Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Feature: West End stars choose desert island musical theatre songs... (#3)

It's the question they all dread... when interviewing musical theatre performers we always ask which three musical theatre songs they would take with them to a desert island. So, to celebrate West End Frame's third birthday, we've put together everybody's answers into one stagey feature! Find out which three songs people chose below (and click on a performer's name to read the full interview). Enjoy, and thank you for all your incredible support over the last three years!

Star of Wicked & Phantom of the Opera

1. The quintet from West Side Story
2. ‘Moving Too Fast’ from The Last Five Years
3. ‘Loving You’ from Passion

"Oh! Great! Shoot! I’m going to take the West Side Story quintet because it’s one of my favourite pieces of music. I used to listen to it when I was a child, my mum had the tape of Kiri Te Kanawa singing it. I think that’s when I first realised ‘musical theatre – oh, this is good’ [laughs]! What other songs? My mind has gone blank and I can’t think of a single song. I do like ‘Moving Too Fast’ from The Last Five Years. That’s a really fun one to sing – like in the bath! Then I guess I need something more hauntingly sad… I love ‘Loving You’ from Passion. I saw that production twice at the Donmar and Elena Rogers was just… the way she sings that song! The intensity! I like to sing that song, I once learnt it for an audition but don’t think I ended up singing it."

Star of Urinetown

1. 'Marry Me a Little' by Stephen Sondheim
2. ‘Go the Distance’ from Hercules
3. The overture from Carousel

"Three musical theatre songs… ok. One would be 'Marry Me a Little' by Stephen Sondheim just because… I love it [laughs]. Sondheim is definitely up there as my favourite musical theatre writer. I just love that song! God! Second one… what would it be? [laughs] My housemate just shouted ‘Go the Distance’ from Hercules! That’s not mine… actually I would have to take that because it would remind me of my housemate, I would miss him a lot [laughs]. My third one would be an overture, the one from Carousel. It’s amazing! It’s old-school, but I love it."

International Wicked star

1. ‘Bill’ from Show Boat
2. ‘The Wizard and I’ from Wicked
3. ‘And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going’ from Dreamgirls

"Ok! That’s a really, really good question. I would take ‘Bill’ from Show Boat because it was the first Broadway show that I ever saw and it was at the Gershwin Theatre (where Wicked runs in New York) where I did my first Broadway show. I just love that song so much and would love to play that role too! Then ‘The Wizard and I’ because I really just think it’s the best and coolest song that Elphaba gets to sing. She gets to go through this incredible journey with a nice big ending! I had to pick a Wicked song because it’s such a big part of my life. Oh god! I’m probably going to pick the wrong one. Ahh… I’ve gotta say… [sings] ‘And I Am Telling You… I'm Not Going’ (from Dreamgirls). There are a lot of musicals which I obviously can’t be in because of what I look like, but I would love to be in something like The Lion King or any musical with that R&B feel. I can’t sing like that but I adore it."

Star of Great Britain & Cabaret

1. ‘Not While I'm Around’ from Sweeney Todd
2. ‘Stiff Upper Lip’ from Crazy For You
3. 'Defying Gravity' from Wicked

"Oh my giddy… why didn’t you give me time to prepare [laughs]?! Ok, ok, I think the songs would have to be from certain shows that I’ve done, I’m not going to take songs to sing because I have a voice which should clean ovens – we know that [laughs]. I adored playing Mrs Lovett when I did John Doyle’s production of Sweeney Todd with Jason Donovan, it was extraordinary. ‘Not While I'm Around’ is the most beautiful song, I love it. What else have I done? I know, ‘Stiff Upper Lip’ from Crazy For You because I am British and that’s what we do. I know everyone thinks actors are loveys, but we do eight shows a week! I have a company that I run with my sister, who is also an actress, that does presentation skills. We work internationally as well. I am also privileged to teach at all sorts of amazing colleges in London. So I work all day and then I go to work at night which is when I get to see my night time family! I’m so lucky to do that! But we do work darling, we don’t just do the three hours as some people like to think. We’re working! It is a privilege and it is wonderful, we’re not doing brain surgery – I’m quite clear that we’re not going off to war, but we do work. Now, my third song! Just bear with me a moment [laughs]. I suppose it has to be ‘Defying Gravity’ from Wicked because I think that’s what we all strive to do. Wicked is primarily about somebody trying to fit in and be good and that’s what we all do. We all have coping mechanisms for when we don’t, and that’s the deal. ‘Defying Gravity’ says it all!"

Star of White Christmas & Singin' in the Rain

1. ‘Lucky Star’ from Singin’ in the Rain
2. ‘Being Mrs Banks’from Mary Poppins
3. ‘Being Alive’ from Company

"Oh my gosh… what a question!! I think I would probably have to take songs that I’ve done before, just because of what they mean to me now. Going back to what I said before, when I get a role and invest in it that is when it connects to me more than just learning a song for an audition. One of them definitely, definitely has to be ‘Lucky Star’ from Singin’ in the Rain! It’s just a beautiful song. It means a lot to me because Kathy is just onstage on her own and it’s actually an audition piece, she’s nervous but then she comes into her own and gets more confident. I just think it’s a beautiful transition, and then of course it’s an old fashioned song which I love! Umm… another song I loved which I did when I was in Mary Poppins was ‘Being Mrs Banks’. That was another transition! It’s about this woman who sees her husband is struggling and says, “I can help you with this” and “I can be the person who is strong for you.” The transition through that song is incredible! She realises how she can help her husband and fight for him. Umm… gosh I don’t know! Actually, I absolutely love ‘Being Alive’. It’s just one of those songs I love to belt out! I don’t know what it is! When I was younger and heard Bernadette Peters sing it I just fell in love with it. I love how the song grows and it’s a good old fashioned belter [laughs]. They’re just my three off the cuff ideas! I don’t know what I’m saying, I’m just thinking off the top of my head [laughs]! I like so many different songs, it’s impossible to just pick three. Singing ‘Being Alive’ on a desert island… I mean… that works… right? [laughs]"

Star of Wicked & Women on the Verge

1. ‘Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist’ from Avenue Q
2. ‘Easy As Life’ from Aida
3. ‘Don’t Rain On My Parade’ from Funny Girl

"[laughs] What will I take with me?! Which ones do I love…? Umm…. well… I would need three atmospheres, so a happy song, a sad song and… a crazy one. That’s what I think! So, my happy song would be something from Avenue Q. I like them all! Can I take the whole album? Ok, I’m going to take ‘Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist’ because it would really make me laugh. The sad song would probably have to be something from Aida which always gets me down very easily in a good way. I’m going to go for ‘Easy As Life’. So I have funny and sad, now I need something crazy… let’s do a big and belty one! I’m not going to take Wicked with me because it’s in my system – I don’t need to hear it. My big belty crazy song would be… oh I love ‘Don’t Rain On My Parade’ (from Funny Girl)."

Star of The Commitments & We Will Rock You

1. ‘Sunday’ from Sunday in the Park with George
2.  ‘Gethsemane’ from Jesus Christ Superstar
3. ‘What is it About Her?’ from The Wild Party

"Oh no! Ok… musical theatre songs… I would say ‘Sunday’ from Sunday in the Park with George. That was my final show at drama school and it was quite thrilling to sing and even when I hear it now it’s quite thrilling to listen to as well. This is difficult! This is the thing… I want to pick good ones. I’ll take ‘Gethsemane’ from Jesus Christ Superstar because I did it just before I went to drama school and it was my mum and dad’s favourite musical. It was quite nice to be able to sing it in front of them at the biggest theatre in Glasgow, it was special. It’s quite depressing though isn’t it to take to a desert island [laughs]?! Then maybe… oh I don’t know! I don’t want to cheat and take something from Once, I’ll be stagey for once. I’ll take ‘What is it About Her?’ from The Wild Party! When I only knew one musical theatre song at drama school I buried myself in the library for a few weeks and I remember hearing that and thinking even to listen to it’s quite exciting. Those are my three!"

Star of OKLAHOMA! & Blood Brothers

1. ‘The Kind of Man I Am’ from Betty Blue Eyes
2. The overture of Blood Brothers
3. ‘Sunday’ from Sunday in the Park with George

"Ah this question! I have been thinking about this because I read your interviews! I would take ‘The Kind of Man I Am’ from Betty Blue Eyes. I did it at drama school so one reason I’m taking it is for the memories. I loved that show and it is such a nice and sincere song. When it comes on it really makes me happy! It reminds me of my dad, he’s not into it, but the character really reminds me of him and my dad is my hero. Next I would take the overture of Blood Brothers because it makes me happy and finally I would take… ‘Sunday’ from Sunday in the Park with George just to keep me chilled out on the island [laughs]."

Star of Miss Saigon & Avenue Q

1. ‘Seasons of Love’ from Rent
2. ‘Practically Perfect’ from Mary Poppins
3. ‘Bring Him Home’ from Les Miserables

"Hmmm… this is going to be tough! You’re putting me on the spot here! I cannot believe this – there are so many! I particularly love ‘Seasons of Love’ – it’s one of my favourites because so many people can relate to it. It’s so human. Gosh! I will probably take something from my favourite musical which is Mary Poppins. I love ‘Practically Perfect’. I know it’s not in the movie; it’s one of the new songs. I think it’s so special! Mary is my dream role. I know I’ll probably never play it, but it’s my dream part because it’s a role that doesn’t have to be defined by her romantic relationship with anyone. It’s so individual and I love that. What’s my other song? ‘Bring Him Home’! [laughs] There you go!"

Star of Wicked, Lift & Blood Brothers

1. ‘Tell Me It’s Not True’ from Blood Brothers
2. ‘I Can Take Your Head’ from Alice: A New Musical
3. ‘Falling Slowly’ from Once

"Well probably ‘Tell Me It’s Not True’ from Blood Brothers because it has a special place in my heart and it makes me cry. You need those special songs to make you cry. I would take ‘I Can Take Your Head’ from Alice – it’s the big Queen Of Hearts song that we’ve been talking about and it’s incredible! What else? Oh, probably ‘Falling Slowly’ from Once!"

Star of I Can't Sing, Les Mis & Mamma Mia!

1. ‘Boy For Sale’ from Oliver!
2. ‘Master Of The House’ from Les Miserables
3. ‘I'm Still Here’ from Follies

"I am going to take ‘Boy For Sale’ from Oliver! for obvious reasons… my Dad sang it in the film and I love the way he sings it (Katy is the daughter of Harry Secombe who famously played Mr Bumble in the 1968 film adaptation of Oliver!). I would definitely take ‘Master Of The House’ because my association with Les Mis has always been happy and longstanding. Ummm… a third one… I think I would probably take ‘I'm Still Here’ (from Follies) because I still am [laughs]! It would get me through!"

Star of The Light Princess & The Sound of Music

1. ‘If I Loved You’ from Carousel
2. ‘The Hills are Alive’ from The Sound of Music
3. ‘Moving On’ from Sunday in the Park with George

"Oh no! Ok… ‘If I Loved You’ from Carousel and, just because I’m doing the show now, I’m going to take ‘The Hills are Alive’. I would definitely just run around on my own in the desert singing ‘The Hills are Alive’ [laughs]! Ok… give me a second for my last one. I think it might have to be ‘Moving On’ from Sunday in the Park with George! That’s one of my favourites. There’s a million, but right now in the specific moment that’s my three!"

Star of Emmerdale, Hairspray & And Then There Were None

1. ‘Carrying The Banner’ from Newsies
2. 'Til I Hear You Sing’ from Love Never Dies
3. ‘Without Love’ from Hairspray

"Right! I’m going to take ‘Carrying The Banner’ from Newsies. Then it has to be Ramin (Karimloo) singing 'Til I Hear You Sing’ from Love Never Dies because – oh my god – he’s just amazing, I’ll have a reflective moment [laughs]. I’ve got a contemporary upbeat, I’ve got an old school ballad, I think I need… ahh this is really hard… it has to be ‘Without Love’ from Hairspray!"

Director of Alice: A New Musical

1. ‘Quiet’ from Matilda
2. ‘A Weekend in the Country’ from A Little Night Music
3. ‘And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going’ from Dreamgirls

"Umm… ok… I guess I would take ‘Quiet’ from Matilda because I think it just an absolutely beautiful song. I love the feel of it; I love the frankness of the beginning and then the way it ends - it is so stunning and beautiful. I would take ‘A Weekend in the Country’ from A Little Night Music because I think it is incredibly written and the lyrics are fantastic, it’s hilarious! Finally I would take ‘And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going’ from Dreamgirls [laughs] which I don’t think really needs any explanation!"

All interviewees are speaking to Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

Read our previous desert island musical theatre songs features from February 2014 & October 2014

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