Because of the patriarchy, there are significantly more men who write musical theater than women. This Tony season, for instance, didn’t include any eligible shows with music by women. Not even Spider-Man. Harumph.
To celebrate the successful women composers and lyricists and to keep myself from getting too depressed about it, my genius friend Drew (“Jeanine Tesori is boss enough for all of them”) and I put together a pretty thorough list of musical theater songs with lyrics and/or music by women. It was a lot more difficult that either of us were expecting, which is unfortunate on several levels. This is by no means a comprehensive playlist; for example, songs from Quilters and Grind could also be here, but it’s easier to pretend that 1985 didn’t exist on Broadway and also they’re really terrible. Anyway!
Women Write Musical Theater Songs Sometimes [on 8tracks]
1. Forget About the Boy – Thoroughly Modern Millie (music by Jeanine Tesori)
2. Lot’s Wife – Caroline, or Change (music by Jeanine Tesori)
3. Run Away With Me – The Unauthorized Autobiography of Samantha Brown (lyrics by Kait Kerrigan)
4. Taylor, The Latte Boy (music by Zina Goldrich, lyrics by Marcy Heisler)
5. Paw Paw Michigan – Dear Edwina (music by Zina Goldrich, lyrics by Marcy Heisler)
6. Shy – One Upon A Mattress (music by Mary Rodgers)
7. We Just Had Sex – Passing Strange (music partially by Heidi Rodewald)
8. Mama Will Provide – Once On This Island (lyrics by Lynn Ahrens)
9. New Music – Ragtime (lyrics by Lynn Ahrens)
10. Show Off – The Drowsy Chaperone (music and lyrics partially by Lisa Lambert)
11. Step to the Rear – How Now, Dow Jones (lyrics by Carolyn Leigh)
12. I’d Be Delighted - Little Women (lyrics by Mindi Dickstein)
13. New York, New York – On The Town (lyrics partially by Betty Comden)
14. Ohio – Wonderful Town (lyrics partially by Betty Comden)
15. Just This One Time (Reprise) – The Battery’s Down (lyrics by Kait Kerrigan)
(Haviland Stillwell sings this song)
16. Best Summer Ever – Bunked! A Camp Musical (lyrics partially by Alaina Kunin)
17. Nobody Does It Like Me – Seesaw (lyrics by Dorothy Fields)
18. What About Love? – The Color Purple (music and lyrics partially by Brenda Russell & Allee Willis)
19. Exiled – A Girl Called Vincent (music by Carmel Dean, lyrics by Edna St. Vincent Millay)
20. Get Out And Stay Out – 9 to 5: The Musical (music and lyrics by Dolly Parton)
21. Eyes Wide Open – The Battery’s Down (lyrics partially by Kirsten Guenther)
22. Lullaby From Baby To Baby – Runaways (music and lyrics by Elizabeth Swados)
23. Oh, Look at Me – Salad Days (lyrics partially by Dorothy Reynolds)
24. The Bull-Frog Patrol – She’s A Good Fellow (lyrics by Anne Caldwell)
Add your favorite lady-written theater tracks in the comments below! Also, how excited are you for Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron to adapt Fun Home into a musical! Because I am excited enough to sneak it into this article!
Want to suggest a playlist theme? Hit Crystal up on Formspring and someone on the team will make it for you.