This week’s post is a bit different and is actually about musical theatre rather than films or television. I originally started with a list of 10 but I really struggled with narrowing it down to 10 so I had to extend it to 15. To be honest, I still struggled with 15 but I’ll just have to deal with it. If you know me, then you know that I absolutely love musicals and was actually part of the Musical Theatre Society last year at university. Here is my list of my 15 favourite musicals.
- Jersey Boys
Jersey Boys is a jukebox musical with music by Bob Gaudio, lyrics by Bob Crewe, and book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice. The musical is presented in a documentary-style format that dramatises the formation, success and eventual break-up of The Four Seasons. The musical is structured as four “seasons”, each narrated by a different member of the band. The musical opened on Broadway in 2005 and went on to win four Tony Awards in 2006, including Best Musical, as well as the 2009 Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Musical. Jersey Boys was on when I was in New York and I was so sad that I couldn’t see it.
Favourite song: December 1963 (Oh, What A Night)
- The Book of Mormon
The Book of Mormon is a religious satire musical with book, lyrics and music by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, and Matt Stone (the creators of South Park). The musical follows two Mormon missionaries as they attempt to share their scriptures with the citizens of a Ugandan village. The musical opened on Broadway in 2011 and subsequently premiered in the West End in 2013. The show was awarded nine Tony Awards, one of which was for Best Musical. Other awards include a Grammy Award for Best Musical Theatre Album.
Favourite song: Turn it Off
- The King and I
The King and I is a musical based on the 1944 novel Anna and the King of Siam with music composed by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. The plot follows Anna (a British schoolteacher) as she moves to Siam as a teacher to the children of King Mongkut as a drive to modernise the country. The musical opened on Broadway in 1951 and was an immediate hit, winning Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best actress (Gertrude Lawrence) and Best Featured Actor (Yul Brynner). The King and I was one of my favourite musicals as a child and I remember watching the 1999 animated film version over and over.
Favourite song: Shall We Dance or Getting To Know You (again, I couldn’t decide)
- Avenue Q
Avenue Q is an American musical, created by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx who wrote the music and lyrics and the book written by Jess Whitty. Avenue Q was originally conceived as a TV series and was later developed as a stage production and opened Off-Broadway in 2003. The musical won three Tony Awards, including Best Musical. The musical is notable for the use of puppets alongside human actors. If this doesn’t sell it to you then I don’t know what will. It’s basically a grown-up Sesame Street.
Favourite song: My Girlfriend, Who Lives in Canada
- The Phantom of the Opera
The Phantom of the Opera is a 1976 musical with book and lyrics by Ken Hill and music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. The musical opened on West End in 1986 and on Broadway in 1988. It won the Laurence Olivier Award and Tony Award for Best Musical. The Phantom of the Opera is the longest-running show in Broadway history and celebrated its 10,000th Broadway performance in 2012. The story revolves around Christine Daaé – a beautiful soprano who becomes the obsession of a mysterious, disfigured musical genius.
Favourite song: The Music of the Night
Rent is a rock musical with music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson. It tells the story of a group of impoverished young artists struggling to survive and create a life in New York City. The musical officially opened in 1996 and won a Tony for Best Musical. As part of the Musical Theatre society, we performed Seasons of Love in a showcase to raise money for our performance of Grease.
Favourite song: Take Me or Leave Me
- Jesus Christ Superstar
Jesus Christ Superstar is a 1970 rock opera with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. If that doesn’t sound amazing, then you need to give yourself a good talking to. The musical is sung-through, with no spoken dialogue. The story is loosely based on the Gospels’ accounts of the last week of Jesus’ life. It highlights political and interpersonal struggles between Judas and Jesus that are not present in the Bible. The original Broadway production was nominated for five Tony Award’s but unfortunately did not win any.
Favourite song: Superstar
- Little Shop of Horrors
Little Shop of Horrors is a horror comedy rock musical based on a 1960 film of the same name, with music by Alan Menken and lyrics and book by Howard Ashman. The story is about a hapless florist shop worker who raises a plant that feeds on human flesh and blood. The musical premiered Off-Off-Broadway in 1982.
Favourite song: Skid Row
- Mamma Mia!
Mamma Mia! is another jukebox musical based on the songs of ABBA. The musical premiered in London in 1999. Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, former members of the band, composed the songs for the musical. The story is set on a beautiful Greek island and follows a young woman, Sophie, about to marry the love of her life to discover that her father could be one of three. Watching the movie actually inspired me to take the career path that I have.
Favourite song: Take a Chance on Me
Hairspray is an American musical with music by Marc Shaiman, lyrics by Schott Wittman and a book by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan. The musical is set in 1962, Baltimore, Maryland. Tracy Turnblad wins a dance role on The Corny Collins Show and becomes a celebrity overnight. She launches a campaign to integrate the show. Hairspray opened on Broadway in 2002 and in 2003, won eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical out of 13 nominations. The London production was nominated for a record-setting 11 Laurence Olivier Awards, winning Best New Musical and three others. Hairspray is one of my go-to films to watch when I’m feeling ill and I am not ashamed to say that I practically know it word-for-word.
Favourite song: Without Love
Chicago is a 1975 musical based on a 1926 play of the same name. The story is a satire on corruption in the administration of criminal justice and the concept of celebrity criminal. The music is by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb and the book by Ebb and Bob Fosse. The Broadway revival holds the longest-running musical revival and the second longest-running American musical in Broadway history, behind Phantom of the Opera. The Broadway revival won 7 Tony Awards in 1997, including Best Revival of a Musical.
Favourite song: Cell Block Tango
- The Sound of Music
The Sound of Music is a musical with music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II and a book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse. It is based on the memoir of Maria von Trapp, The Story of the Trapp Family Singers. The story is set in Austria on the eve of the Anschluss in 1938. Maria takes a job as a governess to a large family, where she falls in love with the children and their father, Captain von Trapp. The original Broadway production opened in 1959 and won five Tony Awards, including Best Musical. The Sound of Music was the last musical written by Rodgers and Hammerstein. This is another musical that I have loved since a child and will always be one of my favourites.
Favourite song: The Lonely Goatherd
- West Side Story
West Side Story is a musical with music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by Arthur Laurents. The story is set in the Upper West Side in New York City in the mid-1950s, an ethnic, blue-collar neighbourhood. The musical follows the rivalry between the Jets and the Sharks, two teenage street gangs of different ethnic backgrounds. The original Broadway production premiered in 1957 and was nominated for six Tony Awards, including Best Musical. I went to see West Side Story at Norwich Playhouse in August as my friend played Anita. Shoutout to Ericka for being amazing.
Favourite song: America
Wicked is a 2003 musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and book by Winnie Holzman. It is based on the 1995 novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. The musical is told from the perspective of the witches of the Land of Oz. The story follows Elphaba (Wicked Witch of the West) and Glinda (Good Witch), who struggle through opposing personalities.
Favourite song: For Good
- Les Misérables
Les Misérables is another sung-through musical based on the novel of the same name by Victor Hugo. The musical premiered in Paris in 1980. The music Is by Claude-Michel Schönberg and original French-language lyrics by Alain Boubil and Jean-Marc Natel, alongside an English-language libretto with accompanying English-language lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer. The London production has run continuously since October 1985 – the longest running musical in the West End. The musical is set in early 19th century France and follows Jean Valjean, a French peasant and his quest for redemption after serving nineteen years in prison. Valjean breaks parole but is relentlessly tracked by Javert. The characters are swept into a revolutionary period in France. This is my all-time favourite musical! I spend most of my free time listening to the soundtrack and crying because it’s so amazing
Favourite song: On My Own (To be honest, I have a handful of favourites but if I had a favourite then I would probably say this)
There are so many other musicals that I adore, such as Grease, Godspell, Mary Poppins, Evita and Sweeney Todd. I didn’t include Disney musicals as that is a whole different post. What are your favourite musicals? Let me know in the comments.
Another thing, I am off to Peru in June as part of Challenges Abroad. I will be teaching literacy and media skills to disadvantaged children. I will have the opportunity to reduce an inequality in opportunity and help make a fundamental difference to the Peruvian community.
I would appreciate it so much if you sponsor me as I need to raise money in order to go. No donation is too small and I will be so grateful.