Featured Five, Vol. 10 – A BORDERS in Kentucky


This blog is a part of The Directory of Contemporary Musical Theatre Writers, found online at www.contemporarymusicaltheatre.com



You’ve gotta hand it to Jason Robert Brown: the man gives good lyric:

“I’ve had Shabbas dinner on Friday nights
With every Shapiro in Washington Heights.” 
(“Shiksa Goddess,” THE LAST FIVE YEARS)

As we await JRB’s forthcoming Broadway musical, BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY (which I’ve heard wonderful things about, by the way. It stars Kelli O’Hara so, regardless of reviews, I’m going….), I’m feeling a little nostalgic, remembering the wonderful New York production of THE LAST FIVE YEARS at the petite Minetta Lane Theatre in 2002, with the composer at the keys, directed by Daisy Prince. This month’s “Featured Five” is inspired by a lyric from the show’s bouncy tune, “A Summer in Ohio:”

“I saw your book at a BORDERS in Kentucky
Under a sign that said ‘New and Recommended.’”

Well, we have some great “New and Recommend” songs for you! The below pieces are all ones added in the last few months, along with a slew of other new repertoire you should check out on The Directory. We know you’ll enjoy these five fab songs!


Sara Rebell
Sara Rebell
Music: Will Buck
Lyrics: Sarah Rebell

Perfect for: High Belt/Mix

The song “Control” began in William Finn’s lyric writing masterclass at NYU’s Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program. It was inspired by a prompt to write a song in which someone has dream about losing things. I knew immediately that I wanted the character to lose things both literally and metaphorically. And while the song is not exactly biographical, it was only when I stopped trying to control the lyric–and let it control me instead–that the piece really came together.

For more information, click here.



Nathan Tysen & Chris Miller
Nathan Tysen & Chris Miller
Music: Chris Miller
Lyrics: Nathan Tysen

Perfect for: Young (Under 13), High Voice

The following song is from a musical adaptation of the novel TUCK EVERLASTING. Doomed to -or blessed with- eternal life after drinking from a magic spring, the Tuck family wanders about trying to live as inconspicuously and comfortably as they can. When eleven-year-old Winnie Foster stumbles on their secret, the Tucks take her home and explain why living forever at one age is less a blessing than it might seem. Near the end of the show, eleven-year old Winnie Foster is literally faced with the decision of her life.  Will she drink from the vial that will grant her everlasting life, or destroy the vial and embrace her own mortality?

This is one of my favorite songs in the show, and is special to me (Nathan) because of how quickly it came out. It was one of the last songs we wrote for the piece, and it just poured out of us. I wrote the lyric in under two hours, and Chris set it almost instantaneously.  It is such a blessing to have the occasional easy process, considering most of the time we are banging our heads against walls/pianos and obsessing over every word/chord/note. I love it’s simplicity, and how fun it is to sing.  It also has become a very popular audition song for young female singers.

For more information, click here.

Fly Little Bird

Gayla Morgan
Gayla Morgan
Music & Lyrics: Gayla Morgan
from Mary – A Musical

Perfect for: Young (Under 13), Medium Voice

“Fly Little Bird” is a quiet song of hope in the midst of the worst possible circumstances. It was the final song written for MARY — A MUSICAL: a last-minute addition on the evening before an Equity reading, to be sung by the youngest member of the troupe—Samara Ehrlich, who was then 13 years old. It was intended to musically handle a “beat” of the story that held extreme, almost unbearable sadness.

The song lyrics express a dream for freedom of spirit, through the eyes of a child who chooses to hope in spite of her own experiences of fear and pain. In the show, the song is sung by the child to an adult who is suffering, but the song can also be interpreted as a message to oneself about rising above personal circumstances of the moment, or about freeing oneself to pursue new horizons.

Samara learned “Fly Little Bird” overnight. When she sang it the next day, it proved itself one of the most heartstopping moments of the entire show.

For more information, click here.

 Not That I’m Askin’

Joy Son
Joy Son
Music: Joy Son
Lyrics: Steve Routman

Perfect for: High Belt/Mix

We were asked to write an “I Want” song in BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop.  “Not That I’m Askin’” was written for a female main character Anne from our musical THE FISHER KING based on the same titled movie set in the 90’s New York.  She is an independent, savvy video store owner in Brooklyn.  To her neglectful boyfriend, Anne claims that all she needs is “romance” while she’s taking examples from her favorite book and continuously trying to get his attention throughout the song.  We think the song is a perfect audition number showing a strong female voice with full of charisma and a dry sense of humor.

For more information, click here.

 Nothing Has Changed (Everything’s Different)

Jason Loffredo
Jason Loffredo
Music & Lyrics: Jason Loffredo

Perfect for: Belt Mezzo

“Nothing Has Changed (Everything’s Different)” is a song inspired by the novel The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. The novel follows Offred, a woman living in a new dystopian world where woman have become second class citizens whose functions are compartmentalized based on each woman’s ability to breed in this new world in which nuclear fallout has left most woman infertile. Offred is considered relatively fertile and is assigned as a “Handmaid”, basically a surrogate for rich and powerful couples to have children. This song is told in flashback as Offred recounts the moment when the world suddenly but very subtly shifted from what was normal to what now exists. Her bank account was frozen, she was let go from her job, her husband was given all of her assets and the complete elimination of her rights to live freely became only a matter of time. She sings this song as she realizes that the sun is still shining and everything else is going on as usual except for her. For her, everything’s different.

For more information, click here.


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Visit www.contemporarymusicaltheatre.com for more information on over 180 contemporary musical theatre writers and 550+ songs, all searchable by voice and song type.


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