I just realised something very odd the other day: I’m doing a theatre blog and yet have never told you guys what my favourite plays or musicals are!
Surely that’s like Day 1 of Theatre Blog 101!
But then I released why I haven’t done it. To quote Moriarty:
And my favourite shows literally change monthly, if not daily! So this isn’t so much a definitive list of my favourite shows, but more what I’m liking this week!
This list is my Top 10 Musicals, which I have seen on stage. I am emphasising that/making it very clear, because there will be some very popular musicals missing. So if you read it, and are like: ‘WHAT, why hasn’t she included Rent?’, well it’s because I haven’t seen it live, and this is only a list of my favourite musicals which I’ve been to see. Got it? Good!
I’m going to split this list in two: this week’s installment is my top 10-6, and next week’s are the Top 5. And yes, I’m keeping you in suspense so you have to come back and see what my Number 1 Musical is!
10) Avenue Q
Wasn’t really sure whether to include this or not…it’s been years since I’ve seen it, and I can’t remember whether I loved it or just liked it. The thing about Avenue Q is I was quite young when I saw it, and if I remember rightly, I saw it with family!
I mean, don’t get me wrong, the songs are great! There are so many great ones there that could easily be show stealers: ‘Schadenfreude’, ‘It Sucks to be Me’, ‘Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist’. I mean what other show could have that song in it! Well, aside from Book of Mormon!
The reason it is so far down my list is easy when I think about it: the older I get the more I feel Avenue Q is my life! ‘Four years of college, and plenty of knowledge, have earned me this useless degree’. ‘I wish I could go back to college; in college you know who you are’.
So basically when it pops up on my iPhone, I half laugh at how amazing the songs are, and half cry at how true they are too!
9) American Psycho
Somewhat controversially, a musical which played off-West-End and only ran for 3 months is in my top 10!
In its brief run, Matt Smith starred as the terrifying Patrick Bateman. Seeing him in this production basically means I can never watch him in Doctor Whor again. The image of him humping a large, stuffed cuddly toy is something indelibly etched into my mind! I just can’t unsee it. And I’ve tried!
The reason it’s in my top 10 is the music: Duncan Sheik worked his magic on the lyric book, and the soundtrack features both familiar songs of the 80s with new arrangements, and brand new numbers. The reworking of Phil Collins’ ‘In the Air Tonight’ is haunting, and Sheik’s original ‘If You Only Knew’ is hilarious, while ‘Not an Exit’ is the best song to end a musical on ever! Actually nearly cried. And I don’t even know why?!
The reason it’s so far down my list: it’s not on any more, and no official soundtrack has been released, despite being recorded! Really hoping this does get a West End transfer or even Broadway move.
8) Legally Blonde
Loved the movie when I was younger. And now I love the musical even more!
First watched this on stage, with the UK’s touring production a few years back. I feel like the douche boyfriend was played by someone off of a singing competition…Gareth Gates…Darius…Will Young…? (EDIT: it was Gareth Gates after all, with Jennifer Ellison as Elle).
I enjoyed it live: the cast were all amazing, the dance routines great, and the songs are very catchy. But I do prefer the recorded Broadway version by MTV. Oh my god you guys, the guy who plays Callaghan. His voice. Is the sex. Plus, it has Christian Borle, who is my favourite. Just generally, he’s awesome. Also, did I mention the plot…? So great: Woods, Elle Woods becoming an independent, successful woman. And with songs!
Slightly further down the list because aside from the titular song, ‘Gay or European’ and ‘Blood in The Water’, none of the other songs really stand out to me.
Before 2015, I had never seen a Sondheim musical. Apart from Sweeney Todd, but I never actually realised it was one of his.
Then, in the space of one week, I watched two Sondheim musicals which could not be more different: the Into the Woods film starring James Corden, and Assassins at the Menier Chocolate Factory. Into the Woods was okay. But Assassins…
I mean, this production. It was amazing.
The staging: set in a sort of abandoned circus come fun fair, fairy lights hang over the stage, illuminating a giant broken clown’s head which forms the only piece of set. The songs: liked ‘The Gun Song’, loved the ballads, and ‘The Ballad of Guiteau’ and ‘The Ballad of Booth’ were my favourite songs out of all of them. And of course ‘Everybody’s Got the Right’. Which brings me on to…
The cast: Not. One. Weak. Link. The Proprietor played by Simon Lipkin was so intense. He was made for that role. The last time I saw him, he was playing Nicky in Avenue Q. In Assassins, he was completely unrecognisable: wholly transformed and completely immersed in the character. Other notable performances include Aaron Tveit’s Booth and he killed the ballad; Jamie Parker’s Balladeer was amazing, and his transformation in character later in the show was so heartbreaking; and finally Andy Nyman as Charlie Guiteau was so hilarious, charismatic and actually sympathetic!
And the atmosphere: electric, and not just because of the fairy lights everywhere! During the reprisal of ‘Everybody’s Got the Right’ at the end, the characters aim their guns into the audience, and I was looking down the barrel of Guiteau’s gun. You could feel everyone hold their breath.
Reason it didn’t quite make the top 5? Again: no revival/transfer! Although at least I have the Broadway original recording to listen to, with Neil Patrick Harris!
Okay guys, I am sorry this is so far up the Top 10. But like Avenue Q, I haven’t seen this in a long time. In fact, since it first came to London in 2006! 9 years ago! I was 14!
I would be surprised if anybody said they didn’t like Wicked. I had a couple I served at work today who were seeing it for the first time. I may have got a bit too excited about it, and basically rambled on about how amazing it was for like 5 minutes! But they didn’t seem to mind 😉
Wicked will always hold a special place in my heart. It’s the first musical I saw which really had empowering female roles, plus I actually saw it with Idina Menzel. Which I still can’t quite believe! Need I say why Wicked is amazing: ‘Defying Gravity’, ‘Popular’, ‘For Good’, so many great songs. And those notes: OoooohhhoooooohOOOOOOHHooooooo, and who can forget *deep breath* FiyyyEEEEEROOOO!
It’s a great twist on a classic story, and it’s still bringing in audiences for a reason. Great storytelling, great acting, great songs. And the staging…seriously, every time I watch ‘Defying Gravity’ and she appears up in the air, I want to cry. It’s so powerful.
Now, the reason it didn’t make top 5: haven’t seen it in ages, so not currently one of my favs. Sure whenever the music comes on I will sing along, yes, doing both Elpheba and Glindas’ parts. But I think I need to see it again and relive the magic, then it’ll jump up into the top few.
So there are my first few favourites. Check back next week for the Top 5. I think you’ll be surprised by the presence/absence of some…Any guesses? 🙂