Song: So Far
Written By: Rodgers & Hammerstein
(Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II)
Why this one?: I thought a classic R & H song would be the best way to start things off. Let’s face it, everyone has to audition for Oklahoma, The Sound of Music, or Cinderella at least once in their life.
The Breakdown: This lovely lesser known song comes from the third collaboration of the brilliant Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, Allegro. It’s a departure from Oklahoma and Carousel, as it was intended to have very minimal sets, costuming, and props and included a Greek Chorus. The show centers around Joseph Taylor Jr., an every-man who is born in a small town, goes to college, moves to a big city for his job, and ultimately realizes the value of “small town America” and comes home to end the show. As you can imagine, with its minimalist approach and perceived big city vilification, the musical wasn’t successful in New York and wasn’t revived there until 2014. It does however, have several incredible solo gems that I use for teaching all the time.
“So Far” takes place in the first act as part of the College section of the musical. It’s sung by Beulah, a “one song and done” character who’s just been on a double date with Joe and is happily dreaming about what comes next in their potential relationship. Unfortunately for our girl, Joe is thinking about another woman and ends up falling asleep whilst the song is going on…needless to say, that’s the end of Joe and Beulah.
Who Should Sing This?: This piece is good for beginning female singers looking for something to build up their legato line and breath support. The range doesn’t extend very high or low, and is a smidge over an octave range (D4 to E5). The song lends itself to a shy or sweet girl temperament but I don’t think it has to be just for the traditional ingenue. In fact, I find it works best with singers who are principally dancers and have a great understanding of their bodies. As I mentioned above, I think this is the perfect number for someone auditioning for a classic R & H musical or another “Golden Age” hit.
Where can I find the Sheet Music? This song is part of the Hal Leonard Singer’s MT Anthology series in the Soprano Vol 2 edition (revised edition). It can also be purchased from Musicnotes.
Where can I Hear it? The original 1947 cast recording can be found with Gloria Wills singing the role in ballad form. In 2009, a masterworks recording was done of the show with Judy Kuhn singing Beula’s solo. This recording takes the tempo a little quicker and with a little more swing, which is how I use the song in my studio. (Unfortunately there’s no link on line for this one and you’ll need to buy the recording, which I do highly recommend)
In doing my research for this entry, I also found out that Frank Sinatra recorded a version of “So Far” in 1947 as a B-side to a different song from “Allegro”. It’s also on studio albums for Broadway legend Bernadette Peters and Opera Singer Bryn Terfel.
My Takeaway: Just because a show is a flop, it doesn’t mean there isn’t at least one fantastic number in the show, especially when it’s written by tried and true geniuses