Composer: Stephen Sondheim
Performer: Dorothy Collins (original Broadway recording), 1971
The lyrics of this song are really an expression of the situation and, then, brilliantly, after the orchestra returns to remind us of the singer’s suffering, a complete repeat, sung in a slightly different pitch. Singers, in this sense, get two swipes at the marvelous lyrics and musical delights. What more could you ask for?
It’s also hard to fault Glenn Close, who was chosen to sing the song, before the gifted Barbara Cook, during the celebration of Cook’s 2011 award ceremony into the Kennedy Center Honors. And male singers, Jeremy Jordon, Michael Ball, and, particularly, British actor Tim Curry—yes, of The Rocky Horror Show fame—sang it quite movingly at an AIDS concert in 1997. Liza Minnelli did a rather stylish but quite embarrassing jazz dance version; obviously she was not up to the challenges of the song’s more operatic concerns.