Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Ti 🎵 June 28, 2019 10:32 AM   Subscribe

End of another week, let's talk about something else that is not related to politics. I want to hear about your favorite musical(s). Broadway, Off-Broadway, live-action adaptation, film adaptations of stage musicals, etc. Who are your favorite singers/performers/entertainers? Do you have any specific songs that you like to put on repeat? Have you memorized the soundtrack? Do you sing them in your car or shower? Let's talk about a few of our favorite things. As always, be kind to yourself and to others.
posted by Fizz to MetaFilter-Related at 10:32 AM (100 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

The first musical I ever saw as a child was Hello, Dolly! (performed at the local high school). I was lucky enough to get a ticket to the Bette Midler Broadway version, and the way the second half of “Put On Your Sunday Clothes” was arranged and staged with the chorus gave me goosebumps. It was hauntingly beautiful. It reminded me how I felt watching theater as a child—magic!
posted by sallybrown at 10:42 AM on June 28 [1 favorite]


Pick a little talk a little pick a little talk a little cheep cheep cheep
posted by Melismata at 10:49 AM on June 28 [6 favorites]


My favorite will always be Little Shop, my cool answer is Ride the Cyclone which is very good and should be better known. The production I worked on was definitely type II fun. I think I've seen Into the Woods the most and none of them were better than the Hypocrites production. Musicals are the best.
posted by Uncle at 10:54 AM on June 28 [1 favorite]


Oh Gawd. as a young child I *loved* Rogers and Hammerstein musical movies, and others of course. I used to belt out "Oh! What a Beautiful Morning" (gloriously off-key, I'm sure - I was a shit singer as a child) on my way to school on nice days. I think I memorized the sound track to My Fair Lady within a year of getting the album. "Trouble" from the Music Man was another fave. "Bali Hai" from South Pacific, along with "Gonna Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair". OF COURSE Sound of Music - All The Songs.
For above reasons, I really enjoyed "The Showman" and was wowed by singing/dancing Hugh Jackman. Too bad the tunes weren't the immediately learnable/hummable ones from musicals above.
posted by dbmcd at 11:00 AM on June 28 [6 favorites]


You can put on the West Side Story soundtrack on repeat forever and I'm not going to get upset about it. The same goes for the The Wizard of Oz. These two films/musicals both tap into a nostalgia that is foundational to who I am. They're a part of my happy place.
posted by Fizz at 11:03 AM on June 28 [5 favorites]


I grew up as a theater kid and so A Chorus Line.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:04 AM on June 28 [5 favorites]


Favorite musical ever: Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Brother Benjamin was *ahem* a formative realization... I will occasionally watch the barn dance scene on YouTube when I need cheering up. (Also, note that Brother Benjamin can't dance...)

I discovered Dance Ten, Looks Three, and then the rest of A Chorus Line, when I was a tween. It seemed so delightfully risqué to my sheltered little life. I was just listening to it this morning while ironing for work. (The cats, must think *that ain't it kid* when I sing...)
posted by librarianamy at 11:15 AM on June 28 [3 favorites]


This week it's Frozen Jr because my kid is playing Sven the reindeer! Seriously, is there anything more joyful than a bunch of teenagers putting on a musical?
posted by selfmedicating at 11:18 AM on June 28 [3 favorites]


For whatever reason, I really took to The Sound of Music movie as a small child and I still think the song "Maria" is a bop." Climb Every Mountain" & "I Have Confidence" are two other favorites. Not as much of a fan of the other numbers, but Christopher Plummer strumming a guitar and crooning "Edelweiss" has probably been influential on my psyche in some form or another. (So weird realizing, years later, that he was also the Klingon in Star Trek VI.)

My favorite, though, has to be 1776. I had this one summer where I was obsessed with it, sang along to the soundtrack on the daily during my commute, compulsively rewatched the movie over a dozen times (and still rewatch it on July 4th every year), and can sing pretty much all of it from memory. William Daniels' John Adams? Maaaagnificent! Will someone shut that man up? Nevah!

("I have come to the conclusion that one useless man is called a disgrace, that two are called a law firm, and that three or more become a Congress! And by God, I have had this Congress!" HA!)

More recently, I've heard the Hamilton soundtrack too many times by now (it used to be the main album I listened to on my commute), but "Satisfied" impressed me tremendously with its melodies and Renée Elise Goldsberry's knockout performance. Other faves: the opening number, "Non-Stop," and "The Schuyler Sisters."
posted by rather be jorting at 11:19 AM on June 28 [3 favorites]


While I enjoy them, musicals aren't really my thing. However, I saw a live production of Urinetown about 15 years ago and boy that just tickled me right in the funny bone. So fun! "Don't Be the Bunny." Also a musical that (if my memory of the plot is correct) unfortunately grows more relevant by the year.
posted by acidnova at 11:21 AM on June 28 [1 favorite]


I was raised on Singing in the Rain (and also What's Up, Doc? but that's a different story), thus ensuring that even though I can barely do the Cupid Shuffle and can't really carry a tune I have a huge appreciation for musicals and big dance numbers (file footage). The fight/dance-off scene in Seven Brides was also pointed out by our parents as a good illustration of how my siblings and I should have each other's backs.

I'm also a huge fan of The Music Man (Robert Preston only, please) and probably watch it every couple of years. I should find an outlet for that...

Anyway my wife, who was raised on The Beatles and other such classic music, has no appreciation for these enjoyable things and I'm hoping tonight's showing of Yesterday (previously) might finally get us to agree on art.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 11:25 AM on June 28 [2 favorites]


Favorite performers - It is one of my life's great regrets that I never got to see Jerry Orbach on stage.
I saw Mandy Patinkin do Coffee in a Cardboard Cup during a Boston Pops performance and was immediately in love. That was 1989 and I don't think I even realized it was the guy from the Princess Bride until long after.
I have a Tivo keyword search set up to auto record anything with Howard Keel in it. Obviously tied in with my Seven Brides love.
I'm also oddly heartbroken I never got to see Craig Bierko in the Music Man revival in 2000. That's my preferred version of Trouble.

Two other side mentions:
1) My first date with my husband was to see Les Miz on Broadway. So we see that every time we can, for sentimental reasons. I will _always_ jump at the cannon.
2) Robin and the Seven Hoods. PETER FALK SINGS. Truly one of my favorite things in the world. The Dean Martin/Sinatra/Crosby song when they keep changing outfits - I'll watch that on YouTube a lot too.

Oh good lord, I just remembered I haven't even touched on Gene Kelly. I really need to let other people comment here...
posted by librarianamy at 11:26 AM on June 28 [3 favorites]


Actually, it would be easier to list the few musicals that I don't like: Cats, Jesus Christ Superstar, Sweeney Todd. That might be it.

A man may be hot
But he's not
When he's shot
Oh, you can't get a man with a gun ...
posted by Melismata at 11:29 AM on June 28 [3 favorites]


This seems like a safe place to admit my love for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. So corny! Such visual spectacle! Every song a giant production number in a completely different genre! It's all so ridiculously fun.
posted by Flannery Culp at 11:36 AM on June 28 [6 favorites]


might finally get us to agree on art.

I'm just now remembering that she doesn't exactly understand my love of That Thing You Do! (which is sort of Beatles adjacent, right?) or the Twist and Shout dance in Ferris Bueller.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 11:50 AM on June 28 [1 favorite]


Hedwig and the Angry Inch. "How to throw a Hedwig viewing party" was one of my first AskMe questions, but I haven't done that (yet) because we ended up going to NY to see it, when Neil Patrick Harris was the lead. A few months ago I caught John Cameron Mitchell's 'Origin of Love' tour, and it was only the second time I've cried during a live musical performance. The story, the music, everything is soul-fulfilling to me. I love Hedwig so much.
posted by Fig at 11:59 AM on June 28 [5 favorites]


Guys and Dolls is my favorite movie musical. I could watch Stubby Kaye singing "Sit Down You're Rocking the Boat" all day long, just for starters.

And it's one of those movies where knowing the behind the scenes drama makes it so much better - Sinatra wanted the Sky Masterson role that went to Brando, and those two did not get along. Sinatra thought "Mumbles," as he apparently referred to Brando, and his Method acting were bullshit, and he wanted to just film a take and move on. Brando would flub lines on purpose to force more takes. When you watch the Mindy's cheesecake vs strudel scene, always remember Brando was purposely screwing up to make Sinatra eat more cheesecake and redo the scene. Sinatra and Brando are the men I always think of when people spout off about catty women who can't get along.

But really I just love stories with songs. I haven't met many musicals I didn't like.

Classic musicals also are a thing I can put on when visiting my Fox News addicted grandmother and have a respite from teethgrinding, so that is nice.
posted by the primroses were over at 11:59 AM on June 28 [4 favorites]


Ok. I am a sucker for Umbrellas of Cherbourg.

It is not a musical in the traditional sense. Instead of scenes strung together by songs it is dialogue but the dialogue is sung. Also, the colors, the colors.

Here's an example where Mr. Cassard comes over to dinner.
posted by vacapinta at 12:03 PM on June 28 [5 favorites]


On Bob's Burgers (stay with me), the kids put on a musical that combines Die Hard and Working Girl (stay with me). In the first song of Work Hard or Die Trying, Girl, the lead terrorist introduces himself: "I'm Hans Gruber. Consider yourself grubed."

Reader, there will never be a finer joke written. There may be jokes as good, but you cannot get better.
posted by Etrigan at 12:12 PM on June 28 [13 favorites]


My favorite musicals are local phenomena, not mainstream or household names.

At my theatre in Seattle we did a bunch of original musicals by Chris Jeffries. Two of my favorites (I was in both of these) were The Fatty Arbuckle Spookhouse Revue (a vaudeville-style treatment of the Virginia Rapp case via Alice in Wonderland - point of trivia, Paul Giamatti was in this as one of the Tweedles) and The Glory Booty Club, a 4-person treatment of Oedipus.

Another one at that theatre (which I was not in) was Cat Like Tread by visionary theatre artist Derek Horton. It mashed up the music from Pirates of Penzance with the disturbing details of fraternity hazing from record books that Derek found when he and some bandmates were bashing open the walls of a former frat house they were squatting in. It was a very dark look at how privilege protects people from the consequences of their horrifying behavior. It seemed chaotic on first watch, but subsequent viewings revealed some very disciplined directing and performance.

Another artist whose name escapes me at the moment did a show called Cold Water Waltz, which was a chamber musical about the sinking of the Titanic. It was fantastic.

These were all in Seattle in the 90s.

My favorite movie musicals are One From the Heart and Grease II.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 12:18 PM on June 28 [3 favorites]


Oh, also, I'm involved with a cabaret company in Los Angeles, and we've had hits with our lesbian-focused adaptations "Beachez: The Musical" and *Thelma & Leweeze: The Musical".
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 12:21 PM on June 28


I never listened to or watched musicals until I met my fiance, who is a huge musical theatre nerd. He's gotten me into obscure musicals like Golden Rainbow (big Vegas swingy numbers) and I Love My Wife (wife swapping in the 70s).

Golden Rainbow at the 1968 Tonys

Rock Hudson and Bea Arthur singing "Everybody Today is Turning On" from I Love My Wife.
posted by Neely O'Hara at 12:22 PM on June 28 [2 favorites]


I'm not great at picking favorites, but Groundhog Day was an excellent musical, both for the music and lyrics but also for the staging (the resets! the car chase scene!) and the updates to the story that significantly expanded on the agency and inner life of the women in the story.

"Night Will Come" is a great, bittersweet piece of existentialism.
posted by jedicus at 12:25 PM on June 28 [3 favorites]


I spent my formative years singing all the mainstream musicals too loudly, with too much sincerity, and way too publicly to ever have been socially acceptable in the small town in which I grew up.

So I LOVE the 'Drowsy Chaperone' these days. A glorious send-up of the golden days of musicals. That is my shower/car production these days.
posted by Sauter Vaguely at 12:25 PM on June 28 [2 favorites]


My favorite musicals are local phenomena, not mainstream or household names.

Yes, I would be remiss not to mention Baltimore's own Baltimore Rock Opera Society (link is to BROS site) which performs original rock operas, the most recent of which was Welcome to Shakesville, a tribute to Sesame Street and similar children's programming with a prominent social justice message and some fun original surf rock. Loved it.
posted by the primroses were over at 12:29 PM on June 28 [1 favorite]


Sorry to keep chiming in but I have to mention...

I'm not especially into enjoying bad theatre, there's only a very small set of things that are so bad they're good.

But the best so-deliciously-bad-it's-amazing thing I have ever seen in my life has to be The Ten Commandments: The Musical starring Val Kilmer as Moses, produced by BCBG Max Azria.

It was just mesmerizing, terrible on a molecular level. I rode that high for days. Seeing that is one of my most cherished experiences as an audience member.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 12:32 PM on June 28 [2 favorites]


When I was a kid my favorite musicals were Oliver and My Fair Lady. I saw A Chorus Line when I was 12 or so and it was my favorite for a long time. I was not exactly a theater kid in high school, but I was sort of theater-adjacent - in all the high school musicals but never got a lead role. We did West Side Story, Pippin, The Music Man, and Grease. Out of those Pippin was by far my favorite and Grease was the worst.

When I was in high school I was a good neo-hippie and I owned the soundtrack to Hair (the Broadway cast - NOT the movie) and I can still sing all those songs (although I don't imagine I'll break out a performance of "Colored Spade" or "Sodomy" anytime soon.) In early adulthood my husband introduced me to Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living In Paris and I listened to it incessantly for a few years, but now it has been etched into my brain as firmly as Led Zeppelin IV and I never need to listen to it again.

I've been in three separate choirs that have performed "Rhythm of Life" from Sweet Charity, and it's a wonderful song, but it's challenging for a group of amateurs to sing, which means that it gets practiced into the ground, which means that I can sing the entire alto part without looking at words or music even though the last time I was in a choir that did it was almost ten years ago.
posted by Daily Alice at 12:42 PM on June 28 [5 favorites]


There's been so much good stuff happening in musicals in the last - I don't know, 20 or so years. The Last 5 Years, See What I Wanna See, The Band's Visit, Fun Home, Hadestown. Come From Away and Hamilton. Violet. They're just so great. Much as I love the classics, and I do (and when I get my time machine, my first trip will still be to opening night of the original West Side Story on Broadway) the new guys are just mind-blowing.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 12:45 PM on June 28 [5 favorites]


A musical I am still kicking myself for not having gone to see live is Passing Strange. And I have utterly no excuse, because I'm even facebook-connected with Colman Domingo and dude was only talking about it every other day during the run and I kept thinking "yeah maybe" but then it closed and I finally saw the film Spike Lee made from it - it's not an adaptation, Spike straight-up filmed the closing performance - and thought oh dammit i waited too long.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:48 PM on June 28 [1 favorite]


Classic women I'd like to be like someday:
Celeste Holm. Specifically as Liz Imbrie in High Society. But just in general.
Betty Garrett. Specifically as Hildy in On the Town. But just in general.

They kind of fall into my bucket of wishing I'd age into a classy dame, but am definitely on the kooky broad trajectory. (Ok, not Holm.) See also: Carol Channing, Brett Sommers, Ethel Merman, Phyllis Diller, Bea Arthur
posted by librarianamy at 12:50 PM on June 28 [1 favorite]


And yes, I have memorized all the words. And no, I can't sing any of them even remotely on pitch. As good fairy/bad fairy gifts go, it's pretty minor, but still annoying.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 12:56 PM on June 28


because I am an unsophisticated problematic queer slut my favorite musicals are Disney's The Little Mermaid, Beauty And The Beast, and Aladdin.
posted by nikaspark at 1:05 PM on June 28 [4 favorites]


Oh yeah there was a one night musical in Austin like 20 years ago called "The Tower Massacre Musical" at the local Goth Club which was a dark comedy pisstake on the UT Tower Shooting and it was probably the best theatrical event I've ever seen in my life.
posted by nikaspark at 1:07 PM on June 28


I didn't really dig the Hunchback of Notre Dame Disney movie when it first came out (too young to get what was the deal with Frollo's lust or Quasimodo's jealousy), but man do I love the opening number still. It's so over the top and bombastic that I regularly throw the track on my commuting playlist to keep me alert and whatnot in traffic. A couple favorite parts:

- The Archdeacon's verse: "You can lie to yourself and your minions! You can claim that you haven't a qualm - But you never can run from, nor hide what you've done from the eyes - the very eyes of No-tre Daaaame!"

- Paul Kandel hitting that high note at the very end, damn.
posted by rather be jorting at 1:07 PM on June 28 [1 favorite]


A few weeks ago someone on twitter asked something to the equivalent "If you were offered $100,000 to sing a show through lyric-perfect, and if you messed up you'd owe that money, what show would you choose?" and my choices were Ragtime, South Pacific, or Hamilton.
posted by ChuraChura at 1:57 PM on June 28 [2 favorites]


We saw Shuffle Along, or, the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed on Broadway in 2016 (the same week we saw Hamilton, and while Hamilton was good (the Broadway fanboy to whom I'm married bought the Hamilton tickets as soon as they were available, before it blew up to Epic Broadway Phenomenon status, so we paid face value for those tickets), but I have to say that Shuffle Along was a more electrifying experience. Billy Porter was fantastic. There is not cast album of that show. This is why that is a crime. A crime, I tell you!

Anyway, that musical is probably the best show I've ever seen live.

There is a plaqued Rent poster above our kitchen table. Not my specific decor choice, but I was given no say in the matter. And yes, I'm aware that I could replace it with something else and he wouldn't know -- until friends visit and say "Hey, what happened to the Rent poster?" and that would be very bad news indeed.

We're off to see Little Shop of Horrors in Stratford in August. Mr. Conspiracy, being blind, has arranged a touch tour of the costumes and props beforehand, so he's going to be able to get up close and personal with Audrey.

Feed me, Seymour.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 2:19 PM on June 28 [2 favorites]


I was going to preface my first comment with how I'm not much of a musicals person, because some of my friends remain VERY logged in to the Broadway scene and I have yet to get to those levels of fandom, so it feels like "their" thing instead of mine. But I keep thinking of other numbers I like!

- "Brotherhood of Man" feat. Mad Men's Robert Morse from How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
- "Come Back to Me" feat. 1776 & Northern Exposure's John Cullum from On A Clear Day You Can See Forever
- "Four Jews in a Room Bitching" feat. Chip Zien from March of the Falsettos
- "What You Own" feat. Star Trek: Discovery's Anthony Rapp from RENT (this is the most embarrassing one, b/c the plot is such a major side-eye in many respects, but I sure did like the OBC double-disc soundtrack I borrowed from the library as a kid. Also, I thought the use of electric guitars in a musical was Very Cool)
- "The Bitch of Living" from Spring Awakening (another instance of "whoa, electric guitars in a musical? Cool!")
posted by rather be jorting at 2:20 PM on June 28


I generally dislike musicals, but I think Singin' in the Rain is a brilliant movie. The story behind it makes it seem even more impressive: the studio had a bunch of old songs from the 30s (and if I remember right, they weren't going to have them for much longer). The challenge was to string together a bunch of unrelated and totally old-fashioned songs into something people would want to see. The movie industry story was a good framing device, but that alone wouldn't have made all the songs work, and it still had to have emotional depth. Partly because of those constraints, they had to come up with a narrative structure that does a lot of odd things. You wind up with a lot of scenes, and even songs, that don't really follow the "logical" rules, but end up being more effective because of it. I have a book that talks about it in detail, but the overall point is that it's really a model script for how to do things right. It doesn't seem like an impressive script, because it works so well that everything feels seamless. But it's honestly brilliant. Everything is set up for a clever resolution, and everything just works. Had any one part been written differently, it wouldn't have worked.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 2:25 PM on June 28 [3 favorites]


Now that I think about it, I'm kind of fond of "Everybody's Got the Right" from Assassins.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 2:27 PM on June 28 [2 favorites]


I am unabashedly fond of Chess and I sing it loudly in the car very frequently. Some real good 80s synth in there, and Benny and Bjorn know how to write a tune.

I’m also a huge Sondheim fan. We just saw Pacific Overtures earlier this month which was unexpectedly good. Out of his body of work, I think I’d go with the music from A Little Night Music as my favorite, but Bernadette Peters in Sunday in the Park With George is really excellent. Bernadette Peters in general is excellent, really.
posted by backseatpilot at 2:29 PM on June 28 [3 favorites]


I inherited my dad's tastes pretty straight up in terms of music in general and musicals in particular, so: Guys and Dolls, My Fair Lady, Kiss Me Kate. I got a good illustration of just how great the former is when I went to see a Japanese-language production of it at Takarazuka (an all-female production, but that's another story). The Japanese book they use is old and pretty limp (there are excellent Japanese lyrics translators, but this wasn't one of them) but even with lousy lyrics, the music stands up on its own.
(My Fair Lady and Kiss Me Kate both have issues of their own...but...I have no patience with the people who talk about how sexist the ending of My Fair Lady is. Obviously Higgins isn't complacently thinking "Ha, Eliza's back, now I can get my slippers fetched"; he's trying to say a lot more than that and that's what comes out in spite of himself, and of course she knows what he actually means and isn't going to let him get away with anything. Okay, rant over.)

Quite a lot of others. Like every other American high school we put on productions of Pajama Game and Bye Bye Birdie, which are not without musical merit. Purlie, a lot lesser known--I'm not sure it can or should reasonably be staged without a black cast--has some really fantastic songs. And if you get into the operetta range, always Candide.
posted by huimangm at 2:47 PM on June 28 [2 favorites]


Ah, high school musicals. My American high school put on productions of South Pacific, Annie Get Your Gun, and Into the Woods. I don't think I liked any of them very much, but I know Into the Woods super well because I ended up working on that year's production and thus ended up hearing the songs over and over again before the actual official performance. It was fun working on the sets and props, though.

To this day, I still have no interest in seeing the Disney movie adaptation of Into the Woods, but I do have fond nostalgia for the OBC filmed recording, with Bernadette Peters as the witch. The ultimate number about beans!
posted by rather be jorting at 3:04 PM on June 28 [1 favorite]


This thread reminds me of the story of how the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein coped with his self-loathing:
Wittgenstein was always exhausted by his lectures. He was also revolted by them. He felt disgusted with what he had said and with himself. Often he would rush off to a cinema immediately after the class ended ... He insisted on sitting in the very first row of seats, so that the screen would occupy his entire field of vision, and his mind would be turned away from the thoughts of the lecture and his feelings of revulsion. Once he whispered to me 'This is like a shower bath!'
There's more there, but the connection is that he was particularly a fan of Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, and in my mind I picture Top Hat as the movie that made him feel OK that day.

Among personal favorites, The Young Girls of Rochefort is similarly light and silly, and Donkey Skin (see also) is super campy and fun in spite of the weird theme of the fairy tale it's based on. And The Lure is a dark, strange, but awesome modern fairy tale--the director Agnieszka Smoczynska explains. Just incidentally, all three can be streamed on the Criterion Channel along with generally uplifting stuff like Olympics movies in addition to what Criterion is known for.
posted by Wobbuffet at 3:32 PM on June 28


Does the Grateful Dead movie count?
posted by AugustWest at 3:57 PM on June 28


Oklahoma! has been my mother's favorite musical since she was a girl; she used to hang out in the music room after school to listen to the cast album. The songs were on constant play/sing around our house when I was growing up. She used to sing us to sleep at night with "Poor Jud is Daid." I was so excited to finally get to be in a production of Oklahoma! last summer. (Of course, my best chorus buddy and I hung around backstage lip-syncing to Jud and Curly.) It was so awesome to look out in the audience and see Mom's face light up every time a song started. (It helped that I was actually able to wear my glasses in this show.)
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:46 PM on June 28 [4 favorites]


Musicals are the geological strata of my preteen-through-teenage years. Like dating events by the reigning monarch, I measured years by the musical I was obsessed with. I am too embarrassed to list them here, except:

Last October, I went to see a quite good semi-staged concert performance of Lerner and Loewe's Camelot. The cast were excellent-- the Almighty Thaxton was luxury casting as Arthur-- and the version they used showed how the show could conceivably work today with a few cuts. (It turns out "Fie On Goodness" works just as well without the problematic verses.)

It sent me down memory lane a bit. I hadn't thought about it in decades, but: In nineteen-eightysomething, when I was maybe eleven, my dad took me to a touring production of Camelot with Richard Harris. I thought it was the best thing ever. I listened to the cast album over and over; I memorised all the lyrics, and sang all the songs whenever there was no one around to tell me to shut up. (yeah, yeah, spot the nascent singer.)

I wanted more stories about these characters, so I started reading. In a library, I found an old kids' version of the Morte d'Arthur, which left out the sex but kept all the old language with thees and thous. I made my way through it slowly; but each time I read it the language would get easier. I'm convinced that that old book is why I was later able to understand Shakespeare, and part of why I ended up doing an English degree specialising in medieval and renaissance. And I kept singing.

So I came away from that concert performance strangely struck: that musical was part of what made me me, and I'd forgotten it. Except I hadn't; the songs were all still there in my memory, every word, every note. And the love for it was still there under everything.

Singing used to be my refuge and my freedom. I miss that-- when it was mine and no one else's, and I didn't have to care what anyone thought of it.

(I've got my first coaching session with the conductor of my current opera job on Sunday. I am prepared, sung in and off-book; my teacher and coach are happy with it; but I'm still a bit nervous about what the conductor will think. He's an okay guy, he's not a dragon, it's just in my head. Aaaagghhhh.)
posted by Pallas Athena at 4:50 PM on June 28 [5 favorites]


Over the last year or so I've got to see Follies and Company twice each - I don't know if the Royal National Theatre production of Follies is going anywhere but the gender-switched Company really ought to be turning up on Broadway some time soon. They're both magnificent.

Follies I never really got until I saw it - there are all sorts of details but I'm haunted by the ghosts of the younger selves, absolutely bewitched by their living manifestations.

Swapping Bobby to Bobbie reinvents Company wonderfully - the "confirmed bachelor" angle was teetering on the edge of obsolescence in 1970 and has been a problem for the show ever since, but works beautifully, I think, with Bobbie. If it does turn up near you I'd highly recommend it.

I love Sondheim in general. A few years ago I got to see a small scale production of Pacific Overtures - all-white cast, so I suppose it wouldn't happen now, even only five years later. It is very good in history, but the end needs to be changed - it's rooted in 1976, and a lot's happened to Japan since 1976. There was also a small theatre production (out of Chicago, I think, originally) of Into the Woods, which worked very well intimately. Oh, and the even more intimate The Frogs.

I'd very much like to see A Little Night Music, but the next Sondheim is Sunday in the Park With George at the Savoy in almost exactly a year. Assuming the world hasn't ended by then.
posted by Grangousier at 4:52 PM on June 28 [2 favorites]


And I didn't get it for many years when people would say they "didn't like musicals because it's unrealistic for people to burst into song and dance at the drop of a hat." What I didn't know was, other families really didn't do that the way mine did. Other people just... walked around? And talked? Without rhyming??
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:52 PM on June 28 [9 favorites]


Even though it's way out of my range (LOL what isn't?), I sing a lot of Annie on any given day. This is mostly because during my formative years I was listening to a lot of indie rock and one particular unique performer in a rad band had a little bit of a solo career and had been posting some random mp3s on her personal website for years and one of those groups of mp3s were like 5 Annie songs she recorded on a 4-track when she was a little girl. I'm absolutely positive that I have those mp3s floating around some wasted hard drive somewhere, but if anyone knows who that woman might've been and could direct me to her old website where they were posted as direct links to mp3s, that would make my middle age.
posted by carsonb at 4:58 PM on June 28 [1 favorite]


Last October, I went to see a quite good semi-staged concert performance of Lerner and Loewe's Camelot. The cast were excellent-- the Almighty Thaxton was luxury casting as Arthur-- and the version they used showed how the show could conceivably work today with a few cuts. (It turns out "Fie On Goodness" works just as well without the problematic verses.)

I was in a production of Camelot two summers ago, and I've got to say that in this time when so many good things about our society that I counted on in my youth are slipping away faster than we can count them, I would get a little choked up every night singing, "Don't let it be forgot that once there was a spot, for one brief shining moment, that was known as Camelot."

(And yes, "Fie on Goodness" is sooo good. And manly. Our Mordred sounded like a freaking rock star.)
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:59 PM on June 28 [3 favorites]


I was a Kit Kat girl in a stage production of Cabaret, when I was 16 or 17, so I know all the songs from that, natch. One of the actors said, "nothing sexual intended, but you have some of the best legs I've ever seen on stage." I wore a black halter top and shorts, with fishnet stockings, tons and tons of makeup, floofed my curly hair all up, and had a purple sequin headband with a feather sticking up out of it. The only problem was when my parents attended a show, and I had to lay down at the edge of the stage during "Don't Tell Mama" and we were told to play it up to some theater angels (big donators) in the audience, flirting and licking our lips, while suggestively kicking our bent up legs behind us, but my folks were good sports and open-minded, ha-ha.

Was also in Man of La Mancha, played a prisoner and then wore a horse head with a burlap cape, and lace-up boots. Another actress did the same, and I was Don Quixote's horse, she was Sancho Panza's horse. We sat on stools, and the actors sat on high stools behind us, and we did a foot dance to the tune of "I Am I, Don Quixote!" Tons of fun.

Used to watch all the musicals on TV with my folks, West Side Story, Sound of Music, Oklahoma, etc. Enjoyed all of them and have sound tracks to many, including South Pacific. Helps that I married a dancer and actor, he knows all those songs too, and loves them.

Saw one strange musical in Chicago years ago, Co-Ed Prison Sluts, at the Annoyance Theater, and it was very good, and yet made the audience very uncomfortable at the same time. I think we paid $10 to get in, and I was all dressed up, being a suburbanite, and it was folding chairs, with some couches and loungers to the side on a platform, in an old brick building. That was one of the best shows I've ever seen. Was singing one of the naughty songs for days afterward, had to take care that I didn't sing it around my boyfriend's mother, ha-ha.

Requested and received The Greatest Showman for Christmas/Yule/Festivus, and love the songs in that, plus Hugh Jackman, triple threat, how can anyone be so talented?
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 5:34 PM on June 28 [3 favorites]


P. S. When my kids refused to do their chores or homework, I used to sing show tunes to them, worked like a charm.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 5:37 PM on June 28 [3 favorites]


I went to New York with a friend in in 1975. We each picked a show. She picked Pippin; based on The New Yorker, I picked a new show - A Chorus Line. The piano refrain pulls you in right away. It was everything I could ask for in a Broadway show. When I went home, it was on the cover of Newsweek.

I was one of the theater kids in high school, we put on Fiorello, a funny show with some excellent songs, Carousel, Annie Get Your Gun, Bye Bye Birdie.

The movie Toys is odd and has some great songs and scenes.

I like musicals a lot, thanks for posting this.
posted by theora55 at 6:03 PM on June 28 [1 favorite]


When I was 13, someone — sadly, I no longer remember who — got me two tickets to Sweeney Todd as a bat mitzvah present. This was 1979, so it was the original cast, Angela Lansbury and Len Cariou (plus a young Victor Garner). I fell *madly* in love with it. Did I memorize the score? Oh yeah. Every word.

I wound up seeing it twice with the original cast, and I’ve seen it live probably five times over the course of my life. One of those times was at Circle in the Square, a very small theater in the round here in NYC; because of the size and layout of the theater, the actors interacted with the audience a lot. We were in the first row, and Sweeney Todd, played in that production by Bob Gunton, threatened my father with a razor during “Epiphany.” My Father was sort of charmed, but it freaked out my mother and me. Years later, I met Bob Gunton and told him, “You threatened my father with a razor once!” He looked a bit puzzled until I explained, and then he asked me to tell my dad he was sorry.
posted by holborne at 6:03 PM on June 28 [5 favorites]


When I was in high school, my drama club took a field trip to see a university production of Sweeney Todd in a small, intimate theater. They used real, fresh, hot meat pies on stage so the smell would fill up the house.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:37 PM on June 28 [4 favorites]


I was in pit orchestra all through high school and it was by far my favorite thing I did. I’m most nostalgic for the musical we did my freshman year, Me and My Girl. I also have fond memories of the fifth grade doing Pippin when I was a really little kid.

I also have a weakness for Joss Whedon’s musicals. I don’t know if they’re good, exactly, but at worst they feel like pretty good sendups of the art form. Now I’m amusing myself trying to imagine a high school production starring Captain Hammer.

Little eirias was way into Singin’ In the Rain for a year or two - it was hard to get her to watch anything else. I still pull out “Make ‘Em Laugh” on YouTube to amuse her friends who haven’t seen it. shapes that haunt the dusk, I’d love to read that book you mentioned.
posted by eirias at 6:39 PM on June 28 [3 favorites]


Rocky Horror. My parents had the movie soundtrack that my sister and I listened to obsessively when we were 4. Obviously had no idea what it was about at the time. Saw the movie again when I was 12 and was amazed my parents had let me watch it. First time I saw it was the Sydney production with Tim Ferguson. We were sitting in the second row and saw him after the show- he recognised us and started chatting to us, which was nice. Best production I saw was starring Iota as Frank N Furter. I think the first musical I ever saw in the theatre (that wasn't the dodgy school production of Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat we had to perform in year 6) was Jesus Christ Superstar with John Farnham, Kate Cebrano, Jon Stevens and Angry Anderson. My parents even took us out of school to see it, because we lived 3 hours away.
posted by Kris10_b at 6:48 PM on June 28 [6 favorites]


For whatever reason, I have seen or been minorly involved in the production of Into the Woods five times. In college I took a costume design course and ended up doing a series of bunraku inspired designs for it - that's Japanese shadow puppet theater. Most of the shape shifting magical elements would have been puppeted, like the giant would have been like six different puppeteers, and there's the transformation of the witch, and the different character's silhouettes would have been carved out with strategic placements of black, and so-on. Lots of solid colors and strong shapes softened by textured lighting. I of course had to teach my professor what bunraku was. Sigh.

My favorite movie musical is An American In Paris. I could watch the painterly ballet sequence over and over.
posted by Mizu at 7:17 PM on June 28 [2 favorites]


The play "My Fair Lady" hasn't aged well for some very good and obvious reasons, but the music was brilliant so I don't feel bad about enjoying Shelly Manne's interpretations (instrumental, no vocals).
posted by ardgedee at 7:18 PM on June 28 [1 favorite]


When I was a kid, my parents had three musical cast albums: Fiddler on the Roof, Hello Dolly! (the movie version), and My Fair Lady (original British cast album). I listened to them constantly and still have them pretty much memorized.

For quite a while I thought that when Julie Andrews sings "Guards, run and bring in the bloke/Then they'll march 'Enry 'Iggins to the wall" in "Just You Wait", she was referring to a "bloke", a particular device used to force someone against a wall. I eventually figured that one out.

One of my favorite musical numbers is from Judy's Scary Little Christmas, featuring Lillian Hellman and Richard Nixon singing Ever Been in Love.

I was also in the pit orchestra in high school; my freshman year we did "Anything Goes" and I have loved Cole Porter ever since. I even managed to work in Cole Porter content for two of the 1-day quizzes I've worked on for Learned League.
posted by mogget at 7:26 PM on June 28 [3 favorites]


I'm obsessed with the Hadestown soundtrack right now. Previous soundtrack obsessions include The Secret Garden, Showboat, Cats, Hamilton, The Great Comet, The Spongebob Musical (SQUIDWARD DOES AN 8-FEET TAP DANCE)
posted by bleep at 7:51 PM on June 28 [3 favorites]


I like many different kinds of music, and I have come to appreciate the artistry that goes into music videos of late*. But my taste in musicals is rather provincial and uninformed.

I still like Jesus Christ Superstar (the original brown concept album), and I’ve seen and heard a number of different productions down the years, and (in my uninformed and provincial opinion) Ian Gillan is the literal voice of Jesus Christ. The scene where JC breaks up the moneylenders at the temple is the place that separates the men-Jesuses from the boy-Jesus-wannabees. The recent television production with John Legend highlights this rather well.

Also, one of the better things I’ve seen on Metafilter was this post from 2011 about the various and sundry performers who have covered “Heaven on their Minds”. And IMU&PO Murray Head set the standard for Judas back in 1970.

Also, there’s some really killer guitar work in JCS. It’s fun to listen to and (if you are so inclined) fun to play. And the quiet little a cappella section between the “Overture” and “Heaven on Their Minds” makes a nice ringtone.

I also liked Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. Including Commentary! The Musical. “My Eyes” (which is I guess a duet with Neil Patrick Harris and Felicia Day) is a high point. I have this vague sense that Whedon might be re-using some very old tropes to play me like a cheap violin - but I like it anyway.

I rather enjoyed Stop the Planet of the Apes. I Want to Get Off! from The Simpson’s. I’m not certain if The Simpson’s can be considered a musical or not, but they’ve delivered many, many, many sharp and witty songs to the American Zeitgeist.

Speaking of Jesus Christ Superstar: it’s one of the very few “rock operas” I’m aware of that - IMU&PO - manages to convey a narrative via music and lyrics (versus being a collection of songs that - if you read the liner notes - purports to tell a story). Another is the not particularly well-known Queensryche album Operation: Mindcrime. Frank Zappa’s Joe’s Garage starts out strong despite the dependence on liner notes - but fizzles when Joe goes to prison for plooking Sy Borg.

——
*not including the recent piece of crap from Radiohead.
posted by doctor tough love at 7:51 PM on June 28 [6 favorites]


I rather enjoyed Stop the Planet of the Apes. I Want to Get Off!

I hate every ape I see, from chimpan-A to chimpanzee...

I can’t tell you how genius I think that line is.

eirias, the book is called Good Scripts, Bad Scripts. It’s kind of an instructional breakdown of various movie screenplays to analyze why some worked and some didn’t. It makes for fun reading if you’re into that sort of thing, and the chapter on Singin’ in the Rain is one of the most interesting ones.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 7:59 PM on June 28 [4 favorites]


Work Hard or Die Trying, Girl should actually be a mashup of Working Girl, Die Hard, and the 50 Cent vehicle Get Rich Or Die Trying.
posted by bleep at 8:51 PM on June 28 [1 favorite]


I grew up in rural Australia so there was no chance of me going to see live productions, so my favourites are all movies. Kiss Me Kate had so many good songs, but Brush Up Your Shakespeare tends to get trotted out fairly regularly. I also enjoyed Paint Your Wagon, mostly for the non-musical scenes (stealing the whores ladies of negotiable affection, eventual destruction of the town) but Clint Eastwood crooning is actually kinda fun.

I've never ever made it all the way through Sound of Music, but I'm going to place Victor/Victoria (even though it's not a musical per se) as its polar opposite as it's an excellent counter to Julie Andrews saccharine role as Maria. There. I've said it. Y'all can hate me as much as you like - this is a hill I'm ready to die on.
posted by ninazer0 at 9:24 PM on June 28 [1 favorite]


Oh god I love musicals so much. My very favorites are:
Ragtime (saw a production of it in Seattle a couple years ago and just cried my eyes out. My ultimate role that I would love to play is Emma Goldman: "Poor young rich boy/ masturbates to a vaudeville tart/ what a waste of a fiery heart!")
The Last Five Years (endlessly relistenable, endlessly heartbreaking, so much fun to just belt with all your might. "Perfectly balanced/ and then I start making conscious deliberate mistakes.")
Into the Woods (the greatest story ever told about parents & their legacies. "We disappoint, we disappear/ we die but we don't - we disappoint in turn I fear/ forget though, we won't.")

I also love all the classics and grew up on Rodgers & Hammerstein. In high school in the 90s, of course it was Rent. I was very lucky to have been able to see it just after they win all the Tonys, with almost the entire original cast, & when I got to meet Anthony Rapp afterward, I burst into violent tears and he held me for a bit, patting my back and saying, "I know, sweetie, I know. It's okay." One of the loveliest people I've ever met.

My very favorite musical however, that I come back to over and over like coming home, is Merrily We Roll Along by Sondheim. I think about this musical all the time. I think about the music and how perfect and precise it is, and the lyrics and how dark and funny and cutting they are, and the relationships between the characters and their motivations. If you haven't heard Merrily, or seen it, I know there is a recording of it that's excellent that I went to see in the movie theatre a few years ago.

It’s called, what’s your choice?
It’s called, count to ten
It’s called, burn your bridges
Start again
You should burn them every now and then
Or you’ll never grow!

Because now you grow
That’s the killer is
Now you grow

posted by fairlynearlyready at 9:30 PM on June 28 [2 favorites]


At age 11, I saw a production of "Carousel" in a Catholic School gym in a small Michigan town, and it was the purest example of love at first sight.
In school I participated in "South Pacific" & "My Fair Lady," among others, and those remain high on my list.
A few years later, my parents took me on a rare trip out of state, to NYC, where I saw the OBC of "A Little Night Music," and that was the start of a long Sondheim obsession. Then came "A Chorus Line, " and some Kander and Ebb stuff.
As with pop music and "Saturday Night Live," the musicals you hear/see in your teens/20s imprint on you the most, so those "Golden Age" to early 80s shows are still my faves. (Say through "Sweeney" and "Dreamgirls.)
But many others since have touched me too. (I'm very moved by "Next to Normal," but don't feel the desire to listen to the score all the time.)
Btw I saw Hugh Jackman in concert this week, and it was great to get a taste of "The Boy from Oz" in person. Over several years, I've been responsible for about 290 YouTube views of him performing "I Go to Rio" on Broadway.
posted by NorthernLite at 9:31 PM on June 28 [1 favorite]


Because I'm super basic and love Into the Woods, I just bought myself tickets to go see the production at the Hollywood Bowl in LA at the end of July. I'm so excited! Sutton Foster as the Baker's Wife!
posted by purpleclover at 9:34 PM on June 28 [2 favorites]


Almost every day I think about the Kafka musical from Home Movies.

I used to love classic musicals but most are so full of sexist garbage that they're harder to watch even if I still like the songs.

Really want to see Fun Home, though!
posted by emjaybee at 10:57 PM on June 28 [1 favorite]


ok tbh I'm also super basic, I just watched 22 Musicals In 12 Minutes w/ Lin Manuel Miranda & Emily Blunt and got stoked to hear a bunch of the snippets they cover. The Into the Woods bit was cute! Maybe I might watch the movie after all.

On preview:

> I used to love classic musicals but most are so full of sexist garbage that they're harder to watch even if I still like the songs.

Yeaaaaah there's not a whole lot of musicals I'd want to watch for the plot (or most of the lyrics, really), but sometimes the songs are still melodically to my liking.

I really want to see Fun Home too! Just saw this number from the Tony Awards and it got to me. Gosh. This little lesbian! Sydney Lucas(?) really knocks it out of the park as Small Alison here. "Your swagger, and your bearing..."
posted by rather be jorting at 11:01 PM on June 28 [5 favorites]


> I've never ever made it all the way through Sound of Music, but I'm going to place Victor/Victoria (even though it's not a musical per se) as its polar opposite as it's an excellent counter to Julie Andrews saccharine role as Maria.

Did you get to the part in The Sound of Music where Captain von Trapp flat out rips a Nazi flag in half? I guess it'd be cooler if Maria did so, but I wanted to bring it up because it's but a small sample of how the latter portion of TSOM has a distinctly un-saccharine mood...

Now I'm nostalgic for Victor/Victoria - time to refresh my memory with some clips!
posted by rather be jorting at 11:31 PM on June 28


The closest thing to musicals for me would be the operatic Looney Tunes cartoons. Then my sister brought back a VHS from college of Lauri Anderson's Home of the Brave which is probably still the closest thing to a musical that I know all the words to. Then there was the of course The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I don't think I've really gotten into musicals much more than that that don't just become albums that happen to have a movie.
posted by zengargoyle at 12:40 AM on June 29


In college I took a costume design course and ended up doing a series of bunraku inspired designs for it - that's Japanese shadow puppet theater.

I got to operate a bunch of Japanese shadow puppets in a production of The Mikado once. Great fun, and I still put "puppeteer" under "special skills" on my theater resume.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 3:32 AM on June 29 [3 favorites]


Umbrellas of Cherbourg
I know almost nothing about shows or show tunes or any of the rest of it. Umbrellas of Cherbourg was playing at The Paramount downtown Austin, a really fun theater, and this buddy of mine says we've got to go and I'm thinking "Oh goddamn, this is so gonna suck." but I trust my friend so what the hell. And I loved hell out of that movie. So, so beautiful, so bright, so colorful.

Singing In The Rain
So. much. fun. My god. Did you know that Kelly was sick as a dog on the day that he did that Singing In The Rain cut? Great movie from end to end. What spectacular human beings they were.

Dancer in the Dark
Björk. Catherine Deneuve. A movie put together by Lars von Trier. Are you kidding me? Where do I sign up?

One of the most outstanding performances of any actor/actress that I have ever seen. Ever. Björk just about broke herself into a million pieces, she gave everything that she had to that role, to that movie, she gave everything she had and then gave more, and then more still.

Watch the movie before you read about Björk and von Trier on Wikipedia, because then you'll see even more what a fantastic artist she is, and what she gave of herself to give us that movie.

A favorite movie. I can't recommend it highly enough. I love it. And I love Björk.
posted by dancestoblue at 4:19 AM on June 29 [4 favorites]


Little Shop of Horrors and Jesus Christ Superstar. I'm not cool and that's OK.
posted by schroedinger at 6:01 AM on June 29 [4 favorites]


Fave new musical: Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812. I love it so much and will wait forever for a sequel.

Fave old musical: My Fair Lady. All of the criticism of Henry/Eliza (from GB Shaw, my English teacher, everyone ever) has been noted and is valid and correct; however, the music wants them to be together and so do I.

(I was talking to someone who was unhappy with the ending of the LCT production, and I made them even unhappier by saying that Henry probably takes his broken heart and enlists like Saki did and with similar results. If directors really wanted to go dark, they'd lean in to the fact that it's set in 1913.)

I love everything Sondheim, but I can also sing Phantom and Les Mis all the way through and have done so in the past (slow afternoon at work).
posted by betweenthebars at 7:17 AM on June 29


I can also sing Phantom and Les Mis all the way through

My high school friends and I would spend maybe one evening every week or so singing along to the Les Misérables cast album. (Usually The Complete Symphonic version, because it had the most material on it.) We each had our own main roles that we did every time, jumping in and out on bit parts and chorus as needed. I was Javert, Cosette, and Mme. Thenardier.

A year or so ago, a friend asked me to sing "Master of the House" with him in a cabaret. We did it in costume and acted the hell out of it. I felt like I'd had years of preparation, and the audience was clapping along on the choruses and loving it. Great memory
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:39 AM on June 29 [3 favorites]


Cabaret and The Rocky Horror Show (stage and film). Still salty I never got to see Alan Cumming as the Emcee, but I love Joel Grey too. I also love The King and I.

I saw Showboat in NYC in 1995, and it was fun, but not a show I’d have chosen. Of course, as a teenager, I read The New Yorker when it showed up in the mail and imagined myself as a cosmopolitan young adult living in an apartment in the city and attending shows after getting home from my imaginary adult job.

I’ve worked on Peter Pan twice, was a random “dancer” in The Boyfriend, and had some friends who were in various musicals as teenagers (Guys and Dolls, Damn Yankees, 42nd Street, etc.)

Musicals are fun, and I probably have an embarrassing amount of showtunes for the person most people think I am.
posted by sara is disenchanted at 7:55 AM on June 29 [1 favorite]


Most of the musicals I knew about growing up were from cast albums/soundtracks my mom had.
I've actually seen few of them from start to finish. And the few I've seen live were Broadhollow Theater productions when I was a kid in the early 80s, when they still on Broad Hollow Road near the Suffolk Nassau border.
You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown (cast album with Burghoff and Balaban and Rose; BT production) - My brain will refer to "sup-sup-suppertime" or "a book report on Peter Rabbit" a few times a year. And when I procrastinate, Charlie Brown's excuse chain of "not really rested" plays in my skull.
Godspell (cast album, BT production) - "All for the Best" and "Alas for You" and "Turn Back O Man". Usually when I get infuriated by political hypocrites, I will sing "Alas for You" around the house to vent some of the poison, but then immediately follow it up with "Turn Back O Man" (trying to channel my friend Charlene who was Sonia in a production I never saw, when we were in our early twenties).
Music Man (Preston and Jones film version) - one of those movies I encountered on TV by accident in my teens that immediately hooked me. I did commit the "Trouble" speech to memory after I borrowed the local public library's soundtrack album.
Singing in the Rain - another movie that hooked me when I blundered into it one night flipping around the broadcast TV dial in my teens. I mutter "Dignity. Always dignity" when I screw up.

Can we count Hudson Hawk as a musical? Because after hating it the first time I saw it, and liking it better on rewatch, (and eventually getting the soundtrack as a birthday present) I have to state that the Willis/Aiello version of "Swinging on a Star" cheers me up. And the ending credits have Dr. John singing the "old-style-recap-the-film-in-a-closing-theme" number .
posted by Mutant Lobsters from Riverhead at 11:38 AM on June 29 [1 favorite]


I worked in productions of The Threepenny Opera, and Stop the World, I Want to Get Off, I saw Patty Lupone in Evita, on Broadway. I have on vinyl, my mom's recording of the original cast production, Porgy and Bess. I love this album. I find it on YouTube and suddenly I am home again. My dad was an Okie, so Oklahoma is pretty much committed to memory.
posted by Oyéah at 11:39 AM on June 29


Rocky Horror - this was such a big deal for me as a young queer person.

Hairspray - while I try to be careful about which John Waters movies I watch after somehow making it through Pink Flamingos, Hairspray is just fun.

True Stories - I honestly don’t know why this isn’t more popular, given that it’s John Goodman and the Talking Heads. Well, mostly David Byrne since the band was breaking up around that time, but it’s a fun movie.

Rock ’n’ Roll High School - this is so much ridiculous fun and it would never get made now, a movie about two girls like this where one is the smartest kid at school and the other is the biggest troublemaker. Dee Dee Ramone playing bass in the shower is delightful.
posted by bile and syntax at 11:57 AM on June 29 [3 favorites]


I'm a lifelong fan of musicals, starting from the time my parents made the questionable choice to play the original cast recording of Chicago repeatedly for my little brother and I. (A toddler with angelic blond curls running around singing "We Both Reached for the Gun" is something, let me tell you). Growing up in the outer suburbs of New York, I was incredibly fortunate to see a bunch of broadway shows as an older child and teenager, many with original casts. (Matthew Broderick in The Producers is one that stands out). Spent high school obsessed with Rent, which was my gateway drug to exploring New York in more depth and to more meaningful HIV/AIDS activism.

But today I'm not here to talk about any of those in more depth. I am here to talk about my newest musical love, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

For those unfamiliar, it's a TV show whose primary purpose is to skewer the tropes of rom-coms and expose the depths of creepiness and misogyny at their core. It's also a musical that takes delight in riffing on a multitude of songs and genres, from Rogers and Hammerstein style numbers to Uptown Funk to Simon and Garfunkel. All the leads are superb, it speaks truths about mental health that I have never heard in a TV show ever, the songwriting is so clever. Plus I learned about it from an AskMe I wrote asking for TV suggestions, so I'm happy to pay it forward here whenever I can!

Here's a good cross-section of songs that don't require in-depth knowledge of the plot to appreciate:

The Sexy Getting Ready Song
I Love My Daughter (But Not in a Creepy Way)
Don't be a Lawyer
Gettin' Bi
Buttload of Cats
posted by ActionPopulated at 1:07 PM on June 29 [7 favorites]


I want there to be a musical based on the works of Weird Al Yankovic.

Our protagonist, Kevin, is a problem child, "Young, Dumb and Ugly." In an attempt to get him away from bad influences, his parents take him on a summer road trip "Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota". Enamored with the rustic rural life, he convinces his parents to let him stay with a traditionalist community "Amish Paradise".

A year of living with the Amish do Kevin some good, but he realizes that a life without modern technology is not for him "White and Nerdy". He returns to live with his parents to complete high school, attend college, and begin a career in high technology "It's All About the Pentiums".

Kevin joins an early stage internet marketplace company "eBay". He soon becomes extremely wealthy, and can indulge in luxuries like he never could before "Kevin's 2000 Inch TV". He meets a woman on an airline flight to a tech conference, and they marry "Airline Amy". He has everything anyone could want "This is the Life".

But he does still have problems "First World Problems". At his golf club, he encounters an annoying neurologist "Like a Surgeon". Frustrated by his constant defeats at golf, he uses his wealth to arrange for them to both be on a popular TV game show, where Kevin is defeated "I Lost on Jeopardy".

He discovers that his wife has an unsavory hobby that she had been keeping hidden from him "She Never Told Me She Was a Mime". They divorce, and she is awarded substantial spousal support in an acrimonious divorce "Alimony". His business suffers, and he runs behind on his payments "The Check's in the Mail". Kevin is forced to sell his expensive cars and his most prized possession "Kevin's 2000 Inch TV (sad version)". He must rely on public transportation "Another one Rides the Bus".

Kevin realizes that his high stress lifestyle isn't bringing him pleasure "Tacky". He pines for the year he spent in his childhood caring for poultry "I Want a New Duck." He decides to do something that most people would consider foolhardy "Dare to be Stupid". He returns to live with the Amish "Amish Paradise (redux/finale)".
posted by cruelfood at 1:21 PM on June 29 [8 favorites]


Pippin. Grew up with the original cast album on my parents' stereo and know every word to every song. Good times. And Ben Vereen!!
posted by sundrop at 2:04 PM on June 29 [1 favorite]


Favorite musicals are Pippin, Into the Woods, Hamilton, and Les Miserables. I've got a soft spot for Godspell because I listened to that soundtrack a LOT on cassette when I was younger. I have a different soft spot for Company because I saw the PBS special on the making of the cast album before I ever saw the show. I'm fond of the John Doyle production. I saw a production a couple of years ago and had forgotten just how preachy it was. I still enjoy the songs, though. I love "A Little Priest" from Sweeney Todd and "Raise You Up" from Kinky Boots. I live within an hour-ish of Broadway, and my parents took my sister and me to musicals as kids. I remember seeing Annie, Peter Pan, The Magic Show, and Barnum. I saw Phantom some years later, and The Producers and Book of Mormon as an adult. I loved Rent, but never saw it on Broadway, just a community theater production and the soundtrack on repeat. It's been ages since I've actually been to a show on Broadway - too expensive, and the seats aren't built for a tall fat person. If I had gone the last several years, I would have seen Spamalot, [title of show], Fun Home, In the Heights, 9 to 5, Shrek, Once, Something Rotten!, A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder, the Pippin revival, Kinky Boots, Come From Away, and Wicked. These days I go see my friend's talented kids perform in their high school shows (great performances! surprisingly professional sets and a/v!) and listen to the Broadway channel on satellite radio.
posted by booksherpa at 2:14 PM on June 29 [1 favorite]


In addition:

Musicals are an odd form - they are based on set pieces strung together with plot. Other examples I can think of are kung fu movies, vintage pornography and old style special effects movies (like George Pal or Ray Harryhausen), and it's worth noting that neither of those last two genres exist any more - porn doesn't have a plot, and the effects are just shot through movies like a seaside resort's name through a stick of rock.

Went to see True Stories at the cinema recently - the versions of the songs in the movie are wonderful (finally released last year), especially Dream Operator and Papa Legba.

And in a recent Ask I mentioned Phantom of the Paradise which is another of my favourite things.

I also like things that are fairly off the wall but which you can unexpectedly conclude a description of with "... and it's a musical". The most prominent examples being The Wicker Man and Gravity's Rainbow.
posted by Grangousier at 4:04 PM on June 29


When I do make it to New York City, I tend to prefer Off-Broadway to modern Broadway shows. I don't know, the old creativity doesn't seem to be there that much anymore (so many new shows are based on movies), and ticket prices are often out of my range. I guess OB's just more my style. I adored the 2006 revival of Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, and I really enjoyed Danny and Sylvia. Even The Drowsy Chaperone started Off-Broadway. Really wanted to see the revival of the Marx Brothers' I'll Say She Is, but didn't have the money at the right time.

(Saw The Phantom of the Opera and Les Misérables in Toronto way back in the day.)
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:48 PM on June 29 [1 favorite]


1776 and Chess both came into my life in college at a time when I felt like I had seen and heard every musical there'd ever been, and while all the musicals from Guys & Dolls to Oklahoma to Fiddler still pleased me in the abstract, and if the filmed versions came on TV, I'd watch them, my interest lagged. But thirty+ years later, I never, ever tire of 1776 or Chess, and until Lin-Manuel Miranda came along I figured I'd never truly love another musical. (I like In the Heights well enough, but Hamilton, of course, is something different. It's like a new life form. And it came to me at a very specific point in my life when I needed it like one needs air. So, there you go.

That said, cruelfood is spot on about us needing a Weird Al Yancovic musical.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 12:14 AM on June 30 [1 favorite]


Despite my FPPs, musicals mostly unsettle me, because of summer stock. When I was 19 and 20, my summers were spent in company housing, being paid pennies, doing 8 shows a week plus changeovers. I learned a lot about electrics and sexual harassment. I know every note of Will Rogers Follies, much to my chagrin (did it both years). Damn Yankees was at least fun to watch. The gunshot in West Side Story is really hard to time when you're playing it on DAT (it was 1995!).

Despite this, I still love Chorus Line, and have come around to The Last Five Years. And the Buffy musical, because I had occasion to play Tara in it, and the duet with Giles is one of my favourite things I've EVER sung, and that's saying an awful lot.
posted by wellred at 6:47 AM on June 30


I've never really put a lot of attention into musicals, though I've been around them and my brother is a huge musical theater nerd. So I have this sort of glancing history with stage musicals, this or that bit of something that hooked into me. Like getting chills as a grade schooler from my oldest sister singing the hell out of Rock of Rages in a high school performance of Leader of the Pack. Or the weird bad mess of a scifi farce my high school put on when I was working sound crew (having figured out in the first couple years of high school that acting wasn't really my thing), running light and sound cues while the absolute cheapness of the script folks were working with played out.

But man I do know just about every word of The Little Mermaid by heart from childhood oversaturation—we did a lot of babysitting and there was a lot of Disney and you just couldn't get away from that being in the VCR over and over and over again. It's a credit to how solid the book and music were for that that I don't really resent it even today.

And, hey, Hedwig! Christ I love that film. Never saw it live but the soundtrack from the film is burrowed deep in my head. I did a shaky iphone 4-track take on Wicked Little Town, years ago, which manages somehow in its ramshackleness to capture a lot of the mix of sweetness and desperation and bald emotion that makes the film so effective to me.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:18 PM on June 30 [1 favorite]


Personal particular soft spots for The Light Princess, and Groundhog Day.

Among the better known ones probably Book of Mormon though.
posted by edd at 3:26 PM on June 30


I'm in the middle of watching Pose's first season on Netflix and Billy Porter has such a terrific voice!

At this year's Tonys commercial break(?!!!), he did a live cover of "Everything's Coming Up Roses" from Gypsy, and it's phenomenal and hammy and everything I want from a Broadwayyyyy number.

Gotta check out his Kinky Boots songs soon!
posted by rather be jorting at 12:35 PM on July 1


I fell in love with the Sunset Boulevard (Los Angeles) cast album with Patti Lupone when it came out, and would have loved to see it in its original Broadway run with Glenn Close, but I was a broke grad student at the time. So when the 2017 limited-run revival with Close was announced, and I was a decidedly not-broke professional, I had to go see it. And I'm so glad I did. Glenn Close was transcendent, everything I'd hoped for and more.

Other favorites: Les Miz, Little Shop of Horrors, Evita, Come from Away, West Side Story. I've had "Maybe" from Annie as an on-and-off earworm for the past month or so, and that's not at all a bad on-and-off earworm to have.

I rather enjoyed Stop the Planet of the Apes. I Want to Get Off! from The Simpson’s.

I tend to favor Oh, Streetcar! as a Simpsons musical.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:57 AM on July 2


I don't have as much actual exposure to musicals as some here, but I love Les Miserables with all of my bones. I also love Annie and The Wiz. And Wicked. (Is that one too cheesy or can people still love it? I do.)
posted by heathergirl at 1:12 PM on July 2


I haven't heard/seen Wicked beyond "Defying Gravity," but my impression is that it was a massive pop culture phenomenon in general when it first became big (mid-00's?), not cheesy in the least. (But I like cheesy and extra in my entertainment, so perhaps my view is skewed, haha.) In any case, I'm still fond of the signature song. I love the part of "Defying Gravity" where Idina Menzel's Elphaba is BELTING out "bringgggg me downnnnn" as she ascends upwards, while the citizens of Oz exclaim, "look at her, she's wicked!" but their voices don't have nearly the power of Elphaba's baller vocal chords. Such a monumental tune, love it.
posted by rather be jorting at 1:31 PM on July 2 [2 favorites]


Out of curiosity, I googled around and just found this Vulture retrospective on Defying Gravity's legacy as a showstopper and iconic touchstone of sorts. This whole paragraph I found especially fascinating:
So over the years, the song has cemented itself in our most earnest and humiliating spheres of popular culture, thanks to Idina Menzel’s pneumatic lungs and the powerhouse performances of the divas that followed — and also thanks to everyone else who couldn’t match them but tried their very best. And inevitably, along the way Wicked, and specifically “Defying Gravity,” became funny. The show, still doing well in theaters, is a useful reference for Broadway Über-schmaltz, referenced in everything from The Simpsons to Ugly Betty. Winston sang along to it in the car with tears streaming down his face in New Girl. My favorite riff on its legacy probably comes from Reductress, which, in the summer of 2017, published an excellent post titled “10 Hot Summer Songs That Are All ‘Defying Gravity’ From Wicked.” It’s the kind of song you might be embarrassed to love, but love anyway; the kind of thing you should grow out of but never do, like enjoying boy bands or believing in love. Not that embarrassment is going to bring you down.
posted by rather be jorting at 1:42 PM on July 2


I rather enjoyed Stop the Planet of the Apes. I Want to Get Off! from The Simpson’s.

I tend to favor Oh, Streetcar! as a Simpsons musical.


No love for Checkin' In?
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:45 PM on July 2


When I grow up, I want to be in the Betty Ford Center!
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 1:53 PM on July 2 [1 favorite]


(Dr. Zaius, Dr. Zaius!)
posted by rather be jorting at 1:58 PM on July 2 [1 favorite]


Thumbs up: Come From Away — I saw this in a theatre full of Americans & was pleased that it showed a slice of poignant & funny Canadiana to them that most had probably never heard of. Good job by the creators. I wish they‘d spent just a few more lines on the Muslim guy, but other than that...

Thumbs down: A Little Night Music — Musically, I understand Sondheim worship. Lyrically, this one has marital-rape-contemplation lines (in “Now”) that are not just outdated, but actively damaging to all the survivors I’ve asked to weigh in, to double-check my initial reaction. Behind the scenes, I’ve called out one company for refusing to at least put a content note in the program. I’m in the process of telling a different company about how a content note, at minimum, would be an up to date practice, and considerate. Anybody with Berkeley ties who’s on the same page with me about this, feel free to MeMail me.

Thumbs up: a song called “Pass The Aggressive”by Rona Siddiqui and Christopher Staskel, at ContemporaryMusicalTheatre.com. This site has tons of new, interesting music theatre songs, & blogs about the state of the industry & gives tips for composers. Can’t link cuz I’m on my phone, sorry.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 8:21 AM on July 3 [1 favorite]


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