TheaterMania U

Call Me Maria? – A Broadway Playlist

Emma turns today’s top hits into theme music for some of Broadway’s classic musicals.

What musical themes might be on your iPod?
(stock image courtesy of Microsoft Office Images)

On Saturday night, I was on the train coming home from the Washington Square area. I was listening to “Mind Your Manners” by Chiddy Bang on my iPod. Since three out of five days of the week I’m writing up theater events as news stories and for listings, I started thinking about Broadway productions while the song was streaming. And instantly I connected the current song on my playlist to the part of The Sound of Music when the seven von Trapp kids are taught to behave politely. That’s when I came up with the idea for this blog: a list of current hits that relate to our most beloved Broadway shows.

“Teenage Dream” by Katy Perry: Spring Awakening
Katy Perry’s not-so-subtle hints of physical teenage fantasies could easily be incorporated into this highly acclaimed show. Her references to adolescent maturity and lust (“let’s go all the way tonight”) fit nicely into this production which explores similar themes.

“Magic” by B.O.B.: Wicked
“Magic, magic, magic…” is a repeating phrase in this B.O.B. hit. Instantly I thought of Wicked – the untold story of the witches of Oz before Dorothy touched down. The line “everybody knows I got the magic in me” coincides with Elphaba’s inner journey from self-deprecating outcast to personally-motivated activist.

“Who I Am Hates Who I’ve Been” by Relient K: Porgy and Bess
I first got attached to this show after I heard a BBC podcast of an interview with Audra McDonald. Listening to her describe Bess’ struggle to escape from her past with an abusive boyfriend brought to mind one of my favorite artists: Relient K. “I’m ready to be sure I never become that way again” seems to be Bess’ motivation when she is with the much more wholesome character Porgy.

“Billionaire” by Travie McCoy: How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
My dad actually came up with this one when I pitched him the idea for this blog. Travie McCoy’s dream of “[wanting] to be on the cover of Forbes Magazine” and to “toss a couple million [dollars] in the air, just for the heck of it” mirrors J. Pierpont Finch’s desires to climb the ladder of success in the company… without doing much actual work. Fortune and status without the labor – who doesn’t have that dream?!

“Hustle Hard” by Ace Hood: Oliver!
What does a rap song that features Rick Ross and Lil Wayne have to do with a musical about a helpless orphan? Listen to lyrics such as “out here try’na get [money], each and every way” and you’ll make the connection between these artists and a gang of pick-pockets running around London. Though not your average image of a ‘hustler,’ Fagin’s boys have methods of criminality similar to those that the song frequently alludes to.

“Where Is The Love?” by The Black Eyed Peas: Les Miserables “People killing, people dying, children hurting, hear them crying” instantly conjures up images of the perilous scenes from this Broadway classic. Everything from Fontaine’s plight to Valjean’s heart-wrenching death have everyone at the theater asking, “where is the love?” for humanity in a life that is “so different from the dream I dreamed.”

“Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen: West Side Story
How could I talk about today’s top music without mentioning this catchy tune? No matter who is reading this, I’m almost positive that you’ve heard the lines “hey, I just met you; and this is crazy. But here’s my number, so call me maybe?” countless times in the last couple of months. And if Tony and Maria were living in the 21st century, this would certainly be their theme song. Instant attraction after a single rendezvous? Sounds like it’s time for an updated rendition of “Tonight.”

Honorable mention: “It’s Goin’ Down” by Yung Joc: Titanic the Musical, “Shut Up and Drive” by Rihanna: Grease, and “Moment 4 Life” by Nicki Minaj: A Chorus Line.