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Funny Gals on The Most Hilarious Songs for Women

12th Jul 2021

Vikki Stone and Natasha Barnes’s new show celebrates comic songs for actresses – here are their favourites from musicals


The Worst Pies in London

From Sweeney Todd by Stephen Sondheim

Mrs Lovett is the sort of role that every actress (including me) hopes they’ll play one day. The Worst Pies in London is fiendishly hard to sing, with Sondheim adding stage directions on specific beats, too. But that musicality combined with excellent, funny writing is what gets my juices flowing. A parade of funny female performers have tackled the role over the years, including Imelda Staunton, Julia McKenzie and Helena Bonham Carter, but it was originated on Broadway by the world’s favourite singing teapot, the great Angela Lansbury, in 1979. VS

Macaroons

From Acorn Antiques: The Musical! by Victoria Wood

Not many of the songs we cover in our show Funny Gals are written by women, but this song from Victoria Wood’s musical is a gem. It’s an uptempo number sung by one of the all-time great British TV comedy characters, Mrs Overall. I love singing it as you can really tell it was written by a comedian. There are not just jokes on the chorus, which is the usual formula for a musical comedy song – the whole thing is jam-packed with funny lines that the audience love. VS

There’s No Way Pat

From #zoologicalsociety by Vikki Stone

Please forgive me the indulgence of including my own song, but I wrote There’s No Way Pat for Natasha and me to sing, so I can’t not include it as a favourite! It’s from my debut musical #zoologicalsociety, and it’s a song for two gossiping Giraffes. I’ve written two musicals that are on the way to the stage, and in both of them I’ve tried to make sure there are funny roles for women that women actually want to play. VS

I’m the Greatest Star

From Funny Girl by Bob Merrill and Jule Styne

This, predictably, is one of my favourite songs of all time. Funny Girl opened on Broadway in 1964, and what I have come to love more and more about it is the fact a female comedic character stood proudly front and centre in what could be called one of the original “biopic” musicals. I love what Fanny Brice did for female comedy and I love even more that Barbra Streisand had this song written around her. It’s about someone who is deadly serious about their art but not so serious about themselves: the perfect aspiration! NB

I’m Breaking Down

From Falsettos by William Finn and James Lapine

This show, centred on a lovable, dysfunctional Jewish family across the late 70s and 80s, is a masterpiece that hits you where it hurts, when you least expect it. I fell in love with this song when I got to listen to it backstage every night in the London production last year. (I played a different part in the show.) It’s a marathon of a song – a confession that is as tragic as it is hilarious. It’s as if the composers knew how to write for a complex female character almost as well as a woman would. NB

Diva’s Lament

From Spamalot by John Du Prez and Eric Idle
I cut my funny teeth watching Monty Python and the Holy Grail, probably at too young an age. There is something so freeing about playing a “diva” in this song. You can really let rip and the bigger the better – it’s a total guilty pleasure. In our show it follows Macaroons, sung by Vikki, so we have two British comedic songs back to back. It’s such a silly part of the show and such a privilege to do. NB

 

Posted by lucy@underbellylondon.co.uk

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