Saturday, December 21, 2013

Broadway Baby: My Top Ten Favorite Musicals

Anyone who knows me on Wattpad knows that I'm obsessed with musicals.

Anyone who knows me in real life knows that I'm obsessed with musicals.

But now I'm going to go a bit more in depth with this idea. Here is my top ten favorite musicals and the "awards" I would give to them if I had the chance.

(Oh, and the sarcastic remarks written in italics like this are my inner thoughts in response to what I've just written. Yep.)

10. Wicked 
Oh, who hasn't heard of Wicked? I'd compare it to a gateway drug, except for instead of a crippling addiction to a harmful substance you find yourself hooked on this little thing called musical theatre. This musical came around to me just as I was getting interested in musicals. 
Let's just say that I fell head over heels in love with it. But as I matured I found that there were musicals that I simply like more. I still hold a deep love for Wicked, it's true. Just because everyone's seen it and a lot of non-musical theatre people still enjoy it doesn't make it a bad thing. In fact, I think it proves just how much of a gem this show is.
Best Message
Almost without a doubt, I'd have to say that this is the musical I know of with the best message. It may have come from a rather adult book, but now it is something that is shown to people of all ages. It works because the message works for everyone young and old. This entire show is about learning to be yourself and friendship being one of the most powerful forces out there. 
Compared to some of the other blockbuster musicals like Grease, that's definitely something that you would want to listen to. Everyone will find a way to relate to either Elphaba or Galinda...or maybe even both! I think that's why it's got such appeal to everyone.

9. Sound of Music 
The hills are alive, it is true! Again, this is one of those musicals that everyone's seen. Of course, there's also the matter of everyone having seen it in their childhood. I associate this musical more with being the first one I performed in. I was a nun. But then I was hit by the performing bug. I owe that to this musical and its uncanny ability to draw all sorts of people in.
There's a real magic when it comes around to it, I swear. I can't listen to anything from this without feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. It's the Christmas of musicals. That makes no sense, but you know what I mean...right? Yeah.
Most Nostalgic
If I were to explain my feelings for Sound of Music in a single word, it would be nostalgic. Everyone's seen it as a child. It was my first musical. It is just filled with memories and a magic for me that no other musical will ever be able to match simply because they will never be able to take that spot in my heart.
I haven't watched the actual musical for a very long time, but I was just listening to Climb Every Mountain and starting to get misty eyes. The song is moving enough on its own, so when you add in that nostalgia, it's just a mess of tears for me.

8. Guys and Dolls 
Crap shooters. I had no clue what that was until I stepped into the auditorium at a local school to watch a performance of this musical. And then I fell in love with these gamblers and their accents. Who decided that a musical about gamblers and missionaries was a good idea? I dunno, but it was a book of sorts first, so yeah. You'll notice that's a real trend. Yep. Lots of books. 
But seriously, this musical is just a big old bundle of fun. It's got several love stories all weaved together with comedy and of course, music. It's got that old-fashioned charm to it, making it the perfect thing to listen to on a weekend and just dance along. Then put on an accent and sing about mink and pearls and guys and dolls. And dice. Gambling. It's a whole 'nother world that I love.
Best Characters
This entire show is very larger than life, and it makes it oh-so-charming. Each individual character (at least in my opinion) has their own special quirks that make them really stick out.  You learn to love Nathan Detriot and his bride-to-be (for fourteen years) Adelaide. You start to ship Sky Masterson and Sarah Brown. And then of course, there's my personal favorite-Nicely Nicely Johnson. Oh my goodness, I would totally be him in a genderbend cast.
I've always wanted to be in a production of this just so I could see how these characters are interpreted by others, but since my school already did it a few years ago that doesn't look likely. Oh well. Still love it so much.

7. Les Miserables
This was one of the blockbuster winter movies of 2012. If I didn't include it in this list, people would probably think I was some sort of prententious theatre goer/hipster. The thing is, this show is damn popular and for good reason. The music is absolutely stunning, and when performed well will end up giving me goosebumps every time.
I still prefer stage performers rather than the movie version with their exaggerated emotion being carried out through the songs rather than extreme close ups, but many of the singers in the movie did rather well. Also Hadley Fraser. He was the best in the movie and you probably don't know who he is. The original musical was completely sung through-not a moment of spoken word. And I freaking love that.
But without a stunning story this could have never been. I've read Victor Hugo's book, and that just added another layer onto everything. 
Most Moving
Well, yeah. Maybe the musical titled "The Miserable" would be moving. Who would have thought? You can't watch this musical without getting at least a little teary eyed. Face it, there's got to be some part of at least some character that you connect to. When they suffer, it makes your heart pang. For me, Fantine and I Dreamed A Dream just really speaks to me.
But there's just so many tear-worthy moments in this musical. No spoilers, but the ending always makes me spin around in circles of feels. Because that's a thing that happens to people like me when I watch musicals. There never really feels to be a break in the pain and a way.  That's a good thing.

6. Spring Awakening
For a musical with a plot I don't really care for, this is very high on my list. Well, the plot has grown on me. I've gotten to see the emotional part of it moreso than the sexual part...even though the sexual part is still a big part of it.
Well, in case it wasn't obvious by that introduction, this is probably the most innappropriate musical on this list. It's all about teenagers in Germany and a lot of it has to do with finding sexuality and getting used to it. There's all sorts of stuff with puberty and coming of age, and a lot of it is very gruff. (Or should I say Jonathan Groff? He was in the original cast.) Okay, I'm sorry for my horrible puns.
But because of the subject matter, this can be a very thoughtprovoking show for young people. I mean, a nearby theatre group did it and of course used teenagers. Apparently they would sit down and talk about the subject matter of the show, about what it all meant. All in all, it does have a fairly good a way.
Best Music
With how iffy I am on the plot, it wouldn't have made sense for this musical to make it so far on the list without having such fantastic music. Seriously, this is the kind of stuff I listen to when I'm not listening to musicals. It's my kind of music. It is my kind of music, through and through. One of my new most favorite songs has come from this musical. It's hauntingly beautiful, giving me chills every time I listen to it.
Don't just take my word for it, though. Go ahead and listen to the song I posted above.

5. Bonnie and Clyde
This was only on Broadway for four weeks. And it deserved so much more. The critics just weren't kind to this show. But the fans? The fans loved it. One of the people I know and trust on Broadway terms most (because that's a thing that I do) names this as her favorite musical. Honestly, I can see why. There's just so much atmosphere in this musical and it draws you in.
You start out with Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow from the very beginning and follow them to the very end. You'll laugh and cry, and all of it is linked together by awesome music. It's become a bit of a cult musical-there's a bootleg on YouTube and the Internet has fallen for Laura Osnes and Jeremy Jordan's interpretations of the crime committing couple. 
Catchiest Songs
Musicals get songs stuck in my head for a little while. It sticks there and then falls away. Unless, of course, the songs are from Bonnie and Clyde. I swear, there are some songs from this that play out in my head for days on end. Days! They're all amazing and when they hijack my mind I don't really mind. Made in America just makes me stomp around like an idiot because it's always playing out in my mind. And then This World Will Remember Us? I may or may not have a parody version that I made that's related to my high school musical. 

4. The Light in the Piazza 
This is what I like to call the cutest musical I know. It's also got a whole lot of heart. In essence, this is a story about growing up and learning to accept this maturing. A girl named Clara and her mother go to Italy on vacation. Clara has the mind of a twelve year old, despite being in her twenties. But soon she finds herself falling in love with an Italian boy...and this does not end up going very smoothly.
But then you get a breathtaking musical with beauty lying wherever you might glance. Oh my goodness, I fell in love with this very quickly. I had watched an old movie version of it before I realized that the musical didn't come out until the 2000's. I bought the music already knowing the plot and just fell head over heels for it. Oh my goodness. Just listen to it. 
Most Atmospheric
This is a collection of music that always makes me feel like I'm somewhere else, living out a fantasy in some other part of the world. I found it was extremely fitting to listen to as I traveled on a train from London to Paris. I listened to one song pretty much the whole time and learned the lyrics to it from regrets.
But with musical interludes that make my breath catch in my throat and vocal performances that make me want to sob while listening to its beauty, I can't help but be consumed so fully and utterly every time I listen to The Light in the Piazza. I can close my eyes and imagine that I'm standing in the middle of a square with a soft sun shining down on me...or perhaps that I'm standing in the middle of a stage with a harsh light glaring down on me. I'd gladly do both, you know.

3. Phantom of the Opera 
You're not surprised this is on here. If anything, you're surprised that it isn't higher on the list. I'm making an entire novel based off of it, for crying out loud. I like to call this Beauty and the Beast but a bit more grown up and with more murder. And more opera. And more Victorian Era. They are both France, though. I think so many already know the plot of this that I'll just leave it up in the air and not really explain it.
Instead I'll just say that it's my dream to play Christine Daae. Heck, I dressed up as her for Halloween. I spent hours working on how to do her curls in my thin hair. I very nearly succeeded, too. Shame no one really got to see it. But I was still very proud of myself. Now I'm just wroking on getting that singing voice up to par. I say that as I'm known as the opera singer in my chorus class. Of eighty. 
Most Absorbing
There is not a musical out there which has managed to ensnare my mind the way Phantom of the Opera has. It's like the Phantom himself has invaded my thoughts to make me obsessed. Not only is it aesthetically beautiful-I mean, just look at the set and costumes-but the music and story is just so pleasing and amazing to me. It's not just the ALW version, either, although it's my favorite. I've seen (and heard) many different versions of Phantom, including the original book. I just can't get enough of it, and neither can many others. It's not surprising this is so very popular.

2. Sweeney Todd
Seriously. When I first heard of this, all I could think was "It's a musical about Mrs. Pott making pies out of people!" Which is true, by the way. Angela Lansbury portrayed Mrs. Lovett, who makes the worst pies in London...until she starts using human meat. But of course, the real story is about Sweeney Todd, a barber who kills his customers. The story goes much deeper than that...but that's not the point.
The music of this is nearly operatic, so a good performance of it will just send me flying. I love it so much, it's strange. I'll go around singing about my friends (silver blades, of course) and of green finches and linnet birds just because I feel like it. It's all very dark and rather Halloween-like, like a cross between Phantom of the Opera and...something Tim Burton. I suppose. Maybe even the Tim Burton movie of this very musical. Wow.
Best Plot
But Rain, you say, Sweeney Todd was a story that existed far before this musical ever came out! The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, of course! Well, yes. That is true. But it wasn't the same exact story that was put in this musical. Hugh Wheeler wrote the book for the musical and did a stunning job.
Of course, the music used to tell this story just wraps it all up and puts a big shiny bow on top. I mean, much of this story is told in song. Wow, imagine that. A musical with a story told through song. The plot went from a fairly macabre but single layered story about a killing barber to a deep story with an antihero. He had a motivation, so you found yourself halfway rooting for the murderer and his piemaker. And then sobbing madly at the end. 

1. Next to Normal
If anyone who knows me is surprised that this is number one...well, you shouldn't be. No, really, if you're surprised, you probably don't know me. What are you doing on my blog again? This musical speaks to me on a deep level. It's my spirit...musical. I already have a spirit animal. But the thing is, this is a musical I've claimed for myself. I discovered it on my own. I listened to it and watched it on my own. I fell for it all on my own. Many of these musicals were handed to me by others, but this was all my own.
It all began when "So Anyway" appeared on Pandora and I thought it sounded beautiful. I wondered if there were more songs from the musical that sounded like that. I looked up information on it to find out it was about bipolar disorder and became more interested. But then I listened to the music...and it was not the string quartet magic that I had heard before.
Yes, that's right. I nearly gave up on this musical. But let me continue. I later decided to watch a bootleg of it. Then I downloaded all the music. Now understanding everything fully, I began to develop a taste for it. And then suddenly it was my everything.
You see, the plot is extremely heartwrenching...and also very, very human. You'll find a way to relate to a character (or all of them-there's only like seven characters) and it will burn. It will burn deeply. It's an entire musical based around a woman with a severe mental disorder. She's going mad, and there's nothing she can do about it.
I can't do the plot of this musical justice. Maybe the music will just have to speak for itself. Or sing. It is a musical. It can sing for itself. 
Best Lyrics
I know what you're thinking. Really? The number one musical gets best lyrics, Rain? Not something like best music, or best story, or best performance, or most moving, or anything like that? Best lyrics? Well, yes. Best lyrics. Because oh my goodness-these are some of the best written lyrics I have ever heard. I swear, just read some of these.
Or the feeling that you're falling, but you never hit the ground.
It just keeps on rushing at you day by day by day by day.
You don't know, you don't know what it's like to live that way.
Like a refugee, a fugitive, forever on the run.
If it gets me it will kill me, but I don't know what I've done.
Or maybe this will float your boat.
When you walk into the room and they just stop the conversation,
When there's no room for your Clearasil with all the medication.
When your house has much more nudity, profanity, and crudity,
Then any crap you'd ever seen on cable
You're growing up unstable.
Perhaps something like this.
Admit what you've lost 
And live with the cost... 
At times it does hurt to be healed. 
I mean, if I posted all of the lyrics that I loved then you'd end up getting the entire musical. It's just that amazing. Oh, let me add in one more: You wonder which is worse, the symptom or the cure. I mean, really. 

And now for my runner up musicals, the ones that I love immensely but just didn't make it on this list for whatever reason: Little Shop of Horrors, The Music Man, Into the Woods, RENT, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Singin' In The Rain, A Little Night Music, The Book of Mormon

Don't forget there are plenty, and I mean plenty, of musicals that I love dearly that aren't even mentioned here. With how many musicals I've seen, it's hard not to hold at least some type of reverence for each and every one.

And now there's a new musical which has consumed me. But it's not on this list yet because I haven't watched it. Don't mind me.


No comments:

Post a Comment