10 Theater Songs About Acting

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If anyone loves the theater...it’s theater folks! Over the years creatives have written some incredible musicals and melodies about what it’s like to be in this business. Here are 10 (in no particular order) that you should add to your Broadway playlist!

“Applause” from “Applause”
Believe it or not, this Betty Comden/Adolph Green musical has yet to be revived on the Great White Way—but its grandiose number “Applause” lives on! What performer doesn’t thrive from the sweet, sweet sound of audience cheer?

Notable Lyrics
When I was 8

I was in a school play
I’ll never forget it
I had one line to say
My big moment came, I said, “What ho, the prince!”
My sister applauded
I’ve been hooked ever since

“As If We Never Said Goodbye” from “Sunset Boulevard”
A show-stopping number from this Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, “As If We Never Said Goodbye” is just one reason Glenn Close earned a Tony for her role as Norma Desmond in 1994. Watch her below and...try not to cry.

Notable Lyrics
I’m coming out of make-up

The lights already burning
Not long until the cameras will start turning...

“Give My Regards to Broadway” from “Little Johnny Jones”
Originally for the show “Little Johnny Jones,” George M. Cohan wrote this classic song in 1904. The show has played on Broadway four more times, and the song has been sung by the great Judy Garland, among others.

Notable Lyrics
Give my regards to Broadway

Remember me to Herald Square
Tell all the gang at 42nd Street
That I will soon be there

“I Hope I Get It” from “A Chorus Line”
This Marvin Hamlisch musical is, without a doubt, one of the most relatable for actors of all kinds. Whether your passion is film, TV, voiceover, or theater, “I Hope I Get It” perfectly encapsulates that jittery audition feeling you know all too well.

Notable Lyrics
God, I hope I get it

I hope I get it
I’ve come this far, but even so
It could be yes, it could be no...

“Climbing Uphill” from “The Last Five Years”
This heartbreaking musical from Jason Robert Brown is...mostly heartbreaking, but one of its main characters, Cathy, is a struggling actor whose plight is particularly relatable. In the recently adapted silver screen version with Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan, “Climbing Uphill” reveals Cathy’s deepest insecurities as an actor.

Notable Lyrics
Maybe I should stop and start over

I’m gonna stop and start over
Why is the director staring at his crotch?
Why is that man staring at my résumé?
Don’t stare at my résumé
I made up half of my résumé

“Broadway Baby” from “Follies”
Oh, “Follies.” This beloved Stephen Sondheim show, twice revived on Broadway, gave us some instant theater classics. Enjoy Bernadette Peters’ version of “Broadway Baby” below!

Notable Lyrics
I’m just a

Broadway Baby
Walking off my tired feet
Pounding 42nd Street
To be in a show

“Show People” from “Curtains”
This 2007–2008 musical comedy directed by Scott Ellis poked fun at the business of show, which is perfectly exemplified in the song “Show People.”

Notable Lyrics
You’re a special kind of people known as show people

You live in a world of your own
The audience paid plenty to sit there and clap
Hearing you sing
Watching you tap

“42nd Street” from “42nd Street”
This musical came to Broadway in 1980 and its titular number is a classic when you think of the Great White Way! The story follows a director as he attempts to stage a production during the Great Depression.

Notable Lyrics
Come and meet those dancing feet

On the avenue I’m taking you to
42nd Street
Hear the beat of dancing feet
It’s the song I love the melody of
42nd Street

“There’s No Business Like Show Business” from “Annie Get Your Gun”
Another classic, this show first hit Broadway in 1946 and gave us “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” performed by the ensemble.

Notable Lyrics
The opening when your heart beats like a drum

The closing when the customers won’t come
There’s no business like show business
Like no business I know

“Rose’s Turn” from “Gypsy”
Last, but certainly not least (although this list could go on and on) is “Rose’s Turn” from “Gypsy.” Another Sondheim-penned classic, the show is a harrowing look at the struggles of leading a life on the edges of show business, and the song is Mama Rose’s pivotal number.

Notable Lyrics
Well, someone tell me, when is it my turn?

Don’t I get a dream for myself?
Starting now it’s gonna be my turn

I’m not crying, you’re crying! I haven’t been watching Bernadette Peters videos for an hour, you’ve been watching Bernadette Peters videos for an hour!

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