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My Top 5 Showtunes: Joe Stilgoe

The singer and songwriter tells us the musical numbers he couldn't live without

Joe Stilgoe has written the score and co-written the lyrics for Jessica Swale's new adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book, which begins a UK wide tour on 25 January.

As well as extensively touring and performing Joe has also written the title track to Michael Parkinson's new compilation album, "Our Kind of Music", and will be joining Michael for his new live theatrical shows.

We caught up with Joe and asked him: "if you were stranded in a jungle which five showtunes could you not live without?"


1. "Cool" from West Side Story

I had to have some Bernstein and I had to have some Sondheim, so I've got them both in this number from West Side Story. This is the only thing my parents agree on in terms of musical theatre – West Side Story is the best. Hard to disagree, but what I do know is that every song and every moment is a masterpiece. Bernstein wrote the greatest melodies but also had a great jazz sensibility and harmonic knowledge as good as Gershwin or Ravel. With Sondheim, there are easily five songs that I could have chosen, but I have to compromise and just include his lyrics here.

2. "Soliloquy" from Carousel

Rodgers and Hammerstein changed everything with Oklahoma!, and there are so many songs I could have chosen from that show which was a favourite from childhood, but to show the real genius and heart of those two brilliant writers, I've chosen this incredible, heartbreaking song from Carousel, as Billy Bigelow ponders impending fatherhood.

3. "Adelaide's Lament" from Guys and Dolls

We went to see our friends Jamie Parker and Siobhan Harrison in Guys and Dolls two years ago, and it was the best production I've ever seen. I think I realised I loved this show even more than West Side Story. So much to choose from here, but this song was a revelation, sung by Sophie Thompson. She was so good I was in tears – funny, devastatingly sad, wringing everything out of those words. Frank Loesser is probably the greatest theatre lyricist, in my opinion.

4. "Well Did You Evah?" from High Society

Close to home this one. I realised a dream by getting to hang out with Cole Porter for the summer of 2015 at The Old Vic. Maria Friedman asked me if I'd be the Louis Armstrong role from the film (I know, such a good likeness). I loved performing this number with Jamie Parker and Rupert Young every night – even more special as this was the film that made me want to be a musician.

5. "Jellicle Songs For Jellicle Cats" from Cats

Talking of home, this one's really close. The first song my dad [Starlight Express and Phantom of the Opera lyricist Richard Stigoe] wrote with Andrew Lloyd Webber and the start of a partnership that took up most of the 1980s, when I was growing up. I think this is his best lyric in a show – it's so witty, magical and almost completely indistinguishable from TS Eliot. Cats is my wife's favourite show and this song shows off dad's brilliance with words and theatrical setting.

If I'm allowed, I'd like to also include my nearly three year-old daughter's list, which is probably much better than mine:

1. "Naughty" from ''Matilda''

2. "My Shot" from ''Hamilton''

3. "Consider Yourself" from ''Oliver!''

4. "Spoonful Of Sugar" from ''Mary Poppins''

5. "How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?" from ''The Sound of Music''

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