There are a number of theater songs which have gained a certain popularity in the general public, often of anthems of a sort, about succeeding in life against all odds, booming feel-good songs, that in fact have totally different meanings in full context of the shows for which they are written.
Two stand out. One of the most notable is "Everything's Coming Up Roses" from Gypsy, which I wrote about here, a soaring, inspiring song of hope -- yet in the show, it's a woman who is self-delusional and terrifying her daughter and the man in her life, oblivious to reality and dragging them into her near-madness. The other is Randy Newman's "Can't Keep a Good Man Down," a pure Newmanesque number about a guy who's been beaten down, but can't be kept down. I wrote about it, as well, explaining that what's generally not known is that it's from a musical he wrote, Faust, and the song in proper context is sung by the Devil.
There's a third that falls into this same category. (There are probably others, but these three leap out to me at the top of the list.) It's the song, "This is the Moment," a soaring, hugely virtuosic number that's a tour-de-force piece for a singer that builds to the heights about a person taking risks against the limitations of society to reach one's potential. And again, what I suspect most people don't know is that it too comes from a musical, Jekyll & Hyde. More to the point, it's sung by Dr. Jekyll the "moment" of pure hubris as he's about to descend into hell by diving into his dangerous experiment which will tragically lead him into madness becoming the monstrous, evil Mr. Hyde.
The reason I mention all this is not just for the background of the song itself, but because I came across it being performed in full context on stage in costume and original setting by the actor who created the role, Robert Cuccioli. So you can see it properly.
This is from the 1997 Broadway production of Jekyll & Hyde, written by Frank Wildhorn and Leslie Bricusse. (Yes, the Leslie Bricusse who wrote Stop the World, I Want to Get Off and The Roar of the Greasepant, the Smell of the Crowd with Anthony Newley, as well as the movie score Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory..)
So, here then is "This is the Moment" as most people have likely never seen it. The meaning behind it all, as you will see, is quite different, Still a wonderful song, but hardly the feel-good anthem and a far more chilling look at the perils of arrogance.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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