Top 60 House numbers for women from Musicals
By Jeremy Fisher
You’re looking for songs for women that you can use to communicate directly with an audience.
A House number is a song that crosses the invisible fourth wall between the actor and the audience, the wall that exists in the character’s mind (after all, in most plays and musicals the characters don’t know they’re being watched by a group of people).
In Musical theater there are only a few true House numbers, but you can actually make other songs cross the fourth wall fairly easily. Here are 60 house numbers for women that can be sung to the audience directly. I’ve listed the songs in three categories:
- the true House number
- the audience number
- the soliloquy
The first category in Musicals is the true house number: the singer is fully aware that the audience is there and “comes out” of the show.
Diva’s Lament from Spamalot of course, You Can Always Count On Me from City of Angels, and When You’re Good To Mama from Chicago spring to mind immediately.
Other true house numbers include Big Spender from Sweet Charity (originally a chorus number but can be sung by one person), I Just Wanna Dance from Jerry Springer, Jonny One Note from Babes in Arms, and Nobody Does It Like Me – the Cy Coleman song from the musical SeeSaw. And Miss Byrd from Closer Than Ever shares her secret across the fourth wall.
Many of the songs from the Victorian Music Hall era work as house numbers including Waiting At the Church, If It Wasn’t For the ‘Ouses In Between, and even ballads such as The Boy I Love Is Up In The Gallery. Then there are the songs written in a Musical style such as Girl in 14G, and The Alto’s Lament.
In the second category, the character plays to an audience on stage.
Good and Evil from Jekyll and Hyde is a great example as Lucy sings to the “audience” in the pub. Then there’s Don’t Cry For Me Argentina (Evita), I Speak Six Languages from The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Beat Out Dat Rhythm from Carmen Jones, Man Wanted from Copacabana, and Blow Gabriel Blow from Anything Goes. I’m Still Here from Follies, Broadway Baby from Follies have the actors deliberately sing to their colleagues on the stage. The Saga Of Jenny from Lady in the Dark is sung in a courtroom, and you might just get away with Life of the Party from Wild Party.
Then there’s the third type – the unifocus song (the soliloquy) that has an outward feel, or asks questions, or contains rhetoric.
Probably the most famous song is I Cain’t Say No from Oklahoma. Then there’s I’m Shy from Once Upon A Mattress, Everybody Says Don’t, and There Won’t Be Trumpets, from Anyone Can Whistle, and I’m A Stranger Here Myself from One Touch of Venus.
Check out Holding To The Ground from Falsettos, My Brother Lived In San Francisco from Elegies for Angels Punks and Raging Queens, I Hate Men from Kiss Me Kate, and My Strongest Suit from Aida.
For the more old-fashioned amongst you, there’s I Think I May Want To Remember Today from Starting Here, Starting Now, Tale of the Oyster (Fifty Million Frenchmen), and The Physician (Nymph rrant).
You might get away with a strong story song such as Waiting For The Music To Begin (Witches of Eastwick) if you set out to tell the audience members the story. And of course, there’s Nothing (A Chorus Line) where the entire song is sung to Zach, who sits in the audience during the show. It’s therefore very easy to turn it into a house number and address the audience directly and individually.
Other songs include Gimme Gimme from Thoroughly Modern Millie, I Know Things Now from Into the Woods, Defying Gravity from Wicked, and Always The Bridesmaid from I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.
Back to Sondheim again for The Ladies Who Lunch from Company, The Story of Lucy and Jessie (from certain productions of Follies), and Can That Boy Foxtrot (a duet that can be sung as a solo) from Marry Me A Little, or cut from Follies, depending on who you read.
Then there’s Everybody’s Girl from Steel Pier, Old Fashioned Love Story from Wild Party, When You Got It, Flaunt It from The Producers, and How Did I End Up Here from Romance Romance. You might consider One Hundred Easy Ways from Wonderful Town, or My New Philosophy from You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown, and experiment with a song like Cockeyed Optimist from South Pacific.
You can raid the revue-style musicals such as Closer Than Ever for songs like Back On Base, or The Bear, The Tiger, The Hamster and The Mole, and Songs for a New World for I’m Not Afraid Of Anything. You can also do what the musicals are doing currently and raid the pop/disco/rock scene for suitable songs – Holding Out For A Hero started as a Bonnie Tyler song but is now in both Footloose and Shrek II
It is unusual for a slower song to work as a house number, but here are a few exceptions:
Maybe I Like It This Way from Wild Party, That’s Him from One Touch Of Venus, Why Him from Carmelina, Bill (from Oh Lady! Lady! and versions of Showboat) and of course, Funny Girl from Funny Girl.
Remember that a House number is sung directly to the audience, so make sure you have plenty of eye contact!
Jeremy Fisher trains singers and performers to find and maintain their best. He’s the author of Successful Singing Auditions, and creator of the Voicebox Videos – featured on the BBC and broadcast to 44,000,000 people. He was commissioned by the DANA Centre at London’s Science Museum to create a video on singing with a camera down his throat. Jeremy is fascinated by bringing technology and innate skill together. https://vocalprocess.co.uk