The Great White Way (MUSICALS, not the nickname for the 2015 Oscars)

Hey everyone, let's talk MUSICALS! I am a lover of the theater, and want to discuss the best musical you have ever seen or want to see!

The best show I've seen is "In the Heights" by Lin Manuel Miranda. The story is highly emotional and the music has stuck with me since the first moment I heard it. It was this new sound, unlike any show I had ever seen or heard before, and you could just feel Lin Manuel Miranda's soul coming through.

The show I am DYING to see is "Dogfight" by Pasek and Paul. It's based on the movie from the 90's, and the music is KILLER! I wish I had heard it a few years earlier, because Derek Klena (so hot) and Lindsay Mendez are incredible!

What shows do YOU love?


  • edited February 2015
    I've seen In the Heights performed by a very good college ensemble. I like the show, in no small part because I married a first-generation Dominican-American, but it wasn't riveting for me in the way that some are.

    I've seen Superboy and the Invisible Girl on film and THAT was riveting. It's musically very smart (in my uneducated opinion), the use of the musical themes and the way the actors' parts in the songs support the dramatic turns is fascinating. But I found it gut wrenching as well, am not sure if I love it..

    The shows I love & the shows I've seen performed live by a good cast are not generally the same. The shows I love but have seen only on film and/or performed live by an overmatched cast include:

    Pippin (original), All that Jazz, Rent, Cabaret, 1776, The Producers, Mamma Mia!  (Almost everyone I know despises Mamma Mia on principle, but I don't care.) ETA: Chicago. [This list looks like I'm unduly influenced by Fosse choreography. I may be.]

    I've seen live & performed well & love or almost love: Wicked (I love a lot of the music but was bored between songs,) The Fantastiks (love the music, but only like the entire piece), Jesus Christ Superstar (rock opera/musical, does it matter? love, but I think that's childhood conditioning.), Godspell (Like, not love.) Probably a few others but my memory's shot!

    I love the music from lots of shows that I've either never seen or that in their totality I can't love. That would be a long, long list and include a lot of the classics of the '50s and '60s. (And also is influenced by the fact that I worked tech for a very good community theater for 7 years, so saw two musicals annually from rehearsals through the end of the run that were done well but almost never had a cast who were evenly strong at both singing and acting. This can forever jaundice one's view of a show.)
  • @Jacob_Daniel: When I saw Bridges, Derek was a friend of a friend and took us inside onto the stage after the show. He's totally hot -- and nice, to boot!

    I had the pleasure of seeing In the Heights with the OBC -- what a treat. Lin Manuel Miranda is an electrifying performer, and his new show, Hamilton, sounds incredible.

    That said, as much as I love a Big Broadway Musical, it's the more intimate shows that stay with me forever. While I know opinions differ on it, Jason Robert Brown's The Last Five Years is my favorite piece of theater, ever. I still remember where I was when I first heard the cast album; there's was a moment when the lightbulb went on and I understood what he was doing with the show and the music. In college, I got to play Cathy, and the rehearsal process was such an incredible process that was more about digging into the small moments and emotional layers than actually learning the material (my Jamie and I both came into the show basically memorized). 

    I watched this film with Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan with no small amount of trepidation, and came away mostly pleased. Even though I know the show inside and out, I still learned new things about the characters, and Anna is just straight-up great.

    My Broadway bucket list includes seeing a worthy performance of the Light in the Piazza (an inadequate local production did more harm than good) and to see Audra McDonald in a show. I got to watch her rehearse for a concert once, and it was incredible. 
  • edited February 2015
    @Gabbi, I have tickets to see the Last Five Years on stage here in SF in late March! I have never seen it, and I am really looking forward to it. I think it is odd that they are doing it on stage just after the movie was released, but I am seeing the play first and will see the movie sometime later.

    I live in Berkeley, so most of my theater is in SF, but I try to get to NY to see things on Broadway when I can. Two weeks ago I went to NYC specifically to see Alan Cumming and Emma Stone in Cabaret. It was totally worth it. (I also saw Constellations and You Can't Take it With You, both of which I loved. Not musicals, but I am an all purpose theater geek).

    I saw Audra McDonald and Brian Stokes Mitchell in Ragtime back in the day. They were wonderful! I am pretty sure that was the same weekend I saw Rent for the first time.

    I saw InThe Heights in SF a few years ago and liked it, but didn't love it. I am hoping to get to see Hamilton, too. I'll be in NY for a theater trip this summer, but not sure if Hamilton will be around then.

    Strangely, I have never seen Wicked, but have seen Les Mis on stage four times. I saw the Lion King, but was bored to death once the wonder of the puppets wore off about 15 minutes in, I have kids and probably had to sit through the movie (on VCR) 75 times, so it was actually painful to have see it on stage, puppets notwithstanding!

    I saw American Idiot when it premiered at Berkeley Rep. It was flawed but loads of fun. I really enjoyed Kinky Boots on Broadway. We saw it a couple of days before the 2013 Tonys and I thought Billy Porter definitely deserved his Tony.

    Recent musicals I have missed, but want to see, include Once and Beautiful, both of which I missed when they were in SF last year.
  • @gabbi  I saw a student production of "The Last 5 Years" my Freshman year of college (it was their senior thesis) and was blown away.  I just saw the movie last night and, like you, came away mostly pleased. I thought Anna was much stronger as Cathy than I had imagined Cathy to be, but I thought she was still fantastic....and Jeremy, (whewww, so hot) he was great, scary even. ALSO, SO jealous you got to see "Bridges" and MEET Derek Klena...I wish I was able to even at least see him as Fiyero (which would have been my 6th time see Wicked...can't get enough of the emotional rush).  Gabbi, I would also loves to see "A Light in the PIazza" with Celia Keenan Bolger as Clara and Kelli O'Hara as "Franca" even though Kelli took over for the OBC I would still LOVE to see CKB in her originating role. 

    @formerlyanon should I watch the movie version of Chicago?  I saw a Broadway Production of it in 2007 and was bored to pieces (not sure if it was because I was in high school?). I have seen it since and have enjoyed it, but am not sure about the movie. I do LOVE Cabaret though and @KarenFK I am SUPER jealous you got to see Emma and Alan! To see Alan alone would be awesome, but throw Emma in and I'm sold.

    My grandfather was actually was friends with Bob Fosse when they were younger.  My grandfather was a dancer and an accordion player, and he would play for Fosse around theaters in Chicago.  My mom actually has a few playbills signed by him.

    Has anyone heard of Curt Hansen?  He played Link for a bit in Hairspray, was Gabe in the "Next to Normal" National Tour, and also played Fiyero in the latest Wicked tour?  He went to a college just a few hours away from me and I saw his senior recital on Youtube one day and fell in love. His "Lost in the Wilderness" from Children of Eden is splendid, and I am pining to see him on stage.
  • @Jacob_Daniel - I'd say yes, watch Chicago! It's not going to change your life (I imagine) but I thought the music was thoroughly enjoyable - even if the delivery errs on the side of SPECTACLE - I enjoy any movie with dance numbers, and even though she's not by a long shot always on screen, I always like watching Queen Latifah playing a character who's on the top of her game.  It's cool to know that you have family that knew Fosse. Any good stories?
  • @formerlyAnon I am not aware of many stories, my Grandpa died 2 months after I was born, and he lived in Florida separated (but not divorced, something my grandma used to remind us) for the last 25 years of his life. I do have to dig through his journals though, because he did love to write about everything.
  • I'm generally a happy person, and I like a variety of musicals, but I am particularly drawn to any sad musical w a body count (Les Miz, Rent, Spring Awakening, Next To Normal, etc). Loved Hedwig as well. Incidentally, as much as I loved the original B'way productions of Rent and A Chorus Line, both lost a bit of relevance for me when I later saw them on the road. Oh,and the original West End production of Jerry Springer, The Opera was so brilliantly done and unexpected that I stayed in my seat sobbing for a bit after it ended to pull myself back together!
  • I love musicals too, as evidenced by my eternal love for 1776. My tastes have been drifting European of late, though. I've never seen the following live, but I adored Le Roi Soleil and Tanz der Vampire. I haven't yet youtubed Romeo and Juliette all the way through, but I'm loving all the different versions of it. I've also been meaning to watch Elisabeth some time. I think I just really like writhing background dancers and the threat of glitter.
  • Sweeney Todd, Guys and Dolls, Company, The Golden Apple, Finian's Rainbow, Candide, Fiddler. These are the best scores anyway. Guys and Dolls is my favorite musical comedy. Sweeney Todd is its own animal, and The Golden Apple is the best musical you've never heard of.
  • I used to get into the city to see things on Broadway more often. I do plays as well as musicals.

    My most recent was "Mary Poppins" with my niece, which was fun.  I saw the original run of "Chorus Line" as a kid.  I've seen "Into the Woods" and played Jack's mother in a college production (which also included Mary McCormack--West Wing, K-Pack, In Plain Sight).  

    On Broadway, I've also seen "Sweeny Todd," "Aida" and "The Scarlet Pimpernel."  I caught "Metropolis," "Brigadoon" and "Les Mis" on a trip to London.
  • My favorites include Sweeney Todd (which I've seen on Broadway and in Boston), Les Miserables, and Little Shop of Horrors (Off-Broadway in New York, plus several amateur versions, all of which were great fun).  I have fond memories of Little Shop especially, because I'd seen ads for it on TV and was immediately entranced by the idea of a musical version of the cheesy horror movie I remembered. When I called my sister in New York to see if she could hunt up tickets for me (this was pre-internet), I couldn't remember the name of the show, and babbled something about "50s music, horror movie, really weird" at which point she said "Little Shop!" and agreed to make the arrangements. Several friends joined us (after I twisted their arms a bit), and we trekked down from the Boston area, and were blown away by Ellen Green and co. on stage.

    I've seen some really good performances of Gilbert & Sullivan by the Sudbury (MA) Savoyards, and sundry other musicals in New York or Boston or as amateur productions, and in general I've enjoyed them all, though there have been a few "seen it once, don't need to see it ever again" types - Starlight Express, for example.

    Oh, wait - I almost forgot one of the most unusual and delightful of them all:  Johnny Guitar: The Musical!  I saw that one in Boston, adored it, bought the soundtrack - and have been very sad that it hasn't seen wider distribution. If you've ever seen the marvelously campy film (Joan Crawford and Mercedes McCambridge chewing scenery going at each other hammer-and-tongs), give it a look, and if you get a chance to see the musical, seize it at once!
  • I saw Jerry Springer: The Musical at the Chance Theater in Orange County and laughed (a lot) throughout.  I can't imagine crying, but I really did think it was one of the best things I've seen lately. Actually, it's a great little theater company.   Speaking of great little theater companies, I have seen and loved almost everything at Cygnet theater in San Diego.

    I have only gotten to Broadway proper about twice in my life, and I once did London.
  • The Book of Mormon. I love it so. West Side Story is a close second. I love Leonard Bernstein and I still cherish a dream of playing Anita. If only I weren't the wrong ethnicity. And the wrong age. And also living in a town CRAWLING with better actresses and singers than I am.
  • I really, really, REALLY want to see Hedwig on Broadway since John Cameron Mitchell is returning to the show (I think he's off because of a knee injury at the moment, though). There's a taped performance of his original off-Broadway show and it's something I've seen so many times. I just love it.

    I haven't had a chance to see many musicals in person. My brother and I saw The Addams Family when a production of it came to the local university and his boss gave him free tickets. It....wasn't great but it was still live theater. We saw Sweeney Todd too and I loved it.

  • The Book of Mormon. I love it so. West Side Story is a close second. I love Leonard Bernstein and I still cherish a dream of playing Anita. If only I weren't the wrong ethnicity. And the wrong age. And also living in a town CRAWLING with better actresses and singers than I am.
     I am SO excited to see Book of Mormon!!! It is in Chicago now and the rumor around my house is that I am getting tickets for my birthday (the 14th of March) so I am crossing my fingers and pacing in anticipation! It is such a smart, crass, and heartfelt show, and I hope the leads are even a fifth as good as Andrew Rannells and Josh Gad.
  • The last show I saw was Lady Day at Emerson's and holy crap Audra McDonald is amazing. About halfway through I forgot I wasn't actually watching Billie Holiday. I really want to see Book of Mormon when it comes to Baltimore this year.

    I think overall, Company and Aida are the two that get the most consistent play on my iPod. Also Rent. I will also listen to anything Idina Menzel is a part of, including The Wild Party, on repeat until my ears bleed.

    @jacob_daniel you should absolutely see the movie version of Chicago. They left out a couple of great numbers (Class being the most notably absent) but the cast did a great job overall. I think CZ-J was preggo during shooting, which makes her performance pretty exceptional.
  • Kinky Boots is coming to the DPAC and I am THERE!! I hope Book of Mormon comes too. What was that one Glenn Close was in on Broadway in the 90's? That was amazing. I love Nunsense, shoot me. Brigadoon, Chorus Line, Gigi (in MOURNING for Louis Jourdan), Cats, Godspell, All That Jazz, so many more. 

    I *didn't* love Phantom, West Side Story, Rent, or Chicago.

    I haven't seen Les Mis or Wicked in any form.
  • I love musicals! I saw NPH in Cabaret (with Deborah Gibson) at the former Studio 54 - with the original leopard print carpets!
  • Les Mis and Wicked are such great, huge performances that I think they are both worth seeing for the awesome theatricality. I love the music from both personally and love the big show feeling from each.
  • We regularly listened to musical soundtracks whe I was growing up (it was the 60s, so the Broadway soundtracks for Oklahoma, My Fair Lady, The Sound of Music, Finian's Rainbow, Hair). We got Jesus Christ Superstar when it first came out (it was a record before it was produced as a play) and I had that record memorized. I always found the stage productions a disappointment after having to imagine it in such detail myself.

    The first musical I remember seeing onstage was The Robber Bridegroom with Barry Bostwick (at the Mark Taper Forum in LA). I was probably 14 or 15 and I fell in love-- with the play, with live musical theater, with Barry Bostwick. I begged my parents to take me again. And they actually did. Around 40 years later, I do not remember a single detail of that musical, but I still remember how it made me feel.
    Robber Bridegroom and A History of the American Film by Christopher Durang (also at the Mark Taper around 1978 or so, which I also saw more than once, although I could drive myself to the theater by then) were the shows that really hooked me on theater.
  • @OffToSeeHim Kinky Boots is just great! Definitely see it if you have the chance. Is the Glenn Close one you are thinking of Sunset Blvd?
  • @nealypants I am SUPER jealous you have seen Audra live! My neighbor (who now lives in NYC) saw Lady Day and she was raving about it for weeks...I may be living at UM-College Park soon, so I will be trekking up to NYC as often as possible.

    I am crossing my fingers that "Hamilton" by Lin Manuel Miranda gets picked up and brought onto Broadway so that I can possibly see it! I am a HUGE fan of his (as evidenced by my pure obsession with In the Heights) and I would love to see this new work which supposedly is a greater ratio of hip-hop to Broadway than ITH.  

    A musical I LOVE that I neglected earlier is Spring Awakening.  My first experience seeing it was at Carthage College (my alma mater) in 2013 when I was a senior.  The boy playing Moritz was a Freshman, the only Freshman lead in the cast, and he was outstanding.  Honestly, after seeing the show 3 times (had to keep going back), I think that his Moritz was so much better than John Gallagher Jr.'s AND I loved that my school did not use the microphones like the Broadway production.  They also sped up "Totally Fucked", just a hair, which gave it a bit more energy and drive that seems to be lacking for me in the Broadway soundtrack.  I may be biased, but I was just blown away and am SO grateful to have snagged a copy of my friend's recording of the dress rehearsal because I will watch and enjoy for MANY more years to come. 
  • @Jacob_Daniel funny you liked your college production of Spring Awakening so much -- my son's high school (Berkeley High in Berkeley, CA) did a full uncensored version last year (not the usual thing for a high school production) that was PHENOMENAL! Better that the original Broadway version (which I watched on You Tube) and much better than the SF touring company version, neither of which I actually remember liking. I saw it four times (because my son played all the fathers, so I sort of had to) and was blown away.
  • @jacob_daniel She was incredible. I live in MD, and there are buses that run every day to NYC and they're cheap as hell. If you do end up in MD or DC, you'll have no trouble getting up there. There are also some really great local theaters that do fantastic and obscure productions that you'll have to check out. 
  • I saw Spring Awakening on Broadway and I have NEVER in my life seen so much spit fly as I did from Jonathan Groff.  Unlike almost everyone on earth, I think Lea Michele is an incredible actress because she was able to show that she was desperately in love with Jonathan Groff while he spit in her face every night and she never flinched.  Now that is acting my friends, Glee be damned.

    Gallagher was absolutely amazing in it too.  I've seen it done by colleges since then and by Cygnet in San Diego.  Cygnet's leading man was MUCH better than Jonathan Groff.

    On that same Broadway trip I saw Christine Ebersole in Grey Gardens.  Talk about an acting miracle.  She was amazing.  The show was only okay though, and I think the acting challenge might be tough for other companies/colleges to reproduce.
  • I was basically brought up in a theatre so Sondheim was second nature to me from an early age, I worship Bob Fosse, and I pretty much live in theatre's these days, I have a lot of friends in the industry, hurrah for comp tickets! 

    Putting aside the  R&H classics, WSS etc which are a given, I loved Spring Awakening and it was never better than with the original cast, it was John Gallagher's show, which leads me to American Idiot, which I loved too. It was incredibly clever and brilliantly staged and the cast was so insanely talented. I'm still baffled as to how Memphis beat it to the Tony.

    I have no time for all the Disney crap that keeps making it's way to Broadway, as far as I can tell it's just them cashing in.

    I saw Hamilton last week and was just blown away, I'm glad they're moving to Broadway so quickly, and into the Richard Rodgers of all places. Fingers crossed next season for a Tonys sweep, they deserve it. It really is something special. I don;t ever remember sitting in a theatre and being just so gobsmaked. Musicals just don't happen like that anymore.

  • I love musicals! My favorite is Les Mis. I saw it over 10 years ago and long to see it again. My other favorite is The Lion King. I've seen it 3 times, lol. I haven't seen many lately because monies, but I'm hoping to be able to catch Newsies when it comes to LA. I love the movie! On my bucket list is The Book of Mormon and Avenue Q. I'd also like to see all the Disney musicals adapted from movies (huge Disney fan here!). I've seen Beauty and the Beast. I really want to see Mary Poppins, Aladdin, and The Little Mermaid. I'm not so sure about the Frozen one that they're talking about making... I'm getting Frozened out. And to the person above, I'd say give the Disney musicals a chance! Yes, they are certainly just looking to cash in, but even so, I'd say the couple I've seen are still pretty good! I love The Lion King not because it's Disney, but because it's actually really good.
  • Oh I have given them a chance. I go with my god daughter to see the occasional one. I have never and would never walk out of a show, largely because no matter I think of a show I appreciate the work of the people involved but I sat through Aladdin recently loathed it. I'm just not a Disney person, never have been, I didn't even like it as a kid. I like a lot of Alan Menken's work and individually some of the songs he's done for Disney a quite good, sitting through the entire musicals is just painful to me. 
  • I really want to see Hamilton. It looks like it will be in previews when I am in NY in July, so now I just have to pounce as soon as tickets go on sale.
  • Hee, I saw Spider-Man on Broadway when it was the Julie Taymor version.  It was maybe the worst thing I've ever sat all the way through (and I saw Phantom AND The Scarlet Pimpernel), but I could not look away.  I just couldn't believe all the money wasted.  In the lobby in intermission, most people were commenting on how bad it was, but there were a couple of, well, senior women who were almost in tears because they were defending it so much.  One of them said it was the best thing she'd ever seen and it would run for years/never close.

    I saw Ragtime in LA when it played there before Broadway.  Audra was not yet in it, but it was LaChanze and Brian Stokes Mitchell were in it.  I wish it had been able to run longer, but The Lion King stole all its thunder.
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