Emma Clarendon selects some of her favourite songs performed by leading lady characters in musicals….
‘The History of Wrong Guys’, performed by the character Lauren in Kinky Boots: This song always makes me laugh as it is completely relatable as the shock of realising you are falling for someone who you wouldn’t normally go for sinks in. The sense of conflict in the lyrics is brilliantly witty but somehow charming as well .But it is also the way in which she lists the different “types” of men out there and despairs over her love life – it really highlights the problems of modern day dating!
‘Don’t Rain On My Parade’, performed by the character Fanny from Funny Girl: This is the ultimate song for a female character to sing – it’s a song of determination about following a dream – no matter what it costs and despite what other people think. In this whole sequence Fanny is clear on what she wants – she is impulsive and unafraid about what the future holds for her. It is this confidence and self-assuredness that really stands out and is one of the most memorable songs for a female character to sing.
‘The Winner Takes it All’, sung by the character Donna from Mamma Mia!: As well as being one of Abba’s best songs, ‘The Winner Takes It All’ is a beautifully powerful song for the character Donna to sing as she unveils all the pain and hurt that she has felt. The way in which each lyric and change in the music uncovers a new emotion is heartbreaking as well as being an important part of the story.
‘She Used To Be Mine’, sung by the character Jenna from Waitress the Musical: This song is beautifully delicate and filled with heartfelt honesty that catches my breath every time that I listen to it. It is also another song that is completely relatable in terms of feeling like you have lost control over your life. It powerfully conveys the inner turmoil that the character feels at this point in the story.
‘Journey to the Past’, sung by Anya from Anastasia: The film Anastasia was one of the first I saw at the cinema and this song has stuck with me ever since. I love it because it soars beautifully as she sings following her dream and finding her family. Simply stunning – so why are we still waiting for this musical to come to the West End?
‘So Much Better’, sung by Elle from Legally Blonde: This song is a real cheer for the character moment as Elle realises that she just needs confidence in herself and not a man to make her newfound ambitions become a reality. It’s a real turning point for the character as well as a genuinely joyful and celebratory song.
‘Burn’ sung by Eliza from Hamilton: This song has so many different layers to it as Eliza sings her pain, anger and anguish towards Alexander while burning the letters he wrote to her. It is made even more powerful because of the understated quality of it – there is no need for the over the top drama here musically as the audience can thoroughly understand the character’s shock and pain at this point. It is certainly a memorable moment in the musical.
Those are just seven of my favourite songs sung by female characters and there are certainly plenty more where they came from – so I will probably be re-visiting this topic in the future!
By Emma Clarendon