Which Songs Have Appeared in Multiple Broadway Shows?

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By: Jan. 15, 2023
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Do you have a burning Broadway question? Dying to know more about an obscure Broadway fact? Broadway historian and self-proclaimed theatre nerd Jennifer Ashley Tepper is here to help with her new series, Broadway Deep Dive. Every month, BroadwayWorld will be accepting questions from theatre fans like you. If you're lucky, your question might be selected as the topic of her next column!

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This month, the reader question was: "Which songs have appeared in multiple Broadway shows?"

Which Songs Have Appeared in Multiple Broadway Shows?

"I'm a Believer", which now appears in A Beautiful Noise on Broadway, gained a new popularity from its use in the 2001 film Shrek. When Shrek was adapted into a stage musical for Broadway in 2008, the song appeared as well-making its current appearance at the Broadhurst Theatre its second one on Broadway.

Due to the proliferation of jukebox musicals and modern day revues, songs have been more likely to appear in more than one musical during the past few decades on Broadway. (Prior to that, there were different reasons a song might appear in more than one show. In this piece, we will focus largely on instances occurring in the last century of Broadway history.)

Jukebox musicals gather existing songs to tell a story, whether within an autobiographical work related to the songs (examples: Leader of the Pack, Jersey Boys, The Boy From Oz), or within an original narrative (examples: Mamma Mia!, Rock of Ages, Girl from the North Country). Modern day revues, alternatively, may be united by a theme or concept, but do not contain a full narrative storyline. They can feature existing songs (examples: Ain't Misbehavin', Smokey Joe's Cafe, Black and Blue), or be vehicles for yet-to-be-known songwriters.

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Here are a few notable instances of songs that have appeared in multiple Broadway shows:

Appeared in 6 Broadway Shows: "I'm Just Wild About Harry"

When Audra McDonald brought down the house with the Noble Sissle- Eubie Blake penned "I'm Just Wild About Harry" in Shuffle Along, or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed in 2016, she was starring in the sixth production to use this song on Broadway. "I'm Just Wild About Harry" premiered in the original Shuffle Along, was brought back by Sissle for his 1942 show Harlem Cavalcade, and then made it into the 1952 remake of Shuffle Along, the 1978 Eubie Blake revue Eubie!, and the 1986 dance musical Big Deal.

Appeared in 6 Broadway Shows: "Someone To Watch Over Me"

Songs like "I'm Just Wild About Harry" which premiered in a book musical on Broadway and became notable Great American Songbook hits, are likely candidates for this list. Many George and Ira Gershwin songs have similarly returned to Broadway more than once, between all of the Gershwin book musicals in the early to mid-20th century where they premiered, the revue The Gershwins' Fascinating Rhythm, and the Gershwin jukebox musicals My One and Only, Crazy For You, and Nice Work If You Can Get It.

"Someone To Watch Over Me", for example, has appeared on Broadway in six different shows: in Oh, Kay! (including its two revivals), Crazy For You, Tommy Tune Tonite!, The Gershwins' Fascinating Rhythm, George Gershwin Alone, and Nice Work If You Can Get It. Interestingly, the song premiered in the 1920s, and its other five Broadway appearances were all in 1990 or later.

Many Gershwin standards have appeared in between four and six different Broadway shows.

Appeared in 4 Broadway Shows: "I Say A Little Prayer"

The 1967 pop hit "I Say A Little Prayer" by Burt Bacharach and Hal David has had a unique trajectory on Broadway, with four appearances, all between 2003 and 2011. The song was first heard in The Look of Love, a Bacharach and David revue, then added to the existing score of Promises, Promises for its 2010 revival, before appearing in two jukebox musicals in the same season, Priscilla Queen of the Desert and Baby It's You!

Which Songs Have Appeared in Multiple Broadway Shows?

Appeared in 4 Broadway Shows: "Hound Dog"

The Lieber and Stoller penned blues hit "Hound Dog", first on the charts in 1953 as recorded by Big Mama Thornton, has been on Broadway four times. The short-lived 1982 revue Rock 'N Roll! The First 5,000 Years and 1995's Lieber and Stoller revue Smokey Joe's Cafe both included the song. "Hound Dog"'s best known recorded version is Elvis Presley's 1956 rendition, so unsurprisingly the song appeared in the 2005 Elvis jukebox musical All Shook Up and in 2010's Million Dollar Quartet, sung by the character of Elvis.

Appeared in 7 Broadway Shows: "I Can't Give You Anything But Love, Baby"

Adelaide Hall introduced the Dorothy Fields - Jimmy McHugh standard "I Can't Give You Anything But Love, Baby" in Blackbirds of 1928. The hit song went on to appear in Bright Lights of 1944, Ain't Misbehavin' (1978) and its 1988 revival, Sugar Babies (1979), Black and Blue (1989), Jersey Boys (2005), and After Midnight (2013).

Appeared in 4 Broadway Shows: "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy"

The patriotic World War II song originally made popular by The Andrews Sisters in 1941 has appeared on Broadway in Bette Midler's Clams on the Half Shell Revue (1975), The 1940's Radio Hour (1979), Rock 'N Roll! The First 5,000 Years (1982), and Swing! (1999).

Appeared in 4 Broadway Shows: "Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries"

The Ray Henderson- Lew Brown song premiered in George White's Scandals (1931), performed by Ethel Merman. It later appeared in the 1974 revisal of Good News, and the 1986 dance musical helmed by Bob Fosse, Big Deal. When Fosse's work was celebrated in Fosse (1999), "Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries" was included as well.

Appeared in 5 Broadway Shows: "Pick Yourself Up"

"Pick Yourself Up", the Dorothy Fields- Jerome Kern song, was introduced by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in the 1936 movie Swing Time. The song, an anthem for the Great Depression, did not appear on Broadway until the 1986 revue Jerome Kern Goes To Hollywood. After that, it appeared on Broadway in four more shows: Big Deal (1986), Never Gonna Dance (2003), The Blonde in the Thunderbird (2005), and Come Fly Away (2010).

Both Fields and Kern have a number of songs that have played Broadway multiple times.

Appeared in 4 Broadway Shows: "Proud Mary"

"Proud Mary", the John Fogerty song covered by Ike and Tina Turner, of course appeared in the 2019 jukebox musical Tina. Before that though, it appeared in Rock 'N Roll! The First 5,000 Years (1982), Uptown... It's Hot! (1986), and Street Corner Symphony (1997).

Which Songs Have Appeared in Multiple Broadway Shows?

Appeared in 5 Broadway Shows: "Stormy Weather"

While I've mostly kept appearances in concerts on Broadway from counting for the sake of this list, the song "Stormy Weather" should be noted based on the specifics of its five appearances, although two were in what might be categorized as concerts. The 1933 Ted Koehler - Harold Arlen song was introduced by Ethel Waters at The Cotton Club in 1933, and she later sang it on Broadway in At Home with Ethel Waters in 1953. That was its second appearance on Broadway, after the 1943 Laugh Time. "Stormy Weather" was also sung by Diana Ross in An Evening with Diana Ross (1976), and in Uptown... It's Hot! (1986) and After Midnight (2013).

Appeared in 4 Broadway Shows: "Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend"

This sultry anthem, "Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend", most associated with Marilyn Monroe, can currently be heard in Moulin Rouge! on Broadway. The Jule Styne - Leo Robin tune originated in the musical Gentlemen Prefer Blondes in 1949, appeared again in the Blondes remake Lorelei in 1974, and also could be heard in the 1974 special Jule's Friends at the Palace (albeit for one night). Might we hear it again in a stage adaptation of Bombshell someday?

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