I recently watched a YouTube video by Carpe Diem Emmie about her favourite musicals. It suddenly occurred to me that I had never done a post about my top 10 musicals, even though they’re such a huge part of my life. As you can probably guess from my previous posts, I LOVE the theatre, whether it’s watching or performing. I’m constantly singing to myself or doing silly dances in the living room (a trait I’ve passed down to both daughters). So I decided it was about time that my favourite shows got a post all to themselves.
Although this list is in no particular order I couldn’t really start it with anything other than Miss Saigon. This is the show that started it all. When I was little (around 6) I think, my mum and dad went to watch Miss Saigon and bought home a copy of the soundtrack. I listened to it over and over and before long I knew every word, even if I didn’t understand most of them. (Probably for the best – there’s some risqué stuff in there!)
That Christmas, my parents bought my Nanna and I tickets to go and see Miss Saigon in London. My first ever West End show. I still remember my mum trying to smuggle me past the ushers as she was worried they’d say I was too young to go in. I was enthralled from the moment the curtain went up, full size helicopter and all, and was in floods of tears by the end.
I’m going to watch Miss Saigon broadcast live to cinemas on October 16th and I can’t wait! It’s been far too long since I’ve seen this spectacular show live and I look forward to seeing if it stands up to memory.
I don’t remember many shows before Miss Saigon ( although I’m sure I went to pantos and such) but I always say my love of theatre started that first day in London. It’s never gone away and it led to the rest of this list.
Phantom of the opera
You can say what you like about Andrew Lloyd Webber, that man has been responsible for some rather impressive shows. I went to watch Phantom with my school arts trip when I was a teenager and fell in love with it instantly. The opening scene alone earns itself a place on this list.
I have all the DVDs that are available of Phantom and it’s high on my list of shows I really would like to see again. It has romance, horror, moments that will thrill, moments that make you cry. It has everything you need in a musical. An absolute classic.
Are there any musical fans out there who wouldn’t have Wicked on their top ten? This was a bit of a game changer for me. Before Wicked I was a fan of the classics and this was probably the first time I was introduced to a new musical that I wasn’t already partially familiar with.
When I first heard the music I was unconvinced. It was too discordant and strange. It didn’t take long for it to grow on me and before long it was on repeat in my bedroom. I was lucky enough to see Wicked in London starring Idina Menzel who long term fans will know as THE Elphaba. She was just as incredible as I’d hoped and the show completely blew me away.
There’s been talk of a Wicked movie for some time now, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they do a good job and don’t mess with one of my favourite shows.
I can’t remember when I first came across Hairspray but I do remember loving it from the start. It has tremendous energy, catchy tunes and leaves you with a real feel good feeling.
I do remember queueing at 7am for front row tickets with my best friend, back in our crazy youth when we had no responsibilities or restrictions. It was well worth it. The seats were incredible, the show was out of this world and I’m pretty sure I saw up Michael Ball’s skirt. Not everyone can say that!
Since then I’ve seen it twice more at my local theatre and would love to take Moogle one day.
We Will Rock You.
Now I’m not generally a fan of the jukebox musical. I’m especially not a fan of daft nonsense plots thrown together to link some songs by a popular artist. So a musical set in a dystopian future featuring the music of Queen was not high on my to watch list
I couldn’t have been more wrong. The plot, although bizarre, actually makes sense and compliments Queen’s music beautifully. I really love the way it pays tribute to past performers especially the legend that was Freddie Mercury.
I took Mr Mess to see WWRY at the arena in Nottingham and we both had an amazing time. Towards the end of the show, a soloist plays THAT solo from Bohemian Rhapsody and the crowd went wild. It took me a moment to realise that the reason they’d gone crazy was because the guy with the guitar was none other than Brian May himself! Watching Brian May play one of his most iconic solos LIVE is life goals right there.
The Last Five Years
When I’m in a very different mood, The Last Five Years is my favourite musical that I can hardly bear to listen to. From the opening notes, I’m an emotional wreck. I sat and listened to the soundtrack for the first time when I was going through a breakup and I’m not sure if the experience was therapeutic or traumatic but it certainly stuck with me.
The concept is a little tricky to explain but I’ll try my best. It’s the story of two people, Cathy and Jamie, and their relationship. How it started and how it ended. No, that’s not spoiler and you’ll see why in a minute. Each character sings a series of solo songs about their experiences in the relationship. Jamie starts at the beginning – his first song shows him meeting Cathy for the first time. Cathy’s first song shows her at the end of her story as she discovers Jamie has ended the relationship. From there on they move along their timelines – Jamie forwards, Cathy backwards – meeting in the middle for one beautiful duet. Oh God, I’m welling up just thinking about it.
It makes a lot more sense in practice than when I’m writing about it. There is a film version, starring Anna Kendrick as Cathy, which I don’t love but is a pretty good starting point if you don’t know the show. I’m not entirely happy with the way they portray the characters, but it would have been near impossible for them to go wrong with the songs. The music is just too beautiful and nothing can change that.
Shrek The Musical
Now, I love the Shrek films (apart from Number 3) but Shrek The Musical is FAR better than any musical based on kids animation deserves to be. The original songs are awesome, covering a huge variety of genres and manage to build on the characters we already know and love.
The Shrek films were famous for their pop-culture references and the musical version is now different, paying homage to some of the great theatre hits. (Keep your eyes and ears peeled for nod to The Lion King and Wicked and probably more that I missed.)
There is a DVD version of this show you can buy. It is amazing and well worth a watch and features fabulous Sutton Foster as Princess Fiona. It was the first musical I ever took Moogle to watch when she was 3 years old and she was enthralled throughout. A definite hit!
Beauty and the Beast
Beauty and the Beast is by far my favourite of the Disney musicals. I think I love it because not only does it stay faithful to the essence of it’s original film, it also goes beyond that. It is a beautiful, romantic musical in it’s own right. The extra material written especially for this production is fabulous and I can’t understand why Disney keep resisting using some these songs in their more recent versions (such as the 2017 live action film). The songs “Home”, sung by Belle, and ” If I Can’t Love Her”, sung by the Beast are particular favourites of mine. I mean, the Beast doesn’t even get a solo song in the film. Let the poor guy express his feelings through the medium of song, for pity’s sake!
It is an eternal disappointment of mine that I’ve never actually had the opportunity to see this show live. (Well, I’ve seen an amateur performance but I want the real deal!) I hope every year that they’ll tour in my area again so I can finally see this show in its full glory. I also dream of one day getting to perform in it, but only if I can play Belle and wear the pretty yellow dress. That’s a deal breaker. It is my dream, after all. At a push, I’d settle for the sexy feather duster. But that’s my final offer.
I’m not going to lie. This one took me by surprise. I’m not even really sure how it snuck on here. I was thinking of all the shows I’ve been to watch and realized this is probably the one I’ve seen the most. I think it’s 3 times so far. The most recent time was with my friend Ruth. We sat on the front row and I was reminded just how much I love this show.
It’s the kind of show that makes you want to get up and join in. The cast are so enthusiastic and energetic, the costumes are crazy and the music is loud and bold and catchy. Yes, the premise is completely ridiculous (a musical about toy trains) but that is part of the fun and it doesn’t detract from the spectacle of the show.
Starlight Express usually tours in my area every couple of years again, so I’m hoping it will make an appearance soon. I’d love to take Moogle and maybe even Bug to see something unlike anything they’ve ever seen before!
And last, but not least…
I racked my brain for hours trying to decide which show should have the last coveted spot on my favourites list and I’ve decided… I can never choose. I love so many musicals, basically all musicals, so it would be impossible to select one over the other.
So, I thought I’d share with you the list of musicals that would be fighting it out for this final spot:
Ghost and The Lion King for sheer spectacle alone.
Chicago, Calamity Jane, Crazy For You, Annie, Anything Goes, The Addams Family, Avenue Q for being uplifting, hilarious and just plain brilliant.
Oklahoma, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Annie Get Your Gun, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Mary Poppins for just being the classics that they are.
Sweeney Todd and Jekyll and Hyde for being dark and dramatic.
Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, for being a completely brilliant fairytale musical that is often overlooked.
Les Miserables for being fabulously depressing and heartbreaking.
Cats – purely because the production I saw was out of this world.
I’m sure there are so many wonderful shows that I’ve completely forgotten. There are also so many I’ve yet to see, so the list just keeps growing. Next year I’m going to watch Sister Act and Funny Girl for the first time. I’d love to see Dreamgirls, Aladdin and eventually, if it comes to the UK, the new Anastacia musical (Bloody love that film!). Can you believe I’ve never even HEARD the Hamilton sountrack and that’s the latest craze.
Too many musicals, too little time.
Which musicals would feature in your top 10? This isn’t a tag, but maybe it should be so if you’d like to share your faves post with me, leve a link in the comments below.