Thursday, 14 April 2016

A-Z Guide to Musical Theatre - Part 1

Readers, hello and welcome back! Okay, I know I am actually the worst person ever. It's been like 3and a bit months since I last posted anything, but unfortunately the majority of 2016 will be filled with preparations for that pesky HSC coming up in October (and if you're not Australian and have no idea what that is, I heavily envy you). Since we've last chatted, I've completed two exam blocks, a whole bunch of assessment tasks, and have slowly lost the will to live. But, even amidst all of this horror, the one thing that keeps me slightly sane is my collection of Broadway musical bootlegs I have on my hard drive. Whenever I'm feeling ridiculously stressed or borderline homicidal, I simply procrastinate by watching a musical or two, and although it does nothing for my grades, its probably the reason I haven't yet been institutionalised. Instead of being selfish and keeping them all to myself, I have decided to share with you all my comprehensive A-Z list of 26 of my favourite musicals, and hopefully they'll provide for you the same distraction they have been providing for me. However, as to not bombard you (and to save myself from writing a crazily massive post), I'm going to do this in installments. So, without further ado, here are A to G of my top picks . . .

A: The Addams Family


So much yes! This is an absolute must-see if you're a fan of the 60's TV series or even the 90's movie franchise, however even if you're not, this musical as amazing nonetheless. It revolves around the notoriously gloomy Wednesday Addams, who finds love with a positively average, happy-go-lucky guy. The two get engaged, and as you can imagine, the first time their families meet is a bit of a disaster - however of course, it is an entertaining one. If you're not lured yet, there's something seriously wrong with you.

B: Bare - A Pop Opera


This may not exactly be the happiest of musicals, but it's pretty amazing, not gonna lie. It reminded me a bit of Spring Awakening, but set in the present day with way more drugs and alcohol. It's basically about a bunch of kids refusing to conform to the stupid rules and standards placed upon them in a Catholic Boarding School, how could that not be good? Honestly, I urge you to give it a go. It's funny, it's poignant, and best of all, there are a bunch of high quality bootlegs available to you on the world wide web. Now, I must warn you before you go and start googling, there are a number of versions of this show. The 2012 Broadway Revival was called 'Bare - The Musical', which changed things around a bit and just makes things all the more confusing, but personally, I love a good pop opera, so I'd stick with the original format.

C: Cruel Intentions - The Musical


C was bit difficult to choose, because I was tossing up between this and Chicago, but to be honest, I much prefer the movie to the musical version (which like never happens). I was also a bit hesitant to include Cruel Intentions the musical seeing as it hasn't made it to Broadway or even Off-Broadway (yet), but honestly who cares, its pretty fricken cool and there's a bootleg available, so why not? Assuming you're all familiar with the classic 90's film, this musical parody is super cool. It includes all of the famous lines, and is told using popular songs from the decade, which let's just say makes for a very entertaining viewing experience. There's lots of fun, meta audience interaction, and it does everything that a good, slightly indie musical adaptation of a film should. All in all? Definitely worth checking out.

D: The Drowsy Chaperone


If you're up for a super fun, totally self-referential theatre experience, this is 100% the musical for you. It revolves around a middle-aged male Broadway fanatic who listens to the soundtrack of an old musical called 'The Drowsy Chaperone', and through the magic of theatre, the characters are somehow able to appear in his living room. From there, you become totally immersed in the show within the show, and then plot twist, it turns out that the audience basically are that guy listening to the soundtrack throughout the whole thing. If you think really hard about it, the protagonist acting as an audience surrogate, sitting alone and listening to Broadway soundtracks in his apartment could be a metaphor for the weird dependency that theatre fans have upon fictional characters and their lives, but if you don't, you'll have a super awesome, light-hearted experience. I honestly couldn't recommend this amazing, fourth wall breaking musical more highly.

E: Enchanted


Okay, although this isn't strictly speaking a musical seeing as it has never been performed live, all of the music in the film is composed by Stephen Schwartz and Alan Menken, both of whom are seasoned Broadway veterans, so it still counts. If you haven't seen this film, there is something seriously lacking in your life. Yes, it is a Disney movie, but no, it does not mean that once you turn 7 you no longer find it enjoyable. I kid you not, this film is actually amazing. The songs are fun and amazing, the storyline is super cute, and the cast is actually the best. Plus, did I mention that original Elphaba herself, Idina Menzel, has a supporting role? If you're not yet lured, there's actually something wrong with you, and there's nothing more I can do.

F: Fun Home


This one kind of sells itself, seeing as it won the Tony award for Best Musical in 2015, but believe me, 'Fun Home' is seriously super amazing and worth checking out as soon as possible. I was lucky enough to watch this live on Broadway when I was in New York at the end of last year (not that I'm bragging), and it was seriously so good. It follows 43 year old cartoonist Alison Bechdel as she reflects on her life and her relationship with her father, because as it turns out, they were both secretly in the closet while she was growing up. It's super cleverly done, heartwarming and funny, and admittedly at times a bit depressing, but it's really amazing and everyone in the cast is mega talented. I urge you to watch it right now.

G: A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder


I guess the bragging continues, because once again, I was able to see this musical live. And yes, it was amazing. Based on the 1949 film 'Kind Hearts and Coronets', the show revolves around Monty Navarro, who after his mother's death, discovers that he is a part of the D'Ysquith dynasty, and is ninth in line to be the Earl of Highhurst. Naturally, to ascend to the throne, Monty goes about systematically killing off all of the relatives in his way in what I describe as a musical, comedic version of 'Macbeth'. It's super funny and really clever, and did I mention it won Best Musical at the 2014 Tony Awards? Needless to say, it's a definite must-see.

PS: I do feel that its worth mentioning that 'Grease' was an incredibly close second, but because there's an amazing movie version, and as of January this year, a fabulous copy of the televised live version available, I figured this musical was the best pick.

H: Heathers - The Musical


If you've had a browse through Teenage Fanatic before, you would know of my mild (crazily heavy) obsession with this fabulous Off-Broadway musical. Based on the 80's black comedy film, the show follows outcast Veronica Sawyer, who manages to crack a spot in the elite clique of 'Heathers' who dominate the high school food chain. Drama, comedy and murder ensue when she meets new student J.D, and the two end up killing off a bunch of their classmates. If that's not an enticing synopsis, then I don't know what is. Seriously though, this musical is amazing. The music's fab, the writing's the best, and the cast are super duper talented - a winning combination. Legit, go watch the bootleg right now.

BONUS: Hamilton


Okay, so because H was a ridiculous decision, I decided I'd give you guys a bonus musical to go check out. If you haven't heard of 'Hamilton', you have literally been in hiding for the past 12 months. Written and starring musical theatre legend Lin Manuel-Miranda, 'Hamilton' is a rap musical about America's founding fathers. That's literally all you need to know. I can't stress to you enough how amazing this show is, and it is 100% going to win Best Musical at this year's Tony Awards (you heard it here first!). So I urge you, if you're able to find a bootleg, watch it immediately. Or if not, just put the soundtrack on repeat.

So that's all folks for the first installment. Hopefully you have enough musicals to binge-watch these holidays, and before you know it, I to Q will be up and ready for your reading pleasure. Once again, sorry about my massive, ridiculous delay in posting, blame the Board of Studies. Til' next time . . .

Annabel xx

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