Lyrics to Live By: 10 Musical Theatre Mantras

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Rosie Williamson is a performer, singing teacher and creator of “What Would Julie Do?”: A Practically Perfect Guide to Living ( a blog taking hypothetical advice from the legend, superstar and guru of musical theatre perfection, Dame Julie Andrews.

Follow her on twitter: @SingingRosieLee, Instagram: @whatwouldjulie and on Facebook:

One of the biggest battles we face as performers is keeping our thoughts in check. Mantras and positive self talk can help, but why not look to those who wrote the words to our top show tunes? Here are some of my favourite lyrics to live by:

1. Find the fun and snap, the job’s a game! (Mary Poppins)

Whether it’s a crappy temp job in between performing contracts or a tech run that is going to hell…Try not to be the one dragging everyone down. Be fun and friendly, have a laugh and even dull and frustrating jobs can be tolerable, perhaps even enjoyable! This mantra can also be applied to tasks that get pushed to the bottom of the to-do list week after week. “Where’s the fun in completing your tax return?”, I hear you shout! I suggest self bribery… If you get that rubbish job done, you can reward yourself with a G&T/Netflix binge/massage/other treat of choice… that’s more like it.

2. Brush up your Shakespeare! (Kiss me, Kate!)

Shakespeare GIF:


Just do the work. There’s nothing worse than turning up to an audition or performance unprepared. There’s no chance of feeling in control at all. Having said that, it’s easy to fall into the pattern of never thinking you’ve done enough work. Be kind to yourself. Do the best you can in the time that you have.

3. I’m gonna wash that man right outta my hair… (South Pacific)
‘…AND SEND HIM ON HIS WAY, YEAH SISTER!’ – also known as “LET IT GO!!” (but I think we’re all over that one…until Frozen makes it to the stage anyway) – the sentiment is on point though. When shit happens, learn something. Delete. Move on. Don’t waste your time ruminating on a comment from a casting director/colleague/random horrid person on the tube. Get over it. Life is too short.

4. I simply remember my favourite things… (The Sound of Music)

I’m running the risk of coming across as one of the woo woo tribe now but this is such a helpful tool: Practice gratitude. Be thankful for the little things. Write down or say out loud at least one thing you are grateful for each day. The key is to do it on the days when you are heartbroken as well as the days you are on top of the world. I’ve found sticking to this little practice so helpful and when I remember, and am grateful, then I don’t feel soooo baaaad!

5. Measure in Love! (Rent)

“MEASURE, MEASURE YOUR LIFE IN LOVE…OOOO!” This is the truth. Love is what matters. Share it. Do what you love and love what you do.

6. You’ve got to be carefully taught. (South Pacific)
This one can be interpreted in a couple of ways…relating to working as a performer: Make sure you surround yourself with good advisors and teachers and trust your gut. But more importantly, if you think of the original context of the song in ‘South Pacific’: “You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear, you’ve got to be taught from year to year, it’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear, you’ve got to be carefully taught.” These words are as true today as they were back in 1949. We have a responsibility as artists to teach love above hate. Freedom above fear.

7. No one is alone. (Into the Woods)
I couldn’t write this post without a little bit of Sondheim! The lyrics to this song are just so brilliant and true. People make mistakes, someone is on your side, someone else is not…things will turn out right now, we can make it so. No one is alone. I think sometimes performers need to hear this more than most.

8. I can do (better than) that. (A Chorus Line/The Last Five Years)
Two for the price of one now. Both Mike in all his tap dancing determination in A Chorus Line and Cathy in her loved up giddiness in The Last Five Years, provide a good positive mental attitude injection for when I need a pick me up!! Keep striving to be better and working hard with a positive attitude. Learn to rebrand the setbacks as chances to grow and don’t give up…unless you want to. What would Julie say? Bloom and grow forever!

9. Everything in life is only for now. (Avenue Q)

Avenue Q is full of phrases ripe for mantra conversion but this one is my favourite…If you are having a rough time then know that it will pass, if you’re having a great time be present and enjoy it!

10. Climb every Mountain. (The Sound of Music)
This one really does what it says on the tin. Follow every rainbow, ’til you find your dream. The path may have its twists and turns but keep going and enjoy the journey!

Follow her on twitter: @SingingRosieLee, Instagram: @whatwouldjulie and on Facebook:
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