Ladies: 25 Wow-Able Solos from Broadway’s Golden Age

Written by Jackson Upperco

August 5, 2016

Ladies, are you looking for a solo from Broadway’s Golden Age – the years in between Oklahoma! (1943) and Hair (1967) – that’ll be guaranteed to WOW? Well, put away those copies of “Don’t Rain On My Parade” and “Adelaide’s Lament”; they’ve been done to death! These 25 character-laden numbers below are sure to leave a more lasting impression on your audience – and give you some meaty material with which to play!

1. “To Keep My Love Alive” from A Connecticut Yankee (1943)



Morgan Le Fay details the creative ways in which she killed her numerous ex-husbands. Brilliant Hart lyrics.

Sheet music: “To Keep My Love Alive”

2. “I Can Cook, Too” from On The Town (1944)



Rambunctious taxi cab driver Hildy tries to seduce a sailor on a 24-hour shore leave. Lots of swinging fun.

3. “Legalize My Name” from Louis Woman (1946)



A barmaid tells her jockey boyfriend that he better put a ring on it. Great choice for women of color.

4. “The Gentleman Is A Dope” from Allegro (1947)



A nurse with a crush on a doctor laments the poor decisions she sees him making. Folksy, but darker at second glance.

Sheet music: “The Gentleman Is A Dope”

5. “I’m The First Girl In The Second Row” from Look, Ma, I’m Dancin’! (1948)



Introductory number for a no-talent brewery heiress who has bought a ballet company to cast herself as the lead. Loaded with charm.

6. “Mr. Right” from Love Life (1948)



An archetype for the American woman voices her idea of the perfect man – unrealistic though it may be. Under-sung WOW number.

7. “Falling Out Of Love Can Be Fun” from Miss Liberty (1949)



A gal tries to assuage a broken heart after her beau goes for a Parisian beauty. Solid anthem.

Sheet music: “Falling Out Of Love Can Be Fun”

8. “If You Hadn’t, But You Did” from Two On The Aisle (1951)



Tired of his cheating ways, a woman tells her man exactly why she’s kicking him to the curb. Energetic, charactery.

9. “I Fought Every Step Of The Way” from Top Banana (1951)



A comedian’s assistant on a TV variety show equates her romance with a fella to a boxing match. Smart, clever lyrics.

10. “How Can I Wait?” from Paint Your Wagon (1951)



A 16-year-old during the Gold Rush can’t contain her excitement over falling in love. Joyous and soaring.

11. “Guess Who I Saw Today” from New Faces of 1952



A wife calmly tells her husband about her day, culminating in how she saw him with another woman. For strong storytellers.

Sheet music: “Guess Who I Saw Today”

12. “One Hundred Easy Ways” from Wonderful Town (1953)



In contrast to her sister, Ruth Sherwood gives lessons on what she does best: repelling guys. Can be talk-sung.

13. “A Little Brains, A Little Talent” from Damn Yankees (1955)



The devil’s best homewrecker describes her past accomplishments with men. Sexy and funny.

14. “I Never Know When” from Goldilocks (1958)



A silent film star engaged to a millionaire is forced to reconcile her feelings for a temperamental director. Melancholic, pensive.

16. “The Very Next Man” from Fiorello! (1959)



A secretary devoted to a former mayoral candidate is tired of waiting around. Another solid anthem.

15. “Wicked Man” from Ernest In Love (1960)



A teen in Victorian era London is thrilled by the idea of meeting a “wicked man.” Cute musical version of The Importance of Being Earnest.

17. “The Label On The Bottle” from The Gay Life (1961)



In 1904 Vienna, a virgin plots to change her image to secure the man of her dreams. Little known gem.

18. “I Was A Shoo-In” from Subways Are For Sleeping (1961)



A former Mississippi beauty queen details her past history. A potential comic tour de force.

19. “Raunchy” from 110 In The Shade (1963)



A spinster in the Southwestern U.S. imagines what her life would be like if she was “raunchy.” Delightful.

20. “Lila Tremaine” from Fade Out – Fade In (1964)



Hope Springfield, a nobody accidentally chosen to star in a film, gets used to her new name. Cute and brassy.

21. “Someone Woke Up” from Do I Hear A Waltz? (1965)



A repressed American is vacationing in the romantic city of Venice. Lots of material under the surface.

22. “What Did I Have That I Don’t Have?” from On A Clear Day You Can See Forever (1965)



A woman is depressed because her psychiatrist (whom she loves) prefers her past life existence. Bluesy.

Sheet music: “What Did I Have That I Don’t Have?”

23. “Charity’s Soliloquy” from Sweet Charity (1966)



A dance hall hostess with a weakness for bums details one such affair. Comedic character piece with vulnerability.

24. “Once You’ve Had A Little Taste” from Man With A Load Of Mischief (1966)



The maid of a former royal mistress laments their having run away from the high life. Raucous joviality.

25. “I Wanted To Change Him” from Hallelujah, Baby! (1967)



An actress is chagrined that her once unambitious beau is now an uncompromising political activist. For women of color.


Jackson Upperco is a lover of retro television, forgotten Broadway musicals, and Pre-Code Hollywood. He boasts a Bachelors Degree in Film and Television from Boston University. You can keep up with all of his entertainment interests at jacksonupperco.com.
Thumbnail image copyright the Museum of the City of New York.