Lots of people know and love great songs from musicals, but it takes a true musical theatre fan to know and love a song that was cut from a musical, meaning the song didn’t make it to opening night. As a show develops, the changing of material is pretty much unavoidable, but that doesn’t mean that lots of discarded songs aren’t fantastic in their own right.
We’re taking a look at 15 of the best songs cut from musicals, most of which you can find recordings of today.
“Congratulations,” cut from Hamilton
In “Congratulations,” Angelica strongly chides Hamilton for writing The Reynolds Pamphlet and hurting his wife—Angelica’s sister—in the process. As Hamilton fans know, that moment still exists in the show, and in fact a snippet of “Congratulations” remains in the sequence called “The Reynolds Pamphlet,” but Lin-Manuel Miranda originally intended for her to have a lot more to say in this moment. Luckily, the original (and Tony-winning) Angelica, Renée Elise Goldsberry, performed the full version of the song at the final #Ham4Ham, which you can watch on YouTube!
“Come Down From the Tree,” cut from Once On This Island
This gorgeous and touching song saw Ti Moune convincing a frightened little girl to not be afraid to live her life. The song seemed to hold the story back from progressing early on in the show, so the entire scene was ultimately jettisoned, but “Come Down from the Tree” has had a life of its own separate from Once On This Island, thanks in particular to Audra McDonald’s recording of the song on her album How Glory Goes.
“Smashing, New York Times,” cut from Applause
Applause, the musical version of the classic film All About Eve, is in many ways a love letter to all that is wonderful—and otherwise—about working in the theatre, so it isn’t shocking that Charles Strouse and Lee Adams wrote this delicate ode to favorable critical reviews. The song is a love song, but to positive pull quotes from major publications rather than a lover. You can hear Strouse singing the song in a demo that’s included on the CD release of Applause’s Broadway cast album.
“We’ll Have Tomorrow,” cut from Little Shop of Horrors
Writers Howard Ashman and Alan Menken loved this song so much that the tiniest snippet of it survives in the final show—Audrey and Seymour sing it right before the final “Don’t feed the plants” in the show’s finale. The song was slotted for the show’s second act, as Seymour and Audrey’s prospects against Audrey II’s plans for world domination are getting dimmer, but before opening night Ashman decided that two power love ballads were too many for one act. “Suddenly Seymour” won out, and “We’ll Have Tomorrow” was cut. Ashman and Menken’s demo of the song was included as a bonus track on the 2003 Broadway cast album of Little Shop.
“Mama’s Talkin’ Soft,” cut from Gypsy
This song, about how Mama Rose uses her feminine wiles to get what she wants, was written to be sung by Babies June and Louise on top of the song “Small World.” The two young actors were staged to sing the number on a tall platform while Rose and Herbie danced beneath them. Unfortunately, Karen Moore—the original Baby Louise—was terrified of heights and couldn’t handle being on the platform. Rather than ordering new sets and re-staging the number, “Mama’s Talkin’ Soft” was removed and “Small World” remained by itself. The song went on to enjoy some success as a standalone pop song, particularly as recorded in 1959 by Petula Clark.
“Anytime,” cut from A New Brain
In “Anytime,” sailing aficionado Roger sings to his hospitalized boyfriend Gordon that he will not abandon him even when things get difficult. The song is easily one of composer-lyricist William Finn’s most beautiful songs, but ultimately he went with a very different tone for this moment in A New Brain. “Anytime” was replaced with “Just Go,” which shifts focus onto Gordon; he repeatedly tells Roger to leave him, and Roger refuses. The end result to the plot is the same, and the two songs share a remarkably similar accompanimental vamp. “Anytime” was recorded soon after A New Brain premiered in 1998, in a live performance by Norm Lewis at a William Finn concert at Joe’s Pub. The song has also found its way into the Finn song cycle Elegies.
“There Won’t Be Trumpets,” cut from Anyone Can Whistle
Sung by Lee Remick’s Fay, this Stephen Sondheim song is a rousing and hopeful number about a hero Fay believes is coming to save her town from madness. The only problem Sondheim cited with the song was that Remick delivered the monologue directly preceding it with such fervor that the song became a bit anticlimactic. Even still, the song nearly made it to opening night, being cut late in the preview period to help bring down the show’s running time. It has since become a favorite selection for cabaret performers, with recordings by Bernadette Peters, Geraldine Turner, and Barbra Streisand. Remick also recorded the song when the cast recorded the original Broadway cast album; the track wasn’t released with the album, but it reappeared years later as a bonus track when the album was released on CD.
“I Could Be in Love with Someone Like You,” cut from The Last Five Years
Jason Robert Brown’s Last Five Years had a tumultuous beginning, thanks primarily to a lawsuit brought by Brown’s ex-wife that argued the show was too close to their actual divorce story. She took particular offense so certain details about the Kathy character—particularly her Irish background—that she felt made the story seem like it was all true events. As a result of the suit, Brown removed Kathy’s Irish heritage from the character between the show’s try-out and Off-Broadway premiere. This change necessitated the removal of Jamie’s introductory song, “I Could Be in Love with Someone Like You.” “Shiksa Goddess,” which replaced the song, covers largely the same territory, and even ends with the exact same lyric and vocal line. Brown himself sings the song on his 2005 solo album Wearing Someone Else’s Clothes, and Norbert Leo Butz—the original Jamie—has been known to sing the song in concert.
“10 Percent,” cut from Chicago
Here’s a fun bit of Broadway trivia: if you look at the Broadway opening night Playbill for Chicago, you’ll see a credit for the character of Henry Glassman, played by David Rounds, who was not actually in the show. You’ll also see a song list that includes a few songs you may not recognize from the score to Chicago, including “Ten Percent.” During Chicago’s out of town tryout, Henry Glassman was Velma’s agent and the show’s emcee, singing about how he lives his life on “Ten Percent” (of his clients’ earnings) early in the show. Unfortunately, Chicago was running at over three hours, so Kander, Ebb, and Fosse determined they should cut either Glassman or Mama Morton. Morton won out, and Glassman—and “Ten Percent”—were excised from the show. The cut was made so close to the show’s New York opening that the Playbills had already been printed, hence the erroneous credits on opening night. Kander and Ebb’s demo of the song was included in the 10th anniversary release of the Chicago Broadway revival cast album.
“The Lady’s Got Potential,” cut from Evita
Sung by Che, “The Lady’s Got Potential” was one of Evita’s most rock-infused songs. The number took Eva further up her ladder to power, connecting the end of “Goodnight and Thank You” to Eva setting her sights on Juan Peron. It also established a subplot originally planned for Che, in which he’s an entrepreneur trying to make a business of his new insecticide, an endeavor that is ultimately hindered by Peronism. The song was recorded on Evita’s concept album in 1976, but when director Hal Prince came on board to bring the show to stage, he requested a new song and deleted the insecticide subplot completely. The song was replaced with “The Art of the Possible,” which focuses instead on Argentina’s precarious political landscape and Peron’s rise within it, but it was reinstated with a re-written lyric for the 1996 movie adaptation.
“When Messiah Comes,” cut from Fiddler on the Roof
Originally sung late in Act II when the citizens of Anatevka have been informed that they must leave their home, “When Messiah Comes” imagines the savior returning to fix everything and feeling guilty for letting so many awful things happen while they waited. “When Messiah comes, he will say to us, ‘I apologize that I took so long,’” the song begins. Some tryout audiences apparently didn’t quite know how to respond to the song, while others were downright offended. Ultimately, audience reaction and the creative team’s feeling that the song dragged the show coming late in the evening resulted in the number’s deletion. Broadway’s third Tevye, Herschel Bernardi, recorded the song on his 1966 album Herschel Bernardi Sings Fiddler on the Roof. Fiddler composers Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick were also known to perform it in concert, which you can hear as a bonus track on the Deluxe Collector’s Edition release of the original Broadway cast album.
“I Don’t Care Much,” cut from Cabaret
Fans of Cabaret can be excused for not realizing “I Don’t Care Much” is actually a deleted number; Barbra Streisand recorded the song in 1963—three years before Cabaret opened on Broadway—and though the number was cut before Cabaret’s opening night, it was reinstated beginning with a 1987 Broadway revival that was largely a re-mount of the original. Sam Mendes’ 1998 revival toyed with Cabaret’s song list even more than the earlier revival, but “I Don’t Care Much” continued to make the cut, famously being sung by Alan Cumming’s emcee in a slinky black dress.
“Can That Boy Fox Trot,” cut from Follies
Many of Follies’ songs are presented as non-narrative standalone numbers—songs the characters sang in the [fictional] Weismann Follies. As a result, Follies has more cut material than most Sondheim scores, as many of the songs were more interchangeable. “Can That Boy Fox Trot” was the first number written for Yvonne De Carlo’s Carlotta, and though it wasn’t unsuccessful, Sondheim ultimately felt De Carlo needed a number with more weight. As a result, we got “I’m Still Here,” which would go on to become one of the score’s most successful songs. “Can That Boy Foxtrot!” has been recorded several times; Nathan Lane sings it in the 1996 film The Birdcage, and you can find it sung by Millicent Martin and Julia McKenzie on the original London cast album of Side By Side By Sondheim.