Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Best Songs From Best Scores: 1990 - 1991

Today, we begin a new series, Best Songs From Best Scores, in which we take a look at the numbers from a season's Best Original Score Tony nominees. Of course, "best" is in the eye ear of the beholder, and we are pretty sure you won't always agree with our choices. So, please feel free to let us know what you think via email, Twitter, or comment below!

To get things started, we decided to look at a season that was really an embarrassment of riches. Each score from the 1990 - 1991 season was not only worthy of a nomination, but each would have been worthy of taking home the prize. Thirty years later, each one holds up pretty well, and there are many worthy songs to consider. Here are the ones we like the best:

Best Songs From Best Scores
1990 - 1991

Nominee: Miss Saigon
Music by Claude-Michel Schonberg, lyrics by Alain Boublil & Richard Maltby, Jr.

Best Song: Ballad (group): "The Movie in My Mind" - Gigi, Kim & the Girls
After showing what they do to make ends meet in "The Heat Is On in Saigon," the girls under The Engineer's thumb reveal the pain and anguish of their lives as they desperately try to stay alive, and what they do to escape, even if it is only through dreams. The metaphor may verge on the trite, but it is an apt one, given the time period and unavoidable influence of America on every aspect of their lives.

Best Song: Presentation: "The Morning of the Dragon" - The Company
Yes, the visuals are stunning - the giant Ho Chi Minh statue, the advancing gun-toting company in perfect military precision. But the vocals are just as menacing even without the visuals - the halting, chant-like precision of the company vocals sting, and the lyrics are just as powerful, with evocative imagery ("The Morning of the Dragon, truth lit up the street, The tiger we were stalking walked on paper feet, And in the clear white heat of dawn, was gone.")

Nominee: Once  On This  Island
Music by Stephen Flaherty, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens

Best Song: Ballad: "Some Girls" - Daniel
Ti Moune has saved Daniel's life and nursed him back to health, and it is love at first sight for both. In this lovely, gentle song, he explains that "some girls you marry, some you love." His declaration has heartfelt honesty, and poignancy, and Ti Moune falls even deeper in love with this charming young man, but does not realize what he means. He can love her, but he can't marry her.

Best Song: Presentation: "The Sad Tale of the Beauxhommes" - Armand & The Storytellers
Even just listening to this song, you can get swept up in the sheer theatricality of this number. An embedded origin story fits right in with the rest of this tropical fairy tale. And it is one catchy number!

Nominee: The Secret Garden
Music by Lucy Simon, lyrics by Marsha Norman

Best Song: Presentation: "I Heard Someone Crying" - Mary Lennox, Archibald Craven, Lily & Company
This song is two-fer, really. It is a great song for developing the wants and needs of the characters, and it is very presentational in the way it builds and adds in the company. What a way to make something specific more universal.

Best Song: Ballad (duet): "Lily's Eyes" - Archibald Craven & Dr. Neville Craven
What a stunning duet this song is! And what a character reveal! That moment when you realize that two brothers loved the same woman... one was married to her and mourns his loss, while the other mourns what he never had. Both are now dealing with the arrival of Mary, and how she reminds them both of Lily.

Winner: The Will Rogers Follies
Music by Cy Coleman, lyrics by Betty Comden, Adolph Green

Best Song: Opening Number: "Will-a-Mania" - Ziegfeld's Favorite & Company
This may just be my favorite show opener of all time. Seeing it was breathtaking - the lit up staircase, a loin cloth wearing Jerry Mitchell on a drum... But it is just as effective without seeing it (no small feat). This is another song that ebbs and flows in a gradual building that climbs to a goose bump finish!

Best Song: Presentation: "Our Favorite Son" - Will Rogers, The Wranglers & The New Ziegfeld Girls
This is The Follies, right? So why not a super-catchy novelty number about politics? "The elephant trunk and democrat donkey will be down the drain and sunk, the day the people's victory is won!" 


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