You’re sitting in your seat, programme in hand, the lights go down and the throng of the excited viewers hushes because the unseen conductor strikes up the equally invisible orchestra for the overture…
I don’t learn about you however I’ve missed the joys of this second, as a superb, splashy musical begins within the theatre. It received us eager about the easiest of Broadway and the West Finish; simply what are the cornerstones and excessive factors of the musical theatre style?
Whittling it down to only 15 (for now) was no simple activity, and there’s little doubt you’ll enjoyment of telling us what we should always have included. However there may be extra to come back, so watch this house.
What are the most effective stage musicals of all time?
Right here’s the listing, so as of when the present premiered. Every is full of memorable scenes, basic tunes and made a large affect after they premiered. What’s your favorite? Which is Phan-tastic, or leaves you Misérables?
Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein II
The concept of ‘Rodgers & Hammerstein’ was born with this, the pair’s first Broadway present – primarily based on a 1931 play known as Inexperienced Develop the Lilacs. Even after 80 years, this story of blossoming romance in a small farming group within the early 1900s captures audiences hearts. In so many respects this was a completely trendy tackle what a musical might be, albeit with a (dancing) foot prior to now – the prolonged ballet dream sequence. However it has tunes which have stood the check of time, memorable characters and a high quality mixture of romance, comedy and drama. Yee-haw!
My Truthful Girl (1956)
Alan Jay Lerner & Frederick Loewe
Based mostly on George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, Lerner and Loewe’s musical was a report breaker on Broadway, the longest operating present of its day. A romantic comedy, its story of a working class woman reworked into a woman because of elocution classes gained legions of followers on either side of the Atlantic. Songs like ‘I Might Have Danced All Evening’, ‘Wouldn’t It Be Loverly?’ and ‘Get Me to the Church on Time’ turned oh-so acquainted and the function of Eliza Dolittle made a star of Julie Andrews.
Leonard Bernstein & Stephen Sondheim
A contemporary tackle Romeo & Juliet, West Aspect Story may nicely be the best musical of all time. It’s received all of it: thrilling choreography, a scintillating rating, memorable songs and a heartbreaking story. It was years in growth with composer Bernstein, choreographer Jerome Robbins and author Arthur Laurent. Stephen Sondheim was but to make his title as a composer, and was introduced in to jot down the lyrics. It’s filled with nice songs… ‘Tonight’, ‘Maria’, ‘America’ and ‘Someplace’, to call however a number of. The 1961 movie musical gained quite a few Oscars and a long-awaited new movie model of the musical from director Steven Spielberg will probably be launched in December.
The Sound of Music (1959)
Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein II
Based mostly on the true story of Austria’s Trapp Household Singers, The Sound of Music may give West Aspect Story a run for a ‘biggest’ musical prime spot. Set as Austria finds itself within the grip of Nazi Germany there’s drama to chew on in addition to family-friendly fluff, as a nun known as Maria turns into nanny to a rich household and teaches them to sing. Heartstrings are tugged with songs like ‘Climb Ev’ry Mountain’ and ‘Eidelweiss’. Although a preferred present on Broadway and within the West Finish, the 1965 movie musical starring Julie Andrews is maybe extra acquainted. The musical was revived in 2006 within the West Finish.
A terrific British musical success story, Lionel Bart’s Oliver! is in fact primarily based on Charles Dickens’s classical novel, Oliver Twist. Many audiences will probably be most aware of the 1968 movie model, however the stage present (which premiered in London in 1960 and on Broadway in ’63) was an instantaneous hit and has loved many revivals over the past 60 years – most lately in a really well-received 2023 off-Broadway manufacturing. It is also a piece which has lit up many newbie phases, being a preferred alternative for varsity productions – and who can blame them, with basic numbers like ‘Meals Superb Meals’ and ‘Think about Your self’?
Fiddler on the Roof (1964)
Jerry Bock & Sheldon Harnick
Based mostly on Sholem Aleicheim’s tales, this perennially well-liked present first lit up Broadway and the West Finish within the Nineteen Sixties. It centres on life in a small Jewish settlement within the early 1900s, the place the native milkman strives to take care of order and custom in his household whereas the world quickly modifications round them. Zero Mostel originated the long-lasting function of Tevye, although it made a worldwide star of Israeli actor/singer Chaim Topol who led the solid within the West Finish and went on to star within the 1971 characteristic movie model. The tales, phrases and sensible musical rating are a match made in heaven.
Galt MacDermot, James Rado & Gerome Ragni
It is full title is Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical and it made fairly the impression when it emerged off-Broadway within the late Nineteen Sixties. Vibrant, sure, and – on the time – moderately controversial! MacDermot, Rado and Ragni tapped into the ‘Hippy’ counterculture and anti-war (Vietnam) rhetoric that was taking maintain within the US on the time and responded with one huge hit musical. Peace, free love, nudity, racial integration, medication and rock ‘n roll had been all on the desk on this present, which was each of and forward of its time.
Jesus Christ Celebrity (1971)
Andrew Lloyd Webber & Tim Rice
Although not the pair’s first musical, this ‘Rock Opera’ was the primary Lloyd Webber and Rice work to really make it onto a Broadway/West Finish stage. Their tackle the acquainted ‘ardour’ story was a kick within the intestine for musical theatre, the likes of which it had by no means seen earlier than. The manufacturing was preceded far upfront by a preferred single of the title music, which was then adopted by an idea album. Showstoppers embrace mentioned title music, the sensible ‘Gethsemane’, ‘King Herod’s Music’ and ‘I Don’t Know How To Love Him’. A movie model swiftly adopted in 1973, however is oft-overlooked.
Extra like this
John Kander & Fred Ebb
Like West Aspect Story, this mid-’70s present is as memorable for its choreography as it’s for its music and lyrics. The legendary Bob Fosse was behind the strikes, as he was for Cabaret in 1966 – additionally that includes phrases and tunes by Kander and Ebb. Very like that present, Chicago is simply actually semi-staged, with the motion going down within the type of a revue, nearly like a present inside a present. Homicide by no means sounded so good, with hits like ‘All That Jazz’, ‘Cell Block Tango’ and ‘Razzle Dazzle’. It was became a movie musical in 2002.
Sweeney Todd – The Demon Barber of Fleet Avenue (1979)
Sondheim moved on from his success as a lyricist and firmly made his mark on Broadway as a composer in his personal proper. Certainly one of his most memorable, lavish and deliciously grizzy productions is Sweeney Todd, a few convict barber returned to London to avenge his false conviction, and the rape and homicide of his spouse. It’s a grand affair set in opposition to the backdrop of the stinking and murky Victorian capital, with huge numbers like ‘A Little Priest’ and ‘Not Whereas I’m Round’ simply a few of the juicy bits. Director Tim Burton re-imagined the musical for the large display in 2007.
Les Miserables (1985)
Claude-Michel Schoenberg & Alain Boublil
Like Jesus Christ Celebrity, Boublil and Schoenberg’s universally adored musical started life as an idea album… albeit in French. The unique manufacturing, at London’s Barbican, was directed by Trevor Nunn and shortly transferred to the West Finish, the place it has had a house ever since. The shifting and epic story is about in opposition to a backdrop of the French Revolution, with now-legendary songs comparable to ‘Convey Him Residence’, ‘Grasp of the Home’, ‘On My Personal’ and ‘I Dreamed a Dream. The musical has loved live performance variations, anniversary galas and a big-screen outing in 2012.
Phantom of the Opera (1986)
Andrew Lloyd Webber, Charles Hart & Richard Stilgoe
A 12 months after ‘Les Mis’ got here this triumphant and romantic spectacle. Based mostly on Gaston Leroux’s novel, it centres on the Paris Opera the place a fairly younger ingénue turns into the main target of a disfigured composer’s obsession. Like ‘Les Mis’, Phantom has by no means left the West Finish and is in truth one of the vital profitable leisure properties in historical past, to this point making over £6bn worldwide. Its most well-known songs embrace the title music, plus ‘All I Ask of You’, ‘Consider Me’, ‘Wishing You Have been By some means Right here Once more’ and ‘Previous the Level of No Return’. A movie model was launched in 2004.
Lease is one in every of Broadway’s greatest hits, successful quite a few awards and operating for 12 years from 1996-2008. Set in Manhattan’s bohemian East Village throughout the AIDS epidemic, it’s a free adaptation of La bohème taking within the lives of a gaggle of younger artists residing with the illness. Standout songs embrace ‘La Vie Boheme’, ‘With out You’, ‘Mild My Candle’ and ‘Seasons of Love’. Composer/lyricist Larson died earlier than it premiered off-Broadway, so by no means received to see the present’s success. It was made into a movie music in 2005.
Gregory Maguire’s 1995 novel tells the story of how Oz’s fabled witches of the east and west first met and, in the end, how the Depraved Witch of the West turned so filled with hate and anger. Schwartz’s blockbuster musical runs with that and in doing so made for a magical present about friendship, love and hate in its many types. So its an origin story with acquainted, certainly iconic, locations and characters, to not point out a clutch of superior set items and songs. Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth originated the roles of Elphaba and Glinda, and ‘Defying Gravity’ stays one of the vital thrilling songs to emerge from the stage in years. A two-part movie adaptation is at present in manufacturing.
One of many greatest smash hits lately, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton turns American historical past right into a hip-hop/rap extravaganza. The present tells the story of Alexander Hamilton, one of many founding fathers of america of America. It’s notable for its casting of non-white artists in historic roles, and options some nice songs, together with ‘Alexander Hamilton’, ‘You’ll Be Again’ and ‘Tomorrow There’ll Be Extra Of Us’. Although it’s but to be made into a movie, Disney filmed a stage efficiency which is out there to stream on Disney plus.
And what about recordings?
Just about all the good exhibits have unique solid albums, both Broadway or London. There are some nice collections, too…
The Very Better of Broadway Musicals
Andrew Lloyd Webber – Unmasked (The Platinum Assortment)
A Stephen Sondheim Night
Hey Mr Producer!