My Top 5 Underrated Musicals

There are some musicals in the world that get their due amount of credit. There are some that get more credit than they deserve…

And there are some that are just so underrated it should be a crime.

Today, I’m going to dramatically share with you 5 musicals that I believe are criminally underrated and never got the attention they deserved.

#1 Artus Excalibur

We’re starting off with one that is underrated in both German-speaking countries, and basically every other country. I discovered this musical a few weeks ago and completely fell in love with it. As a bit of backstory, I love anything to do with King Arthur stories, and I love the music style used in this musical.

My biggest criticism is that the plot really isn’t that exciting. It follows a very formulaic pattern and brings nothing new to King Arthur’s story. However, I think the fact that it follows the formulaic Arthurian pattern means you’re really able to focus on how cool Frank Wildhorn’s score, the lyrics, and the acting are.

(Content Warning: It’s an Arthurian story, so expect the normal Lancelot/Guinevere affair. Morgana and Merlin are also a little…interesting and Morgana regularly uses magic. I think that’s all the content in this one that I have a problem with though)

Stand Out Songs:

#2 The Lord of the Rings

Apparently, this is one of the most (if not the most) expensive musicals ever made, and because of this had an extremely short running time in London. It was supposed to go on world tour, but never did.

And it’s so woefully unknown that it makes me despair.

I wouldn’t argue that this is the best adaption of Tolkien’s beloved book, but I think it has a certain quality I’ve seen lacking in other adaptions, particularly Peter Jackson’s movies. I’m not sure that I can exactly explain what it is, but there seems to be a mythical aspect to the music and lyrics of LotR that is present in the books but lost in the movies.

Whatever it is, the beauty of these songs really get to me whenever I listen to them and I desperately need other people to know about this musical!

(Content Warnings: None)

Stand Out Songs:

#3 The Secret Garden

I, personally, believe that The Secret Garden musical is a brilliant example of how to make an adaption of a book. It changes things, adds new characters and fleshes out characters’ and their motivations, but never once does it disrespect the original material, and it usually only makes it better. That’s one reason I love this musical and need more people to love it too.

The other reason is that I really love the Australian cast. It seems to be a truth universally acknowledged that Australians do very well in the realm of musical theatre and there’s almost always an Australian cast recording produced of the popular musicals. In my opinion, the Australian cast of The Secret Garden is just really, really good. I particularly like Anthony Warlow as Archie, Philip Quast as Dr Craven, Tom Blair as Dickon and Marina Prior as Lily.

Unfortunately, they only have a highlights album, but here’s Anthony Warlow’s version of Race You To the Top of the Morning

(Content Warning: None)

Stand Out Songs:

#4 The Count of Monte Cristo (Der Graf von Monte Christo)

This is another German musical, but unlike Artus Excalibur it has an English translation. I believe it takes it plot mostly from the 2002 movie (could be wrong though, if you know please correct me), so it’s slightly different from the book, and probably more cheerful.

But it has a really strong cast, including some of my favourite German actors. I especially like Jesper Tyden’s voice in the song Ah, Women. And again, the music style is exactly the sort of thing I like listening to, there’s a lot of emotion displayed in the songs and it’s basically just awesome.

#5 Bandstand

I left the best to last. Bandstand is a new discovery of mine and I adore it. My family will tell you that I’ve been blasting it virtually nonstop all day. For some reason, this musical flopped on Broadway and has been overshadowed by giants such as Dear Evan Hansen and Hamilton. It deals with things I’m passionate about, such as recovering from war and the trauma it scars you with. And it deals with those things in a very realistic and brutally honest way. In one of the critic reviews I read on it, it was called “nostalgic”, but I actually think it’s a bit of an attack on nostalgia and the romanticisation of the past, especially when the past involves brutality such as war.

Anyway, it’s great. I also like tap dancing to the swing music 😀

(Content Warnings: A lot of swearing. Depictions of PTSD [including mentions of ex-soldiers committing suicide]. Other than that, it’s really good).

Stand Out Songs:

What are some musicals you think are underrated? Have you listened to any of these? What’s your favourite song out of these?


19 thoughts on “My Top 5 Underrated Musicals

  1. I haven’t heard of any of these, but I LOVE King Arthur!! Have you seen “Pendragon”? It’s a Christian retelling and I adore it! By way of musicals I’m partial to the classics…The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins…😁

    Liked by 1 person

  2. AAAH I love all these! Well, I haven’t heard Artus Excalibur, but the others…they definitely deserve more recognition especially The Secret Garden and Bandstand! (I’ve actually learned a few songs from both in my voice lessons!). The Lord of the Rings musical had quite the job to cram the whole trilogy into one show, but I think the music matched Tolkien’s story really well, particularly “The Cat and the Moon” and “Now and for Always”. Great list!

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  3. This is an awesome post! I agree with all of these, really. Artus-Excalibur is very strangely underrated but, like you said, this is probably due to the rather lack-luster plot. Still, I think the cast was absolutely wonderful in the German recording and there were some really great songs in the musical!
    I’ve yet to listen to all of Bandstand but when I turned on the Tony Awards just to see what was going on one year, I saw their performance and it was one of the only ones I actually found entertaining and exciting that particular year! I really should get around to listening to the whole thing, though! 😅

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  4. Ah! I love posts like these! I absolutely LOVE The Secret Garden- it’s one of my favorite musicals. But I haven’t listened to the Australian cast! I have only heard the original Broadway recording, but I am curious now- I didn’t know that Philip Quast played Dr. Craven, but I loved him as Javert in the 10th anniversary of Les Mis. One of my favorite songs in Secret Garden (though I love them all) is the “Quartet/There’s a Man.”
    I like a lot of the music for the LOTR musical, but I wish there was more of it. it seems like it wasn’t so much of a musical as a production with music, if that makes sense. “The Cat and the Moon” is a really fun song. 🙂
    Bandstand is a fantastic musical! “Welcome Home (Finale)” is my favorite song. I don’t understand why this show did so poorly. A lot of the music is so fun, yet some of it is really emotional, which is a nice balance.
    I have to admit that I enjoy the shows like Dear Evan Hansen and even Hamilton, but that’s in spite of all the attention they get- I don’t usually think that the hyped shows deserve as much attention as they get, especially considering all the awesome shows that no one talks about!
    I haven’t really branched out into listening to German musicals, but I might have to give some of these a try!
    Another musical that I love that doesn’t get much recognition is An American in Paris- though that one uses Gershwin songs, not original music. I really, really enjoyed that one. They used the songs in a really effective way and I liked their arrangements, especially for “I Got Rhythm” and “But Not for Me.”
    Great post!

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  5. King Arthur is brilliant. I’m currently reading the Pendragon Cycle by Stephen Lawheas and its my favouritr Arthur story so far. I haven’t seen that one but it sounds good. 🙂

    Like

  6. Yes! The Artus excalibur cast is really strong. I don’t think there’s anyone I don’t like it in!
    Oh, that probably would have been their performance of “Nobody”. I’m pretty sure that’s what they performed at the Tony’s. Its a really fun song and dance and one of my favourites 🙂

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  7. There’s a London recording too, but I think its very subpar. Its changed a lot of the words and some of the plot as well. I love the Australian cast and I’m really sad they never did a complete recording.
    I’ve actually thought that about Lotr as well, and a lot of it is just instrumental, which I don’t mind, but it does take away a little of the enjoyment I get from other musicals.
    I have no idea why it did so poorly either. It reminds me a lot of Newsies, so I would have thought it would have found some popularity with those fans. And yep, one of my favourite things about it is the way it deals with such heavy themes and topics but the music is still so fun.
    German musicals are a newer thing for me, but I really like most of the ones I’ve listened to. They just tend to have a music and story style that really appeals to me 🙂
    I’ve been meaning to listen to An American in Paris for quite a while now. I’ll have to get around to it soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Ooh ooh ooh I will definitely check out Bandstand. It looks beautiful. Also, a Count of Monte Cristo musical sounds kind of amazing? Even (and especially) if it’s more like the movie than the book, heehee.

    And your rules for making a good adaption of a book are perfection. I agree 100%.

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  9. I don’t think so. 😦 After Newsies was in movie theaters, they put it on Netflix, so I guess there’s a chance Bandstand might be on Netflix eventually.

    Like

  10. Oh, I also love Jane Eyre and A Tale of Two Cities, but NO ONE knows about those.
    I am listening to “Das Feld Der Ehre” and it’s gorgeous! Thanks for bringing these obscure shows to my attention. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. After I posted this, I couldn’t believe I’d forgotten ATOTC, especially since its my second favourite musical of all and I’m listening to it right now 🙂 Jane Eyre has some good songs too 🙂
    Das Feld der ehre is a beautiful song!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. You’re right these are underrated, because I haven’t heard of three of them! I totally agree about “Secret Garden.” It’s a gorgeous soundtrack hardly anyone talks about. I love “Lily’s Eyes.” “Bandstand” is on my lengthy list of cast albums to listen to because I heard excellent things about it, despite it being overshadowed by the more popular musicals (which I also love). My favorite underrated musicals would have to be “The Prom” (I’m not sure how truly underrated it is since it’s been getting rave reviews and it’s still fairly new, but I never hear anyone talking about it as much as others), “Dr. Horrible’s Singalong Blog,” “The Great Comet,” and “Chess.”

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