I love the fact that this is not a ‘serious’ musical. The songs are fun, exciting and silly, and though the plot is rather thin and perhaps slightly nonsensical, the spectacle of this show is amazing. The costumes are bright, unique and very cool. The dancing is amazing and I cannot even comprehend how those actors can dance the way they do.
Ever since I was very little, I’ve been dancing to Magical Mr. Mistoffelees and Macavity the Mystery Cat, before I even knew that it was a musical, so it has a lot of nostalgia attached to it as well.
Because so much of what I love about Cats is focussed on the dancing and gymnastics, I really love the DVD version.
I struggled with my placement of Newsies, since this musical is amazing. However, after evaluating it against all the other musicals I love, I decided that the while the story of Newsies is really good, entertaining and (loosely, very loosely) based on a true story, it’s overall execution is not as good as the following musicals. I’ve also never seen Newsies and I’m cranky that it’s not on Broadway anymore (not that that really changes anything. Broadway is an awfully long way from Australia).
But this musical is still so cool! It’s perks include fun and unique music and lyrics (the music is written by Alan Menken—since Newsies is based on a Disney movie—who is fast becoming one of my most favourite composers), a really compelling storyline about a gang of boys and a girl reporter attempting to change the status quo, and some really good singers. Also, there’s Crutchie and Davy, need I say more? My favourite—and as far as I am aware—the only cast recording of Newsies is the Original Broadway Cast.
Those boys are also mind blowing. I didn’t even know it was possible to tap dance the way they do.
I’ve never seen Anastasia either, but I hear rumours it is going on tour and coming to Australia sometime in the next fifty years, so…
Anastasia is based on the animated movie of the same name, which came out some time in the last century, and it’s inspired by the legend of the Grand Duchess Anastasia of Russia. And it’s also very cool.
It has beautiful music, which leans more towards a classical sound (but for some tracks, such as Land of Yesterday, it has a very ’20s sound to it, which makes for some nice variation), and beautiful lyrics. It can be serious, but it is also humorous at points (Learn to Do It is quite amusing) and ultimately it is a story of dreams, forgiveness, mercy and love. In my opinion, some of the most beautiful songs are In My Dreams, In a Crowd of Thousands, The Neva Flows, Still, Journey to the Past and also the haunting melody of Once Upon a December.
And it also has Ramin Karimloo in it, so that’s a bonus. And Christy Altomare is an amazingly beautiful singer.
Again, this is only a new production and the only cast recording is the Original Broadway Cast. It’s fantastic and you should definitely go check it out.
2.The Phantom of the Opera—
Did you think this wouldn’t be on the list? This musical has everything that I shouldn’t like—revenge, madness, romance, unrequited love, and, even worse, a love triangle. And yet, I love it!
There’s something so human about Phantom. It isn’t just a gothic horror story, it is a story of someone who has suffered terribly and is unable to let go of it. Someone who loves all the more because of the agony he has gone through, and yet cannot express his love in a healthy way. It is the story of a girl who had lost her father and is incredibly lonely, putting her faith in a man who can never live up to her expectations. It is the story of a man willing to lay down his life for his best friend and love.
Basically, it’s just a story about people, who get themselves into a ridiculous situation and then go from there. The emotions in the music, the lyrics and the voices of the actors are just amazing, also the costume and dancing aren’t bad.
There are hundreds of cast recordings of Phantom, but my favourite is definitely the Original London Cast, with Michael Crawford, Sarah Brightman and Steve Barton, however the 25th Anniversary Cast is also very good, with Ramin Karimloo, Sierra Boggess (she is an amazing Christine, probably my favourite) and Hadley Fraser.
1. Les Miserables—
Yes, of course. Les Miserables is my favourite musical by far. I remember trying to explain to a friend the difference between Phantom and Les Mis and what made Phantom a “great” musical and what made Les Mis a “fantastic, beautiful, mind-blowing, heartbreaking master piece”. The difference, as I see it, isn’t in the score (I probably prefer Phantom in that regard) or even the songs (though the songs are awesome), it was, again, how real it was. Phantom is a story about a masked, lasso-wielding, genius madman who is passionately and irrevocably in love with a beautiful young soprano. The story is somewhat ridiculous.
But Les Mis, while not populated with real characters, is about people who might have been. Fantine may never have existed, but girls like her—forced into prostitution to feed their families—have and still do. Though Marius and Enjolras did not exist, there have been hundreds of students who have given their lives in the struggle for what they believe is right. Hundreds of people were and have been either wrongly convicted or given far too harsh penalties (unfortunately, Australia was literally built on that).
But it is a story of hope, despite its tragic nature, and it is the kind of story that gets better and better the more you delve into it.
My favourite casts of this are the 10th Anniversary Dream Cast, the Original London Cast and the 25th Anniversary Cast.
And a special mention!
When I drafted this post months ago, I had never listened to the A Tale of Two Cities musical, but I have now. And safe to say, it is one of my favourite musicals ever. There’s so much passion and fire in it, and the music is awesome. However, I didn’t want to horribly kick any of these musicals off the list, so for now A Tale of Two Cities will not be counted as a top 5. But I love it much, and it’s awesome, and go and listen to it right now.
So there you have it! My five favourite musicals and why I like them. What are your favourite musicals? Why? Do you love any of the same ones I do?