I’ve been drafting this post for about a month or so now and I think I’ve finally figured it out. So today, I’m talking about my top ten musical theatre recommendations. For this list, I’m trying to stick to musicals that are lesser-known but there will be a few that most people have heard of but that I’ve just got to hand my recommendation out to. So, let’s get into it! Achtung, fertig, los!
· TANZ DER VAMPIRE – So… let me just start by saying that TANZ is not going to be the musical for everyone. It’s kinda flawed but overall, it’s really awesome. The music is not going to be something that everyone is going to like because it’s got a bit of mix between classical music and almost gothic/punk metal going on with it. And I personally really like it but some people probably won’t appreciate it as much as others. Also, I would like to say that it is a bit of a darker musical so if you’re not into musicals with characters that are morally grey and kind of end up in a way you didn’t want them to end up, this musical is not for you. However, TANZ is full of beautiful costumes (I’m not talking about the Broadway production—I make it a personal rule never to talk about that mess), awesome sets, and great songs (if you like the style of the music). Oh and… before you see it, I will just give a quick warning that some things in TANZ might be shocking to people from the U.S. (or maybe even England but I’m not from England so I’m not really the best person to be talking about that) because I would say that in Germany and Austria, they tend to be more… daring(?) with what they will allow on stage. And that may be shocking to some American viewers.
· ELISABETH – So, let’s keep the train going with the German-language musicals, shall we? ELISABETH is one of my favorite musicals and man… if there’s any German-language musical that you go for, I would recommend this one. It is amazing. Love it, love it, love it. I don’t want to talk too much about it because it’s a musical that I think is better that you go into not knowing too much about it because it’s a musical that’s got a lot going for it and it’s better to just find out about those things rather than being told about them. I will, however, leave this link to the trailer of ELISABETH that has English subs for those of you who don’t speak or understand German (just click the close-caption option and the English subs will pop up) and it will give you a really good feel for the musical: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pazuQ–rYls. The trailer is with the Wien / tour cast starring Annemieke Van Dam as Sisi and Mark Seibert as der Tod. And I would highly suggest watching this because I mean, it’s only 7 minutes and you might discover something you’ll really like. And even if you don’t like it, you still get to know what it’s all about!
· STARLIGHT EXPRESS – Okay, STARLIGHT. This musical is a musical that has been with me for years and I still love it to this day. Granted, it’s intended for children (as a target audience) but I truly believe that anyone can enjoy it if they just give it a chance. It’s a show that is stunningly original and captivating. The costumes are amazing. And get this guys: the actors are all on skates. It’s awesome. Though this musical is (to my knowledge), only running in Germany at the moment, it is a musical that you can find in English. I think it’s about time for a STARLIGHT revival but unfortunately, it is a tad bit too “dangerous for actors” than is generally permitted and allowed on Broadway so it may never happen. But definitely check it out! It’s a lot of fun and even if you can’t ever see the whole show, there is an abundance of clips of the actors skating around and having fun so just do a quick YouTube search if you’re interested. If you’re interested in listening to STARLIGHT, I highly recommend the German cast album or, if you’re an English speaker, the Japan / Australia tour cast album which is in English.
· ROGERS AND HAMMERSTEIN’S CINDERELLA – Fun fact: my favorite Rogers and Hammerstein musical is actually CINDERELLA and I am not ashamed of it. Don’t get me wrong: I love THE SOUND OF MUSIC, OKLAHOMA!, and they’re other stuff too but… CINDERELLA is and always will be my favorite. And it’s awesome. Big ensemble numbers, great songs, everything. CINDERELLA has the whole deal and man, it’s amazing. I personally really like the Disney movie version with Brandy as Cinderella, Whitney Houston as the Fairy Godmother, and Bernadette Peters as the Stepmother. It’s really great and pretty cheap on Amazon if you’re interested. This one is really popular in my family and it’s a really fun watch. It was my grandpa’s favorite musical and it’s one of my dad’s favorites as well. So… if you’re interested in something that’s really, really good for the whole family, CINDERELLA is great. Highly, highly recommend it.
· THE MUSIC MAN – I don’t talk about THE MUSIC MAN enough on this blog but man, I love it. It’s one of those musicals that gets me crying because I’m just so happy by the end of it. Man… this musical’s just really cute and fun to watch. Also, it’s pretty interesting. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend the movie with Robert Preston as Prof. Harold Hill and Shirley Jones as Marian. It’s a really, really great one. This one is actually my dad’s favorite musical and it’s pretty high up there for me too. If you like big dance scenes and stuff, definitely check this one out!
· HELLO DOLLY! – HELLO DOLLY! is actually a recent addition to my list of favorite musicals. It was free On Demand the other day so I decided to watch it with my family and we all had a great time with it. It’s a musical that’s just really fun to watch and actually parallels a lot to THE MUSIC MAN. If you like THE MUSIC MAN, I’d say it’s almost certain that you’ll like HELLO DOLLY!. It’s a great, great musical that I wish I’d come across sooner because man, it’s fun. The movie has Barbara Streisand in it and also has Michael Crawford for all of the PHANTOM fans out there!
· OLIVER! – I’ll admit that I’m always surprised when people have told me that they have never seen OLIVER!. And maybe that’s because I think that it’s such a classic of musical theatre but man… apparently a lot of people haven’t seen it. If you haven’t seen it, go get the movie. If you’re a musical theatre fan you will love it. It’s one of my favorite musical movies of all time and it’s amazing. This was my favorite musical growing up and it is still one of my favorites.
· PIPPIN – I think that PIPPIN’s gained a lot more popularity with the recent revival and touring productions of this show but man… it’s still one of those ones that only some people have actually given a listen. And granted, the score isn’t my absolute favorite, it does have some really great songs and it’s a wonderful show to watch. The circus elements are amazing. If you just watch the Tony Awards performance that the revival cast did you will see what I mean. Man, it’s awesome. I actually found out about this musical via my high school civics teacher who knew I liked musical theatre and actually gave me his CD because he realized that he had two. So… hooray for happy accidents (as Bob Ross would say)!
· JEKYLL & HYDE – I’ve talked about JEKYLL & HYDE a few times on this blog. This is a musical that I’m always so happy to talk about when people tell me that they know it and love it. It’s a musical that really doesn’t get enough credit. There is a filmed live performance that you can buy on DVD but David Hasslehoff plays Jekyll / Hyde and he’s well… not the best. But if you really, really want to see it, I’d pick it up and just give it a watch. If it seems like something you would like, pick up the Concept Recording with Anthony Warlow. It’s awesome. Sheer perfection.
· A TALE OF TWO CITIES – And last, but certainly not least on my list of the more unknown musicals is A TALE OF TWO CITIES. It’s a musical that I personally think does not get nearly enough attention and that if more people knew about it, they would really, really like it. So… I’ll put in a good word for it here. The characters are awesome, the songs are phenomenal. Guys… you need to check this musical out. They have a filmed DVD version of a concert that they did which is in full costume and acted out and kinda on set so I’d definitely recommend taking a look into that if you’re interested!
So… into the musicals that a lot of people know of but I am going to endorse anyways because some people haven’t given these musicals a chance yet and I am going to put in a few good words for ‘em here so that anyone who needs a bit of help in deciding as to whether or not they give a musical a try can maybe find it here!
· LES MISÉRABLES – So… this musical might take a few watches / listens for some people to get into. It did for me. But now it is a musical that I commonly call my favorite. So… if you haven’t given it a try yet, I definitely think that you should! I think that it’s a musical that, even if you don’t like it, you still get something out of it. It’s highly inspirational and touching and it’s just a musical that I think is a must-see. And it’s a wonderful classic. What’s not to love about that? The songs are amazing, the characters are amazing, and so is the story. Guys, check it out if you’re even the slightest bit interested in what it might be able to offer.
· THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA – Most musical theatre fans have at least heard of PHANTOM. After all, it is Broadway’s longest running show and it is one of the most successful musicals of all time. And as of yet, I’ve never met anyone who’s watched PHANTOM who has not liked it. So if you’re skeptical about seeing PHANTOM because it might be overrated, I highly suggest that you go for it. I’ll say that there’s about a 95%+ chance that you will thoroughly enjoy it!
· WICKED – WICKED is a musical that I’d say most people know about but I know that there are a lot of people out there who are skeptical about it. And I think that’s somewhat understandable. I don’t think that WICKED’s style is for everyone but my recommendation is for you if you’re going to see WICKED for the first time is to go into it without any big expectations of it to be something like say PHANOTM or LES MIZ. It won’t be PHANTOM and it won’t be LES MIZ but that doesn’t mean that it’s bad. It’s just a completely different story. And I think that if you go into it with an open mind and no expectations of it to be like PHANTOM and LES MIZ, you will enjoy it a lot more. But definitely go check out WICKED! It’s one of my favorites and it’s something that I have really never seen before.
· BEAUTY AND THE BEAST – For the purposes of this post, I’m talking about the stage production, not the movie (though that’s great and if you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it). The stage production is something that is near and dear to my heart and I love, love, love it. It’s got beautiful songs like “A Change in Me”, “If I Can’t Love Her”, “No Matter What”, and “Home” that aren’t in the movie. So… if you like Disney and if you like BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, check out the stage production! I guarantee that you won’t regret it. Also, if there’s a local school that’s putting the show on, I’d recommend you go to see that—it’s a great way to see the show and for a really great price!
Any musicals on this list that you think that you want to check out now? Any of these musicals that you would agree that others should watch? And are there any musicals that you think that I should watch? Tschüss!