Last week, I started sharing my Top 10 Shows that I’ve seen live at the theatre.
And as predicted, yes, they’ve changed within one week! And I haven’t even seen any new musicals!
When I looked back on last week’s one I was a bit like: ‘Wait, why did I put that there…and where’s Blood Brothers…WHY ARE THERE SO MANY GOOD MUSICALS?!’
IT’S TOO HARD TO CHOOSE!
But then I breathed, got my blue blanket, and continued writing up my Top 5. Starting with…
5) Kiss Me Kate
This one might shock a few of few, placing so high in my favourites. And the reason it’s beaten Wicked and other top runners is because of my sentimental attachment to the show.
Kiss Me Kate was the first musical I ever saw live. And perhaps more importantly, it was the first show which introduced the wonder of Shakespeare to me.
Set in a theatre which is putting on a production of The Taming of the Shrew, life imitates art as the actors’ regard for each other mirrors that of their character. It’s a good plot, easy to follow, and for an 8 year old me, a great introduction to the Bard!
I left the theatre singing ‘Brush up Your Shakespeare’, wanting to know each of the references in the song and the play it came from. Maybe not appropriate for an 8 year old to be singing though, considering certain lines: ‘And if still she won’t give you a bonus, you know what Venus from Adonis’, and ‘If she says she won’t buy it or take it, make her take it what’s more As You Like It’. But then again, I was singing ‘Every Sperm is Sacred’ a year later from Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life! There are so many great songs in this musical well as that one: ‘Always True to You’, ‘So in Love’, ‘Another Openin’ Another Show’. And the version I saw had the original London cast, and it was hilarious!
Reason it’s not as high up: I haven’t seen it in about 15 years live. Might watch when it has a revival, but have such fond memories of it I don’t want to ruin those.
4) A Very Potter Musical
Again, another one which might shock you all, considering it’s a show which was never performed on Broadway or even off Broadway, and may not be that well known.
A Very Potter Musical, in case you couldn’t guess, is about Harry freakin’ Potter! That’s a song from the sequel. Yes, there’s a sequel. And a prequel, technically. And they are better than Andrew Lloyd Webber’s attempts at a sequel!
The team behind it is StarKid, a company of actors, writers, directors and other creatives formed at The University of Michigan. It’s a funny retelling of the events from the Harry Potter universe, and actually pretty faithful to the books. I mean their Snape and Umbridge…uncanny!
The songs are so funny, and you’ll be hooked from the first one: ‘Goin’ Back to Hogwarts’, ‘Different’, ‘Granger Danger’. And the standard stays pretty high throughout the series.
What’s great about this too is that it’s the next generation of theatre: amazing songs, clever writing, and considering it’s a university production, pretty good sets! Plus, fans of Glee will recognise Harry himself, played by Darren Criss who’s gone on to How To Succeed in Business and Hedwig and the Angry Inch. And yes, he took over the role in HTSiB from Daniel Radcliffe. Coincidence…? 😛
Reason it’s not at the very top: well, because technically I haven’t seen it live. Each show by Starkid has a limited run, and to watch AVPM, I would have had to fly out to America. And also invent a time machine. Because it aired in the past. But I classed it in this list because when the sequel and prequel came out, I watched them that very day! Even though one of them came out at like 1 am UK time, and I was going on to the airport at 7 am.
3) The Book of Mormon
How could I not include the best new musical of the last few years!
The Book of Mormon is a breakout hit from Broadway, and there’s even talk of a movie version From the creators of South Park, it was always going to be an irreverent mess of a show, but in the nicest possible way. And that’s exactly what it is!
The songs are so catchy, but also incredibly rude! Basically if you thought Avenue Q was a bit racy, don’t see The Book of Mormon! But do, because it’s amazing! My favourites from it are: ‘Two by Two’, ‘All American Prophet’, and ‘I believe’. Oh, and ‘Turn It Off’. And ‘Making Things up Again’. All of them really! I saw the London transfer earlier this year, which was incredible and even featured one of members of AVPM’s StarKid, which was a lovely surpise! (Fyi, he played Gilderoy in the third one).
No particular reason why it isn’t higher up. Well, there is one. Stupidly, I’d seen some of, well, most of, well, all of it online with the original Broadway cast, which did spoil certain punchlines. But it was still incredible and one of my favourite things I’ve seen this year.
2) Spring Awakening
In case you haven’t seen my Twitter recently, I am more than a bit excited. Why?
BECAUSE SPRING AWAKENING IS RETURNING TO BROADWAY! And it’s being done by in ASL. AND IT MIGHT BE ON WHILE I’M OVER AT CHRISTMAS!
Spring Awakening is just an amazing musical all round. Based on the play Frühlings Erwachen by Frank Wedekind, it tackles a wide range of subjects, from sex to suicide. It really speaks to a younger generation, hence why it’s one my favourites: the characters are young, the themes universal and relatable, and the songs seem very emotionally true and raw.
The original Broadway cast is a stellar line up, led by Glee‘s Lea Michelle, Looking‘s Jonathan Groff and American Idiot‘s John Gallagher Jr.. I have been looking for a Broadway poster for so long, and although I couldn’t find one, I did manage to purchase one from the London run AND with Iwan Rheon as Moritz! Which I’m pretty happy about! I never saw the London version, but did watch my university’s version, at Royal Holloway (University of London). And it was as amazing live as I expected it to be!
It’s hard to choose my favourite songs, but I’ve narrowed it down to a few. ‘Totally Fucked’, because when I’m in a bad mood, I can pop this on and just rock out to it. ‘And Then There Were None’, because it’s Moritz’s main song and, again, ANGST! ‘There Once Was A Pirate’, one of the ones cut from Broadway, which had beautiful words and is so soft. And finally, ‘Those You’ve Known’: I cannot listen to this without bursting into tears. Every time.
Reason it’s not number 1: haven’t seen it done professionally live. But, fingers crossed, I may do later this year *COUGH* please let the transfer be on Autumn/Winter season *COUGH*
1) The Producers
If you were to ask me what my favourite show is ever, it would be this.
It’s my favourite musical I’ve seen live. It’s my favourite movie version of a musical. It’s my favourite soundtrack from a musical. It’s got some of favourite lines in it. So it’s no wonder it’s my Number 1 show.
This musical has everything going for it: amazing songs by Mel Brooks, an amazing script by Mel Brooks, and amazing casts, featuring a Mel Brooks cameo…I’m seeing a pattern emerging here…! I’m not even that big a fan of Mel Brooks!
The script has some of the best lines I’ve ever heard: ‘Somebody else’s life is flashing before my eyes!’, ‘Sort of a Nazi hoedown’ ‘I’M WET! I’M WET! I’m hysterical and I’m wet! (Max slaps him) I’M IN PAIN! I’M IN PAIN! I’m wet and I’m still hysterical!’ Basically the entire scene that last line is from is just an example of how amazingly funny the script is:
And the songs! When I watch musicals, there’s often at least one or two songs that I can’t stand, and will always skip through when listening to the soundtrack. And this is the case for all the other musicals in my Top 5: in Kiss Me Kate, it’s ‘Wunderbar’; ‘Harry’ in AVPM; I normally skip ‘Baptize Me’ and ‘I Am Africa’ in The Book of Mormon; and ‘The Guilty Ones’ in Spring Awakening.
But with The Producers, I can’t think of a single song I don’t skip through. I’ve narrowed down my favourites songs to 5. ‘We Can Do It’, because it sets up Max/Leo’s dynamic really well. ‘I Wanna Be a Producer’, because of the amazing dance number that emerges from the set, and the line ‘Stop the world…I WANT TO GET ON’. ‘Along Came Bialy’: the little old ladies with their crutches. I can’t think of a more enduring image from musical theatre. ‘Springtime for Hitler’…need I say why…? ‘I was born in Dusseldorf und that is why they call me Rolf’, and the choreography! And finally ‘Betrayed’, which manages to sum up a whole musical in just a few minutes.
The other reason it’s my top one is the casts I’ve seen it with. The original Broadway one was led by Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, who are two of the funniest, honest and nicest actors around. The West End transfer was given a new cast: Lee Evans as Leo, and Richard Dreyfuss as Max. However, this was not meant to be, as Dreyfuss pulled out before previews due to the physical nature of the role. Nathan Lane fortunately stepped in at the last minute, and reunited with his Mousehunt co-star Evans, the two already had amazing chemistry. That was the version that I saw. And I still can’t quite believe I’ve seen Nathan Lane live. As Max. In The Producers.
The success of this production is almost unrivalled in certain aspects. It proved so popular that it spawned a movie which was faithful to the musical and not really Hollywoodified, with filming and choreography done in a way which evoked the sense of the theatre. Plus, they kept the original dynamic duo of Lane and Broderick. Which I can now watch again and again for ever, every 6 months or so to remind myself of how amazing a show it is.
So that’s my Top 10!
Thanks for reading, and let me know what you think. Any ones you think I’ve neglected or should watch? Any surprise entries? And what are your Top 10 shows?