The Friday 5
The 5 Best Broadway Title Songs
1970 - 1982
APPLAUSE (Opened March 30, 1970 at the Palace Theatre)
How cool that they filmed a stage-y version of this Strouse, Comden and Greene musical, and it didn't suffer from not having a live audience. Still, the best version of the title song comes from the 1970 Tony Awards, featuring Tony nominee and future TV star Bonnie Franklin. And it answers that age old question: Why do we work our asses off?
JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR (Opened October 12, 1971 at the Mark Hellinger Theatre)
This show is one of my favorites, and I love the entire score, so it makes sense that this title number would make my list. Unfortunately, the only decent Broadway recording of it comes from the awful 2012 revival. Still, it sounds good. Here's Josh Young and company.
42ND STREET (Opened August 25, 1980 at the Winter Garden Theatre)
This is the Broadway that people who aren't Broadway people think of when they hear "Broadway." Tap dancing, kick lines, show girls and jazz hands. It's cheesy, for sure. But it is well done cheese. And this is the best number in the show. Here's the number featuring FORTY-EIGHT dancers from the 2018 Olivier Awards.
MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG (Opened November 16, 1981 at the Alvin Theatre)
I've seen so many different versions of this show, and it is always an enigma. An enjoyable enigma, but an enigma nonetheless. I don't think it'll ever be even close to perfect, but the score is amazing. Here's a snippet from a recent production at Huntington Theatre Company, directed by Maria Friedman, based on her Olivier Award-winning revival.
DREAMGIRLS (Opened December 20, 1981 at the Imperial Theatre)
The staging, casting and the score of this show were all epic. Michael Bennett was a genius, and he was firing on all cylinders with this production. It was like watching a movie live on stage, it was so smooth. Here are the original Dreams (Sheryl Lee Ralph, Loretta Devine and Deborah Burrell) at the 1983 Jerry Lewis Telethon.