My Top 5 Showtunes: Ashleigh Gray
The actress tells us the musical she couldn't live without
Ashleigh Gray's credits include playing Elphaba in Wicked, and has shared stages with the likes of Lee Mead and Ramin Karimloo in West End Men. Recently she starred in the revival of Vanities which ran at Trafalgar Studios.
1. "A Boy Like That/I Have A Love " from West Side Story
A true classic. I remember singing this as a youngster in my amateur dramatic days, back in Edinburgh. I guess, back then, I had no real idea what it was about, I just enjoyed the drama of the music – but couple that with the story of loss, fear and unconditional love, it's truly beautiful. The transition from Anita's argumentative belt to Maria's soaring soprano is a delight on the ears and then the resolution at the end...well, I adore it.
2. "She Used To Be Mine" from Waitress
Being a long time fan of singer/songwriter Sara Bareilles, I was over the moon when I heard she'd penned a musical and this soundtrack does not disappoint. The whole piece has a real crossover feel between pop and musical theatre, which I love. This song is just heartbreaking, not only because of the beautiful music (I love a cello!) but it's a real bearing of the soul moment! Raw emotion – that's what I love in musical theatre, and this song demonstrates just that, especially when it's in the hands of someone like Jessie Mueller.
3. "Poor Child" from The Wild Party
I was obsessed with this soundtrack whilst I was training, so much so, that I chose to sing "Raise The Roof" for my third year showcase. We did a mash up of that and "What Is It About Her", which I could just listen to Brian d'Arcy James sing ALL DAY! The show has so many great characters and songs and I just adore this track, featuring the four leads. The counterpoint here is so clever. I had the great pleasure of singing this track with the composer himself, Andrew Lippa, along with Tam Mutu and Jenna Russell at a concert in London a few years back. It's a tricky one to learn and fit around eachother but the pay off in the last 30 seconds of the song is totally worth it!
4. "As Long As He Needs Me" from Oliver
Another oldie and most definitely a goodie! I adore this song and again, it's one that I've sung for as long as I can remember but only with age has my appreciation grown for it's context, as well as content. What a character Nancy is. I've had the pleasure of singing this song with orchestras in the past, for one-off concerts but it's definitely up there, high on the list of roles I'd love to tackle. The passion, the guts, the determination; it's a cracker.
5. "Being Alive" from Company
I know it will sound like I'm just promoting the show I'm currently working on but that's not the case. Even if I weren't doing Company right now, I'd still argue that this song is one of the finest around. That simple, yet incredibly effective melody; the build through the dialogue and orchestration; the repetition and key change; but most importantly, those lyrics! I've always appreciated it but even more so now, watching my wonderful co-star, Oliver Savile live through it and arrive at this point at the end of our show. That Sondheim...he just gets people doesn't he! And this song always gets me!