We’ve covered Movie Musicals. Now let’s cover the real deal; Broadway musicals! From racial tensions in the ‘60s to… cats…? Let’s list down the best broadway everyone needs to watch!
1. The Phantom of the Opera
This musical has been the longest-running show in the history of Broadway, running continuously since 1988 (21 years). It has been a consistent sell-out and favourite for many of those visiting New York. The show tells the dramatic story of a disfigured man who haunts the Paris Opera House and falls in love with Christine Daae, training her to sing ‘like an angel’. But then a majestic man called Raoul comes along and Daae ends up falling for Raoul. The disfigured man loses it.
2. The Lion King
This musical might be more recent than the last but it maintains at the top spot of many list for the ‘winners of many viewers’ choice awards. The story is mostly along the same lines of the animated Disney movie where a lion king dies, and his cub runs away from his birth-right to be king because he can live with no worries… for the rest of his day. It’s a problem-free… philosophy… And it’s also heavily inspired by Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
This was the longest running show when it left the stage around 2003. The show has been translated into more than 20 languages and has been shown around the world. It’s about Jellicle Cats’ and their life stories… and memories… all alone in the moonlight…
4. Les Miserables / Les Mis / Les Miz
Based on the 1862 novel of the same title by Victor Hugo, this is the longest running play in London. It is set in the period of social unrest during the French Revolution where a poor man stole bread, was incarcerated by Russell Crowe and was freed. A bunch of stuff happened and the bread-thief ends up looking after the daughter of one of his past factory worker who ended up a dying sex worker. Jumping another couple of years later, the bread-thief becomes a philanthropist and a very nice politician who cared for others died, leading to a revolution happening against the monarchy. A member of the revolution then ends up falling for the bread-thief’s step-daughter and vice versa. There’s also like another girl who likes the rebel but whatever. A bunch of other stuff happen and well… a lot of people died. Like a lot. *cue ugly crying*
Though not as long-standing as some of these other productions, this musical has the audience seeing green. Hah.
It was selected by viewers as the best musical of 2007. The musical has broken box-office records worldwide and it was also named by Time magazine as the “Best Musical of the Year”. It tells the story of what Oz was like, long before Dorothy got there, starting with a green-skinned girl who was bullied who became friends with a popular blonde (this is starting to sound like Mean Girls). Well, they were friends until people started calling one of them ‘good’ and the other ‘wicked’. And then… enters a man.
The blonde finds herself seduced by the need to be liked by everyone, whilst the green one is desperate to remain true to herself and others, plus a man in the mix, leads them to different paths in life and fulfil their destinies as we see in the original story.
This musical has taken home the Tony Award’s top six awards, only one of three musicals that have ever done so. The performance tells the story of the racial tensions in the 1960s where a chubby girl with an agoraphobic mom campaigns for racial integration for a tv show.
This rock musical, along with winning a Tony Award for Best Musical has also won a Pulitzer Prize. It tells the story of poor young struggling artists in New York City’s East Village, under the shadow of HIV/AIDS.
8. Hamilton: An American Musical
This is a sung- and rapped-through musical that achieved both critical acclaim and box office success. It’s about the life of American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, notably incorporating hip-hop rhythm and blues, pop music, soul music, traditional-style show tunes and colour-conscious casting of non-white actors as the Founding Fathers and other historical figures.
9. West Side Story
With music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, it’s hard to leave his musical out of the list. Inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, the story is set in New York in the mid ‘50s. So there’s 2 gangs, the Jets and the Sharks, of different ethnic backgrounds (White vs Puerto Rican respectively) with the Sharks being bullied often by the Jets (expected). A former member of the Jets, and best friend of its leader, Riff, falls in love with Maria, the sister of the leader of the Sharks. And… well… yknow how Romeo & Juliet ends.
10. Miss Saigon
This musical by Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil with lyrics by Boublil and Richard Maltby, Jr, is based on Giacomo Puccini’s opera, Madame Butterfly. It premièred at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London, on September 20th 1989, closing after 4,092 performances on October 30th 1999, opening on Broadway at the Broadway Theatre on April 11th 1991. Before the opening of the 2013 London revival, it was claimed that Miss Saigon had set a world record for opening day ticket sales with sales in excess of £4 million. It’s also Schönberg and Boublil’s second major success, following Les Mis. As of April 2017, it remains Broadway’s 13th longest-running show.
The musical tells a tragic tale of a doomed romance involving an South Vietnamese bargirl abandoned by her American lover, a US GI, in 1970s Saigon during the Vietnam War. And no, you may not imagine that one scene from Full Metal Jacket.
Aaaand that’s all folks! However, I’m curious. If you could have any movie turned into a musical, which would it be?