Last fall, the CW’s “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” took the TV world by storm and was a particular hit among theatre fans. If you haven’t started this show yet, open another tab, kick Netflix into gear and say goodbye to the next four days of your life — trust me, it will be worth it.
The show follows Rebecca Bunch, an unhappy workaholic lawyer who drops her NYC job like a bad habit and relocates to West Covina, California, after an accidental run-in with her middle-school ex, Josh Chan — a move some might call crazy.
The show navigates her adventures and mishaps as she works to win back Josh’s heart, but what sets this show apart from other ridiculously titled charming romantic comedies is its slew of catchy musical numbers. Rebecca has a tendency to burst into song on the spot about whatever she’s thinking about, and even admits in a later episode that musical theatre is how she understands the world when things get tough.
Though the show has plenty of original tunes, such as “Oh My God, I Think I Like You” and “A Boy Band Made Up of Four Joshes,” many songs draw inspiration from well-loved Broadway favorites. With season 2 only a week away, we thought it would be fun to recap the best theatre-inspired moments from the first season. (Warning: Some spoilers ahead if you haven’t watched season 1)
‘Cold Showers’ — “You Got Trouble,” from “The Music Man”
In this song, Rebecca channels her inner Harold Hill from “The Music Man” when trying to convince the inhabitants of an apartment complex to sue their landlord over their cold showers. Of course, the whole situation is a predictable ploy to spend more time with the swoon-worthy Josh, but hearing Rebecca compare cold showers to the “gateway drug to crack” a la “You Got Trouble” is nothing short of brilliant.
“Gasp!” Rebecca sings. “That’s ‘gasp’ with an uppercase G, that ends with P, the first letter in pool!”
‘Flooded With Justice’ — “Do You Hear the People Sing?” from “Les Miserables”
It seems musical TV shows can’t help themselves when it comes to spoofing “Do You Hear the People Sing?” from “Les Miserables.” While “Galavant” had the inspiring yet ultimately dooming “Today We Rise,” “Crazy Ex Girlfriend” has “Flooded With Justice.”
Continuing with the cold showers lawsuit theme, a group of unhappy tenants charges on a California courthouse while singing, “Can you hear that trickling sound? It’s the Faulty Faucet of Truth. It’s a drip, drip, drip that will make you say ‘What is that?’”
Though the subject matter of the song is absurd and not quite at the same level as, say, the French Revolution, there’s something about the familiar tune that makes your heart swell and makes you feel like going out there and making a difference.
‘Dream Ghost’ — “Dreamgirls” from “Dreamgirls”
There’s nothing like a good old-fashioned play on words, and “Dream Ghost” absolutely nails it with its homage to “Dreamgirls.” As Rebecca struggles on a plane with a difficult choice about whether to stay in West Covina or return to her New York life, she is visited by a “Dream Ghost” who looks freakishly like her real-life therapist. The Dream Ghost sings “It’s not clear if I’m hallucinated, or actually magic! Let’s leave it vague, it’s more interesting that way.”
Add in two other Dream Ghosts singing backup, disco lights and The Supremes costumes, and this is the perfect tune to get stuck in your head when you’re trying to make a decision and looking for a little intervention from your subconscious.
‘After Everything I’ve Done For You (That You Never Asked For)’ — “Rose’s Turn” from “Gypsy”
Rebecca’s best friend Paula is easily one of the greatest characters on the show. She would do anything — literally, anything — to see Josh and Rebecca get together, whether Rebecca wants her to or not. When Rebecca seems like she’s giving up on Mission Make-Josh-Love-Me, Paula loses it in the only way a mother figure can: like Mama Rose in “Gypsy.”
After listing a series of increasingly insane thing she’s gone through to set the two of them up — including breaking into a high school to steal grades and blackmailing the boss of Josh’s girlfriend — Paula has decided she’s had enough. And with her classic “Rose’s Turn” red dress and name illuminated in Broadway lights, Paula gives the Bernadettes, Pattis and Ethels of the world a bit of competition.
Be sure to watch the show to check out all the other references to the Great White Way. Whether it’s a Rogers and Astaire dance routine, an inspirational song a la “Climb Every Mountain” or a delightfully villainous ditty from a Disney show, you’ll want to watch the series and listen to the soundtrack over and over until you catch them all.
Bonus Track: ‘One Indescribable Instant’
Two words: Lea. Salonga.