Monday, December 23, 2019

2019 in Review: The Best Songs & Numbers

Over the past twelve months, we have heard and seen some magnificent singing and dancing on stages all around the East Coast. The gamut is pretty wide, too. Radical reinterpretations of classics, traditional revivals, thrilling modern scores and exciting takes on pop music. Who knew we would be as taken by a Rodgers and Hammerstein gem as we were by the likes of Katy Perry, Adele, Tina Turner and Cher. Although we both agree that we prefer new, original musicals over jukebox musicals (bio or otherwise) we'll admit that if well done, they can be just as good.

Here are our selections for the best songs and numbers from 2019:

Mike's Picks
The Best Songs & Numbers

  • "Days and Days" from Fun Home - The actress playing Helen (Michelle Dawson) practically set the place on fire! She may have given the best performance I've seen of this song, and that's saying something. 
  • "Suddenly Seymour" from Little Shop of Horrors - This is my favorite song from the show, and both amazing lead actors (Jonathan Groff and Chelsea Turbin) exceeded even my high expectations. 
  • “Firework” from Moulin Rouge! - Another powerhouse performance from a brilliant singer/actress. Karen Olivo’s performance transcends even Katy Perry’s original. 
  • “Why We Build the Wall” from Hadestown - Some truly startling vocals from Patrick Page and muscular musical accompaniment make this uncannily relevant song stand out in a wondrous  score. 
  • “Pore Jud is Daid” from Oklahoma! - Some appropriately creepy vocals from Damon Daunno and Patrick Vaill, performed in the dark, prove that this show is much more than singing cowboys and dancing farmers. 

Jeff's Picks
The Best Songs & Numbers

  • "Our Lady of the Underground" from Hadestown - What an Act Two opener! Amber Gray not only owned the song and the stage - she owned the entire city block! 
  • "Crazy Rolling" from Moulin Rouge! - Has Aaron Tveit ever sounded better? This mash-up of "Crazy" and "Rolling in the Deep" not only blends together well and fits the moment perfectly, but he nails the emotion of both songs as one.
  • "The Farmer and the Cowman" from Oklahoma! - I am still haunted by this song and the scene connected to it. Aggressive and unbearably tense, it matched Daniel Fish's radical and spot-on reinterpretation of the piece. Mary Testa was brilliantly blistering throughout. 
  • "River Deep, Mountain High" from Tina: The Tina Turner Musical - One of my favorite songs of all time, powerfully rendered by Nkeke Obi-Melekwe (and I'm sure just as wonderfully by Adrienne Warren). And what a way to showcase it - a practically empty stage with "Tina" front and center.
  • "The Beat Goes On" from The Cher Show - With a few lyric changes, the song actually advanced to story, and the amazing Micaela Diamond led the cast in a routine that was stylish, evocative and delicious fun.
  • Honorable Mention: "The Wand Dance" from Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - Leave it to Steven Hoggett to put a great dance number in the middle of a play!


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