From punk to Jeff Buckley to Billy Joel, just about anything counts as a showtune these days. Priscilla Queen of the Desert, which opens at the Palace Theatre on Sunday, features a playlist of pop, dance and disco songs that are culled straight from the Top 40. And from other Broadway shows. Here are just a couple that you may have heard before… on stage.
“I Say a Little Prayer”
This Burt Bacharach standard is the new “Send in the Clowns,” don’t you know. That is to say, it’s apparently adaptable to the plot of any Broadway show, because in addition to being Priscilla‘s emotional fulcrum, it was also shoehorned into last season’s Promises Promises. In that show, it was Kristen Chenoweth’s semi-lament for a man. In this, it’s sung by the lead character about his faraway young son. It’s a testament to the song’s lasting greatness that it seems to work everywhere, or at least that everyone thinks it does.
“Thank God, I’m a Country Boy”
This song didn’t technically appear in it, but John Denver has already a musical all to himself. Almost Heaven played off-Broadway in 2005, and worked mostly as a review of Denver’s songs, and not a chronicle of his life. In Priscilla, the song works as a way to introduce the audience to a bunch of Australians who… channel the rural aesthetic. Or something. Not the original intention? Meh. John Denver was pretty chill. We don’t think he’d mind.
This Earth, Wind and Fire tuner was already on Broadway once… in one of the biggest flops of all time. The jukebox musical Hot Feet (not to be confused with the movie Happy Feet, which also contained this song, and is apparently about penguins) opened in 2006 and closed like ten seconds later. And although there’s no telling what it’ll do on Broadway, Priscilla is already a global hit. So we think this song’s theatrical karma is already solidly restored.