Musical Theater – My Faves

The AWESOME! page has random music stuff that I think is cool. You never know what you will find here!

I love musical theater, and I’ve been fortunate to see many stage performances of great musicals – by my count, I’ve seen 35 different shows on stage. The first show I saw was Jesus Christ Superstar at Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., in 1972 or 1973 (can’t remember which year). Next was Pippin in 1976, and I was hooked.

Here are my five favorite musical theater shows. These are not necessarily my favorite cast recordings – rather, this takes into account the story and the staging of the shows themselves. Of course, it helps that the music is fabulous also.

5. Starlight Express – the only show I’ve seen on Broadway, I saw the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Richard Stilgoe musical in 1987. As Webber musicals go, this one is rather obscure. It tells the story of a steam engine train who races against modern trains in an attempt to win the heart of a first-class carriage car. It makes my list because the entire performance is done on roller skates. That’s not something you see everyday!

4. The Producers – the theater adaptation of the Mel Brooks movie released in 1967, it won 12 Tony Awards in 2001. Many of the numbers are over the top spectacles, and everything is absolutely hilarious. All music and lyrics are by Brooks.

3. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat – the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice musical about the story of Joseph in the Book of Genesis has been done thousands of times by high schools all over the world, but I was fortunate to see Donny Osmond in the role of Joseph in 1993, a revival of the original 1982 Broadway show. A total feel-good experience.

2. The Lion King – Disney’s adaptation of the film of the same name, its brilliance comes from its costuming and choreography – along with the music by Elton John and lyrics by Tim Rice. The show I saw was during its premiere in Minneapolis in 1997 before it went to Broadway later that year. It became the third longest-running show of all time on Broadway.

1. Phantom of the Opera – for me, easily the most spectacular theater I’ve ever seen. I’ve seen it performed four times on stage. The story, the singing, the magic, the costumes, the crashing of the chandelier, the music – all breathtaking. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s biggest success, it is the longest running show ever on Broadway (it still is running at the Majestic Theater, with well over 13,000 performances on Broadway) and it is the third longest running show in London’s West End theater district (also well over 13,000 performances). Webber composed the music, with lyrics by Charles Hart.

Here’s a clip of the title number from Phantom, where the evil one takes Christine down to his subterranean lair. WOW!! How does Christine hit that high note?!



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