New York City is always a popular vacation spot, and the city has countless delights that make it obvious why so many people choose to visit. The architecture is incredible. Times Square is an exhausting circus for many residents who have completed an online defensive driving course, but a wonder for those who don’t have to live near it. And New York pizza really can’t be duplicated anywhere else. Finally, Broadway draws in millions every year. Here are the best songs about travel from Broadway musicals! **May contain spoilers!**
10. “Somewhere That’s Green” from LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS
The destination may be non-specific, but the longing with which Audrey sings is far more than mere wanderlust. Unfortunately, for her, escaping “Skid Row” and traveling to “Somewhere That’s Green” requires a lot more than just buying a plane ticket. First, she has to get away from her “semi-sadist” boyfriend. Gee, if only there was some sort of terrifying sentient plant life that hungers for human blood that she could feed him to. Ultimately, whether in the musical or the movie, I think we can all agree that Audrey ends up somewhere that’s green.
9. “There Is Life Outside Your Apartment” from AVENUE Q
When you’re stuck in a rut, traveling doesn’t have to be a big deal. Sometimes just getting out of the house and out of your routine is the key to breaking out of your rut. In Avenue Q, Princeton bemoans his life, singing about how he’s been fired from a temp agency, he’s broke, and his personal life is hopeless. But his friends drag him out of his apartment anyway. In New York City, where the show takes place, there’s so much to do that, when he got back home, he was probably happy for the quiet of his apartment.
8. “River in The Rain” from BIG RIVER
The theme of escape continues in “River in The Rain,” in which Huckleberry Finn and a runaway slave named Jim attempt to raft down the Mississippi River to flee the parts of their lives they find unacceptable. Huck wants to get away from his abusive drunken father and the attempts by the townspeople to make him more civilized. Jim is fleeing slavery, as he believed he was about to be sold down the River to New Orleans. During “River in The Rain,” they have a chance to take a quiet moment to enjoy the beauty of the river in the rain and fog, even as they sail right by the mouth of the river that would lead to their freedom. The last line in the song, “River I’ve never seen the sea,” really captures the yearning of both men to find a place far away from their hometown in Missouri.
7. “One Night in Bangkok” from CHESS
Chess is a show that takes place in a couple stunning locations. The first act takes place in Merano, Italy. The second act opens with “One Night in Bangkok,” a year after the events of Act One. The Company sings about the various pleasures and distractions offered by the city, but the American (sometimes called Frederick Trumper, depending on which version you’re listening to) is having none of that. He has no interest in the city, only in Chess. The song encourages everyone to enjoy the places they go, rather than rushing through with only one goal in mind.
6. “Ireland” from LEGALLY BLONDE
Legally Blonde the Musical differs in a lot of ways from the original movie. One of those differences is Paulette’s somewhat mystifying obsession with Ireland. Despite how odd this character choice is, especially for fans of the movie, it means the musical contains the song “Ireland.” It’s a funny but still sad song about Paulette’s desire to travel to Ireland and hopefully marry an Irish man who will treat her better than her ex-boyfriend, Dewey. The song paints a beautiful picture of Ireland (and men from Ireland, for that matter) that would make any woman want to go kiss the Blarney Stone.
5. “By the Sea” from SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET
In a musical about murdering people and baking them into meat pies, “By the Sea” is a charming diversion that lightens the tone of the show for a few minutes. Mrs. Lovett fantasizes about moving to a beautiful seaside cottage with her Mr. Todd. It’s a beautiful vision she has, and it makes everyone want to visit their nearest beach, but every person in the audience can tell from Mr. Todd’s lackluster response that her dreams aren’t likely to come true. The song is a good lesson to us all to not throw so much of our energy and dreams after someone who’s just not able to reciprocate.
4. “Buenos Aires” from EVITA
Eva Perόn is a divisive figure in history, but no one can argue that the musical about her life is incredible. “Buenos Aires” is a song about arriving in a city and falling immediately in love with it. Eva acknowledges the city’s shortcomings, but throws herself fully into it anyway, trusting that the city will take care of her. This is a great attitude to have when traveling, but perhaps a little outdated. Eva doesn’t seem too concerned with her safety. Hopefully all the travelers to Buenos Aires nowadays are sure to plan a little better, even though things worked out well enough for Eva.
3. “Santa Fe” from RENT
Rent is a musical about “people coping with life” and HIV diagnoses. In “Santa Fe,” Collins and Angel fantasize about moving out of the New York City and opening a restaurant in a more hospitable city. Like some other songs on this list, the actual destination isn’t really the point. All they really want is to escape the cold of New York in the winter and the cynicism of the residents. Still, the song injects some much-needed fun into the show, after the beautiful angst of the song before it, “Will I?” It also remains a theme throughout the rest of the show, with one character even escaping to Santa Fe, though briefly. By the end of the show, Santa Fe can’t hold a candle to the friendships the characters have in New York.
2. “America” from WEST SIDE STORY
West Side Story is a beautiful masterpiece that has stood the test of time. It’s a retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, with the Capulets and Montagues being replaced by two rival street gangs, the Sharks and the Jets, respectively. The Puerto Rican Sharks had only recently immigrated into the city, and this song pits the women against the men. The women see only the positives of living in America (specifically New York), while the men see only the negatives and contemplate returning to Puerto Rico. In a musical where almost every song became an instant classic, “America” still stands out for its entertaining and insightful lyrics and its huge dance number.
1. “One Short Day” from WICKED
“One Short Day” is one of the less memorable songs from Wicked (after all, what could possibly compare to “Defying Gravity”?), but it tops this list because the experience Elfaba and Glinda have on their short-day trip to Emerald City is not unlike the experience of visiting Times Square for the first time. There are a million things to do and never enough time to fit them all in. There are people in costume running up to tourists and attempting to entertain them in exchange for a few bucks. It’s overwhelming, and Wicked managed to capture that feeling and put it on stage just a few steps away from Times Square itself.