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My Top 5 Showtunes: Mark Anderson

The actor tells us the musical numbers he couldn't live without

Mark Anderson's theatre credits include Mary Poppins, Legally Blonde and The Book of Mormon.

After a run at Southwark Playhouse in 2016 and at the Edinburgh Fringe this year, he is now reviving his performance as Melvin Ferd the Third in The Toxic Avenger, which opens at the Arts Theatre in Leicester Square next week.

We caught up with Mark and asked him: "If you were stranded on a desert island which five showtunes could you not live without?"


MA: Really? Five? What kind of sadistic experiment is this? This has been beyond excruciating and I hate you and love you for it. I've tried to go from a storytelling angle so with that in mind, here are my top 5 showtunes.

1. "The 'I Love You' Song" - Spelling Bee

As someone who likes to write a little bit too, I immediately turned to my lyricist heroes. For me, William Finn writes characters better than anyone else. So complex and scarily relatable. Spelling Bee is a masterclass in character songwriting and only Finn can turn a song called "The 'I Love You' Song" into something so dark and thought-provoking. It's total class.

2. "Days And Days" from Fun Home

Quite a new one to be totally obsessed with but again, the lyrics in this song are so simple and so perfect, not to mention that Judy Kuhn delivers it so stunningly. For the first time in the play, we see this amazingly strong woman being totally honest in an almost plea to her daughter to not make the same mistakes. The last line resonates so loudly. There's a brilliant version of this song in the Fun Home Spotify Sessions which also has some awesome intros and insights into the show itself. I can't wait to see this show in London next year.

3. "Aiutami" from The Light In The Piazza

My ultimate favourite score of all time. Adam Guettel is a complete genius. I shortlisted three songs from this show alone before I settled with "Aiutimi". This song is pure drama and I love it, and even though the score is mostly in Italian, you understand it completely. Listen to those soprano vocals towards the end too.

4. "A Little Priest" from Sweeney Todd

The question which I'm sure goes through the mind of anyone doing this: Do I really need a Sondheim? Answer: Yes, of course I do. Talking of lyrical heroes, you can't beat Sondheim. He understands the human mind so impeccably and every single lyric is completely nuanced. I chose "A Little Priest" because the wordplay is so unbelievably perfect. It's witty and surprising and you can almost tell he's showing off his deftness as a lyricist a little bit whilst making it totally believable that those words are coming out of those characters mouths. Genius!

5. "Somewhere That's Green" from Little Shop Of Horrors

Howard Ashman is another of my lyricist inspirations and his pairing with Alan Menken is quite frankly a gift from the theatre gods. "Somewhere That's Green" is the ultimate 'I Want' number. To us, the things that Audrey wants are so simple and seem menial, but for her in that moment, they are unobtainable. For this reason, the song takes us on a brilliant journey, amusing at first and ending up with a punch in the heart.

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