I played a CD for my students today while they were working - The Broadway Kids, “The Best of Broadway.” It’s a collection of kid-friendly tunes from musicals. The first song was from Cats, so I explained, “This is a song from a play about cats. They sing and dance.” They were suitably impressed, and began to ask about the origin of each track on the CD. I gave them the Cliff Notes version of each musical (to the best of my memory). It went a little something like this:
Les Miserables (“Little People”)
This song is about a boy who hangs around soldiers who are in a war, and he keeps telling everyone that little kids can do whatever grown-ups can do, because he wants to help the soldiers. Does he get to help them? Yes… but then he gets shot and dies.
Annie (“Hard Knock Life”)
This song is from a play about an orphan… that’s someone who has no parents. She lives in an orphanage, with other children who don’t have parents. So this song is about how hard their life in the orphanage is. Why are they in an orphanage? Well… either their parents couldn’t take care of them, or their parents are dead.
The Lion King (“I Just Can’t Wait to Be King”)
You know this one from the movie. Simba is singing about what it will be like when he’s the king of all the animals. And then he becomes the king, because his father dies.
West Side Story (“I Feel Pretty”)
This song is about a girl named Maria, and she’s getting ready for a big dance. She’s singing about how pretty she looks. Oh, and when she gets to the dance, she meets a boy named Tony and they fall in love. Do they get married? No… because Tony gets shot and dies.
The Sound of Music (Medley)
There’s a man who has seven kids, so they have all these babysitters, but the kids are really mean to the babysitters. And then they get one who is really nice to them, and she teaches them how to sing. Why doesn’t their mother take care of them? Um… because she’s dead.
Rent (“Seasons of Love”)
It’s a song about friends. (I wasn’t even touching that one.)
It's kinda hard to tell if I made them fans of Broadway… or scared them away from it.