My Top 5 Showtunes: Joe Aaron Reid

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

Joe Aaron Reid
Joe Aaron Reid

Joe Aaron Reid is currently starring as Curtis Taylor Jr. in the West End premiere of Dreamgirls. His previous credits include Benny in In the Heights and Stephen in If/Then on Broadway.

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

1. "One Day More" from Les Misérables

This song is iconic. Whenever I hear those descending notes at the beginning, I get goosebumps. I don't know that there's a more enthralling production number in musical theatre history! How Boublil and Schönberg managed to cultivate such an epic act one finale, demonstrative of such strength and emotion, I'll never comprehend. Combining the story telling of all of the characters, with the power of the revolution, and the weight of that history behind it, and throw in incredible orchestrations with insane vocal arrangements and you have "Mr. Reid, party of 1", All. Day. Every. Day.

2. "'Til We Reach That Day" from Ragtime

This song makes me flat out SOB. Pretty much every song in Ragtime is choral genius, but this song is spine tingling. Hearing its onset with Coalhouse screaming "Noooo", I'm already dead, and then this beautiful robust alto? Yes on every level. There's something about seeing men cry that evokes more emotion because society has somehow set up this idea that 'men are strong', 'men don't cry'. Watching him lament over Sarah who has been beaten to death due to such injustice is just heart wrenching. I've been fortunate enough to do two productions of the show in my life, but playing the man himself eludes me. One day!

3. "What Is It About Her" from The Wild Party

This song is equal parts crazy and sexy. The upright bass plunks are so sensual in the beginning, as it falls into this rather simple melody, that juxtaposes the intensity of lyrics. It's yearning. It's passion. It's violent. It's envy. It's possession. A soaring melody with the darkest lens on one of the most basic, yet complex, human emotions. Love. I love it. The original recording with Brian d'Arcy James is so sick. His voice is so emotive, and seamless. Unparalleled.

4. "All That Jazz" from Chicago

Another iconic song. There's not one fan of musical theatre who doesn't know those horns. I'm also pretty sure everyone has been taught the choreography at some workshop or another. It is so simple. The iconic Kander & Ebb vamp. The vaudevillian style. It oozes with sex appeal. I always wanted to do it, and then in 2008, I got to do it on Broadway. FYI, doing it makes you feel sexy, too.

5. "Children Will Listen" from Into The Woods

Sondheim. Genius. Wordsmith. I could put any one of his songs here, but this song has always been one that I can keep going back to to find something new. I've always loved it, but as a father of twin toddlers who are developing rapidly, and repeating everything and really are like sponges, it now has a completely different resonance.

"Careful what you say
Children will listen
Careful you do them too
Children will see
And learn
Guide them, but step away…"

When I think that my life is about helping these two tiny beings grow into (hopefully) well-rounded, kind, loving people, and at some point I will have to let them fly? It breaks my heart. I'm definitely the guy who has already shed tears that they'll go to college someday. They're not even two years old. So…yeah…that's me.

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