Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Feature: West End stars choose desert island musical theatre songs... (#4)

Imagine you have to go to a desert island and can only take three musical theatre songs with you. What are you going to take and why?

Elf  / The Phantom of the Opera

1. ‘Gethsemane’ from Jesus Christ Superstar
2. ‘Bring Him Home’ from Les Miserables
3. ‘The Music of the Night’ from The Phantom of the Opera

"Well I would take ‘Gethsemane’ because it used to be one of my favourite songs anyway, but I feel like it marked a big turning point in my life and if I got to the point on a desert island where I didn’t think I could survive any more was going to give up, I would put it on and go ‘life is worth living, you can achieve anything’. Standing up and doing ‘Gethsemane’ at the O2 was one of the most amazing, incredible moments of my life. I would take… I would take… hmmmm… I think I would take ‘Bring Him Home’ because it’s one of my favourite songs. I just completely love it! For my last one I would probably take ‘The Music of the Night’ because I’ve got a new-found respect for that song. I’ve obviously always thought it’s a beautiful and amazingly written song, but I had never realised how hard it is to sing! Until you dissect it and try to sing it in one go you don’t realise that it’s a really hard song! You’ve got to have so much control and be able to really hold back and give at certain moments. So I would take ‘The Music of the Night’ so that I could practise it [laughs]."

Xanadu / Wicked

1. ‘Goodbye’ from Catch Me If You Can
2. ‘I Had a Life’ from Ghost The Musical
3. ‘Time Stops’ from Big Fish

"Three musical theatre songs? Hang on… I need a sec… I would take ‘Goodbye’ from Catch Me If You Can which is one of my absolute favourite shows. To be honest I’m taking that song because I love singing it [laughs]. Ok, I’ll be really stagey for my second one – it’s from Ghost. I’m going to take ‘I Had a Life’, it’s such an epic conclusion to the end of the first half. When you’ve got Sam, Carl and Molly all singing together it is incredible. Whenever I hear that song it brings back memories because, like I said before, Ghost was my first job and I was so excited to be involved in it. Have you seen Big Fish? Well my third one would be ‘Time Stops’ from Big Fish. It’s really good, you should look it up! It does exactly what it says in the title; the song is about stopping and looking at what’s around you there and then in that moment. We whizz around every day – I do this too – and don’t get the chance to stop and think, ‘Wow’. In London we’re all constantly on the move! Nice choices! I’ll be honest, that was a hard question for me! I’m not very good at things like that [laughs]!"

Mamma Mia! / We Will Rock You

1. ‘Who Wants To Live Forever’ from We Will Rock You
2. ‘Look What Happened to Mabel’ from Mack and Mabel
3. ‘About a Quarter to Nine’ from 42nd Street

"Right… musical theatre songs… I will take… oh gosh! I will take ‘Who Wants To Live Forever’ because of We Will Rock You. It’s has the most poignant sentiment for anybody who has endured the tragedy that I had with my friend. It is a really powerful message – it wasn’t even a song that I sang so I think you will find that makes me even less stagey [laughs]. I think I would take ‘Look What Happened to Mabel’ from Mack and Mabel because that is one of my most favourite scores in the world. I auditioned singing that song from the age of like sixteen when I left Sylvia Young… it never got me a job so I dumped it in the end. It’s also a little bit of my story because I never got through to any bloody recalls. I had nothing – it was never my turn. And then suddenly I found my niche! So I love that song! Finally I would take something from 42nd Street because my mum was in it at Drury Lane and I grew up listening to it. I’ll probably go for ‘About a Quarter to Nine’. Do you think they’re ok? I’ve got a role I always wanted to do, I’ve got a role I watched my mum do where I learnt my craft and a song I could just listen to forever – I’m done! I could pick eleven [laughs]."

In The Heights / The Rocky Horror Show

1. ‘Gold’ from Once
2. ‘Finishing the Hat’ from Sunday In The Park With George
3. 'I Am What I Am' from La Cage aux Folles

"Wow… the first one to pop into my mind is ‘Gold’ from Once. It’s both exciting and emotionally moving. I cry every single time I hear it. For years I had been asked the question ‘What is your favourite musical?’ and I always said ‘I can’t answer that question!’ until the day I saw Once. When I saw Once I thought to myself, ‘This is it, this is my favourite musical of all-time!’ I love that song. My second one would be… hmmm… ‘Finishing the Hat’ from Sunday In The Park With George because I love how it goes from being somebody who refuses to let out what they’re really feeling to somebody exploding with what they’re really feeling and the pain of losing out on love because you can’t let out what you’re really feeling. I find it so beautiful and so heartbreaking… and obviously Sondheim had to be in there somewhere [laughs]! For my last one let’s go with 'I Am What I Am' from La Cage aux Folles. It’s just brilliant! I rather feel it’s my theme song [laughs]!"

Wicked / The Wild Party

1. ‘Move On’ from Sunday in the Park with George
2. 'Ain't No Party' from Dreamgirls
3. ‘96,000’ from In The Heights

"Just songs? Not even the whole album?! Andrew, you are devastating! Ummm, ‘Move On’ from Sunday in the Park with George. It would perhaps give me some notion that I was going to be rescued at some point! Plus then I would have some Mandy Patinkin in there which is always good [laughs]. Let’s see… I would take something from Dreamgirls because it’s my favourite! Which one? Oddly it might be 'Ain't No Party' because when I was a child that show was on Broadway and I would go and see the second act all the time – it was when you could sneak in to shows during intermission and second act them! My friends and I second acted Dreamgirls a number of times, and that song is in the second act. I only saw ‘And I Am Telling You’ the one time I saw the whole show, but I saw 'Ain't No Party' many, many times. Loretta Devine, who created the role of Lorell, is everything and she was so good! We would be standing in the back of the orchestra (aka the stalls) and you could see all these business people suddenly get their soul on and be like ‘That’s right!’ because she was so good. Oh no… it’s so devastating having to pick! How does anyone pick?! Maybe I need something wild? I don’t want to pick something from The Wild Party because I wouldn’t want to listen to myself [laughs], I couldn’t bear that! Although I would pick something so I could have the other people who were in the show with me. Maybe I’ll go for something from In The Heights! I know a lot of those people and love them very much. That music gets me going! Maybe ‘96,000’, I’ll go with that! I’m literally sweating [laughs]!"

Playing Fiyero in Wicked

1. ‘Go the Distance’ from Hercules
2. ‘Never Never Land’ from Finding Neverland
3. ‘No Good Deed’ from Wicked

"I love ‘Go the Distance’ from Hercules, I bet most boys say that. I just want to be Hercules [both laugh]! It’s the song I take to most auditions and I enjoy singing it – but not the Michael Bolton version. Hmmm… I’m going to go with what is on my iPhone. This is really embarrassing and really stagey, but I would take ‘Never Never Land’ from Finding Neverland. I hope that comes over! Even before I started Wicked I would have said ‘No Good Deed’ because I frickin’ love that song. It’s epic!"

Playing Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys UK tour

1. ‘How Can I Call This Home?’ from Parade
2. ‘We Are The Champions’ from We Will Rock You
3. ‘Bring Him Home’ from Les Miserables

"Three musical theatre songs… god… I guess I would probably take something from Parade. I’ll go for ‘How Can I Call This Home?’, I think it’s a beautiful song and such a well written, brilliant show. To give me some fun memories I’d take ‘We Are The Champions’ from We Will Rock You. It would help get me through it – I would need some support alone on that island [laughs]. My third one would probably have to be something quite stagey and predictable. I’m going for ‘Bring Him Home’ from Les Mis. It’s a beautiful, anthemic ballad. You can’t go wrong with a bit of Boublil and Schönberg, let's be fair [laughs]!"

The Wizard of Oz / Lord of the Dance

1. ‘Dancing Through Life’ from Wicked 
2. ‘The Circle Of Life’ from The Lion King
3. 'One Day More' from Les Miserables

"[laughs] Right… ok… that’s tough! I would probably take ‘Dancing Through Life’ from Wicked because it’s so fun and uplifting, and Wicked is one of my favourite shows. I would take… this is so hard! ‘The Circle Of Life’ from The Lion King because it would remind me of my family, it’s one of the films I watched when I was younger and then one of the first West End shows I ever saw. It would give me happy memories! Finally I would take something from Les Mis because it’s a show I love and I think everybody loves. It would probably be… ‘One Day More’ – I’m a very uplifted person and I always like the big numbers in shows. I would be singing all the different parts alone on my desert island [laughs]."

Miss Saigon / Les Miserables

1. ‘Now / Later / Soon’ from A Little Night Music
2. Quintet from West Side Story
3. ‘One Day More’ from Les Miserables

"You’ve put me on the spot! I honestly don’t tend to listen to musical theatre! I’ll tell you what, one would be ‘Now / Later / Soon’ from A Little Night Music because the words are just so brilliant. He (Sondheim) makes entire sentences rhyme with the next sentence, it’s crazy! I love Henrik's bit, the 'Later' section of the song. I just think it’s one of the best things and then how they all come together is just beautiful. West Side Story… I would probably try and sneak the entire album into my pocket. I love West Side Story. Do you know what? I would take the Quintet because it’s got all of them in – so hah! It goes [sings] “…gonna get her kicks…” and then they do ‘Tonight’ and a bit of ‘Maria’, so I basically get every song [laughs]. I need to think about this, if you’re on a desert island you probably want something positive because it’s pretty grim. I would take ‘One Day More’ purely because the lyrics/title might get me through it!"

The Smallest Show on Earth / Oklahoma

1. Overture from Jesus Christ Superstar
2. ‘Easy to Love’ from Anything Goes
3. ‘I’m Here’ from The Color Purple

"I would have to take the overture from Jesus Christ Superstar! The Jesus Christ Superstar overture was a massive part of my childhood. Me, my brother and sister used to watch the Glenn Carter movie version every day. Neither of them are even interested in musical theatre, but we still watched it all the time! So that has to be one… let me see… what else?! I like too many songs! This is a bit random, but I would take ‘Easy to Love’ from Anything Goes. I just think it’s a beautiful, romantic song and I’ve always loved it. Ok… I would have to take a specific performance of this song – Cynthia Erivo performing ‘I’m Here’ from The Color Purple. I didn’t know the song, but seeing her performance made me fall in love with it and since then I’ve really enjoyed listening to that song. That’s a really random three!"

Cats / Jesus Christ Superstar

1. ‘The Music and the Mirror’ from A Chorus Line
2. ‘Santa Fe’ from Newsies
3. ‘I Hate You’ from If/Then

"[gets out phone] I’m going to see what I’m actually listening to at the minute. Ok, I think the ultimate stagey one for me would be – I was only introduced to this recently and I can’t stop listening to it – ‘The Music and the Mirror’ from the original Broadway cast recording of A Chorus Line. It’s Cassie’s song and just gives you a bit of a kick up the backside. It’s so stagey it’s ridiculous! I would take ‘Santa Fe’ from Newsies because if I was on a desert island I would just be walking around belting it out, plus I’m obsessed with Jeremy Jordan – he’s like my voice crush. And finally, I went to New York last year and saw IF/THEN. It was one of the best things I’ve ever seen! I would take ‘I Hate You’ which is when she finds out he’s been killed, that would be my angry emotional song. So they are my three!" / Assassins

1. ‘I Will Wait For You’ from The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
2. ‘I Could Have Danced All Night’ from My Fair Lady
3. ‘Black Polly’ from Dead Dog

"[laughs] That is VERY stagey… but I like it! Wow, wow, wow. I guess I would have to take…. it’s a bit predictable, but I would definitely have to take ‘I Will Wait For You’ from The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, without a doubt. Then I would have to take something from My Fair Lady, that’s a given! Which one would I take? Oooo… it’s got to be ‘I Could Have Danced All Night’ hasn’t it?! You’ve got to climb to the top of a tree or hill and just belt that out [laughs]… your arms out, all the clichés in one go [laughs]. So that’s in! What else would I take? Does it absolutely have to be musical theatre? I would take something from Kneehigh Theatre Company, a song called ‘Black Polly’ from a show we did last year called Dead Dog in a Suitcase. It’s a great old belter! I think I’d be alright [laughs]. They would help me through!"

Our House / Fame

1. ‘Can't Take My Eyes off You’ from Jersey Boys
2. ‘Bring Him Home’ from Les Miserables
3. ‘Can’t Keep It Down’ from Fame

"Firstly I would take something from Jersey Boys… I’m going to go for ‘Can't Take My Eyes off You’ purely because it’s one of my favourite songs ever to sing because it’s just beautiful. I’m not even going to lie, this is a tough question! Erm, ‘Bring Him Home’ from Les Mis purely because I would want to go home if I was stuck on a desert island by myself [laughs], but also because it’s a beautiful song. Finally I would take ‘Can’t Stand Still’ from Footloose because I wouldn’t be able to stand still and I love it! Oh and I need a fourth – ‘Can’t Keep It Down’ from Fame! Ok fine, I won’t take ‘Can’t Stand Still’. Sorry Footloose! ‘Can’t Keep It Down’ would keep me entertained and put a smile on my face."

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang / Miss Saigon

1. ‘Ladies Who Lunch’ from Company
2. ‘I'm Still Here’ from Follies
3. ‘The Miller's Son’ from A Little Night Music

"Oh god, oh god! [laughs] I think for me they might possibly all have to be Sondheim! I need to be more specific… I’m going to go for ‘Ladies Who Lunch’ from Company, ‘I'm Still Here’ from Follies and ‘The Miller's Son’ from A Little Night Music. Can you tell I'm a Sondheim fan [laughs]?!"

Aliens Love Underpants / Whistle Down The Wind

1. ‘Quiet’ from Matilda
2. ‘All the Wasted Time’ from Parade
3. ‘Fireworks’ from In The Heights

"[laughs] Just songs?! One of them would definitely have to be ‘Quiet’ from Matilda because I just think the lyrics are crazy and intelligent. Because it’s quite fast and speech-y at the beginning, every time I listen to it I hear new bits. I just think it’s a brilliant song and I could listen to it over and over again! My second song… oh my gosh… erm… ‘All the Wasted Time’ from Parade. I love the story of Parade, I did it when I was at Brit school so it’s a very special show to me and I think it’s amazing music and lyrics. And also, if you listen to the Donmar version they have all the dialogue in it which I love [laughs]! And… my last one… hmmm… ah it’s got to be something from In The Heights! Maybe ‘Fireworks’ because the way Lin-Manuel Miranda has written all the songs is amazing. They start so nice and pretty and have nice tunes and stuff, and then they build so well – it becomes a massive frenzy of harmonies and I think it’s amazing. Those are my three!"

Oliver! / Dirty Rotten Scoundrels 

1. ‘I Still Believe’ from Miss Saigon
2. ‘Time Stops’ from Big Fish
3. ‘As Long As He Needs Me’ from Oliver!

"Ok… I’m going to take ‘I Still Believe’ from Miss Saigon because it was probably the song I sang most growing up; even though it’s quite a tragic song it’s one I always used to sing. Ok that’s one… erm… two… would be from Big Fish the Andrew Lippa musical and the song would be ‘Time Stops’ because I think it’s one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard and it’s quite new. For my last one… I’m going to go with… this is a little bit difficult! Which one will I go with?! Yup ok, I’m going to go for it and take ‘As Long As He Needs Me’ so I can belt it out and practise [laughs]!"

Grand Hotel / Les Miserables

1. ‘Bring Him Home’ from Les Miserables
2. ‘Love Can't Happen’ from Grand Hotel
3. ‘Marry Me’ from The Rink 

"Ok… I would take… well obviously ‘Bring Him Home’ would have to be one of them! That song has always been a part of my life; it’s an amazing and beautiful song. I need to choose something from Grand Hotel! It’s happening right now so because you’re asking me today I’m going to go for ‘Love Can't Happen’. Lyrically and melodically it’s one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard – it’s gorgeous! My last one… erm… probably a song called ‘Marry Me’ from a show called The Rink (by Kander & Ebb). It’s a really, really simple song and it’s really lovely. I did it in third year at college and the character that sings it, Lenny, is just a very gentle and simple character. I think it’s very beautiful melodically and very soft and gentle. It’s such a nice little song!"

Wicked / Les Miserables

1. ‘What About Love’ from The Color Purple
2. ‘Someone Else’s Story’ from Chess
3. ‘No More’ from See What I Wanna See

"Ok… I am going to take… this is really hard! ‘What About Love’ from The Color Purple because it’s stunning. What else? I’m trying to think of an up-tempo number. Something I would probably sing along to is ‘Someone Else’s Story’ from Chess. I love it! And finally, I’m going to pick a song called ‘No More’ from See What I Wanna See! It’s one of my favourites [laughs]."

Playing Boq in Wicked

1. ‘Somebody To Love’ from We Will Rock You
2. ‘Candy Store’ from Heathers 
3. ‘Raise a Little Hell’ from Bonnie and Clyde

"I would take ‘Somebody To Love’… I love the Rock You version but I would probably want Freddie’s version [laughs]. Nobody can beat Freddie! I would take ‘Candy Store’ from Heathers because it’s just as sassy as anything – if you’re having a down day you can put it on and listen to it over and over again, it’s hilarious! And… at the minute… I would take ‘Raise a Little Hell’ from Bonnie and Clyde because it’s epic. He goes crazy, doesn’t he?! Especially in the reprise [laughs]. I would put them together and take that [both laugh]."

The Phantom of the Opera / Sleeping Beauty

1. ‘Defying Gravity’ from Wicked
2. 'One Day More' from Les Miserables
3. 'Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again' from The Phantom of the Opera

"Oh goodness, but on a desert island they should probably be upbeat and I tend to fall for the heartbreakers. Well, ‘Defying Gravity’ would be a great one. 'One Day More' from Les Mis to wallow a little and then probably 'Wishing' as it reminds me so much of my Grandad."

1. ‘Go The Distance’ from Hercules
2. ‘King Of The World’ from Songs For A New World
3. ‘What Is It About Her?’ from The Wild Party

"[laughs] Musical theatre songs..? Right ok, I would take ‘Go The Distance’ (from Hercules) just because I’ve always loved singing it – the Michael Bolton version. I think when I went to Mountview it was one of the first contemporary musical theatre songs I ever sung. What else would I take? You know what… I would probably take, since doing it now, ‘King Of The World’ (from Songs For A New World). What other musical theatre songs do I like? I’m going to go with ‘What Is It About Her?’ from The Wild Party!"

Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

Happy #LoveTheatreDay 2015!

Read our previous desert island musical theatre songs features from February 2015October 2014 & February 2014

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