The Seven Ages of Musicals: Age Two

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In Musicals ...

The "I Want" Song:
The Secret Hope and Dream
of the Central Character

This song typically appears in a musical's first act, with one or more characters singing about the key motivating desire that will propel everyone through the remainder of the show.

  • "On the Steps of the Palace" from Into the Woods
  • "I Felt Nothing" from A Chorus Line
  • "I'm the Greatest Star" from Funny Girl
  • "Falling Slowly" from Once
  • "On the Street Where You Live" from My Fair Lady
  • "Grow for Me" from Little Shop of Horrors

Dig deeper...

Select your own example

Upload your own choice and tell us why you chose it.

Are you a composer or a writer? Post your own original song or monologue and tell us about it in the comments section.

In Plays ...

The "I Want" Monologue:
The Reason We Are Meeting this Character in the Play, and Why

Here's where we meet the engine of a play--the "motivation." Motivation is a character wanting something and discussing how that character is going to go about getting it. Motivation is a play.

  • Sticks and Bones by David Rabe (1969), Act I - Ossie: "They think they know me..." / "It's to be the one sent for that I run."
  • The White Guard by Mikhail Bulgakov (Adapted by Andrew Upton, 2010), Act I - Alexi: "Well, it sunk my heart." / Cut internal lines / "That is the battle we are fighting, gentlemen!"
  • Educating Rita by Willy Russell, Act I, Scene 7 - Rita: "I'm all right with you here in this room..." / Cut internal lines / "...and that's why I came back. And that's why I'm staying." (This is written in a British dialect; but for these purposes, it can be your own accent.)
  • The Three Sisters by Anton Chekhov, Act I - Irina: "Tell me why I am so happy today?" / Cut internal lines / "And if I don't get up early and work, give me up as a friend, Ivan Romanitch."
  • Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare, Act I, Scene 1 - Orsino: "If music be the food of love, play on!" / Cut Curio's lines / "O, when mine eyes did see Olivia first..."



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Comment by Leslie Stifelman on February 19, 2013 at 10:10am

@ Morgan.  Lets talk first about your choice of song for the I WANT SONG part of the SEVEN AGES.  What you chose actually represents the part of the play that comes later on where we find out what the hinge of the plot is - what is wrong with the characters world and how they intend on coming to terms with there problem.  (We will be visiting those songs later on in our project) That is where this song from AIDA happens in the show.  Go back and look for what Aida sings about in the beginning of the play and REPOST that song!  I think you will see a big difference in what you are singing about! 

Comment by Morgan Snowden on February 18, 2013 at 11:31am
@Leslie, today would be great but I am not able to Skype right this moment. Is 6 okay? Let me know if that's ok with you.
Comment by Leslie Stifelman on February 18, 2013 at 11:25am

@ Amy Megan.  Thanks for re-recording and trying to work through your technical challenges.  Maybe Jonathan can help you with ideas about lighting and direction of the camera because it is so great to SEE you perform.  Wanna try one more time right side up?

1) Your voice has totally blossomed technically.  Whatever program of voice training you are using has really transformed you.  Especially noticeable is the ease with which you are singing and how that matches the construct of the song in pitch and quality of your sound. Its great to hear your technique match your intention which is helping you to create that clarity in sound. 

Could you share with the group some of the technical exercises and concepts you think are unique in the ESTILL method?  They might be an interesting talking point for the group.  Maybe you could lead a discussion for everyone!

2) You performance was very poignant and well crafted - its also a great song and you kept it direct and simple.

3) I would love to hear you - maybe in the next AGE which will be posted soon - to do a song more traditional so I can hear how you are really controlling your high belt.


GREAT WORK and congratulations on your progress.


Comment by Leslie Stifelman on February 18, 2013 at 11:11am

@ Morgan  Looks like you just need to adjust the privacy setting from youtube or wherever you uploaded your video from.  ALSO  can you SKYPE today??

Comment by Morgan Snowden on February 18, 2013 at 10:13am

I chose this as my "I want" song for Age 2 because it is very different from other "I want" songs. It has a lot of emotion especially at the middle and at the end of the song! And this character is a very strong and independent person who knows what she wants. She teaches me that I can do anything if I have the drive to do it.

Comment by Morgan Snowden on February 18, 2013 at 10:08am

Comment by Amy Megan Day on February 15, 2013 at 6:26pm

Thanks Leslie! That means a lot :) I am absolutely loving university, they're training us in Estill, so I feel as though I understand a lot more about what my voice is doing when I sing certain ways etc., so it feels more controlled.

Yes I do have my own company, although we do more physical theatre plays rather than musical theatre.

I LOVE Joe Iconis. And Pasek and Paul too! I'm excited for their music to be on Smash :)

So I tried to re-record the song on my laptop, and it crashed, so I used my phone, and it uploaded pretty quickly, but then I realised it was sideways. So apologies! (I'm really not very good with technology! Haha)

Thanks Leslie!


Comment by Leslie Stifelman on February 15, 2013 at 12:20am

@Amy Megan:  

Wow your singing has really grown since I last heard you!  Congratulations. You must really be excelling at your University.  Didn't you also have your own theater company of some kind?  

And thank you so much for posting this song by Joe Iconis.  I'm a huge fan of his music and the one plus about SMASH is that the writers are using young theater composers for the show - stay tuned for me great new music by Pasek and Paul who I also love.  I'm also so glad that you chose this song for an I WANT SONG.  Such interesting text and point of view. Is there any way - and I hope you don't mind - redoing this in better lighting so I can see you.  It will be better to comment on your interpretation if we could see you.  The picture and the sound from your laptop are really pretty good - which just need some light on you!

One other thing - I didn't mind your singing the song in this key at all - maybe I can help you with some of the lower register part in the beginning.  You sound so good at the end, I will be curious to hear how Krysta's key sounds in your voice.

 Also, maybe you can give us your reasons why you think this is a good I WANT song.

Thank you so much for participating and look forward to seeing more work from you.


Leslie Stifelman

Comment by Amy Megan Day on February 14, 2013 at 4:55pm

@Erica Thank you! This is the male version unfortunately. I have been working on 'Sing Happy' from Flora the Red Menace today which I should be able to post tomorrow. That will hopefully be a better quality haha. Although it will have to be acapella as I don't have a backing. Thanks Erica, I'm enjoying working on the project!

Comment by Amy Megan Day on February 13, 2013 at 1:45pm

Here it is (excuse the bad picture haha I filmed from my laptop :D)

Comment by Amy Megan Day on February 13, 2013 at 11:10am

Hi guys! I haven't posted in ages, I started University doing an MT degree in September and ever since it's been crazy. Hopefully now that my schedule's calmed down a bit I can post more! I'm going to upload 'Broadway, Here I Come', a Joe Iconis song that I discovered through Smash and love (it's the male accompaniment I found but I'm planning on buying the female score version), and I thought it might be a good 'I Want' song so I gave it a go. Will post it in a bit once it's uploaded :D

I'm excited to have the time to do this more often!! Xo

Comment by Brittany Bigelow on January 31, 2013 at 4:49pm

@Erica! Thank you so much! a cappella is super challenging for me because I really struggle with pitch, but I am glad I was able to do it :) Thank you!!! 

Comment by Brittany Bigelow on January 31, 2013 at 8:36am

@ Leslie! Unfortunately, I have Spanish and then Marketing (for my minor) during your music classes but I actually went to say hi yesterday before the 10:10 class and I heard you were not there! I will most definitely be at the show! I reserve my ticket a couple weeks ago :)

Comment by Leslie Stifelman on January 31, 2013 at 12:45am

@ Brittany!  Hey Britt.  Haven't run into you yet at PACE.  Are you coming to the concert on Sunday at John Jay with all our classes?  Hope to see you there!

Comment by Brittany Bigelow on January 30, 2013 at 10:18pm
Comment by Jonathon Hampton on January 30, 2013 at 4:10pm

@Sara and @Brittney, looking forward to seeing your uploads. Drop a line if you need a nudge in the right direction. 

Comment by Brittney Burgess on January 20, 2013 at 5:49pm

Doing my song tonight

Comment by Jonah Verdon on December 30, 2012 at 1:25pm

My Age 2 song..."Where is Love" from "Oliver"! :-)

Comment by Jonah Verdon on December 30, 2012 at 1:24pm

@Lizzie I am soooo impressed that you can accompany yourself!!! That is awesome. And @Tony great monologue! And @Brittany I really enjoyed your piece. Great job everyone!! :-)

Comment by Lizzie Smith on December 29, 2012 at 8:07am

not a very good picture quality - any hopes of being able to see any acting are lost thus... but this was an old recording i have that fits the brief - will upload a better recording when i get a chance later :)

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