I may have mentioned before, but I love musicals. A really, really lot. It doesn't gibe with my usually sarcastic, misanthropic persona that I carefully cultivate, but everyone has to have some surprises about them. Creates an air of mystery.
But here's the thing: While I love all musicals, I don't go gaga over some of the more "popular" ones. I mean, I love listening to Wicked and Les Miserables and hello, the movie version of The Phantom of The Opera? Fugeddaboutit. Gerry Butler's voice was like instant panties remover. But the musicals that really capture me are usually ones that people who are just kind of "meh" about musicals don't get a chance to see. The shows that you're not going to spring for on your vacation to New York, because they close before you get there and Hairspray is something you've just got to see. Which, you know, I don't blame people for, because I do the same thing when I'm in New York. The only shows I've seen on Broadway are Les Miserables, Grease, Damn Yankees (with Victor Garber, *SQUEE*), The Phantom of The Opera, and Jekyll and Hyde (holy moses do I regret that one!). So, I get the lure of the big production value musicals, I really do.
Anyway, because I'm too lazy to make an actual entry today, I'm going to let YouTube do the work and share with you some of my favorite musicals, in no particular order.
Parade by Jason Robert Brown and Alfred Urhy
Parade is the true story of Leo Frank, a Jewish man accused of the rape and murder of a child in Georgia in 1913. Because of his faith and because he had grown up outside of Georgia, the local media portrayed him as an inhuman killer and he was ultimately convicted and sentenced to death. When an appeal ended with his sentence commuted to life imprisonment, he was kidnapped from jail and lynched. It seems like a strange story to make a musical about, but the writers treat it with such sensitivity that it's surprisingly natural when the characters break into song. There are two recordings of the show, I highly recommend the Donnmar Warehouse production over the Original Broadway Cast recording.
Side Show, by Bill Russel and Henry Krieger
Side Show was a musical that either got overlooked or completely panned, but the music is really phenomenal and it blew me away from the first time I listened to it. Another true story (albeit with some fictional liberties), the musical is about Daisy and Violet Hilton, conjoined twins who became stars on the Vaudeville circuit before going to Hollywood to appear in the movies "Freaks" and "Chained For Life". Side Show focuses on the sisters' frustration at being able to achieve fame, but never being truly accepted by the men they love. As far as I know, the only available recording is the Original Broadway Cast, but even if others existed, there's no sense in listening to anyone but Alice Ripley and Emily Skinner, anyway.
Sunday In The Park With George by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine
Sunday In The Park With George tells a fictionalized story of the painter Georges Seurat as he works on his masterpiece "Un dimanche après-midi à l'Île de la Grande Jatte". This number, "Sunday", is performed at the end of the first act, when Georges finishes his painting after working on it for two years. Seriously, if there is one scene in a musical that can make me sob like an idiot, this is that scene. It's the song that gets me, and Mandy Patinkin's manic intensity as Seurat. Also fun? Look for Star Trek: The Next Generation's Brent Spiner, who plays one of the figures in the painting.
I highly recommend that if you don't like musicals, you start liking them. Because when I am high potentate grand ruler of the world, I intend to make reality a full production musical. That means that no, you can't just ask people if they want fries with that. You have to sing it. Yeah, I'm talking to you, snotty drive thru girl at McDonald's this morning. You're not just going to say, "Did you want to make that a value meal?", you're going to emote it in a passionate ballad that will somehow segue into a lavish, old Hollywood musical spectacle in which the hashbrown and drink I did not order because I did not want them start dancing with you as you had me my bagel.
And there better be napkins, or it's gonna be a grand finale for your ass the next time I come here. Les Miserables style, where everybody dies.