The best sailors’ songs in musical theater


Every few days or so, new viral trends invade social media. From photo challenges to dance crazes, millions of creatives are getting involved in these trends, typically popularizing songs released decades ago. The latest viral trend is the making of sailor songs, and while it may sound mystifying, this style of song has a musical theater history.

Sailors’ songs were originally sung by 16th-century sailors to keep them going as they spent grueling months working on ships. Fast forward three centuries – sailors’ chants are now an alternative type of song to unite communities during a pandemic.

Directed by TikTok Captain Nathan Evans which started the trend, sailors’ songs have become the coolest genre of music in the world. Here are our favorite sea shanties that you can listen to in musicals.

Perhaps the best example of a musical sailor’s song, “Lady Fair” is sung by a quartet of sailors while working on the SS American. At the start of the number, each sailor sings a solo line reflecting their difficult daily life. Then, thinking of the women who will take care of them, they come together to sing in harmony with four voices and sweep the bridge. “Lady Fair” may only be a two-minute song, but it stands out from delicate musical numbers like “Delovely” and “Easy to Love” to emphasize the lives of sailors. We can’t wait to hear “Lady Fair” in All is well when it opens at the Barbican in 2021.

There is no need to worry about the Jolly Roger in the Gilbert and Sullivan pirates case. Instead, there are plenty of opera sailor songs to get you across, especially this song that starts The pirates of Penzance. Throughout the song, the pirate ensemble celebrates apprentice Frédéric’s 21st birthday by literally … circulating the sherry. Although not a traditional slum, the call and response structure with hackers exclaiming “hurray” is definitely a slum. An all-male production of The pirates of Penzance was last staged at the Palace Theater in December 2020 and is available to stream during Easter.

“We are sailing on the blue of the ocean” from HMS chasuble

Yet another entry from Gilbert and Sullivan here, showing the versatility of operettas in adopting a sailor’s song from time to time. In HMS chasuble or otherwise titled The young lady who loved a sailor, the opening line ticks off the tropes of seaman slums: the singing seamen are hard working men, beaming with pride for their ship and will always put the ship first. Twisting the song of the sea, this merry musical number also reminds of Christopher Columbus sailing the blue of the ocean, but the sailors aboard HMS Pinafore were sure to laugh more.

Even if Come from afar may not have traditional seafaring songs, the inspiration of folk music coupled with the enhancement of the local fishing community means that the rhythms of the slums dominate the musical. The clearest example of this is in “Heave Away”, which begins with the use of a lousy stick, a homemade percussion instrument with a mop handle and bottle lids. Then, as men and women sing to each other telling the opposite sex to “take the joys away from me” before a hectic evening, this short melody becomes a sort of sailor’s song to help those “come from afar” in their new community. . Come from afar is at the Phoenix Theater.

The world premiere of Fisherman’s Friends: The Musical will be transferred to the West End, filled with songs of sailors in musical theater. It is based on the metric rise of a singing group of Cornish fishermen, who eventually ended up playing in Glastonbury. The production will open in Cornwall, ahead of a London engagement in 2022.

Photo credit: Giga Khurtsilava on Unsplash


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