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

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Select your own example

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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 Alexa Politis on May 6, 2013 at 9:29pm

In the link above I perform Coathanger Sculpture from Charlie Brown

I chose to perform this monologue for several reasons. First, Sally is young girl, around 9 or 10 years old. I was very particular about motivations for approaching Ms. Othmar (Sally's teacher) about my terrible grade. I also thought about how I can convince Ms. Othmar to change my grade, rather than attacking her with facts (which can result in screaming or speaking in one tone throughout the whole monologue which I tried to avoid).  Feedback is much appreciated and I hope you enjoy my monologue!

-Alexa Politis

Comment by Tony Ponella on April 16, 2013 at 12:59pm

@Madi: Thanks. Santa Fe is one of my all time favorite songs!

Comment by Tony Ponella on April 16, 2013 at 12:58pm

@Roger: Thanks so much for your comments. The piece actually wasn't original, but I adapted it for this purpose. I'm still looking for a good comedic piece and hope to post one soon!

Comment by Madi Russell on April 4, 2013 at 6:48pm

@Tony, you've done a FANTASTIC job with your rendition of Santa Fe" from Newsies! Congrats on your work!

Comment by Roger Rees on April 3, 2013 at 12:20pm

@Tony: What is great about this work, Tony - is that you are using every trick you employ so excellently in your song stories and singing technique. You seem able as an actor, with no music this time, to persuade us still that you are searching for words - and choosing to say them. Well, we know you are not - but the real hesitations you bring into play, and the delicate pauses you use make us think you are saying these thought for the first time. Well done. These are the tools a clever actor uses to make his audience feel they are experiencing a real event. Did you write this too? I hope you'll say yes to this, too. Because it's very nice. Well done. 

Comment by Josie Rose Duncan on March 31, 2013 at 7:05am

Comment by Brett-Marco Glauser on March 27, 2013 at 12:41pm

Hey guys! So excited to get posting again! Here's an "I Want" song that I love, from Catch Me if You Can, "Someone Else's Skin."

Enjoy! Can't wait for any comments.

Brett-Marco Glauser

Comment by Melissa Hunter McCann on March 26, 2013 at 11:34pm

@Leslie Stifelman

Thank you so much for all the feedback! This is so much fun and you can bet I will be posting many more videos.I definitely understand what you are saying. The two major things Dan and I are working on at the moment are creating a wider vowel/getting to it as soon as possible as well as my tongue placement at all times. Those two techniques seem to be the most difficult for me at the moment so I am working hard to improve that. I did feel how all the "GREEN"'s became flat(especially the last one) so I will focus on fixing that with what you said. I will continue to work on this song as well as prepare songs for AGE ONE & AGE THREE. I don't know if this song would be a good piece to add to my book? If not it is still fun to sing and work on. Thank you so much again for your time and feedback! It is much appreciated. I certainly cannot wait to work together on the Carnegie Hall concert in just a few weeks!

Melissa McCann

Comment by Amanda F. Jacobsen DeLalla on March 26, 2013 at 9:44pm

Melissa- wow. I just realizded how dated Litttle Shop is. But your rendition of it was nice.

Comment by Leslie Stifelman on March 26, 2013 at 9:07pm

@ Melissa McCann. 

I am so glad you posted this for many, many reasons.  First of all I just enjoy your performing style - whether its full out bold like when you dance or here (that you recorded on a whim) something we all might think is against your type - you know what I mean?  But that is the beauty of this project!  So that we stretch beyond what we would normally do and have to do for our auditions, voice lessons etc.  It really shows the range of color in your voice - lovely soprano and good control in all your registrations. 

Also, its so great to see you as an ingenue in this story of looking towards a bright future - because that is the way you are as a person.  You always have such a positive energy about you and the song really fits your speaking voice which is light and dare I say friendly and engaging.  THEN we know you can dance your butt off and be very strong and bold - I'd be very excited to hear you maybe in AGE ONE OR AGE THREE do something with a big belt. 

Just a few noticeable critiques I would have.  Go back and listen to every time you say the word GREEN.  Since it is the most important word in the song and considering how great your pitch is this is way too flat.  This can be a common problem when you are trying to straight tone a note - kind of creep into it - and then add vibrato and then magically the pitch appears.  You have to be so careful with that.  Listen to alot of Barbra Streisand who is of the very few singers ever who can really make this work.  Maybe to help this I would say be careful to decide how many syllables are in the word Green.  It sounds like 3 right now...Gr rr een.  Try to get to the vowel sooner - way sooner - not too much GRRR.  And on the beat - don't back phrase.  Also watch where your tongue placement is and see if NOT smiling helps you, try to maybe create a darker vowel.  Can you try this and let me know how it feels?

Can't wait for the Carnegie Hall concert when we all get to perform together!


Comment by Melissa Hunter McCann on March 26, 2013 at 6:11pm

Just decided to record this "I Want" song on a whim today. Hope you enjoy! I will appreciate any and all criticism/feedback. Thanks so much for your time.

Comment by Tony Ponella on March 20, 2013 at 11:13am

Hi guys! I recorded a couple of favorite "I want" songs. The first one, "Go the Distance" legitimately occupies that #2 spot, but in a movie. The second is "Santa Fe" from Newsies. In the movie version it is in the #2 spot, but in the musical is right before intermission. I'm using it as Age 2, but taking the more positive/hopeful characteristics of the Broadway version. Either way, it is probably my favorite "I want" song.

Comment by Amanda F. Jacobsen DeLalla on March 15, 2013 at 9:13pm

My song is an "I want" for s normal life

Comment by Morgan Snowden on March 15, 2013 at 1:54pm

My redone version of my Age 2 "I Want Song" Thanks for watching!!!

Comment by Morgan Snowden on March 15, 2013 at 1:52pm

Comment by Amanda F. Jacobsen DeLalla on March 12, 2013 at 1:40pm

Comment by Jonathon Hampton on March 11, 2013 at 4:17pm

Hey everyone, I wanted to share this post by Madi Russell of her 'I Want' song, Legally Blonde Remix!

Comment by Juliet Schlefer on February 25, 2013 at 6:04pm

I thought this song might fit in for the "I Want" stage because Johanna really wants to be as free as the birds she is singing too. :)

Comment by Morgan Snowden on February 19, 2013 at 10:17pm

@Leslie, now I really do see the difference! I now really know how i got them confused and yes I will take the video down, and repost Easy as Life as soon as the right age comes. For now I will find a real I WANT song to fit this age. Thank you so much for your patience! Iwill be working on a monolouge soon!

Comment by Amy Megan Day on February 19, 2013 at 6:21pm

@Leslie Thanks so much! I will hopefully be able to re-record tomorrow, and I have chosen the monologue from Educating Rita to post, but until then, here are some explanations of the 'in's and 'out's of Estill technique.

The Estill method is the teachings of Jo Estill, an American singer and Voice Specialist, born 1921, died 2010. Estill believed that there are six 'Vocal Qualities'- cry/sob, belt, twang, opera, speech and falsetto. Also, that the 'True Vocal Folds' can operate in two ways- thin (head voice), thick (chest voice) and then the Vocal Quality of 'twang' can be added to that, to create what most know as 'mix'. Then there are the 'False Vocal Folds' which are situated higher up than the TVF's, but often are a hindrance rather than a help. One of the problems I have A LOT when I sing, is that I 'constrict', which means my False Vocal Folds come together when they shouldn't and make the sound strained. This happens to many people when in thick folds (chest voice) and when belting, as you try to oversing and concentrate too much on reaching for the note. A good way to overcome this is to just shout the melody using lots of volume, and then 'sing' it afterwards. Also, to help when in 'belt' quality and with sections where the voice is unstable, Estill focuses a lot on 'anchoring'. This means that the muscles in and around the area of the larynx, pharynx, and the vocal folds are engaged, so that they are supported and do not get damaged. Some of the exercises suggested to 'anchor' are; 

- pretend oranges under arms, have to hold them there
- pretend to pick up really heavy shopping bags
- pretend to pull on a swimming cap

If anyone has any questions, please ask! I'd also love to start a discussion about Estill if anyone is interested? Thanks guys! :D

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