Tuesday, July 30, 2019

300 Shows: Favorite Original Musicals (Part 2)

As I said last week, one of the greatest pleasures in life for a theater fan is sitting down in a Broadway house excited to see a brand new musical. I've seen hundreds in the past 36 or so years, and that thrill never goes away. What a perfect way to conclude this series!

Thanks for the great response to this series of articles! I appreciate your time, comments and shared stories. And for those of you who asked, my 301st Broadway show was Moulin Rouge!, 302nd was Dear Evan Hansen, and 303rd was Beetlejuice. I'm already 1% into my next 300!

So, without further ado, here are the last 10 of my favorite original musicals in New York Times alphabetical order (the first 10 are HERE).

300 Shows:
Favorite Original Musicals
Part 2

Once (2012)
This quiet little gem had me laughing and all out sobbing. Clever and smart, the book was solid, and the score sublime. Just the other day, I heard "Falling Slowly," and all those feelings came rushing back. What a wonderful rush. Broadway needs more of this. Please.

Side Show (1997)
I can't fully describe just how much I loved this show. But I did. I love that it was both aiming to be a crowd-pleaser and something a little deeper, and I really loved that it was so stylized, and required the audience to engage for the complete experience.

Spring Awakening (2006)
Seeing this show off-Broadway, I just knew it was going to be big. Before the cast became famous, before the acclaim and awards, everyone in the room knew. Truth is, I was a little worried that it wouldn't survive in the bigger world of Broadway. But that concern was for naught. It was just as great, if not better.

Sunset Boulevard (1994)
I might have mentioned this a time or three, but this was the only show I ever saw the matinee, got in line for tickets and saw it again that night. the grand music, the fabulously intriguing and campy story... the mansion, floating down as if from heaven. And the songs, "As If We Never Said Goodbye" (of course), but I also love me some "Let's Have Lunch" and "Every Movie's a Circus."

The Band's Visit (2017)
Quiet and small, but so humanity-verifying. Just what I needed. People just living their lives can be so profound. I found it to be just about perfect. My only real disappointment is that I only got to see it three times. "Welcome to Nowhere" makes me smile, "Papi Hears the Ocean/Haled's Song About Love" makes me laugh, and "Answer Me" just makes me feel alive.

The Full Monty (2000)
I'd be lying if I didn't admit that the prospect of seeing the full monty is what got me in the door. But I left with an appreciation for a new composing talent and a new favorite musical. Charming, heartfelt, and, dare I say it, masculine - in all the right ways. Bonus: Andre DeShields, Jason Danieley, Emily Skinner and Annie Golden!

The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1985)
I have a long history with this show, but that's for another time. The reason this is on the list is simple: I love every single thing about it. Funny, clever, creepy, engaging. Not a bad song in the bunch (even the cut songs are superlative - anyone have a recording of "A Private Investigation" by any chance?). What was so cool was the voting. Remember, this was way before Survivor, American Idol, etc., where choosing a favorite after paying really close attention to the details was unheard of back then.

The Scottsboro Boys (2010)
I can't fully express how grateful I am that I had the chance to witness this brilliant piece of art. Truly, one of the greatest musicals I have ever seen. I look forward to the time when this piece gets its due. If you missed this show, you really missed something special.

The Will Rogers Follies (1991)
On the other end of the spectrum is this splashy, opulent Broadway musical was full of thrilling production numbers, dazzling costumes, great characters and a fantastic old-school score. The production team was full of masters at the top of their game. This is one of those "they don't make 'em like this anymore" shows that I really miss.

Titanic (1997)
I was there during previews - I missed the shows where the boat didn't sink, but I was there when people walked out in droves - but I loved it from the start. Even before Rosie O'Donnell made it cool to love it. The score was a stunner, the script was gripping (despite knowing how it would end!), and the boat sinking was super cool. But here's what I remember vividly: the moment during a tense argument over whether or not first- and second-class passengers should be allowed to mix by the staircase when a drink cart, slowly rolled across the stage. Talk about a reality check.


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