In your multitudes
Scarce to be counted
Filling the darkness
With order and light
You are the sentinels
Silent and sure
Keeping watch in the night
Keeping watch in the night
These lyrics are from which song and which musical?
Right, it’s from the song “Stars” and that most popular musical Les Misérables … which probably tells us that many musicals have much philosophy and deep thoughts (and poetry) in them! (Even if, of course, Les Misérables is based on Victor Hugo’s masterpiece that is a non-trivial literary work (with 365 chapters – so you can finish reading it in a year with reading a chapter a day).
Anyhow, this is our short list of our most favourite songs from musicals that are about stars:
- Stars (from Les Misérables) – A very beautiful song in a musical with lots of contenders for “most beautiful song”, with the text revealing much about the person who sang it (Javert), with extended metaphors to the effect that stars are God’s ways and just as stars turn to “flame” when they “fall,” humans go to Hell when they sin, summing up Javert’s world-view.
- Starlight Express – The title song from the musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber, this is the closing number for Act One and with the protagonist, Rusty, singing alone on a darkened stage, trying to summon the courage to follow through with his promise to race in Poppa’s place. Seriously, this is a musical about trains and coaches racing each other, with all characters on roller skates!
- When you wish upon a star – A “feel good” song that gives you so much positive energies and a Walt Disney classic that has even won an Oscar.
- Over the rainbow (from The Wizard of Oz) – Also on the “wish upon a star” theme, to “wake up where the clouds are behind me”, “And the dreams that you dare to, Why oh, why can’t I?”
- Lost in the stars (here with the indomitable Barbara Hannigan and with Simon Rattle on the piano). This is title song from a lesser-known musical-opera written by that wonderful composer Kurt Weill on the text of Maxwell Anderson drawing from Alan Paton’s iconic novel, Cry the Beloved Country, with beautifully evocative lines like “Before Lord God made the Sea and the Land / He held all the stars in the palm of his hand” and “Little stars and big stars / Blowing through the night / And we’re lost out here in the stars“.
- Tonight (from West Side story) – This is famously a love duet between Tony and Maria, sung while Tony visits Maria on the fire escape outside her apartment, the modern-day equivalent of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet set in 20th-century New York, actually says quite a lot about stars – “And what was just a world is a star, Tonight“, and “The world is wild and bright, going mad, shooting sparks into space”.
Which is your favourite song about stars from a musical?