12 Songs Every Musical Theatre Kid Knows
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12 Songs Every Musical Theatre Kid Knows

I am a drama club geek and I am proud.

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12 Songs Every Musical Theatre Kid Knows
nyfa.edu

I have not taken part in a musical since the 2012 production of "Godspell" at my very Catholic high school, but around mid-March of every year, I get a feeling in my bones that I should be preparing for a production. When spring break rolls around I think to myself: "Why am I not in Hell Week right now rehearsing?"

As much as we loved to complain about the absurd amount of hours we spent in that auditorium, there was nowhere else we would have rather spent that time. When a play was in production, nothing else really mattered. From the terrifying auditions and the sometimes gratifying callbacks, to the all-consuming crushes on the leads of the show, to the final outrageously fun weekend of the final performances, the entire process of being a part of the cast or crew of a high school musical is an experience without which we would in no way be the people we are today. These productions helped us to conquer stage fright, to find our truest friends and to release our teenage angst in a performative, cathartic way.

For all of my fellow theatre kids who miss being a part of these beautifully time-consuming productions or for those lucky thespians who are still involved in some capacity, these are some of our favorites songs to belt out together.

(I do not profess to be an expert on musical theatre, so please forgive any limitations to the scope of this list.)

1. "Defying Gravity"- Wicked


Who doesn't enjoy bursting out into song for the most climactic moment of Elphie and Glinda's friendship? Anyone who has ever felt like the underdog, ready to escape from everyday societal expectations will feel themselves liberated yell-singing this song along with the fantastic, multi-lunged Idina Menzel. (Additional appreciation for the Glinda's English accent in this version.)

2. "Don't Rain on My Parade" - Funny Girl


If I'm being honest, the first time I ever heard this song was in the season one fall finale of "Glee". Rachel Barry's phenomenal fearlessness inspired me to audition for solos and work my own belt. From her performance, I knew I needed to see the original work from which this inspiring piece came.

3. "Good Morning Baltimore" - Hairspray

Yet another case of backing the underdog, the pure hopefulness of this song even while acknowledging the not-so-positive aspects of city life, put a pep in anyone's step.

4. "One Day More" - Les Miserables

"Les Miserables" is one of those shows that emanates through both pop and theatre culture. "One Day More" is the first act finale and forms a beautiful solidarity through it's weaving of the ensemble cast's varying storylines. I dare you not to join in singing — and not feel like a complete badass French rebel while you're at it.

5. "On My Own" - Les Mis

The epitome of broken-hearted, unrequited love, Éponine's solo is the anthem of anyone who has ever convinced themselves that they are in love with someone who will only ever see them as a friend. I feel you, Éponine. I — and countless other hopeless romantics — feel you.

6. "Cell Block Tango" - Chicago

Time to be a badass again. This number is for anyone who needs to release that pent-up anger. Whether it's about non-committal, unfaithful, just downright intolerable male behavior or any other annoyance in your life, blast this song and I guarantee you will feel at least a little better.

7. "And I Am Telling You" - Dreamgirls

Here we have another moment of desperation for love— and an opportunity to belt. In this number, however, we can experience through Jennifer Hudson's exceptional rendition that sometimes as much as you do to try to make someone stay, they have already made their mind up and we need to move on. You can't force someone to love you — as amazing as your voice may be.

8. "Take Me or Leave Me" - Rent

We have Idina Menzel again, but this time bringing in a fabulously confident queerness. "Take Me or Leave Me" is possibly the most fun song-argument of all musicals. An invigorating duet to perform with a friend or lover, this song allows a complete release of any inhibitions.

9. "La Vie Boheme" - Rent


A celebration of the emerging culture of bohemia in New York City in the 1980s, this song is a whole other type of solidarity-inducing performance. It breaches the traditionally taboo topics of sexuality, queerness, substance abuse and social issues. Instead of passing judgement, this song rather makes these terms and ideas visible so they may be acknowledged rather than swept under the rug. The toast: "to being an us for once, instead of a them!" spoke to me as a young musical theatre enthusiast and contributed to my realization that I had become a part of a community of open and accepting people who are as passionate about performance as I am.

10. "Seasons of Love" - Rent


Even non-musical theatre people know this song. It is another celebratory anthem that amplifies what is the most important thing in life: loving the people that surround us.

11. "Hello" - The Book of Mormon

This musical was all the rage when I was in my latter years of high school. The unabashed enthusiasm of the protagonists inspires conversation about religious tolerance in a hilarious way.

12 & 13. "Day By Day" / "Light of the World" - Godspell

I had to throw this in at the end to bring us full circle. This is a medley of two of the most quintessentially Godspellian songs by the new Broadway cast in 2012: coincidentally the year that my high school did the production. (Yes, that is Corbin Bleu playing Jesus.)

Sometimes we all just need a break in which to connect with our inner dramatic selves by releasing all that lies within us. I give you the opportunity here to do so.

Go forth and sing your heart out!

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