Sunday, May 26, 2013

The 100 Greatest Broadway Songs - Part XVIII

"The Sound Of Music"
from The Sound Of Music
Music by Richard Rodgers
Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
sung by Maria Rainer
When you think about all of the famous moments in Musical history (especially anything from or based on a Broadway Musical!), there is one image that I would argue is more iconic than any of them: Julie Andrews twirling on an Austrian mountaintop singing this beautiful Rodgers & Hammerstein tune.  People who have never even seen or even heard of The Sound of Music know this image.  Yes, it was originally introduced on Broadway by the fabulous Mary Martin and yes, many other actresses and singers (like Florence Henderson, Marie Osmond, Rebecca Luker and Laura Benanti) have sung this song on the stage.  But it is that opening sequence from Robert Wise's 1965 film version that skyrocketed this song into the stratosphere of Pop Culture icons.  Andrew Lloyd Webber knew this very well as he used that image in the opening sequence to his reality show-casting of his London revival of The Sound of Music entitled How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? (the eventual winner, Connie Fisher, was even directed to sort of imitate Andrews' performance and manner in the revival, above!).

"Everything's Coming Up Roses"
from Gypsy
Music by Jule Styne
Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
sung by Mama Rose
This song was introduced on Broadway in the very same season as The Sound of Music and by the theatrical powerhouse that was Ethel Merman.  The song is one of the most musically thrilling songs of the Golden Era of Broadway.  The strains of Jule Styne's masterful chords (which uses everything from trumpets to strings to percussion!) mixed with the perfect colloquial created by Stephen Sondheim heightens the emotion and power of this song.  And boy is this character full of heightened emotion!  The character of Mama Rose (based on the real-life mother of famed stripper Gypsy Rose Lee) runs the gamut of all kinds of emotions (anger, frustration, guilt, passion, pain, euphoria, loneliness, etc.) within every song she sings in the show.  This first act finale is quite frankly the character's tour-de-force.  Like Phantom's "The Music Of the Night," this is a "seduction song;" however, Mama Rose is trying to lure her daughter Louise (who will later become Gypsy Rose Lee) into being the star of their new act.  Therefore, she is using tons of happy and child-like images (roses, daffodils, lollipops, sunshine, Santa Claus, etc.) to entice her "child" to join her in her world (no matter how crazy it is!).

Tomorrow, on Memorial Day, I shall reveal the #1 Greatest Broadway Song of All-Time!

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