Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Your Favorite Musical

This is a question I think about quite a lot because I love musicals, especially seen live on a stage. I am very attached to ones from my childhood like GIGI, MY FAIR LADY, THE KING AND I, WEST SIDE STORY. Some I enjoyed sharing with my kids (A CHORUS LINE)
But some of the more recent ones are pretty swell too.BOOK OF MORMON was a knockout, for instance. And HAMILTON has certainly rocked the musical world. SPRING AWAKENING was great.
There is more than one aspect to consider, of course. Some have weak stories-some have less than perfect scores. And it depends on the production you see.
Here is a recent list from The Guardian. 

If I was forced to choose one, I might go with CABARET. What about you? 


31 comments:

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

First of all, any list that has STARLIGHT EXPRESS on it - IMHO one of the worst pieces of dreck I've ever paid money to see - loses a lot of credibility there. An aside: for those who (lucky you) haven't seen it or don't know the plot, you know CATS? A bunch of people dressed and made up as cats singing and dancing? Well, picture them as locomotives rather than cats. That's it. Cats are alive, trains aren't.

As for the rest of the list (we've seen most of them at one point or another): NEXT TO NORMAL was a big hit here but I disliked it a lot (though not on a STARLIGHT EXPRESS level; just the premise annoyed me and the execution didn't work for me). PRISCILLA was mediocre at best, and this from a person who loved the movie. CHESS? Ho hum. Had a couple of decent songs. RAGTIME was good but not near a top 10 for me. GHOST was a failure here; we didn't see it.

I found WICKED (which we saw in London) to be overrated. PHANTOM had one good two-song sequence but otherwise, I was underwhelmed. We never saw SPRING AWAKENING (I had no interest, frankly). BILLY ELIOT was kind of a downer but worth it for the boy and the dancing. RENT wasn't really my taste either.

That leaves (on their list):
LES MISERABLES
SWEENEY TODD
A CHORUS LINE
INTO THE WOODS
WEST SIDE STORY
JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR

Well, that is closer, but where is GUYS AND DOLLS? FIDDLER ON THE ROOF? SOUTH PACIFIC? CABARET? CHICAGO? And most of all, GYOSY and COMPANY and FOLLIES and A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC? I'd add the original (pre-movie, pre-sanitized) GREASE and OKLAHOMA and 1776 and maybe JERSEY BOYS and JOSEPH & THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT.

Now stay off my lawn!

Richard S. Wheeler said...

Each spring my parents took me to NY to see the shows. Thus I saw original cast versions of Kiss Me Kate, South Pacific, Damn Yankees, West Side Story, and others. The shows were quite different. Ezio Pinza was simply in a class of his own. Try listening to This Nearly Was Mine, on Youtube. These affected me so much my first goal was to become Rodgers and Hammerstein, and write the book and lyrics of musicals. I did write one, while in my teens, and an agent picked it up, but it went nowhere.

George said...

I like many of the musicals on Jeff Meyerson's list but I'm going to surprise many of you with my choices:
PROMISES, PROMISES
HAIRSPAY
MY FAIR LADY
ANYTHING GOES

pattinase (abbott) said...

The first musical I saw life was MAN OF LA MANCHA, which was thrilling at the time. I was perhaps 20 and we traveled by train from New Brunswick where Phil was in grad school. I have never seen PROMISES, PROMISES. My grandfather had the album with Enzio Pinza and he was a complete knockout. It is such a gorgeous song. You can't help crying no matter who sings it. But he was the best. Would have loved to see it with Mary Martin.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

We saw PROMISES too, also George's other picks. In fact, we saw MY FAIR LADY with Patti & Phil in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Patti, we saw MAN OF LA MANCHA early too! I believe we saw it with either my parents or Jackie's, before we were married.

Before they filled in the moat and turned the Jones Beach theater into strictly a concert venue, they used to put on Broadway musicals in the summer, with Guy Lombardo conducting the orchestra. In consecutive summers (1975-78) we saw SHOW BOAT, OKLAHOMA, FINIAN'S RAINBOW, and ANNIE GET YOUR GUN. We've seen all of them at least one other time. We saw KISS ME KATE at the open air theater in Regent's Park in London in 1997.

"This Nearly Was Mine" was the high point for me in the revival of SOUTH PACIFIC, as sung magnificently by Paulo Szot, who was a wonderful Emile.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

Just checked. MAN OF LA MANCHA was June 1, 1968. We saw it with my parents and my grandmother. Six months earlier we'd see Bock & Harnick's THE APPLE TREE, with Barbara Harris and Alan Alda.

Anonymous said...

I'm going with EVITA, with the caveat that I'm not a big fan of musicals. The funny thing is, when I think of CABARET (which I do like), I never think about it being a musical.

--Deb

pattinase (abbott) said...

Well, I would have been 20 in 68.
That's because the music was all done as part of a Cabaret and not as part of the plot, I think. Which is why my husband likes it. He can't bear people bursting into song. I love it.

Charles Gramlich said...

Don't believe I've ever made it more than 15 minutes into a musical. Maybe they should have a heavy metal musical. Naw, I probably still wouldn't get it.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

Patti, we were 19. We could have been there at the same time! I always regretted that we didn't see Richard Kiley. (It was the 3rd or 4th Don Quixote, as I remember it.)

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

Deb, not a big fan of EVITA or most Lloyd Webber shows, and we've seen a bunch of them. In fact, we saw EVITA with Patti Lupone in San Francisco in the summer of 1979 before it opened on Broadway. But it was good compared to SUNSET BOULEVARD, which we saw in London (Lupone again) in 1993.

If I had to pick one of his shows it would be the fun JOSEPH. Or maybe BY JEEVES.

Kent Morgan said...

I've never been a fan of musicals after having to sit through so many when I worked in a theatre as a teenager. Don't know how many barns I saw Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney help raise. A few years ago I was waiting in line in London to see if any late tickets would come available for Billy Elliot. The man behind me in line asked me where I was from and when I replied Winnipeg, Manitoba he got excited. Turned out he was from Australia and travelled all over the world to watch musicals. He said that he had been to Winnipeg several times because he greatly enjoyed the productions at our outdoor summer theatre Rainbow Stage. I had to admit that I hadn't been to a musical there for a couple of decades although it once was a tradition to attend every summer. Ring of Fire is on at the present time and it will be followed by Shrek the Musicial. Last year it was Les Mis. I think Guys and Dools would rate near the top of my personal list. Saw it in London a few years with Patrick Swayze.

Richard Robinson said...

I've seen just three live: MAN OF LA MANCHA (first run on Broadway), HAIR, and PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. They were great, but when it comes to musicals, it's the songs that do it for me. Favorites? GUYS AND DOLLS, OKLAHOMA, CAMELOT, WEST SIDE STORY, MY FAIR LADY, SOUTH PACIFIC.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Phil grew up in New Hope which had a summer theater, then stocked by named stars. Now I think they have a repertoire company. Yes, it's the music more than the story almost always. And not so much a fan of Andrew Lloyd Weber so a lot of newer ones don't attract me.

J F Norris said...

I have never seen CABARET, neither the movie nor the stage version. Ever. But like many musicals I've never seen I know almost the entire score.

First musical I saw on Broadway was THE MAGIC SHOW with Doug Henning, David Ogden Stiers, Dale Soule (of HAIR fame), Anita Morris and Eddie Mecca (from Happy Days!). But I'd been obsessed with musicals since I was a kid having been completely addicted to my parent's collection of original cast albums. I completely memorized the entire scores of CAMELOT, BYE BYE BIRDIE, GYPSY, ANNIE GET YOUR GUN, and an obscure musical called DO RE MI that starred Phil Silvers, Nancy Walker, Nancy Dussault and Charlie Chaplin's son Sydney. It's the show from which we got the song "Make Someone Happy" and has a very cool novelty song called "Fireworks" that to this day I still know by heart.

I can never pick one favorite for anything. But here are a bunch from the past that I absolutely enjoy in their entirety (story, songs, characters, the whole works): HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING, A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM, SWEENEY TODD, A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC, THE LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, COMPANY, INTO THE WOODS, BYE BYE BIRDIE, CAMELOT and BELLS ARE RINGING.

Of the most recent musicals I thought these were innovative, had great music and left me leaving the theater thoroughly invigorated and alive which I think is the point of a great musical: HAIRSPRAY, BILLY ELLIOT, AVENUE Q, THE DROWSY CHAPERONE(infectious fun!), URINETOWN, THE BOOK OF MORMON, SIDESHOW (the re-envisioned update produced by La Jolla Playhouse which had a way too short run on Broadway), and SPRING AWAKENING (especially the latest revival with the Deaf actors - brilliant!). I have yet to see FUN HOME (touring production coming to Chicago soon), but I suspect it will soon be one of my favorites of the contemporary musicals.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I am lucky that Stratford does at least two musicals every season and they put on a terrific show. They had A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC this year. Next year GUYS AND DOLLS and H.M.S. Pinafore
Last year they did a terrific CAROUSEL. I have also seen GYPSY there as well as JESUS CHRIST, THE WHO'S TOMMY, FIDDLER, CRAZY FOR YOU and so many more.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

We really liked FUN HOME a lot. I'm sure you'll enjoy it too.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

I'd have to go with Guys &Dolls although any thing Sondheim during the Hal Prince years,Chorus Line , Chicago, Les Mis, Gypsy,Fiddler, Oklahoma and my favorite ALW show Joseph are all multiple repeats for us.

Jackie

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

We really liked FUN HOME a lot. I'm sure you'll enjoy it too.

Jerry House said...

I'll just add two more: SOMETHING'S AFOOT and BERTHA, THE SEWING MACHINE GIRL.

Mathew Paust said...

Favorite musical songs: (1) You're the One That I Want (Grease) (2) Bali Hai, Bloody Mary, Some Enchanted Evening and Nuttin' Like a Dame (South Pacific) (3) Ol' Man Rivah (Showboat) (4) Might As Well be Spring (State Fair) (5) The Jet Song, and Maria (West Side Story)(6) Cat Scratch Fever (Damn Yankees) (7) You'll Never Walk Alone (Carousel) (8)I Could Write a Book, and Bewitched Bothered and Bewildered (Pal Joey) (9) Luck Be a Lady Tonight, The Oldest Established Permanent Floating Crap Game in New York (Guys and Dolls)

That's all, folks. Any more and I'd hafta come out. Off my lawn, indeed!

Steve Oerkfitz said...

Hedwig and the Angry Itch. Thank God no one listed The Music Man.

Naomi Johnson said...

I like musicals but prefer stage to screen. I saw a production of 'My One and Only' which starred Tommy Tune and Stephanie Zimbalist. Tune choreographed it and the music was all Gershwin. What's not to love?

I also saw Joel Grey in 'George M!' back in the early 70s. His was probably the single most memorable stage performance I've ever seen (and I used to see a lot of stage musicals back in the Kenley Players era). I sure know a lot of Cohan songs as a result.

If I had to name a screen musical it would probably be '1776!' William Daniels was so perfectly cast as John Adams.

seana graham said...

I had a ton of associations to this topic, but I somehow lost everything I had written. So I'll just say Peter Pan (the Mary Martin version), Mary Poppins, and The Music Man. Also the Hugh Jackman version that PBS broadcast. Best thing he's ever done.

Also--Bollywood!

Rick said...

My favorites? "All That Jazz", followed closely by "Singin' In The Rain", "The Bandwagon", and "Caberet" in no particular order.
( I see now that all the ones I listed are set in Show Biz. Hmmmm. *Hums 'That's Entertainment"*...)

Margot Kinberg said...

I absolutely love Cabaret, Patti! I also love Chicago, The Book of Mormon, and several of the older classics, too.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I remember when they showed PETER PAN every year. Magic. I also like THE MUSIC MAN, I really like almost any musical and my husband likes none. Although he likes opera and I don't (usually).

George said...

Back in the Sixties, I had the soundtracks to CAMELOT and BYE, BYE BIRDIE. I wore the grooves out on those LPs!

J F Norris said...

Hedwig! How did I forget that one? I think of it more of a concert event then a real musical though it has theatrical elements. Joe listened to the CD religiously for months when I bought it. Then I surprised him with tickets when we went to NYC back in 2000 when it was in its final weeks at the Jane Street Theater in the original Off-Broadway production. He had no idea it was a musical. He thought it was a concept album from a new band! Remember concept albums? That still makes me chuckle.

BTW - It's Hedwig and the Angry INCH

seana graham said...

When they showed the recent Peter Pan version, I looked up the Mary Martin one and was surprised to find that I could watch the whole thing on YouTube. Still holds up.

Mathew Paust said...

One more: "Lida Rose, I'm home again, Rose
To get the sun back in the skyyyyy..." (Music Man) Thanks, Steve. ;)