I like musicals, but I would not call myself a fanatic. I have always liked them, and if one catches my fancy, I’ll watch it without hesitation. Not too many have, and so this top 10 list will probably be about all the musicals I’ve seen, or close to it. By musical, I am going to include anything that has both dialogue and singing, thus including “rock operas.” Four of these I’ve only seen in movie form. Don’t hate me, but movies are cheaper than theater tickets.
10. Jersey Boys
I love the songs from the Four Seasons. Now obviously Jersey Boys took some artistic license from the lives of Frankie Valli and his compadres, but it is still a good musical if you can handle all the language. I’m not a fan of foul language and it grates on me when it is pervasive. This musical would be higher up the ladder if it were not for the language.
9. The Wizard of Oz
While the musical is nothing (and I mean nothing) like the book by L. Frank Baum, it is still a very good musical. Dorothy runs away from home with Toto her dog. When she decides to go back, a tornado comes and up she and the house she is in is lifted to Munchkinland. The Wizard of Oz is the only way home, but she (and companions she meets along the way) must avoid the Wicked Witch of the West and get to the land of Oz in one piece. Iconic songs like “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and “Follow the Yellow Brick Road” are what really make this musical enjoyable.
8. Holiday Inn
I saw this musical for the first time about three years ago. It’s centered around four main characters, 2 guys and 2 gals (Jim, Ted, Lila, and Linda). I have to be honest here, there is a lot that is going on in this musical, that it is hard for me to keep it all straight. Jim proposes to Lila, but then she breaks it off. Jim later proposes to Linda and they end the show engaged. There are quite a few song and dance routines, some jealousy and some sabotaging. It really is a lot of fun to watch.
7. Pirates of Penzance
I like this musical because, quite frankly, I played the Pirate King in our high school musical. If you’ve never seen the play or the movie, you can find it if you do a bit of digging. It is about an orphan who having been brought up by pirates turns 21 years old and is liberated. He simply does not want to be a pirate. He wants to live a regular life, settle down, get married, and have a family. However, the Pirate King found out that the young man was born on leap day, thus having only celebrated 5 real birthdays. Because life is boring without the young man, the Pirate King decides to appeal to his honor to bring him back on board, since he is not truly 21 years old yet. It’s a comedy with two of my favorite songs, “I am a Pirate King” and “I am the Very Model of a Modern Major General.”
6. Little Shop of Horrors
I also played in this musical during my high school years. I was Seymour. However, I was familiar with the musical, having seen Rick Moranis and Steve Martin’s version. This one is about a plant from outer-space coming to take over the world. He starts out as a cute little thing, but soon turns into a blood-sucking nightmare. Seymour must continue to feed the plant the miscreants on Skid Row, including his soon-to-be girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend, the dentist. “Suddenly Seymour” is by far one of my most favorite musical songs (show-tunes?) ever.
I’ve probably seen this musical a dozen times. I have to be honest though, I wish Sandy stayed the same and Danny would have changed. I recently found out that on the day the “Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee” song was recorded (including the lines “Elvis, Elvis! Keep that pelvis far from me.”) was the same day the King of Rock and Roll died. All in all there is a reason that this musical is a classic.
4. Sound of Music
The hills are alive with this musical. It was nothing for me to watch this movie as a kid. The only other movie that I watched more was probably Superman II. I’m sure I had all the songs memorized by the time I was ten. I’m not sure why this one struck me, but it is one of the best. Apparently, you solve a problem like Maria by marrying her to an ex-captain in the Austrian navy.
3. Fiddler on the Roof
I just saw this musical a couple of years ago at our local outside musical theater The Muny. It is the oldest and largest outdoor theater in the U.S. And better than that, they have tons of free seats. But this musical is about a Jewish family having to leave the home they’ve lived in forever, because of the anti-Semetic sentiments creeping into their town. Tevye, the father of the family, is trying to marry off his daughters the traditional way, but no one seems to be traditional any longer. It is a very emotional musical as one begins to identify with Tevye’s inner-struggles.
2. The Phantom of the Opera
I have gone to see this rock opera probably a half-dozen times in my life. The most recent time was after its reproduction. It was good, but I’m with Tevye. I like tradition–sometimes. Christine gets thrown into the chance of a lifetime to be a star in the latest opera. However, she is being courted by a young man, while “the phantom” is in love with her. He wants to force Christine to love him and so threatens to kill the young man she loves. In the end, he realizes his folly, lets them live and vanishes. I hear there is a sequel coming out.
1. My Fair Lady
I love this musical! A young British woman (Eliza Doolittle) who cannot hardly speak a correct word of English moves in with a phoneticist who promises to pass her off as a lady in six months time. Colonel Pickering will join this phoneticist (Professor Higgins) in the endeavor. By the end of the six months, she is not thought to be a lady at all, but during a ball, another phoneticist proclaims she is a princess of Hungary. Meanwhile, Eliza has fallen in love with Professor Higgins, and unknowingly the love is reciprocated. However an argument separates the two after the ball, only to have the professor’s mother bring them together again. This musical contains my absolute favorite song from a musical: “On the Street Where You Live.”
There you have it. How about you? Do you like musicals or not? What are your favorites? Which ones on my list do you not like at all?