The AWESOME! page has random music stuff that I think is cool. You never know what you will find here!
I’m a lover of musical theater, and I own cast recordings of many shows. Here’s some information on the best selling musical cast recordings of all time (not film soundtracks), as well as some comments from me on my favorites.
There are 41 cast recordings that are certified gold – meaning that they have sold at least 500,000 copies in the U.S. 18 of these are certified platinum (1 million in sales) and only 9 are multi-platinum.
By far, the best selling cast recordings are for Phantom of the Opera and Les Misérables. In fact, both have multiple versions in the list. Les Misérables has 5 (!) different versions that are gold or platinum – Original Broadway Cast, Original London Cast, 10th Anniversary Concert, Symphonic Recording Highlights, and The Complete Symphonic Recording. Phantom has 2 versions – Original London Cast and Original London Cast Highlights.
Five recordings were released before 1960. The oldest is the Broadway cast recording of South Pacific, from 1949, and the highest selling oldie is the London cast recording of My Fair Lady from 1959 – this recording is #4 on the list, with sales of over 3 million copies.
Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals are well represented on the list. In addition to Phantom of the Opera, he has Cats, Evita, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and Jesus Christ Superstar on the list.
The most recent show to make the list is the original Broadway cast recording of Hamilton. It was released in September 2015, and in one year, it already was certified 2x platinum.
In many cases, these theater shows were taken to the big screen after the stage show proved to be so successful. In one case, it started as a film, and then went to the stage – the cast recording for The Lion King was released in 1997, while the film was released in 1994.
As to my favorites, not necessarily on the best selling list, it’s hard to pick a best, but here are 5 that I love to listen and sing to: Phantom of the Opera, Rent, Jesus Christ Superstar, 1776 and Spring Awakening. I’ve seen Phantom four times, and I’ve seen JC Superstar over a dozen times (thanks to multiple performances by my daughter as Mary Magdalene during her senior year of high school). I also enjoyed the television performance of Jesus Christ Superstar Live on Easter Sunday, April 1, 2018 – with John Legend in the role of Jesus, Sara Bareilles as Mary, Brandon Victor Dixon as Judas, and Alice Cooper as Herod.
How about you? What are your favorites? Send me a comment and let me know.
Here’s the signature song Rent – Seasons of Love. Wow – this is so so good!
3 thoughts on “Musical Theater Cast Recordings”
Love this post Mark. Its truly is hard to choose my favorite musical recordings too……although having recently seen “Hamilton” I’d say that’s the one I’m into right now. It is amazing innovative while still keeping with the roots of the American musical. I always go back to “the Sound of Music” and “My Fair Lady” and I can’t forget “West Side Story” too. I agree with your thoughts on “Les Miserables” and “Phantom of the Opera”, truly wonderful musicals. “Corner of the Sky” from the musical “Pippin” is one of my buried treasures, even though the musical is so-so it’s a great song.
I figured you’d go Sound of Music, with everything else a distant second. I saw Pippin at Kennedy Center when I was 16 years old – I think it was my second musical, after JC Superstar when I was 12. By my count, I have seen 33 musicals so far. We’ll have to compare notes sometime.
The great thing about being a music teacher is that I get the opportunity to expose my students to these iconic songs and musicals each year! This year – “The King and I”, “The Music Man” and “Newsies”