The last few weeks have been rather busy for us as we ended March by going to an Alan Menken concert, began April with watching the national tour production of Anastasia, and watched a regional production of Mamma Mia! about two weeks ago.
On March 30, we attended “A Whole New World of Alan Menken” to hear the legendary composer and songwriter―best known for his work with Disney―perform some of his most popular songs at the Auditorium Theatre in downtown Chicago. He played a little bit of everything, from “Under the Sea” from The Little Mermaid to “Suddenly Seymour” from Little Shop of Horrors to the skit song Captain America and the dancers perform to in Captain America: The First Avenger. He also told some stories about his career, how he collaborated with other well-known songwriters, how various songs came to be, and how he got to work on certain projects.
A lot of what we already knew about Menken concerned his involvement with various projects, but we didn’t know much about the collaborations he had or much about his personal life. So it was really great to learn more about a person whose music has brought us so much joy throughout the years. It was also cool learning more about his work that were unfamiliar with, such as Sister Act the Musical and the television show Galavant. We’re especially appreciative of the time he took to perform a show in Chicago, because he said his mom had just passed a few days prior.
Songs in musicals are not only entertaining but play integral roles in telling stories, explaining situations, and detailing how characters are feeling. In honor of International Women’s Day, we’re featuring some songs from Broadway musicals that are sung by female characters and show strong emotions while conveying a message of feminism and female empowerment.
“I’d Rather Be Me” – Barrett Wilbert Reed (Mean Girls: The Musical)
This angsty song is all about individuality, staying true to yourself, and forgetting about the stereotypes society has placed on women and girls. In the song, Wilbert Reed, who plays Janis, literally sings “And here’s my right finger to how girls should behave.” Her right finger referring to her middle finger, this line is the essence of the song. It echos the idea that Janis would rather be who she wants to be, regardless of what others think, than to be friends with someone who would disagree with that idea, someone who would pull her down.
“For Good” – Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth (Wicked)
Perhaps the most popular duet (no pun intended) from the hit show, “For Good” is a wonderful example of the power of a strong female friendship. They literally sing “Because I have known you, I have been changed for good,” and isn’t that the goal of all friendships, especially those with your girl gang? Women should lift up and support one another and help make the world a better place, and Elphaba and Glinda have shown us that we can do it one friendship at a time.