about the way their life is going. If

you don’t convince him to change his ways, he’ll continue to be a workaholic without deep love.

Or perhaps your other is yourself. You are very sad because you fear that you aren’t as successful

as you could be. The song affirms that success is measured by many standards and that you don’t need money to be happy. Your “heart” could sing to your “head.”

A choice that isn’t as strong is that you are singing to your best friend who has lost his job. If you

aren’t careful these words could make him feel as if you think you are better than he is because you understand life better.

For now, let’s choose the first situation and flesh it out.

Conflict The conflict is found in your fear that your brother is living his life without the rewards of love and happiness.

Interesting details You’ve invited your brother and his wife over for dinner. You’ve spent most of dinner hearing him brag about how much money he makes even though he doesn’t have the opportunity to spend much time with his wife or doing the things he used to enjoy. You are a visual artist who tries her best to live life to its fullest in good times and bad times. He has criticized you because you don’t have a retirement plan and only a small savings account. You want to convince him that even through this is true you are as happy as you can imagine being.

It has a strong other The other in this situation, your workaholic brother is strong because of contrast between the two of you. He needs to hear these words and you need to say them because you love him and are concerned about what might happen to him.

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Change happens within the character The change could be in your character because you understand your convictions in a deeper way about what is important in life. In addition, perhaps you are able to change, if only in a small way, how your brother sees his life in relationship to his work and the people he loves.

It must have a “Why” This is probably obvious by now but the why is your need to change your brother’s mindset. It’s vitally important because you fear he is headed toward a life of great unhappiness.

What have we learned by creating this particular situation? •It’s important that we understand what the song is really about. •It’s important to choose someone who can say these things and mean them truthfully, •Its important to create details that flesh out the story and make it interesting for you. •It’s important to have conflict. •It’s important to have an other that intensifies the conflict. •It’s important that change happens in the song. •It’s important that there is a strong “Why” that these words are sung in this moment.

Now I’d like to talk about creating a situation that isn’t strong for a song. Discuss “I’m Old Fashioned” and making it about “I don’t want to have sex with you until we are married.” This story line is very modern and while I celebrate setting older songs in a modern story, this takes the song in a very negative direction. The song is about reaching out to someone and celebrating old-fashioned qualities.

I’m Old Fashioned

I am not such a clever one About the latest fads

I admit I was never one

Adored by local lads Not that I ever try to be a saint

Im the type that they classify as quaint I’m old fashioned

I love the moonlight

I love the old fashioned things

The sound of rain Upon a window pane The starry song that April sings This years fancies Are passing fancies But sighing sighs holding hands These my heart understands I’m old fashioned But I don't mind it

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That's how I want to be As long as you agree To stay old fashioned with me.

Here I would do some additional situations for other songs:

Johnny One-Note This is a song about appreciating the quirky things in each of us—our special gifts. It’s about loving the things that make us special. Maybe you’re singing to someone who feels that they aren’t gifted in a way that makes them unique. Your job is to convince them that they are special so that they will decide to do something extraordinary. You can’t make fun of Johnny, you must love him. Decide that this is a story you are making up in order to give courage to your “other.” What are some possibilities?

Create a situation for “I Remember.” This is a very good song to do because it’s such an unusual song from an unusual show. You would never sing the song in the context of the show.

Further Exploration:

Choose a song to create a great situation for. Check to see that you can covered all the bases for creating a strong situation.

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Cabaret Styles

You may have an opportunity to perform a Cabaret at various times in your career. Cabaret is a very special art form where you can explore what is unique and special about you as a performer and as a person. This chapter will help you understand the art form, what it is and what it is not. Your skills as an actor and a singer are vital to a great performance and yet what you do in this opportunity is very different from performing in a show or doing an audition. You are not preparing a role or presenting a character. You are you on the stage. This can be scary—like working without a net. But, it can be thrilling for you and your audience.

What is a Cabaret? Cabaret has meant many things at different times to different people. In general, the term today simply means a solo singer with piano singing songs in a small room. There are a limited number of cabaret houses in New York and other big cities that host cabaret singers. They usually seat fewer than 100 people. The intimacy of these smaller rooms is important in contemporary cabaret. One of the best ways to think of cabaret is as a great first date. It is as if someone who you really like has said, “So tell me about yourself. I’m really interested.” On a first date there are things that are appropriate to reveal and things you want to save for later. One common trap is to share too much intimate detail about you. Instead, keep it light, interesting, authentic, genuine, and most of all, you. In an interview with Playbill, Sherie Rene Scott said about her autobiographical show, which in many respects is a cabaret, Everyday Rapture, “everything is true — it's the whole truth, nothing but the truth, only better.” In other words, it’s okay to take some liberties to tell your story in an entertaining way. Another example is Sutton Foster who in her cabaret of songs from her album, Wish, did not mention her recent divorce, but instead shared her feelings in the songs. A cabaret is not a concert or a one-person show and it is not about your voice. The cabaret audience wants to hear your thoughts more than hear you sing. Cabaret is about the lyrics and the story that you tell through the lyrics. No matter what you sing, you must have a personal connection to it and a point of view. A cabaret needs to be personal but it does not have to be exclusively about you. If it is too much about your life then it runs the risk of appearing selfish. You should always being thinking of how the lyrics and patter intersect with the lives of your audience. One way to look at it is to think about what is universal about what you want to say. Without being preachy, it is helpful to think about the life lessons you've learned or are learning and weave them into your show. Some of the themes I am referring to could be to “take time to appreciate the good things about life” or “celebrating what is unique about each of us” or “we can learn to take the bad with the good in life without letting it get us down.” You can personalize the material while still allowing the audience to find themselves in your work. Your relationship with the music director is very important in helping you tell your story better. Share your story with your music director and allow them to create a backdrop that allows you to tell your unique story. It’s important that you listen to what the piano is giving you and

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respond to it. You will prepare with your music director arrangements for your show, which may be very different from the way we are used to hearing a particular song. This is one of the great joys in seeing a show—for the audience to hear a song in a brand new way that is from your unique perspective.

The First Question The first thing you need to ask yourself is, “What do I want to say? What is special about my life experience that can hold the attention of someone that does not know me?” This last thing is very important since there is nothing worse than a cabaret of inside jokes and stories about things that an audience member may not know anything about. The difficulty is in editing your patter and presenting it in a way that is interesting, compelling and entertaining. There isn’t time to tell your complete life story. Instead, choose one or two specific things to share that you think will be interesting. You will be doing your show for an audience that includes many of your friends. Put that aside for this opportunity and prepare your cabaret as if you don’t know anyone. Do your cabaret for the people you do not know. Look for ways that you can tell positive stories that are universal in nature so that the audience can relate to you.

Song Selection The songs you choose for your cabaret can come from anywhere––musical theatre, standards, modern standards, contemporary pop, children’s songs, folk songs, etc. You will need to shape your ideas so that every song is there for a reason, tells a specific story and fits into the arc of your cabaret. There needs to be a beginning, middle and an end to your cabaret. A variety of styles, tempos and moods is crucial. Don’t choose too many ballads. It is good to choose a mixture of well-known and less well-known material. Present familiar songs in ways that the listener can hear it afresh and such that it tells your story. In choosing your songs, it is recommended that you start first with a list of songs you like and want to sing. Get with a coach, music director or voice teacher and just sing many songs. Allow the other person to respond to what suits you and doesn't. This approach is preferable to devising a theme and choosing songs that fit that theme. Once you have selected a large number of songs, more than you could actually sing, begin looking for themes. For each song, ask yourself, “What do I want to say through this song?”, “Why is it important to me?” and “Do I need this song?” Song selection is everything. There should be a mixture of both the familiar and the surprising. Allow us to hear something we've heard before in a new way. Please have a mixture of tempos and please not too many ballads. Include at least a couple of comedic moments in your songs or patter.

Patter Patter is the spoken material used to link song to song. It should be well-written and memorized. Do not try to improvise your patter. It should be a mixture of funny and serious. Don't give away too much about a song in the patter before. Don't interpret the song or give away the ending. If you don't need patter between two songs, don't use it. Patter shouldn't be too long

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at any given time. One useful tip for writing patter is to write stream of conscious about what a song means to you and how it touches your life and reflects your experience. Then, hone it down to the barest minimum of information. The edited writing you've done then becomes the subtext of the song’s performance. Stop short of telling us what the song will be and how we should understand it. Let the audience draw its own conclusion.

Vocal Style and Performance In keeping with the axiom that cabaret is the “art of being yourself, on purpose,” your singing style needs to match your speaking timbre. Use your true, authentic voice unless you choose to do an impersonation or something for comedic effect. In cabaret, we use a microphone so that one doesn’t need to project in the same way you must do if you are in a big theatre. Think of the audience as being very close to you. It is an intimate art form. Keep these things in mind as you are preparing your show vocally. Your blocking and movement choices need to be informed by the use of a microphone. Economy of movement is key. Less is more. There are essentially four positions for cabaret singing:

•Standing with the microphone in your hand. This position has a certain performance energy that is especially good for the opening song. •Standing with the microphone in the stand. This is perhaps the most powerful position best reserved for your most powerful moment. •Seated with the microphone in your hand. This communicates a casual intimacy with the audience. •Seated with the microphone in the stand. This communicates that the lyric is very important. Nothing in this position distracts from the ideas in the song.

Things to consider for each song:

1. Focus (full audience, single audience person, point beyond the audience, other)

2. Mic position (Standing/mic stand, Standing/mic in hand, Seated/mic in stand, seated/mic in

hand)

3. Interpretation (Is the story you're sharing, your story? Is it clear?)

1.Patter (is patter needed? Is there too much patter? Too little patter? Is it clear?)

Emotion There is a delicate balance at work in terms of emotional display. We, the audience, want to know there is a living, breathing human, like us, on stage—someone that has experienced the full range of life's ups and downs. But too much sad emotion is out of place and can make the audience uncomfortable. In terms of emotional colors, once again, variety is encouraged. The last thing you want from your show is to allow self-indulgence to creep in.

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A Final Word The audience wants to be moved, wants their hearts be touched, and may even want to be moved to tears. Mostly though, they want to be entertained. We might think of “entertaining” as a bad word or an unworthy objective. But most audience members who go to a show go to hear a few good tunes, to laugh and to have a few drinks. They want to feel, but mostly, they want to be entertained. Your audience should be your first priority.

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Song Types and Structure in Modern Cabaret

Think of a cabaret as a great meal that’s extravagant, prepared with great care, nutritious and good for the soul. During such a meal, one expects balance and variety–savory and sweet, familiar and perhaps unfamiliar with a variety of textures and flavors. The corollary in cabaret is that you want both familiar and unfamiliar songs, both humorous and serious songs, as well as songs of different tempos and styles. Whether your show is three songs or 15 songs, these same principles apply. A good Cabaret wants a well thought-out progression of ideas and songs with a through-line from the beginning to the end.

The New York Cabaret scene is quite alive and thriving these days and new artists are producing shows at a healthy rate. These singers as well as local performers do shows regionally that are supported by Cabaret series across the country. Training workshops lead by master teachers such as Sally Mayes, Amanda McBroom, Faith Prince, Nancy Wilson, Jason Graae and Andrea Marcovicci are highly successful at the Cabaret conferences at Yale, Santa Fe, Chicago, St. Louis and many other places.

But since the New York venues for the shows are quite small and shows are usually only in metropolitan areas, you might not have seen a true cabaret performed in the style discussed here. Fortunately, there have been many albums by artists released in the last few years that illustrate many of the things discussed in this article. Listen to these albums for song types, arrangement ideas and interpretative styles. Of special note are recordings by Victoria Clark, Sutton Foster, Audra McDonald, Liz Callaway, Stephanie J. Block, Rebecca Luker, Andrea Burns, Malcolm Gets, Nancy Lamott, Christine Ebersole, Andrea Marcovicci, Christine Andreas, Brian Stokes Mitchell, as well as many others.

Song Types It's important to include a variety of song types when you do a cabaret set. The cabaret audience is very savvy about songs. They know standards, musical theatre songs and great pop music. You must do at least a few songs that an audience member 30-70 years old knows. You must also avoid doing two songs in the same category.

Story song Story songs can be quite powerful in a Cabaret, but the story must be told in a way that you hold people’s attention completely. Does the story have to be your story precisely? No, but we need to think it might be. Some of the Post-millennium songs work great here. Avoid the songs that sound like they are excerpted from a show, like “Runaway with Me” and “Not Afraid.” Some good ones are “Lovely Lies”, “Toll”, “To Excess”, “I Took the Filter Off”, “My Heart Was Set On You”, “The Boy with Dreams” and “Sweet Dreams.” Avoid “I'm Not Afraid” and other songs by Jason Robert Brown. His songs, like the songs by Stephen Sondheim, are just a bit too much to take in for a cabaret (with the possible exception of “Stars and Moon”). There are lots of great pop and folk songs that tell beautiful stories. “Love at the Five and Dime” by Nancy Griffith,

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“Celluloid Heros” by the Kinks, “What If We Went to Italy?” by Mary Chapin Carpenter and “Don’t Forget To Remember Me” by Carrie Underwood are excellent examples. Country songs are an especially rich storehouse of great story songs.

A familiar ballad done with an interesting new arrangement This is perhaps the one category you should strongly consider including. As an audience, we

need one ballad that we know. It puts us at ease and makes us relax and really listen. The new arrangement is because we know these songs so well that it needs to have have something in place that will make us forget we've heard it many times. Think of creating new, tailor-made setting that suits your take on the story. Sutton Foster’s “My Romance” and Victoria Clark’s “Right as the Rain” are great examples. There are three major kinds of ballads:

1. Ballad of love or love lost. Standards like “Someone to Watch Over Me”, “Long Before I

Knew You”, “On My Way To You”, “It Might Be You” or Pop songs like “Make You Feel My Love” and “She’s Got a Way About Her.”

2. Introspective/Disclosure/I Want Ballads. “The Man I Love”, “If Only”, “River”, “It

Might As Well Be Spring.”

3. The “Message” Ballad, that says something important about the world. “Coney Island”,

“What’s the Use of Wondering,” “Something Wonderful,” “What a Wonderful World,” and “Rainbow Connection.”

In planning the sequence of your show, take the kind of ballad you’re singing into consideration. For instance, the disclosure ballad fits better toward the beginning and the message ballad fits better at the end.

Familiar Up-tempos (not Pop/Rock) before 1965 (or sound like they are) These should be done in a jazz or cabaret style and not a musical theatre style. “On the Sunny Side of the Street”, “Shall We Dance?”, “I’m Beginning to See The Light”, “Route 66”, “The Acheson, Topeka and the Santa Fe”, and “It’s De-lovely” are good examples. Songs from the standard musical theatre literature like “A Cock-eyed Optimist”, “A Little Brains, a Little Talent”, and “I Got the Sun In the Morning and the Moon At Night” fit here as well if they are sung in a new setting.

Modern Cabaret standards Songs by John Bucchino (“Grateful”, “Unexpressed”, “Sweet Dreams”), Craig Carnelia (“Flight”, “The Kid Inside”, “Nothing Really Happened”), Jeff Blumenkrantz (“Toll”, “Lovely Lies”, “Take the Filter Off”), Maury Yeston (“I Had a Dream About You”, “New Words”, “Danglin’), Michel LeGrand (“A Piece of Sky”, “How Do You Keep the Music Playing”, “You Must Believe In Spring”, “On My Way To You”) , David Friedman (“Listen to My Heart”, “We Can Be Kind”, “We Live On Borrowed Time”) and a few other composers are core literature for the cabaret audience. Songs from this category are most welcome.

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Torch songs Women only and best if done by seasoned performers.

Pop songs done in a cabaret style. Pop songs are most welcome in the cabaret scene but you should be aware of some things. The song must be very strong lyrically and musically. Sometimes, when stripping a song to its simplest form with just piano and voice, the craftsmanship is revealed to be lacking. No matter how much you love the original recording, please don’t do a song because of the recording. You must re-interpret these songs vocally and musically so that the lyric is of primary importance and the music is interesting and helps to tell your specific story. A pop song done straight forward in the original style is probably not a good fit.

Comedy Songs Most performers struggle with this area but all shows need humor. Try to find humor in unexpected ways. Jason Graae has made a killing doing "Popular" and it works because it's so unexpected to have a man do the song. It would not work for a woman in the same way. Avoid gimmicky hooks like doing "On the Street Where You Live" like a slasher. Start with the kinds of the things that make you laugh. Look for ways to make a song that wasn’t originally comic into something funny. An excellent example I’ve done recently was “Part of Your World” done in the voices of the great divas like Ethyl Merman, Celine Dion, Barbara Streisand, Brittany Spears and Liza Minnelli.

Contemporary Theatre Song These are outstanding choices for your show, but if you do one, you must strip it of all of the expectations associated with it. If it is an “Eleven-O’Clock” number, do it as an intimate ballad. If it is a belt number, avoid belt. In other words, take it far away from what we are used to so that we can hear the lyric in a fresh way. Remember that cabaret is never about the voice. It is about the lyric and connecting the lyric to your personal experience and well as the experiences of your audience. I've seen "Corner of the Sky", "Astonishing", "Gimme, Gimme", and "Just Around the Riverbend" work when it was taken in unexpected directions musically and not performed as if they were part of a show.

Sondheim Sondheim deserves his own unique category. Because the songs are incredibly well written, sophisticated and complex musically and lyrically, they can be a little difficult for an audience. But as I’ve said, the cabaret audience knows this literature. I’ve seen major portions of shows devoted to Sondheim as Liz Callaway did in Even Stephen, and it can work beautifully. But please, do these songs only if you have a very strong reason to and do it exceptionally well.

What is the “Cabaret Style”? The most important consideration when setting the style of a song is that the lyric is the most important thing. Often songs are lowered so that they are in the speaking range. The role of the

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piano is to help tell the story. The accompaniment is often changed to help illustrate the specific story the singer is telling. Good music director/pianists support the artist without distracting from them with too much filagree but with a lot of color and nuance. The role of the pianist cannot be underestimated in a great show.

Changing Styles Changing the musical setting of a song works wonders in a show by providing something fresh and surprising. Faith Prince does a faster, jazzier version of “If I Were a Bell” and Liz Callaway does an exciting arrangement of “Something’s Coming” that’s very different from West Side Story’s setting. Why is it important not to do a song in the style of the musical it’s from? Remember that a Cabaret is a show you’ve written for yourself to showcase your best attributes. If you do a song just as it’s done in the musical, you put yourself into the role of the show’s character and not your unique self.

“I’m Old-Fashioned”, written by Jerome Kern and Johnny Mercer in 1942, is one of the great standard ballads. But, it can also work beautifully in other styes such as a “charm Song” or mid- tempo swing. A singer I worked with wanted to include this song but needed not to have another ballad. She also needed an introductory number at the top of her show. A light, charming swing was a perfect solution. Look for ways that up-tempos can become ballads and vice versa.

If you're famous, you can do nearly anything you want. Sutton Foster sings the greatest “belter songs” no one should sing (“Defying Gravity”, “The Story Goes On”, “And I Am Telling You (I’m Not Going)” and “Meadowlark”). Her show is warm, personal and understated but then she sings these iconic belt numbers by introducing these out-of-left-field songs is very funny way. Jason Graae sings “Mrs. S.L. Jacobowsky” from Grand Tour in the context of the show. But until you're more established, be careful making these kinds of choices. Variety is the key. Please don't want more than one song-type in a show.

Creating an arrangement with a Musical Director: An example Talk to your Music Director about creating new arrangements for some if not all of your songs. This has become a hallmark of the modern cabaret scene. It's expected and maybe even demanded by modern audiences.

You begin creating a new arrangement by having a very clear idea about the story you want to tell. Communicate this clearly to the Music Director. Where are you in the story? What time of day is it? How old are you? What are the emotions associated with your story?

How Are Things in Glocca Morra? An experienced male cabaret singer I worked with wanted to do a song about home. The core idea is that home never leaves you no matter how far away you are. His idea was to do "How Are Things in Glocca Morra" but he didn't want it to remind anyone of Finian's Rainbow. It also had to look and sound good in a man’s voice. These are the kinds of songs cabaret audience love– taking a familiar song and making it seem brand new.

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His input:

“I go on a lot of trips for work and feel disconnected sometimes. I feel as if I’m getting further away from home physically and spiritually. I want to return to the idea of home in many different ways.”

Questions to ask. What is the intrinsic structure of the song? It’s a straight ahead 4/4 ballad in AAB form with an introductory verse. How do we make it different from the expectations associated with the song? What do you want it to look like? Feel like? What do you want to say with this song?

His response. “It's like the end if Wizard of Oz–what is of value was there at home all along. Can we quote lines from Wizard of Oz to tie the two together?” This could be hokey but it's that tight rope walking that creates brilliance.

When working on a new song, first, say the lyrics as yourself and think about how it relates to your personal story and life. Second, paraphrase the lyrics but keep the general structure of the song. Now sing it with piano playing simple chords, colla voce, so that you can sing the pitches

but without singing the song as it’s usually sung stylistically and rhythmically. Emotional truth is important. The lyrics are what matters most, not the music or the vocal. This exercise will help guide you toward creating the arrangement. Perhaps the singer is a classical musician and the idea of a classical setting feels right. (Victoria Clark's "I Got Lost in His Arms" does this). Or perhaps the singer is from a rural background and a more folky setting feels right. Arpeggiated eighth notes on the piano will evoke images of him playing the guitar on his porch late at night. Perhaps the singer has a daughter and wants to assure her that he and she are safe as he travels so far away. A lullaby setting would be lovely. Perhaps quote some famous lullabies. The piano would be voiced high and played with steadiness like a music box. Because it might be tiresome to do the full song this way, maybe change at the B section to something different that furthers the story. He settled on the Folk setting to great success. He started with the refrain accompanied by a simple guitar-like intro. At the end of the refrain, he did the verse out of tempo and very free. He

then moved back to the B section (“So I ask each weeping willow

”)

with passion and strength.

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Some Basic Rules to be Aware of In Creating Your Show

• Don’t say anything that could sound like bragging. Use phrases like “I was so fortunate

to

.”

• Don't make your patter too much about yourself but completely personalize the song’s performance, using it to tell your story.

• Don't make it chronological. It’s too easy to lose your audience by saying something like,

“And then when I was twelve

.”

• In patter, don't give too many details of your story as you introduce a song. Instead give just enough detail to peak the audience’s curiosity. Put the little details and the emotion into the actual song.

• One of the goals of Cabaret is to allow each audience member to find themselves in the songs you sing. Make your goal to reach audience members, not to impress them. That’s why it’s important not to spend too much time speaking about your own autobiography.

• According to Andrea Marcovicci, the perfect patter is one or two lines that ends with a laugh.

• Humor is essential. If your songs aren’t funny, your patter must be.

• Don’t laugh at your jokes. You can laugh at yourself after the audience laughs.

• Liz Callaway tells a story about being the stand-by for Barbara Streisand’s Concert tour. While Ms. Streisand wanted to see how the show looked, Liz would stand in and sing. As she tells this story, she doesn’t brag about it but only talks of how amazing it was to be a part of the once-in-a-lifetime experience.

• Jason Graae is the voice of Lucky Charms commercials. When he tells the story of getting the job, he doesn’t brag about it but makes himself into the buffoon. It’s like a stand-up routine.

• Overt religious talk must be avoided as well as anything that separates people into different groups. But Cabaret can be quite spiritual in the ways it can remind us of what we have in common and about the wonderful world of nature and people we are fortunate to live in. This is tricky ground and it’s important to steer clear of the traps.

• The Cabaret audience is likely to be the most open, diverse, and affirming groups you could imagine. Assume that sexual orientation is not an issue. You do not need to tell us if you are gay. And being gay does not give permission to break the rules of privacy.

• Avoid the phrase, "This next song."

• There is an unwritten rule that you're not allowed to steal someone else's arrangement. While arrangements are not copy written, they belong to the original performer. You can create something just as good that’s unique to you.

Cabaret Structure for Shows between 5 and 20 songs

1. The Opening number sets the tone. It should be welcoming and well-known. Probably uptempo and positive. It shouldn’t be romantic unless you're romancing the audience. Avoid introspective songs and story songs. In a cabaret show, you must must allow time for us to get to know you. Don't assume you “have us” too soon by sharing something too personal at the top. A

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cabaret is like a first date. You get dressed up and share only the most charming, entertaining aspects of your life.

2. The second song is perhaps the most difficult to chose. It should be in a different style than the

first. It can be comedic, light and charming song, or ballad that’s not too heavy. Remember, the audience is still getting to know you.

3. The progression from here to the end can be just about anything as long as there is variety of

tempos, style and tone.

4. Next to last song. This is the strongest position in the show. You can put your deepest, most

heartfelt song here, or it can be the most performative song. It should be the climax.

5. Finale. The closer should rap your show in a nice package and send people away feeling good. It’s possible that this could be a ballad such as “What a Wonderful World” if your previous song wasn’t a ballad. Or it could be an uptempo like “That’s Life.” It’s best if it is lighter in tone than the penultimate song.

For longer shows of more than 10 songs.

6. For longer shows, an Encore is expected.The encore should be short and special, or fun and light. An encore can be a ballad or uptempo. If it’s a ballad, keep it short. Think of it as an after dinner mint--a sweet finisher.

Further Exploration Listen to some great cabaret recordings. I would suggest Sutton Foster’s Wish, Victoria Clark’s Fifteen Seconds of Grace and Audra McDonald’s How Glory Goes. These three CDs are excellent examples of modern cabaret performances with interesting arrangements of some familiar material along with newer material.

There are also a few recordings of full shows. Patti LuPone’s Far Away places, Laura Osnes ???? and Kate Baldwin ???? are some. These will give you a sense of patter and flow.

Plan your cabaret show. Start with the question, what do I have to say that’s unique to me and would be interesting to an audience who doesn’t know me. What songs help to tell that story? Do have have an interesting, captivating opener. Some comedy? Something more serious? Choose a song or two and do the internal monologue exercise.

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Expectations of Modern Musical Theatre Singers

If you are one of the growing numbers of folks who have the dream of doing professional or amateur musical theatre, I'm sure you’ve listened to lots of cast albums, seen as many shows in New York and regionally as you can, watched DVDs and spent hours on YouTube. If you haven't, what are you waiting for? Watching and listening is the best way to learn and get inspired, but perhaps it has also left you a bit confused or frustrated. You might wonder, “How could I ever sing with as much beauty as he does,” or “How could I ever belt as high as she can?” Or you might wonder how some actors could have landed the role in the first place?

Have you ever wondered what the expectations of Musical Theatre singers are today? If you’ve listened to cast albums from the past, you must have observed that there have been some great singers as well as some singers who, let’s face it, were not great. Does that mean that anything goes and that you just have to be in the right place at the right moment? The vocal standards of the past were different than today. Today, the standards are exceedingly high. But do not fret. This chapter will help you identify the important skills for you to be aware of as you continue your training. No one expects you to have all of these skills when you are in the early stages of training.

Forty or fifty years ago, Musical Theatre performers usually were either actors or singers or dancers or personalities. The ideal of the so-called Triple-Threat did not exist as it does today. Performers from earlier generations might have been actors who could sing (Alfred Drake, Barbara Cook, Mary Martin, Angela Lansbury) or dancers who could sing (Ray Bolger, Gwen Verdon), or they might be personalities who could sing (Ethyl Merman, Carol Channing). But in the last 20 years, the art of musical theatre has changed. In most cases, performers are expected to be singer, actors and dancers with high skill. The expectations for singers today has especially risen because we are inundated with music and because there are so many young performers to choose from in auditions. Musical Theatre, as an art form, isn’t something that people studied until about 25 years ago.

What are the expectations are for younger artists entering the business today? First, you must know the singing actors who are working and have worked in at least the last twenty years. Their recordings and videos can be your guide. Become a student of live performances, cast albums and video recordings. I’ll help you break down the expectations so you can know what to work for.

The Necessary Musical Skills

Strong musicianship In order to be a professional, you will need a solid understanding the mechanics of music and have the ability to translate notation into a compelling performance. Of course, there have been many examples of working professionals who didn't read a bit of music. But now, with the rising

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costs of mounting a production and the speed at which shows are rehearsed, things are much different today. You are not expected to sight read music flawlessly, but you are expected to read music (and understand all the symbols and terminology) and to be able to learn music independently. If you cannot do this, it is expected that you will hire a coach to help you. There simply isn't enough time for a musical director to teach you every note. A good rule of thumb is that you should be able to learn a new song, not memorized necessarily, in two days or less. If you can't, you will frustrate yourself and the folks who hire you.

Pitch accuracy and intonation Musical Theatre is live art form. In the last 20 or 30 years, the quality and accuracy of singing has risen to a very high level. Audiences, raised on television and the internet are more sophisticated and demanding.

Vocal Range and Style In most cases, the dividing line between soprano and mezzo and between tenor and baritone which we have all grown up with are blurred in modern musical theatre practice. Don't misunderstand me. People still are sopranos, mezzos, tenors or baritones but everyone is expected to be able to sing nearly everything within reason. If you really want to be marketable, everyone will need a very strong classical technique that allows the voice to move freely with resonance and vibrancy. In addition, it is also highly desirable for you to be able to sing without vibrancy as well as with minimal vibrancy. You will need this skill in passages that require a more speech-like, parlando approach (as in Standard or some Golden Age verses) or in modern pop-rock influenced music. It is also highly desirable to be able to transition from a non-vibrant sound to full vibrancy as this frequently required in mix-belt songs on sustained pitches.

Sopranos should be able to sing comfortably from G3 (below middle C) to C6 or D6 (above the staff) in Bel Canto style. Bel Canto is a style of singing characterized by beauty of tone. Legato and evenness across the registers are its trademarks. Sopranos should also have a very strong mix able to carry the chest voice up moderately high with volume and minimum vibrancy but without pushing. If you are able to move over into belt, that's great but a very strong, powerful mix that can sound like belt is the bread and butter for the modern soprano.

Mezzos should be able to sing comfortably from E3 (below middle C) to A6 or B6 (at the top of the staff) in Bel Canto. They should also have a very strong mix able to carry the chest voice up moderately high with volume and minimum vibrancy but without pushing. Belt is expected with true mezzos but avoid pushing at all costs.

Tenors should be able to sing comfortably from G2 to C5 or D5 in Bel Canto style. The challenge for tenors is singing above the staff. Work to be able to produce a variety of sounds in the upper range including a lyrical sound, a soft/tender sound (approaching falsetto without being too flute-y) and a powerful sound. This powerful sound is sometimes called male-belt. Some reject this term. Whatever you call it, strong singing at the top of the range is what we most want to hear from tenors today.

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Baritones should be able to sing comfortably from E2 to Bb5 in Bel Canto. Okay young baritones, are you sitting down? This might seem like bad news, but it doesn't have to be. Traditionally, the baritone is usually either one of these older character types like the anti-hero (Billy in Carousel, Sweeney in Sweeney Todd, Paul in Carnival, Coalhouse in Ragtime) or the buffo (Trevor Greydon in Thoroughly Modern Millie, Ivan in Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown). These roles usually go to men in their 40s or older. But there are many working younger baritones who have found a new, more youthful approach that is closer to what we generally think of from tenors. Sometimes this range is referred to as the Bari-tenor. The Bari- tenor is one of the most frequent ranges in modern theatre. It’s something in the middle of the two and combines the best qualities of each—strong singing in the lower range mixed with the ability to extend the range above the staff. If you are a true baritone, don't try to be a tenor but, unless you are singing one of these older roles, lighten up as you go higher.

one of these older roles, lighten up as you go higher. For most modern shows, the

For most modern shows, the ensemble is required to have a wide range. And dance! In recent years, ensemble singing in such shows as Wicked, In the Heights and The Book of Mormon, vocal arrangers are asking the ensemble to singer higher than in the past. Sopranos will need an easy C or D, tenors are kept above the staff much of the time and baritones are treated like second tenors.

Part Singing All singers should to be able to sing parts and hold down their part securely. Men should be able to sing both tenor and bass depending on the range of the part and women need to be able to sing soprano and alto. Creating a balanced ensemble can be challenging for musical directors since casts aren't assembled with an eye toward equal forces on each part. Most of the time you won't be asked to sing outside your range in an ensemble but you will be expected to be flexible.

Rock Styles In most cases now, singers are expected to be able to sing in Rock styles and be able to riff. You might think that you simply are gifted with the Rock sound but this is a singing style, like others, that can be learned. I would encouraged you to pick up Sherry Saunder’s book, Rock the Audition, for more information about this style.

Vocal Colors In the chapter that follows, I discuss Vocal Colors in great detail. Vocal colors is a term I like to use when describing the virtually infinite ways the voice can produce sound. The changes in

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dynamics, vibrancy, resonance, intention and host of other things create dramatically different versions of the song. In dramatic singing, vocal colors are an incredibly powerful tool in communicating meaning and subtext.

In classical singing, there is traditionally a focus on unity across registers with a similar color throughout that is fully vibrant and resonant. The better opera and art song singers are aware of the power of changing the colors for the sake of communication in such ways a varying the rate of vibrato, the brilliance, prominence of consonants and others ways. But, by and large, the Bel Canto style is to obtain beauty at all costs.

But for the musical theatre singer, character, situation and text are more important than pure sound. Beauty of sound is valued if the moment calls for it. More than anything, the singer must sing in a manner that is consistent with their character's truth in that moment. If the character is fearful, the voice can and should reflect that. If they are triumphant, the voice will reflect that.

Conclusion

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Learning from the Other Singers I’ve compiled a list of important musical theatre performers from today and from the past. This is a tool for you to use as you develop as a singer. Blah blah about how to learn from recordings. Give an example by dissecting a recording. Youtube search: Obsessed Seth Rudetsky

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Musical Theatre Singers You Should Know

Before we commence with the female singers you should be aware of, I’ll start with the singers I assume everyone knows. These women have have long and significant careers on Broadway, and/or in film and in television that a large majority of folks, in the theatre and out, know them. Taken as a whole, their voices represent a wide variety of voice types and character types. If you don’t know them, do yourself a big favor by spending an afternoon listening to them. It will inspire you. These women are legendary.

I’ve listed one song that, for each performer, I believe is essential listening. (R) indicates a revival. Make note of the actors who have won a Tony award.

Legendary Female Singers

Angela Lansbury

Sweeney Todd (Tony), Mame (Tony), Anyone Can Whistle,

The Worst Pies in London (Sweeney Todd)

Gypsy (Tony) (R), Dear World (Tony), A Little Night Music

(R)

Audra McDonald

Ragtime (Tony), Carousel (Tony), Marie Christine, 110 in the Shade, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess (Tony)

Your Daddy’s Son (Ragtime)

Bernadette Peters

Sunday in the Park With George, Into the Woods, The Goodbye Girl, Song and Dance (Tony), Gypsy, Follies (R), Annie Get Your Gun (Tony) (R), Mack & Mabel, A Little Night Music (R) (replacement), Dames at Sea, George M!

Everybody Loves Louis (Sunday in the Park With George)

Kristin Chenoweth

Wicked, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown (Tony) (R), Steel Pier, The Apple Tree (R), Promises, Promises (R)

Popular (Wicked)

Ethel Merman

Gypsy, Annie Get Your Gun, Call Me Madam (Tony), Panama Hattie, Du Barry Was a Lady, Anything Goes, George White’s Scandals, Girl Crazy

Rose’s Turn (Gypsy)

Idina Menzel

Rent, Wicked (Tony), If/Then, See What I Wanna See, The Wild Party

Defying Gravity (Wicked)

Kelli O’Hara

The Light in the Piazza, South Pacific (R), The Pajama Game (R), Nice Work If You Can Get It, The Bridges of Madison County, Far From Heaven, Sweet Smell of Success, Dracula, The Musical

The Beauty Is (The Light in the Piazza)

Liza Minnelli

The Act (Tony), The Rink, Liza’s At the Palace, Flora, The Red Menace (Tony), Best Foot Forward (R)

Maybe This Time (Cabaret, film soundtrack)

Mary Martin

South Pacific (Tony), The Sound of Music (Tony), Peter Pan A Wonderful Guy (South Pacific) (Tony), One Touch of Venus, I Do! I Do!, Leave It To Me!, Lute Song

Patti LuPone

Evita (Tony), Gypsy (Tony) (R), Sweeney Todd (R), Anything Goes (Tony) (R), Les Miserables (West End), The Baker’s Wife, Oliver! (R), Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Candide (R), Working, Robber Bridegroom, The Beggar’s Opera

Don’t Cry For Me Argentina (Evita)

Sutton Foster

Anything Goes (Tony) (R), Thoroughly Modern Millie (Tony), Little Women, The Drowsy Chaperone, Shrek the Musical, Violet (R)

Gimme Gimme (Thoroughly Modern Millie)

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Female Singers You Should Know

Alice Ripley

Next To Normal (Tony), The Rocky Horror Show (R), Side Show, King David, The Who’s Tommy

I Miss the Mountains (Next to Normal)

Alison Fraser

Gypsy (R), The Secret Garden, Romance, Romance, The

Hold On (The Secret Garden)

Amy Spanger

Mystery of Edwin Drood Elf, Rock of Ages, Urinetown, The Wedding Singer, Kiss

Right In Front of Your Eyes (The Wedding

Andrea Burns

Me, Kate (R) In the Heights, Songs for a New World, Saturday Night (R), It’s Only Life

Singer) I’m Not Afraid (Songs For a New World)

Andrea Martin

Pippin (R) (Tony), Young Frankenstein, Fiddler on the Roof

No Time At All (Pippin, revival))

Angela Christian

(R), Oklahoma! (R), My Favorite Year (Tony), Candide (R) The Woman in White, Thoroughly Modern Millie

How the Other Half Lives (Thoroughly

Anika Noni Rose Annaleigh Ashford

Caroline Or Change (Tony), The Cradle Will Rock (R) Kinky Boots, Legally Blonde, Rent (R), Wicked (replacement)

Modern Millie) I Hate the Bus (Caroline, Or Change) The History of Wrong Guys (Kinky Boots)

Ashley Brown

Mary Poppins, On the Record, Beauty and the Beast

If

I Were a Bell (Speak Low, album)

Barbara Cook

(replacement) She Loves Me, The Music Man (Tony), Candide, Plain and Fancy Sondheim on Sondheim, The Grass Harp

My White Knight (The Music Man)

Barbara Walsh

Company (R), Big, Blood Brothers, Falsettos

Stop, Time (Big)

Bebe Neuwirth

Chicago (R) (Tony), The Addams Family, Fosse. Damn

A

Little Brains, A Little Talent (Damn

Yankees (R), Sweet Charity (R) (Tony)

Yankees, revival))

Beth Fowler

The Boy from Oz, Bells are Ringing (R), Beauty and the

Patterns (Baby)

Beth Leavel

Beast, Baby, A Little Night Music The Drowsy Chaperone (Tony), Elf, the Musical, Baby It’s

As We Stumble Along (The Drowsy

Betsy Wolfe

You!, The Civil War The Last Five Years (R), The Mystery of Edwin Drood (R),

Chaperone) Climbing Uphill (The Last Five Years,

Merrily We Roll Along (R), Everyday Rapture. Bullets Over revival) Broadway

Betty Buckley

Elegies, Triumph of Love, Sunset Boulevard (replacement),

He Plays the Violin (1776)

Capathia Jenkins

Carrie, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Cats (Tony), Promises, Promises, 1776 Newsies, Martin Short, Fame Becomes Me, Caroline, Or

That’s Rich (Newsies)

Carolee Carmello

Change, Godspell (R), The Civil War Scandalous, Parade, The Addams Family, Rags, Lestat,

You Don’t Know This Man (Parade)

Celeste Holm Celia Keenan Bolger

Elegies, A Class Act, The Scarlet Pimpernel, john and jen, Hello Again, Falsettos Oklahoma!, Bloomer Girl, The King and I (replacement) The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Merrily We

I Cain’t Say No (Oklahoma!) Like It Was (Merrily We Roll Along,

Charlotte d’Amboise

Roll Along (R), Les Miserable (R), Summer of ’42 A Chorus Line (R), Pippin (R), Sweet Charity (R), Chicago (R) (replacement), Damn Yankees (R) (replacement), Carrie

revival) The Music and the Mirror (revival)

Chita Rivera

Chicago, Bye Bye Birdie, West Side Story, The Rink (Tony), Kiss of the Spider Woman (Kiss of the

Kiss of the Spider Woman (Tony), The Mystery of Edwin

Spider Woman)

Christiane Noll

Drood (R), Nine (R), Merlin, Jerry’s Girls Chaplin, Ragtime (R), Jekyll & Hyde

Back to Before (Ragtime, revival)

The Revolutionary Costume For Today

Christine Andreas

La Cage aux Folles (R), The Scarlet Pimpernel, On Your

When I Look At You (The Scarlet

Christine Ebersole

Toes (R), Oklahoma! (R), My Fair Lady (R) Grey Gardens (Tony), 42nd Street (Tony), Camelot (R),

Pimpernel)

Daphne Rubin-Vega

Oklahoma! (R) Rent, The Rocky Horror Show (R), Les Miserables (R)

(Grey Gardens) Out Tonight (Rent)

Debbie Gravitte

Jerome Robbins’ Broadway (Tony), Zorba (R), They’re

Mr. Monotony (Jerome Robbin’s

Debra Monk

Playing Our Song Curtains, Steel Pier, Nick & Nora, Pump Boys and Dinettes

Broadway) Everybody’s Girl (Steel Pier)

Dee Hoty

Bye Bye Birdie (R), Footloose, The Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public, The Will Rogers Follies, City of Angels

My Unknown Someone (The Will Rogers Follies)

Dolores Gray

42nd Street (replacement), Destry Rides Again, Carnival in

If

You Hadn’t But You Did (Two on the

Flanders (Tony), Two on the Aisle, Seven Lively Arts Donna Lynne Champlin Sweeney Todd (R), First Lady Suite, My Life With Albertine, By Jeeves

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Aisle) The Contest (Sweeney Todd, revival)

Donna McKechnie

Chorus Line (Tony), Company, State Fair, Annie Warbucks, Promises, Promises

Music and the Mirror (A Chorus Line)

Donna Murphy

Passion (Tony), The King and I (R) (Tony), Wonderful Town I Read (Passion)

(R)

(Tony), Lovemusik, The People in the Picture

Dorothy Loudon

Ballroom, Annie (Tony), Sweeney Todd (replacement),

Little Girls (Annie)

Eden Espinosa

Jerry’s Girls Brooklyn, Wicked (replacement), Rent (replacement)

Once Upon a Time (Brooklyn)

Elaine Paige

Evita (West End), Cats (West End), Follies (R), Sunset Boulevard (replacement), Anything Goes (West End)

I’m Still Here (Follies, revival)

Elaine Stritch

Company, Show Boat (R), A Little Night Music (R), Call Me The Ladies Who Lunch (Company) Madam, Sail Away

Elizabeth Stanley

Cry Baby, Million Dollar Quartet, Company (R)

Fever (Million Dollar Quartet)

Emily Skinner

Side Show, James Joyce’s The Dead, The Full Monty

Life With Harold (The Full Monty)

Erin Davie

Grey Gardens, A Little Night Music (R), Curtains (replacement), The Glorious Ones

Daddy’s Girl (The World She Writes)

Erin Dilly

A Christmas Story: The Musical, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,

Doll on a Music Box/Truly Scrumptious

Into the Woods (R) (replacement), Thoroughly Modern Milly (Reprise) (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang)

(replacement)

 

Faith Prince

Guys and Dolls (R) (Tony), Nick & Nora, A Catered Affair, Bells Are Ringing (R), Little Me (R), Jerome Robbin’s

It’s a Perfect Relationship (Bells Are Ringing, revival)

Florence Lacey

Broadway, Falsettoland Hello Dolly (R), Follies (R), Evita (replacement)

Ribbons Down My Back (Hello Dolly,

Gwen Verdon

Redhead (Tony), Damn Yankees (Tony), Chicago, Sweet

revival) Whatever Lola Wants (Damn Yankees)

Heather Headley

Charity, Can-Can (Tony) Aida (Tony), The Lion King, The Bodyguard (West End)

Easy As Life (Aida)

Jan Maxwell

Follies (R), Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Sound of Music

Could I Leave You (Follies, revival)

(R)

Jane Krakowski

Grand Hotel, Starlight Express, Nine (R) (Tony), Company

I Want to Go To Hollywood (Grand Hotel)

Jenn Gambatese

(R). Once Upon a Matress (R) Tarzan, All Shook Up, Wicked (replacement)

One Night With You (All Shook Up)

Jennifer Damiano

Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark, Next to Normal, Spring

If The World Should End (Spider-Man:

Jessica Molaskey

Awakening Parade, Sunday in the Park with George (R), Chess

Turn Off The Dark) Sweet Dreams (It’s Only Life)

Jill Paice

The Woman in White, Curtains, Death Takes a Holiday,

How Will I Know? (Death Takes a

Joanna Gleason

Matilda: The Musical (replacement) Into the Woods (Tony), Nick & Nora, Dirty Rotten

Holiday) Moments in the Woods (Into the Woods)

Judith Blazer

Scoundrels, I Love My Wife Titanic, LoveMusik, Bernarda Alba, Hello Again, Company

The Mistress Of The Senator (Hello

Judy Kaye

(R), Lucky Stiff Nice Work If You Can Get It (Tony), On the Twentieth Century, The Phantom of the Opera (Tony), Ragtime, Mamma Mia!

Again) Looking For a Boy (Nice Work If You Can Get It)

Judy Kuhn

Chess, Rags, Les Miserables, She Loves Me (R), Passion

Nobody’s Side (Chess)

(R),

The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Julia Murney

The Wild Party, Lennon, Queen of the Mist, Wicked

Maybe I Like It This Way (The Wild

(replacement)

Party)

Karen Akers

Grand Hotel, Nine

Be On Your Own (Nine)

Karen Olivo

West Side Story (R) (Tony), In the Heights, Brooklyn, Murder Ballad, Rent (replacement)

It Won’t Be Long Now (In The Heights)

Karen Ziemba

Steel Pier, Contact (Tony), Never Gonna Dance, Curtains, 42nd Street (replacement)

Thinking of Him (Curtains)

Kate Baldwin

Finian’s Rainbow (R), Big Fish, Giant, Wonderful Town (R)

How Are Things In Glocca Morra?

(replacement)

(Finian’s Rainbow, revival)

Kate Shindle

Wonderland, Legally Blonde, Cabaret (R) (replacement)

Legally Blonde Remix (Legally Blonde)

Kecia Lewis-Evans

Once on This Island, The Drowsy Chaperone, Leap of Faith, Mama Will Provide (Once On This Island) Dessa Rose

Kerry Butler

Xanadu, Rock of Ages, Catch Me If You Can, Hairspray,

Fly, Fly Away (Catch Me If You Can)

LaChanze

Prodigal, Little Shop of Horrors (R), The Color Purple (Tony), Once on This Island, If/Then,

I’m Here (The Color Purple)

Laura Bell Bundy

Dessa Rose, The Bubby Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin Legally Blonde, Hairspray, Wicked (replacement), Ruthless! So Much Better (Legally Blonde)

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Laura Benanti

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Tony), Gypsy (Tony), The Wedding Singer, Nine (R), Into the Woods (R), Swing!, The Sound of Music (R) (replacement)

Model Behavior (Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown)

Laura Osnes

Cinderella (Tony), Bonnie & Clyde, Anything Goes (R),

Dyin’ Ain’t So Bad (Bonnie & Clyde)

Lauren Bacall

Grease (R), South Pacific (R) (replacement) Woman of the Year (Tony), Applause (Tony)

Welcome To the Theatre (Applause)

Lauren Kennedy

Vanities, Monty Python’s Spamalot (replacement), Sunset

Fly Into The Future (Vanities)

Lauren Ward

Boulevard (replacement), Disaster Matilda: The Musical, 1776 (R), Follies (R), Violet, Saturday Pathetic (Matilda: The Musical) Night

Lea Salonga

Miss Saigon (Tony), Flower Drum Song (R), Les Miserables I’d Give My Life For You (Miss Saigon) (replacement)

Leslie Kritzer Sondheim on Sondheim, A Catered Affair, Rooms: A Rock Musical, Legally Blonde, Elf, The Great American Trailer Park Musical, Godspell (R)

One White Dress (A Catered Affair)

Lillias White

Fela!, The Life (Tony), How To Succeed In Business

The Oldest Profession (The Life)

Linda Balgord

Without Really Trying (R), Dreamgirls (R), The Pirate Queen, Death Takes a Holiday, La Cage aux

The Role Of The Queen (The Pirate

Lindsay Mendez

Folles (R), Passion, Godspell (R), Everyday Rapture, Dogfight, Grease (R), Wicked (replacement)

Queen) Pretty Funny (Dogfight)

Lisa Howard

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, South Pacific Infinite Joy (Songs of Innocence &

Liz Callaway

(R), 9 to 5, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (replacement) Baby, Miss Saigon, The Look of Love, Brownstone, The

Experience, album) The Story Goes On (Baby)

Madeline Kahn

Spitfire Grill, Merrily We Roll Along Two by Two, On the Twentieth Century

Never (On The Twentieth Century)

Mandy Gonzalez

In the Heights, Lennon, Wicked (replacement), Dance of the Vampires

Breathe (In The Heights)

Mara Davi

Death Takes a Holiday, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas (R), A Chorus Line (R), The Drowsy Chaperone (replacement), Toxic Avenger

Shimmy Like They Do In Paree (Death Takes a Holiday)

Maria Schaffel

Jane Eyre, Titanic (replacement)

Painting Her Portrait (Jane Eyre)

Marin Mazzie

Ragtime, Passion, Kiss Me Kate (R), Man of La Mancha (R), Back to Before (Ragtime) Next to Normal (replacement), Bullets Over Broadway

Mary Beth Peil

King and I (R), Follies (R), Sunday in the Park with George (R), Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

Ah, Paris! (Follies, revival)

Mary Louise Wilson

Grey Gardens (Tony), Cabaret (R), Gypsy (R), Flora, the

What Would You Do? (Cabaret, revival)

Mary Testa

Red Menace Guys and Dolls (R), Xanadu, 42nd Street (R), Marie

Change (A New Brain)

Megan Hilty

Christine, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (R), Queen of the Mist, See What I Wanna See, A New Brain 9 to 5, Wicked (replacement)

Let’s Be Bad (The Music of Smash, album)

Megan McGinnis

Little Women, Thoroughly Modern Millie (replacement), Les Some Things Are Meant To Be (Little

Megan Mullally

Miserables (R) Young Frankenstein, How to Succeed in Business Without

Women) Happy To Keep His Dinner Warm (How

Melissa Errico

Really Trying (R), Grease (R) Amour, Dracula, The Musical, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, Passion (R), High Society, My Fair Lady (R), Anna Karenina

To Succeed In Business) Dusoleil in Jail (Amour)

Michele Pawk

Seussical, Reefer Madness, Bounce, Cabaret (R), Triumph of Amayzing Mayzie (Seussical) Love, Hello Again, Crazy For You

Montego Glover

Memphis, The Color Purple (replacement)

Colored Women (Memphis)

Nancy Opel

Urinetown, Fiddler on the Roof (R), Triumph of Love, Toxic It’s a Privilege to Pee (Urinetown) Avenger, Evita (replacement), Personals

Nancy Walker

On the Town, Best Foot Forward, Do Re Mi

I Can Cook Too (On The Town)

Natascia Diaz

The Capeman, Seussical, Man of La Mancha (R), Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris (R)

My Death (Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris)

Nikki M. James

The Book of Mormon (Tony), Les Miserables (R), All Shook Sal Tlay Ka Siti (The Book of Mormon) Up

Orfeh

Saturday Night Fever, Legally Blonde, Footloose (replacement)

Ireland (Legally Blonde)

Pam Myers

Company, Into the Woods (R), Snoopy

Another Hundred People (Company)

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Patina Miller

Pippin (R) (Tony), Sister Act

Sister Act (Sister Act)

Priscilla Lopez

A Chorus Line, Nine, In the Heights, A Day in Hollywood/A What I Did For Love (A Chorus Line) Night in the Ukraine (Tony)

Rachel York

City of Angels, Victor/Victoria, The Scarlet Pimpernel (replacement), Dessa Rose, Summer of ’42,

Lost & Found (City of Angels)

Randy Graff

City of Angels (Tony), High Society, A Class Act, Fiddler on You Can Always Count On Me (City of

the Roof (R),

Angels)

Rebecca Luker

The Secret Garden, Show Boat (R), The Sound of Music (R), I Have Confidence (The Sound Of Music,

Sally Mayes

The Music Man (R), Nine (R), Mary Poppins She Loves Me (R), Urban Cowboy, Das Barbecu, Closer

revival) A Trip To The Library (She Loves Me)

Sally Murphy

Than Ever Carousel (R), The Wild Party, Fiddler on the Roof (R),

What’s The Use Of Wond’rin’ (Carousel,

Sara Ramirez

Bernarda Alba, A Man of No Importance Spamalot (Tony), A Class Act, The Capeman

revival) Diva’s Lament (Whatever Happened To

Sarah Brightman Sarah Uriarte Berry

The Phantom of the Opera Taboo, The Light in the Piazza, Next to Normal

My Part) (Spamalot) Think of Me (The Phantom of the Opera) The Joy You Feel (The Light In The

Sherie Rene Scott

(replacement) Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Everyday

Piazza) Lovesick (Women on the Verge of a

Rapture, The Little Mermaid, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Aida, Nervous Breakdown) The Who’s Tommy, The Last Five Years, Debbie Does Dallas

Shoshana Bean

Wicked (replacement), Hairspray, Godspell (R)

Bless The Lord (Godspell, revival)

Sierra Boggess

The Little Mermaid, The Phantom of the Opera

Part of Your World (The Little Mermaid)

Stephanie D’Abruzzo Stephanie J. Block

(replacement), Love Never Dies Avenue Q, I Love You Because The Mystery of Edwin Drood, The Boy from Oz, The Pirate

There’s a Fine, Fine Line (Avenue Q) The Writing On the Wall (The Mystery Of

Susan Egan

Queen, 9 to 5, Anything Goes (R) (replacement) Beauty and the Beast, Triumph of Love, Cabaret (R)

Edwin Drood, revival) Anything (Triumph of Love)

Terri White

(replacement), Follies (R), Finian’s Rainbow (R), Barnum

Necessity (Finian’s Rainbow, revival)

Theresa McCarthy

Titanic, Queen of the Mist

I Remember (The Frogs - Evening

Tonya Pinkins

Caroline, or Change, The Wild Party, Jelly’s Last Jam (Tony), Merrily We Roll Along

Primrose (2001 Studio Cast album) Lot’s Wife (Caroline, Or Change)

Vanessa Williams

Sondheim on Sondheim, Into the Woods (R), Kiss of the Spider Woman (replacement)

Last Midnight (Into The Woods, revival)

Victoria Clark

The Light in the Piazza (Tony), Cinderella, Sister Act, Titanic, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (R), Guys and Dolls (R)

Dividing Day (The Light In the Piazza)

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Male Singers You Should Know

Aaron Lazar

The Light in the Piazza, Les Miserables (R), A Tale of Two Cities, A Little Night Music (R)

In Praise of Women (A Little Night Music, revival)

Aaron Tveit

Catch Me If You Can, Next To Normal, Wicked (replacement) I’m Alive (Next To Normal)

Adam Pascal

Rent, Aida, Memphis (replacement)

One Song Glory (Rent)

Oh, What a Beautiful Morning

Alexander Gemignani

Les Miserables (R), Sweeney Todd (R), Sunday In the Park

Ladies in Their Sensitivities

Alfred Drake

With George (R), Assassins (R), The People in the Picture, Pump Boys and Dinettes (R), Road Show Oklahoma!, Beggar’s Holiday, Kiss Me, Kate, Kismet (Tony),

(Sweeney Todd, revival)

Anthony Crivello

Gigi Kiss of the Spider Woman (Tony), Les Miserables, Marie

(Oklahoma!) Marta (Kiss of the Spider Woman)

Barrett Foa

Christine, Golden Boy (R), Evita (R) Godspell (R), Avenue Q (replacement)

God Save the People (Godspell)

Ben Vereen

Jesus Christ Superstar, Pippin (Tony), Grind, Jelly’s Last

Simple Joys (Pippin)

Billy Porter

Jam, Fosse, Wicked (replacement) Kinky Boots (Tony), Grease (R), Miss Saigon (replacement),

Hold Me In Your Heart (Kinky

Bobby Steggert

It’s Only Life Big Fish, Ragtime (R), 110 in the Shade, A Minister’s Wife

Boots) Shallops and Scrubbing Brushes (A

Boyd Gaines

Gypsy (R) (Tony), Contact (Tony), Company (R), She Loves

Minister’s Wife) Tonight at Eight (She Loves Me,

Brent Barrett

Me (Tony) (R) Closer Than Ever, Silence! The Musical, Grand Hotel

revival) New Words (The Maury Yeston

Brent Carver

Parade (Tony), Kiss of the Spider Woman (Tony), My Life

Songbook, recording) It’s Hard to Speak My Heart

Brent Spiner Brian d'Arcy James

With Albertine, Jesus Christ Superstar (R), Sunday In The Park With George, Big River, 1776 (R) Shrek, The Sweet Smell of Success, Titanic, The Apple Tree

(Parade) Is Anybody There? (1776) At the Fountain (The Sweet Smell

Brian Stokes Mitchell

(R), Giant, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (replacement) Ragtime, Kiss Me, Kate (R) (Tony), Man of La Mancha (R),

of Success) Coalhouse's Soliloquy (Ragtime)

Brooks Ashmanskas

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me, Promises, Promises (R),

On My Bedside Table (It’s Only

Chad Kimball

Bullets Over Broadway, It’s Only Life Memphis, Lennon, Good Vibrations, Into the Woods (R). My

Life) Memphis Lives In Me

Cheyenne Jackson

Life With Albertine, Godspell (R) All Shook Up, Xanadu, Finian’s Rainbow, Altar Boyz,

(Memphis) Roustabout (All Shook Up)

Chip Zien

Into The Woods, Falsettos, The Boys From Syracuse (R), A

No More (Into the Woods)

Christian Borle

New Brain, The People In the Picture, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Legally Blonde, Mary Poppins (replacement, Spamalot,

When the Earth Stopped Turning

Christopher Fitzgerald

Elegies, Prodigal, Jesus Christ Superstar (R) Finian’s Rainbow (R), Young Frankenstein, Wicked, Amour

(Elegies) When I'm Not Near the Girl I Love

Christopher Sieber

Triumph of Love, Spamalot, Into the Woods (R), Shrek The Musical, The Kid

(Finian’s Rainbow) Issue in Question (Triumph of Love)

Chuck Cooper

The Life (Tony), Finian’s Rainbow (R), Lennon, Caroline, Or Change

The Bus (Carolin, Or Change)

Chuck Wagner

Into The Woods, Dracula, The Musical, Les Miserables

Agony (Into the Woods)

Colm Wilkinson

(replacement) Les Miserables, Jesus Christ Superstar (West End)

Bring Him Home (Les Miserables)

Constantine Maroulis

Rock of Ages, Jekyll & Hyde (R), The Wedding Singer

This is the Moment (Jekyll & Hyde,

Danny Burstein

(replacement) The Drowsy Chaperone, South Pacific (R), Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Follies (R), Cabaret (R)

revival) The Right Girl (Follies, revival)

Darius de Haas

Marie Christine, The Gershwin’s Fascinating Rhythm, Kiss of the Spider Woman (replacement)

In Whatever Time We Have (Children of Eden)

David Hyde Pierce Dick van Dyke

Spamalot, Curtains (Tony) Bye Bye Birdie (Tony), The Music Man (R)

Coffee Shop Nights (Curtains) Put on a Happy Face (Bye Bye

Douglas Sills

The Scarlet Pimpernel, Little Shop of Horrors (R)

Birdie) Into the Fire (The Scarlet Pimpernel)

78

Eddie Korbich

The Little Mermaid, The Drowsy Chaperone, Carousel (R), Sweeney Todd (R), Assassins (R), Seussical, A Christmas Story, A Gentleman’s Guide To Love and Murder

Geraniums in the Winder (Carousel, revival)

Euan Morton

Taboo, Sondheim on Sondheim

Pretty Lies (Taboo)

Gary Beach

La Cage aux Folles (R), The Producers (Tony), Les Miserables Springtime for Hitler, Pt. II (The

Gavin Creel

(R), Beauty and the Beast, Doonesbury, Somethin’s Afoot Thor