Playlist: Women Write Musical Theater Songs Sometimes

Kait Kerrigan

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!

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Intern Grace

Grace Ellis has been writing and making hack-job graphics for Autostraddle since 2011 and is a co-creator and co-writer of the comic book series Lumberjanes. She is mostly an intern in name only. (Mostly.) She lives in Columbus, Ohio because why anything. Also, she wants to write the Black Widow movie and feels like if she just keeps telling people, eventually she will be allowed to do it. She has a Twitter and a Tumblr, both of which are pretty above average.

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  1. Between Dorothy Fields and Kay Swift you have like half of all classic American standards. They were a huge deal on Broadway back in the 20s and 30s. Also I’m pretty sure Fields may have been gay? I feel like that was a discussion I had with someone once.

  2. Mary Rodgers is fun…she’s also the same Mary Rodgers that wrote Freaky Friday and some other children’s books!

  3. now i am never ever not going to have ‘ohio’ stuck in my head. whyyy oh whyyyy oh why-ohhh, whyyy did i ever leave ohioooooooooo

    • I’m not apologizing for that one. I will apologize for “We Just Had Sex,” though, which has been stuck in my head for days.

  4. I love that you put “Taylor, the Latte Boy” on here. Also 9 to 5.

    Also… “Die Vampire Die” from [title of show] totally counts, Susan Blackwell at least helped write that one.

  5. Whaaaaaat?!?! Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron are going to make Fun Home into a musical????

    I’m not sure how to cope with this information. I have been thinking of 2012 as the year Annie returns to Broadway (and I’m SO GLAD Rosie O’Donnell is not going to be Miss Hannigan — I’m lobbying for Katie Finneran). But now it will be the year of my learning of this news.

    Also, did you see Spider-Man? It could have been entirely written, directed, produced, and performed by women and I still wouldn’t have thought it worthy of a Tony. Or of my time, generally. Just terrible.

    • I would like to see Katie Finneran as all the roles in Annie. All of them, all at once. Katie Finneran as Daddy Warbucks.

      I haven’t seen Spider-Man, but I had a panic attack because I couldn’t remember if Julie Taymor contributed to the score or just the book, and I was like “noooooo bad representation that I have to include.” So. That’s what that bit was about. I mostly feel like Spider-Man needs to disappear while we all agree to never speak of it again, like what happened with Bounce by Stephen Sondheim.

    • ALSO: The year Matilda breaks into broadway, which, I’ve been looking forward to since forever.

      Except I just realized that we’re talking 2012, and Matilda is 2013, but still. Its gonna be awesome.

  6. Some other kickass lady MT writers:

    Kirsten Childs
    Georgia Stitt
    Ryann Furgeson
    Nancy Ford & Gretchen Cryer

    There are also tons of lady bookwriters.

  7. Kait Kerrigan is a goddess among women. I saw the Unauthorized Biography of Samantha Brown this summer and it was snazzy.

    Also my hormones get confused when Aaron Tveit sings Run Away With Me.

  8. Grace, you know how happy I am that Kait Kerrigan is included here. Her lyrics (and Brian Lowdermilk’s music but we can’t talk about him here cause he’s a boy) are just all sorts of perfect. Last Week’s Alcohol is my ringtone and the Spring Standard’s version of Run Away With Me is my alarm.

  9. “Run Away with Me” is truly one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard. I particularly like Coby Getzug’s take on it.

  10. Don’t forget Rida May Johnson who worked with Victor Herbert and Ellen Fitzhugh who is currently working with Michael John La Chiusa at the Mark Taper Forum at this moment.

  11. Wow, Matilda on Broadway sounds fantastic! Do we really have to wait until 2013?

    This is an interesting mix. I’m definitely going to have to continue my music-theater-stuff education and look these up!

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