Bingeing Broadway

Not many people know this, but I have a slight obsession with musical theatre. Only recently – after joining Spotify (I know, I’m very late to the game!) – did it occur to me that I’m a serial Broadway binger. I get hooked on a specific musical and then listen to it on repeat until my ears need a break.

On this occasion of my birthday, I thought it might be fun to look back at the history of my musical-theatre fixation.

I think the movie version of Fame is where it all started. This 1980 film – later adapted into both a stage musical and a TV series – focused on the aspirations of students at a performing arts high school, and embodied all my hopes and dreams as an ambitious young actor at the time. The soundtrack remained on repeat throughout my early adolescence, deepening my crush on Lee “bedroom eyes” Curreri every time I played it.


In the mid-1980s, my dad gave me a cassette of the Les Misérables soundtrack, after seeing the show live. Boy, did I play the heck out of that! In an unexpected turn of events, in 1991 I worked on the casting of the first bilingual-cast version of the show, an extraordinary experience that allowed me to see Les Mis both in English and its brand new French version.

Les Misérables

As my show-business career inclinations shifted to the tech world in the latter part of the 90s, my fondness for musicals only deepened, and my penchant for playing the poop out of my favourites never left. Here are a couple of songs from a few of my later obsessions:

Hedwig And The Angry Inch
Book of Mormon
Spring Awakening
Come From Away
Jagged Little Pill

Hope you enjoyed this roundup, and feel free to share your own musical-theatre faves in the comments!


Fever Dream

Last weekend, I attended my first live-theatre show since the Before Times: Sweet Charity, a musical I’d never seen before, performed by a group of local university students.

There I sat alone – my would-be companion sidelined with Covid, natch – the audience fully masked. Even the performers wore masks, except when singing a lead part.

A 1960s Broadway musical based on the Federico Fellini movie Nights of Cabiria, the original Sweet Charity came with a book by Neil Simon, choreography by the legendary Bob Fosse, and the lead role filled by Gwen Verdon as a bubbly “dance hall hostess” who meets a shy tax accountant when they get stuck in the same elevator.

The show makes it pretty clear that being a “dance hall hostess” commonly involved an income-supplementing activity for some of the women that, these days, would be referred to as “sex work.”

When the musical number Big Spender started up, a strange familiarity started to come over me. I knew that song. And not just from decades’ worth of pop-culture references. I knew it.

Well let me get right to the point:
I don’t pop my cork for every guy I see
Hey Big Spender! Spend a little time with me.

Wouldn’t you like to have fun, fun, fun?
We could have a few laughs, laughs
I could show you… good time!
Would you like to have a… good time?

Excerpt from “Big Spender” – lyrics by Dorothy Fields

And then it hit me. I sang that song. Back at a children’s arts camp I attended as kid, in one of our group performances.

Was it a bit odd that a bunch of 12-year olds were taught to sing a song about showing wealthy men a “good time”? If it was, we certainly didn’t realize it at the time.

Anyway. That wasn’t even the song that’s stuck with me the most since the show. That honour goes to Rhythm of Life, a mesmerizing earworm that just won’t leave, especially after I listened to this version by Sammy Davis Jr. from the movie adaptation. Check it out, if you dare. And tell me what you think.