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Your Broadway New Year’s Eve Playlist

Category Broadway

|by Mark Robinson |


Start 2019 the right way, with the help of the Great White Way

2018 is about to wrap up, and we’re looking forward to what 2019 has to bring. Whether it be joyous celebration or quiet reflection, New Year’s Eve is all about taking stock of our lives, reconciling the past and embracing the future. All Broadway lovers need the right music to help ring in the New Year, so we have assembled a Broadway playlist to help you get in the spirit of “Auld Lang Syne.”

The company of ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ performing ‘Masquerade’ (Photo: Joan Marcus)

The company of ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ performing ‘Masquerade’ (Photo: Joan Marcus)

“Seasons of Love” from Rent
There is no reason to hold out on the most obvious song that belongs on this list. “Seasons of Love,” from the musical Rent, sums-up the trials and tribulations of 525,600 minutes that make up the earth’s full rotation around the sun. The Jonathan Larson song from the 1996 Broadway megahit is a powerhouse celebration of how we measure a year, and a reminder that the best increment by which to assess our lives is how much love we share and receive.

“Happy, Happy New Year” from Dance a Little Closer

Not many people know Dance a Little Closer, the short-lived musical of 1983 that closed after one performance. Loosely based on the Robert E. Sherwood play Idiot’s Delight, the musical takes place on New Year’s Eve on the brink of nuclear Armageddon. The Charles Strouse (Annie) and Alan Jay Lerner (My Fair Lady) score includes the song “Happy, Happy New Year,” a hopeful wish for better things to come and a call for us all to hold each other just a little closer.

“Everlasting” from Tuck Everlasting

The New Year can also bring about contemplation over choices, the possible roads that face us as we enter the next stage of our lives. In the musical Tuck Everlasting, with a score by Chris Miller and Nathan Tysen, a young girl is faced with the decision of living the life she was born into, or drinking from a magical spring that gives everlasting life. The song “Everlasting” is a poignant reflection on how our decisions shape our future, capturing the thoughts that fill our mind at the start if another year on this earth.

“Time” from Tuck Everlasting

Time is a recurring theme of the musical Tuck Everlasting, so it was likely we would end up with two songs from that show on our playlist. Father Time is a symbol of the New Year celebration, that harbinger of January 1st and all that comes with it. The song “Time” from Tuck Everlasting is a melancholic look at how quickly it passes, especially from the point of view of a parent.

“Brand New Day” from The Wiz

R&B singer-songwriter Luther Vandross provided this song for the 1975 musical The Wiz, one of the few songs in the score not written by Charlie Smalls. The Wiz is, of course, is the African-American retelling of L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. “Brand New Day” was written as a celebration of the death of the Wicked Witch, known here as “Evillene,” signifying a bright future free of oppression. The song is a great way to usher in the New Year, a jubilant rejoice of better things to come.

“After the Ball” from Show Boat

Admittedly, this is a sentimental choice for the playlist, but because it was interpolated into the 1927 musical groundbreaker Show Boat, but it is essential that we include it. Within the show, the song is sung on New Year’s Eve by showboat Captain Andy Hawkes, when his daughter Magnolia is having a rough time as a performer at Chicago’s Trocadero Club. He rallies the crowd by getting them to join in singing “After the Ball.” The song was not written by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein, II, who wrote Show Boat’s celebrated score. It was actually composed by Charles K. Harris in 1891 as a Tin Pan Alley hit, and used to create nostalgia within the context of Show Boat. Listen to the song and see if it doesn’t conjure a feeling similar to that New Year’s staple “Auld Lang Syne.”

“Masquerade” – from The Phantom of the Opera

In the Broadway musical The Phantom of the Opera, the new owners of the Paris Opera House, Monsieur Andre and Monsieur Firmin, refer to the gala celebration as a “prologue to a bright New Year.” Whether they are talking about the actual New Year, or the new season of the opera, is irrelevant. The song that follows this exchange is “Masquerade,” a glorious chorus number sung at an elaborate costume party. The Andrew Lloyd Webber, Charles Hart and Richard Stilgoe number is a glorious song for any celebration, and a perfect one for ringing in the New Year.

“Let It Go” from Frozen

Maybe this one will feel like a bit of a stretch, but “Let It Go” from the animated film Frozen and the subsequent stage adaptation is all about leaving the past in the past. It’s a timely message at New Years to let go of the old year, and brace yourself for the new, stronger and wiser than before. The Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez song is an empowering number, one that is guaranteed to galvanize you for the challenges ahead.

“Merrily We Roll Along” from Merrily We Roll Along

Celebrating the New Year is all about bidding a fond farewell to the old, and moving forward into the possibilities of the new. For a touch of irony on our playlist, we’ve included “Merrily We Roll Along,” from the 1981 musical of the same name, which is a jaunty ditty that bridges scenes together in a story that is told backward through time. The Stephen Sondheim song rewinds the clock for us, taking us on a journey to more innocent and optimistic times with each reprise.

“Let’s Start the New Year Right” – Holiday Inn

Though maybe not the most well-known of the myriad songs churned out by Irving Berlin over his long and illustrious career, “Let’s Start the New Year Off Right” is certainly an ideal fit for our playlist. The song appeared in the 1942 film of Holiday Inn and was the conclusion of Act I for the 2016 Broadway stage musical adaptation. It’s all about entering the New Year with the right frame of mind: a positive outlook and a touch of hope.

“The Party’s Over” – from Bells Are Ringing

New Year’s Eve is about the year coming to the end putting behind the things that didn’t go our way. What better way to capture this sentiment than with the song “The Party’s Over” from the 1956 musical Bells Are Ringing? The ditty by Jule Styne (music) and Betty Comden & Adolph Green (lyrics) specifically recalls a failed attempt at romance, but as New Year’s Eve draws to a close, the lyrics really sum up the idea that the party (and the year) is indeed over.

Mark Robinson is the author of the two-volume encyclopedia The World of Musicals, The Disney Song Encyclopedia, and The Encyclopedia of Television Theme Songs. He maintains a theater and entertainment blog at markrobinsonwrites.com.

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