Why I Fell in Love With German Language Musical Theatre

Guten Tag, Leute! Those of you that have read some of my posts on this blog will know that several of my favorite musicals are German language musicals like ELISABETH, SCHIKANEDER, TANZ DER VAMPIRE, and etc.. But why are those musicals so important to me? Well, today I endeavor to explain why.

Drew Sarich in TANZ DER VAMPIRE

For as long as I can remember, German culture’s been an important piece of my life. My grandpa was from Germany. Every year my family would go up to Levenworth, WA., a little Bavarian town in Washington state. And so, German language also had an importance to me.

As it turned out, so did musicals. At first I mostly listened to musicals in German. Disney movies were always really fun for me to watch in German and were the entryway to my fascination with the language. From there I listened to musicals like WICKED and PHANTOM in German and fell in love.

Willemijn Verkaik as Elphaba and Mark Seibert as Fiyero in WICKED, Germany

After learning German for a long time, I decided to give well-known German language musicals like ELISABETH and TANZ DER VAMPIRE a try. I fell in love with ELISABETH almost immediately and it remains one of my favorite musicals to this day and is, as a matter of fact, neck-and-neck with musicals like LES MISÉRABLES and WICKED at the top of my list. 

Annemieke Van Dam as Sisi and Mark Seibert as der Tod (Death) in ELISABETH

STARLIGHT EXPRESS is Germany’s longest running musical and, coincidentally was the musical that made my mom want to com to America as an exchange student. It was also the musical that really originally got me into German musical theatre. 

Kevin Köhler as Rusty and Trina Hill as Pearl in STARLIGHT EXPRESS, Bochum

But why has my love for German language musicals transferred to loving musicals that were originally written in English that are performed in German? Well… in general I just love the production value of so many German musical productions. The costumes are always gorgeous, the wigs are flawless, and the sets are designed beautifully. Seriously. And, besides, I’ve always thought that German is a wonderful language for music. Even when it comes to non-musical theatre music, I always find myself loving German music more than English music. The language just seems to flow so well. There’s also the fact that German is a language that I can visualize. It’s tough to explain, but unlike English and the other languages I speak, German is a language that just forms pictures in my head.

Daniella Braun as Christine Daaé in PHANTOM, Oberhausen

My newest German language musical theatre obsession? Well, that’d be Stephen Schwartz’s new musical, SCHIKANEDER that premiered in Vienna last year and just closed last week. SCHIKANEDER has reminded me of all of the reasons I fell in love with musicals and German language musicals in the first place. The costumes, music, set, cast, story–everything–was amazing. 

Toby Joch and Katie Hall in SCHIKANEDER (Photo credit: Toby Joch)

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So, that’s kinda been a quick crash course on my journey with German language musicals. What do you think of German language musicals? What other languages do you really want to see musicals in?

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One thought on “Why I Fell in Love With German Language Musical Theatre

  1. Spanish and Les Mis. Well, I saw a play in Costa Rica in Spanish three years ago and honestly did not understand what was going on. So in 2016, I was thinking I honestly enjoyed seeing a show in Spanish and I hope to see another show in Spanish, but I want to know what is going on. Les Mis eventually came to mind because of all shows it is the one I know the best and the one I think would be the best choice to see in a foreign language

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