5 musicals that everyone needs to listen to!
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So, for my first blog I thought it would be a good idea to give you all an idea of what my taste in musicals is like (it's very random!). Some you might have heard of, some you might not have but take a look below and give each one a listen...
Company has to be one of my favourite shows of all time. The show was one of the first successful concept musicals (a musical which revolves around a theme not a narrative plot) and paved the way for many musicals such as Cats and A Chorus Line. Bobby is the show's main character. The show revolves around his 35th birthday and his lack of romantic relationships. Bobby visits the 5 married couples who he considers his best friends and his 3 girlfriends April, Martha and Kathy throughout the show. Bobby is adamant that he doesn't need a relationship but by the end of the show all emotions are spilled in the 11 o'clock number Being Alive. Since its 1970 opening, Company has been revived countless times, including an actor musician production in 2006 starring Raúl Ezperza. Most recently the show was in London's West End where a gender swapped production received rave reviews; it had just made its transfer to Broadway and was about to open before the Covid-19 shutdown. I was extremely lucky to see the show in London in March 2019 and earlier this year in its first week of previews on Broadway (yes, I saw Patti LuPone twice!) It is a fantastic show and has one of the most clever scores in musical theatre history written by my favourite composer Stephen Sondheim. Below is an excerpt of the opening number, 'Company', from the 2011 Lincoln Center concert production.
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
This musical, an adaptation based on the 1988 film of the same name, opened on Broadway in 2010 but only ran for 69 performances! The show follows a group of women in late 80's Madrid, focusing on their crazy relationships and all the drama they bring over an extremely frantic 48 hours. The cast of the original production was full of Broadway stars: Sherie Rene Scott, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Laura Benanti, Patti LuPone and Danny Burstein. Despite this cast, the show failed to catch on, but still managed to gain 3 Tony nominations - quite the feat for a show that only ran for around 3 months! The only other production of this show to date was in London in 2015 starring Tamsin Greig in her musical debut. Once again the run was very short - just 4 months. In my opinion, this show has the most amazing score, written by David Yazbek (The Bands Visit), and deserves a lot more recognition. The song below is 'Model Behaviour' performed by Laura Benanti (who should've won the Tony but didn't!). I honestly consider this song as my favourite musical theatre song of all time - see if you agree!
Betty Blue Eyes
If you are looking for a proper British musical then look no further. Betty Blue Eyes is based on the 1984 film A Private Function and follows the antics of Joyce and her husband Gilbert as they steal a pig (during a time of food rationing in post-war Britain) in order to save it from being eaten by their well-to-do neighbours, who are cheating the rationing system. The show first opened in 2011 at the Novello theatre in London with music and lyrics by Stiles and Drewe (Honk, Mary Poppins). Despite a stellar production team and a cast lead by Reece Shearsmith and Sarah Lancashire (both Olivier nominated) the show closed after 6 months. I mean Kylie Minogue was the voice of the pig - what more could you want?! The show had more success abroad with professional productions in the US and Austria, but personally I think it needs to come back to the UK ASAP. I saw the brilliant production at Mountview in February and it just made me realise how much I love this show and how underrated it is! Below is Sarah Lancashire (yes, the woman from Happy Valley) performing the song 'Nobody' at the 2012 Olivier Awards.
The musical about the (fictional) birth of the musical. The story follows the Bottom brothers Nick and Nigel as they create the first musical to rival "The Bard" and his unbeatable plays. The show is brimming with musical theatre references and this is most prominent in the number below, 'A Musical', here performed at the 2015 Tonys. The show was extremely well received and was nominated for 10 Tony Awards and a Grammy. After running for over 700 performances the show closed in 2017 and has yet to hit UK shores (although a planned production for this October in Birmingham has now been moved to next year). It is so fun and clever and is one of my favourite shows to listen to - I honestly cannot wait for the UK premiere!
Written by Wicked composer Stephen Schwartz, Godspell is based on the parables from the Gospel of Matthew. First opening Off-Broadway in 1971, the rock musical has had many productions in many places around the world, including London later that same year and Broadway in 1976. The most recent professional production was the first Broadway revival in 2011, starring the likes of Hunter Parrish, Uzo Aduba and Lindsay Mendez. Though only ever nominated for one Tony Award and failing to win, the show has become an extremely popular show for schools and colleges across the world. Godspell is famed for starting the careers of many well known actors of today including 6 time Tony nominee and 2 time winner Andrea Martin, Emmy and Tony Award winning actor Martin Short and 6 time Emmy nominee Victor Garber who went on to portray Jesus in the 1973 film. The rock style music of the show makes it energetic and enjoyable, and just generally a really fun show to be in, watch or listen to! Below is the cast of the 2011 revival performing a medley of the show's songs.
Well, there you go! Those are my top 5 shows that everyone should listen to. It was really REALLY hard for me to pick but I think these 5 give a broad view of all different aspects of musical theatre. Let me know in the comments below what your favourite shows to listen to are and remember to subscribe!