So, in the spirit of yesterday’s post that was inspired by Allen James Yates, a character in my current Work-In-Progress, I thought that I’d write about some of my favorite stories told in musicals in honor of Mindy Elizabeth Roth, the playwright half of the duo. These aren’t necessarily my favorite musicals but rather my favorite stories that are told in musicals. I’m essentially just going for story. Not necessarily music with this post. Los geht’s!
1. THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA – PHANTOM has one of those storylines that just works. It’s intriguing, it’s something that practically anyone can enjoy in some way. And I think it’s that that’s given PHANTOM its success. It’s a story that somehow just works. It’s a little creepy, a little romantic at times, a little cute, a little heartbreaking. It’s a little bit of everything and its story is one of its strongest points, I think.2. TANZ DER VAMPIRE – Given the fact that TANZ DER VAMPIRE may not necessarily be my favorite musical music-wise (I love a lot of the songs but there are some that are just “meh” for me) and it still manages to make it on most of my lists, I think that it’s clear that something about TANZ DER VAMPIRE is right. And I think that that just might be the storyline. The storyline is complex and fun and yet scary. It’s just one of those musicals that you can sit back and enjoy. It’s always suspenseful and a little spooky but it’s definitely got its happy, sweet moments too.
3. ELISABETH – ELISABETH is immensely unique in its storytelling. Death himself is a character, and we’ve got narration (+some commentary) from the guy who assassinated Elisabeth, empress of Österreich (Austria). But beyond just its uniqueness, it’s got a really emotional storyline too. It’s got sadness, it’s got hope. It’s got love, and it’s got death. It’s got determination, and it’s got hurt. And you know? Somehow, blended all together, you get this one absolutely beautiful piece of art. The story of ELISABETH is just… stunning. Like everything else about it.
4. LES MISÉRABLES – What would this list be without mentioning LES MISÉRABLES? LES MIZ is immensely complex. Every aspect of the story means something. And somehow, everything is connected. It’s clear that a lot of planning went into LES MIZ’s story. It’s a story of humanity, really. That’s the best way for me to describe it. And it’s absolutely phenomenal. While being tragic, it still manages to be uplifting and inspirational.
5. SOMETHING ROTTEN! – SOMETHING ROTTEN! is the most original musical out there, I think. Most musicals are based on books, movies, history, or life experiences, but SOMETHING ROTTEN! is not. But it is. In a really weird way. It’s impossible to describe but this musical’s story is one of the best things in the world and 100% deserves more recognition.
6. SCHIKANEDER – SCHIKANEDER is a (relatively) new German-language musical which is currently running in Vienna, Austria and it’s about the life of Emanuel Schikaneder, a friend of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s. I wouldn’t say that this musical is exactly about Schikaneder’s work so much as it is about his life and that’s just one of the best things about this musical, I think. I love its focus of the relationship between Emanuel and his wife, Eleanore. It’s described as eine romantische komodie (a romantic comedy) and in a lot of ways, it is. I think that romantic comedies are a rarity in musical theatre nowadays and that’s kinda a pity because they can be absolutely amazing, I think! SCHIKANEDER is just proof of that!
7. THE LAST FIVE YEARS – THE LAST FIVE YEARS is one of those musicals that tears you apart while simultaneously making you smile. Because right from the first song, you know that this relationship between Cathy and Jamie is just not going to work. But they have some really cute moments. The story is told in a really unique way and it’s just heartbreakingly good.
8. SUNSET BOULEVARD – Ever thought about what happened to those actors and actresses who couldn’t make the transition to talkies from silent films? Well… SUNSET BOULEVEARD gives you the story of Norma Desmond who didn’t make the talkie switch. And that is just a fascinating plot in and of itself, right?
9. WAITRESS – WAITRESS is a musical that is full of feeling and heart, I think. I haven’t actually seen WAITRESS yet but I’ve listened to the songs, liked a few of them, and gotten a gist for what the story’s about. And the story really just bleeds through the songs in the best way possible. I don’t want to spoil it for those of you who’ve not gotten around to WAITRESS yet, but it’s drop-dead awesome.
10. MARIE ANTOINETTE: DAS MUSICAL – I’m a French revolution geek. It’s a well-known fact. Want to know a whole lot about Camille Desmoulins, Georges Danton, Maximilien Robespierre, and an alarming amount about guillotines? Well… you know where to come then. Anyways… MARIE ANTOINETTE is just one of those musicals that I fell in love pre-first-sight. Again, storytelling is phenomenal. (What is up with these German-language musicals and storytelling am I right?) It’s essentially telling the story of two parallel lives. Those lives would be Marie Antoinette, queen of France, and Margrid Arnaud, a poor woman. Man, guys… it’s awesome.
11. ARTUS EXCALIBUR – After years of meaning to get around to ARTUS EXCALIBUR, I finally did. And seriously, why didn’t I get around to it earlier? I’m in love. Seriously in love. And honestly, how could you go wrong with a story about King Arthur? Really. Gonna go listen to the soundtrack again!
12. OLIVER! – I think I’ve said this many, many times in my blogpost, but OLIVER! was actually my first favorite musical… ever. And it’s because of OLIVER! that I’ve fallen in love with musical theatre and classical music, actually. Yeah. It’s about an orphan boy who gets taken in by Fagin, a man who takes care of kids in exchange for their services as pickpockets. And let me tell you that OLIVER! is just one of those musicals that is seamlessly woven together to make one masterpiece.
13. WICKED – So… how could I forget about WICKED, right? Before watching WICKED for the first time, I’d actually read the book. And the book is a lot darker than the musical. A lot darker. And personally? I like the musical’s take on the story quite a lot better than the story that the book presented. One of my favorite things about WICKED? It’s centered around a friendship, not a romantic relationship. And I think that’s something that we just don’t get enough of.
14. A TALE OF TWO CITIES – More stories about the French revolution? I told you that I’m a geek, didn’t I? A TALE OF TWO CITIES is easily one of my favorite Charles Dickens books because, like LES MIZ, the planning of the storyline is evident and everything is tied together in some way. A TALE OF TWO CITIES has a story that will just make you cry, laugh, and smile. Oftentimes all at once. It sounds impossible, I know.
15. THE SOUND OF MUSIC – THE SOUND OF MUSIC is one of those musicals that’s been with me since I was really, really young. And the story is easy to fall in love with. It’s a very character-oriented story that I feel largely relies on characters and their development for the plot’s advancement. And, if you’ve ever seen THE SOUND OF MUSIC, you know that the characters are really, really easy to just fall in love with. And I feel like that’s one of the reasons that the story is so memorable.
What are some of your favorite stories told through musicals? Tschüss!