After the success of our Anthology series by voice type this past Fall (click here to read Volume 1), we decided to spend the next several weeks looking at great songs by genre. This week, we’re focusing on story songs.
Unlike some musical theatre songs, story songs take the listener on the journey to a event (or events). What’s so delicious is that a story song can literally span decades. Think of it as a cinematic device in musical theatre: you potentially get to see several key moments related to the story in the course of a very compact period of time.
Of the currently 28 story songs we have on our site, here are a noteworthy five we think you’ll enjoy.
Glory (from GLORY)
Music & Lyrics by: David Reiffel
Performed by: Peter Adams (with Alisa Miles, Shannon Mühs, Abby Cordell, Katie Ford, Josh Antonucci, and Andrew Stephens)
In the haunting finale of GLORY, a mentally ill holes man – with his demons now under control – honors the life-changing struggle of the title character, the wife of an ambitious preacher, to reconcile her growing doubt with the unquestioning faith she has previously known.
A great song for a young teen girl, “It’s Just Not My Thing” underscores the pressure most children feel to be good at something, to stand out from their peers. Well written for the young voice, my favorite lyric is: “How do I stick with it when I always feel stuck.” The little boy within me, who was forced to finish out the little league season in order to continue piano lessons says, “Amen, sister!”
Keeping Dreams at Bay (from BELLISSIMA)
Music & Lyrics by: Linda Dowdell
Performed by: Kristin Maloney
This song for high belt/mix tells the story of a simple girl who has dreams of being on the screen, but catches herself avoiding the dangers of falling into the dream itself. The rhapsodic music demands a smart and technically grounded singer who can take a dramatic and musical journey that is truly satisfying.
Any belt tenor who sings this song is in expert hands. Conversational lyrics that enjoy a perfect casual rhyme are beautifully set to an expressive melody underneath the kind of pulsing accompaniment that fascinates, drawing the listener in. Perhaps the most convincing shift in the song is the final section (“And we’ll walk it if we have to…”), which unwinds as the story comes to an end.
In this midwinter darkness, it’s sometimes hard to get in touch with our inner wizard. This beautiful story song tells the story of a young “dragon wizard” who comes trick-or-treating and how it perfectly disorganizes the life of the storyteller.
Check back next week when we look at our favorite Dramatic Up-Tempos!
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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.