Mad About Musicals

I love a good musical. (Sometimes, I even love a mediocre musical.) There is something about this format that makes it that little bit better than most things: fantastic stories, larger-than-life characters, talented performers, live bands and a good old song and dance all combine to make the musical one of the best forms of entertainment there is.

This year I have been to see no fewer than six fantastic musicals (not including the two I saw at the Edinburgh Festival), four of which I had never seen before. Here’s why you should see them too:

February

Phantom of the Opera, Her Majesty’s Theatre, London

I had seen the UK tour of Phantom before, but it was brilliant to see the musical at its home in Her Majesty’s Theatre. In some ways, I actually preferred the set of the touring production. However, our Phantom was Gerónimo Rauch, who we had loved as Jean Valjean. He was equally amazing at this role. For people who aren’t particular musical theatre fans, this is a fairly intense one to introduce them with, but for me this is one of the best.

Here is a little trailer for the musical:

 

May

Once, Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, New York

Once doesn’t have the hype of some of the older or jukebox-type musicals, but it is easily on a par with them. If you need a brilliant plot or outlandish theatrical numbers like those in Hairspray, then you won’t find them here. It is a low-key musical, with a simple yet moving story. It is fairly important to like (or not dislike) folk music, as there is a very traditional feel to the songs. No need for an orchestra as the incredibly talented cast play their own instruments, which made it feel a bit like a concert. This wouldn’t be to everyone’s taste, but I was completely blown away by it.

Music video by the outstanding cast I saw:

 

Matilda, Shubert Theatre, New York

Matilda had never been top of my list of musicals to see, but we were wandering around Times Square when we saw that there was a matinée starting in half an hour, and we decided to get tickets. I didn’t have great expectations for the show, but I actually loved it. The music by Tim Minchin was smart and funny, the actors – particularly the guy playing Miss Trunchbull – were brilliant, and we all left smiling. Everyone would probably find something to like about this show.

This clip is from the Royal Variety Performance (UK cast), so you can skip the first 45 seconds of David Walliams:

 

October

Billy Elliot, Victoria Palace Theatre, London

Again, most people will find something to like here. Guys who pretend they hate musicals would probably find the amount of swearing here – particularly by young kids – funny. For most, it’s going to be the plot line of the miners’ strike, the beautiful ballet or one of the adorable kids playing Billy that is most striking. As for the music, Electricity is quite simply one of the best moments in theatre.

Somewhat ridiculously, there is no decent video of Electricity on YouTube, so you’ll have to settle for the song here, and go and see it for yourself!

 

Jersey Boys, Playhouse, Edinburgh

I know this shouldn’t be the first thing I mention, but the UK touring cast of the Jersey Boys are a seriously attractive lot. And they can sing! The guy rehearsing Frankie Valli’s role in the very first workshop actually damaged his voice, it requires such a range. This musical has a slightly different set-up than many I’ve seen, where the characters talk to the audience as we’re led through their story, but I think it worked. The songs are brilliant, of course, and again, many moments felt more like a concert. Perhaps because of the tipsy women in the audience who were up dancing and screaming for the guy playing Nick Massi.

I couldn’t find any videos with the cast I saw, but here is the trailer:

 

November

Wicked, Playhouse, Edinburgh

This was the third time I saw Wicked, and it never gets old. The untold story of the witches of Oz is clever – I love when stories present a new perspective on an old one – with an unbelievable score from Stephen Schwartz. It is both uplifting and heartbreaking and I think it is one of the best musicals ever written.

An obvious choice of tune would be Defying Gravity, but it’s another of those epic moments you can only achieve in the theatre. So let’s hear a bit of Popular, sung by the utterly charming (and original and best Glinda) Kristin Chenoweth:

 

What a brilliant year! They better bring out some great new musicals soon, because I’m running out of things to see. Of course, I would go back to see any of these any day!

Have you seen any musicals this year? Which is your favourite?

Lauren x

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13 thoughts on “Mad About Musicals

  1. This year, I saw “Next To Normal” and I was in tears almost the whole time! It’s such a powerful and emotional show. It’s one of the most incredible shows I’ve seen. I also saw “Rock of Ages”. It was awesome! I loved every minute of it! Next year, I’m going to see “Billy Elliot” in February and “Jesus Christ Superstar” (for the second time!) in March. Next month I’m going to audition for “Mamma Mia!” and I’m very excited for that! I’m hoping to be cast as Sophie!

    • That sounds really emotional – I will need to look out for it if it comes to London! Billy Elliot is brilliant, and enjoy Jesus Christ Superstar – that’s one I’ve never seen live yet! And best of luck with your audition! My friend’s friend was Sophie in the West End, and it seems like a fantastic show to be part of.

  2. I am a massive musical fan. In this year, I saw Wicked and Newsies.

    I am a college student at Gardner Webb and my school took a group of fifty students to see Wicked in Charlotte. This was in fact my fourth time seeing the show and I have no words to describe how much Wicked means to me. I have an incredible relationship to Elphaba because I truly relate to her. Wicked is everything a musical should be. It has spectacle and dance, lavish sets and costumes, wonderful score and plot, and ultimately has an incredible emotional connection that has a score that has both positive and negative emotions.

    This was my first time seeing Newsies. I loved the relationship between the Newsies and how they are like family. I especially loved the relationship between Crutchie and Jack. All of the dance was mind-blowing and loved how the set was basically a set of three towers. I still cannot believe this story actually happened. The fact that a group of underdogs stood up to two of the most powerful men in New York on the time after their Newspaper distribution was increased. As a result, they went on strike I am currently addicted to the songs and still am waiting to buy the soundtrack.

    • Wicked is the musical I’ve seen the most – four times as well! There is something so relatable about the show – whether it’s Elphaba or parts of different characters or even lines in the songs. In fact, this is making me want to go again! I will need to look out for Newsies. I’m not sure if it’s in London at all, but I can check out the soundtrack on YouTube!

      • Wicked means everything to me. It felt so special seeing it with my school this year. It was the most powerful and the most vulnerable this time around.

        I am addicted to the songs of Newsies right now. It is the newest musical of my life and in fact, it is actually based of a true story. It is about a group of underdogs who stand up to Pulitzer and Hearst after they raise the price of the newspaper distribution and they go on strike because of it. You should check it out sometime. The dancing is worth it because it so mind-blowing.

  3. Pingback: 14 Highlights from 2014 | Wake Up Your Luck

  4. I am a lover of musicals. My choir director in school loved them and would have his classes watch a different one while he’d get ready for the musical at the school. I did choir twice but they had two per semester. I’m still bummed we never got to finish Bye Bye Birdie. I REALLY enjoyed it! He loves Newsies and I watched the first time in 8th grade but by my last year I had seen 3 times. Lol

    I watched Phantom Of The Opera for the first time in that class, I loved it! I’d love to sing that high and I’m hoping to do it someday, I’m slowly getting there! I’d also love to go see it someday. I’ve had dreams of me becoming the first Christine Daae in a wheelchair. 😀

  5. I saw Miss Saigon a few months back when it made a comeback in London. It was amazing, one of the best shows I’ve seen, the whole audience was in tears by the end. Thanks for the great post, I keep meaning to check out Matilda. Might have a look at Jersey Boys too… 😉

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