This will be my final post of the "Celebrate Musicals Week". It's a big multi-musical fandom post. Basically I'm going to put up one or two or even three videos from each of my favourite musicals today. And yes this will be a LOOOONG post so sit back, click on whatever you want, and enjoy! *Grins* But just to warn any younger readers who might be interested in investigating these musicals further, most of the musicals that I love can't really be described as family-friendly. I'd say that only My Fair Lady, Beauty and the Beast and possibly The Lord of the Rings are really suitable for kids.
1. LES MISERABLES I love many musicals but Les Mis is my absolute number one favourite. Why? Because it has wonderful characters and incredibly beautiful songs and its story is heartbreakingly sad and yet incredibly uplifting and inspiring at the same time. I passionately love both the stage version and the film (and Victor Hugo's book of course)! The last time I got to see the musical live was in November last year. I saw Geronimo Rauch as Valjean, Tam Mutu as Javert and Sierra Boggess as Fantine. It was amazing! They were all so fantastic! :D Danielle Hope's Eponine was really good as well which surprised me. For my Les Mis videos I thought I'd show a couple of YouTube videos of that cast. I also want to include a video of David Thaxton's Enjolras because he's one of my favourites. Tragically I never got to see him live because I wasn't a fan then but I love all of the videos that I've seen/heard of him. Thaxton was so dedicated to the role that he actually read the book twice as preparation for the role and dyed his hair blonde. He would also leap off the barricade night after night and his high note in his video is amazing. No one hits that "is FREEEEE" like him : D And the video has also got Killian Donnelly as the Army Officer.
Bring Him Home
2. PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER VERSION) ALW's Phantom is my second favourite musical of all time (only the stage version, not the movie!) The music is absolutely beautiful, it's a visual feast for the eyes, the story is heartbreaking and beautiful, and the Phantom is one of the greatest anti-heroes ever. I've seen the show live three times and I absolutely love the 25th anniversary concert. I'm showing Sierra Boggess's WYWSHA which is now my absolute favourite version of that song. I've heard some really great versions of this song but I've never heard anyone sing it with as much passion and feeling as Sierra Boggess put into it. Also my absolute favourite musical moment in Phantom is the solo violin that plays at the very beginning of the song. It gives me chills.
Wishing You Were Somehow Again
3. PHANTOM (YESTON AND KOPIT VERSION) This is another musical adaptation of Gaston Leroux's book. Yeston and Kopit were working on it in America at around the same time that ALW was working on his Phantom musical in Britain - but ALW finished his musical first. All of the Y&K musical's big financial backers then backed out of the project when they found out that the ALW Phantom musical had become such a big hit. The Y&K musical was over. However they then decided to turn their musical into a TV miniseries and took out all of the songs. This became the much-loved Phantom of the Opera (1990) adaptation. This miniseries made Y&K enough money for them to eventually bring out their musical. The Y&K musical has never been performed on Broadway but it's had some successful regional productions in the US and has had some big-names star in it. Richard White (Gaston from Beauty and the Beast) originated the role of the Phantom and Kristin Chenoweth and Laura Benanti have both played Christine in it. The musical has also had a very successful run in Japan. The Y&K musical is a much looser adaptation of the book than the ALW musical and I often feel that I should dislike it because of that - but I just can't! The music is just so beautiful, and the story still so touching, that I just can't help but love it! This musical is criminally obscure and I think all Phantom fans should listen to it.
You Are Music
4. ELISABETH I've gone on about Elisabeth enough times this week. Do you really need me to tell you why I love this musical so much? :D But this post will tell you why. Anyway, I've putting up two songs from the show here. Unfortunately none of these particular videos have English subtitles so if you don't speak German you won't understand the lyrics. But hopefully you'll still be able to enjoy the music and singing.
Wenn Ich Tanzen Will ("When I Want to Dance") - This is a duet between Elisabeth and Der Tod. Elisabeth insists that she doesn't need Der Tod but he insists otherwise. I'm not much of a fan of Uwe Kroger's Tod but I love Pia.
Milch ("Milk") - This song is a bit like the At the End of the Day song from Les Mis. It's got a bunch of poor people complaining about the lack of milk that's available. Luigi Lucheni then riles the crowd up by announcing that Elisabeth bathes in the stuff as part of her beauty regime.
5. WICKED I love Wicked! It will always have a special place in my heart because it's the musical that made me a fan of musicals : ) The songs are fantastic, the story is very moving and it's visually spectacular. I've seen it live twice and I really want the show to be recorded live on DVD, similar to what they did with the 25th anniversary concerts of Les Mis and POTO. This version of No Good Deed is sung by Eden Espinosa and it's an incredible performance, both in terms of acting and singing. And that "Fiyero" riff that she does is unbelievably powerful!
No Good Deed
6. MY FAIR LADY This is my favourite golden oldie classic musical. I love the film so much! It's got fantastic songs and it's just so charming and witty and funny! And it's got Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Doolittle! I know the fact that they didn't get Julie Andrews to star in the film is still controversial to this day but honestly I love Hepburn's performance so much that I really don't care. On the Street Where You Live is my favourite song from the musical. I remember being really upset when I found out that Jeremy Brett was actually dubbed for this song but I still think he acts this scene really well.
On the Street Where You Live
7. BEAUTY AND THE BEAST This is my favourite Disney film and I would LOVE to see the stage version of this some day. I don't love the added songs to the show as much as the songs that were in the film but they're still really good and If I Can't Love Her is beautiful.
If I Can't Love Her
8. LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS Before Alan Menken and Howard Ashman would go on to write all those amazing songs for The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin, they wrote a musical about a homicidal alien plant intent on world domination : D This musical is so funny and sooo much fun! And it's got cameos from Bill Murray and John Candy! And it's got Steve Martin as a psychopathic dentist! What's not to love?! Apparently there's a planned remake of the musical in the works and Joseph Gordon Levitt really wants to play Seymour. As much as I love JGL I'm not keen on the idea.
Little Shop of Horrors
9. SWEENEY TODD My introduction to the Sweeney Todd musical was the Tim Burton film but although that film does have its moments I'm not much of a fan. But I love the stage version - even more so since I saw Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton in it! They were both incredible! The Tim Burton film hasn't got the epic and chilling choruses. It ditches the stage version's black humour. It's too focused on Sweeney's character. And it leaves out Kiss Me which is such a cute and funny song! And Sondheim's songs just sound so much better when they're being sung by people who can actually sing them you know?
Kiss Me/Ladies in Their Sensitivities
10. NOTRE DAME DE PARIS This is a French-Canadian musical and an adaptation of Victor Hugo's novel. After the huge success of Les Mis I suppose it was only going to be a matter of time before someone adapted Victor Hugo's other famous novel. NDdP was a huge hit in Quebec and Paris but unfortunately it really didn't do very well on the West End and it never got to Broadway. This is a huge shame because the songs for this show are beautiful. I'm putting the show's lack of success in the English-speaking world down to the translated English lyrics. They're awful! They're completely lacking in the heart and passion of the French lyrics. It's such a shame! Unsurprisingly the songs I've put here are in French and with English subtitles.
Tu Vas Me Detruire ("You Will Destroy Me")
11. OLIVER! I love this musical but only the stage version. I think the 1968 film is really overrated. The songs are still great of course but the tone and look of that film is nowhere near as dark and gritty as it should be given the subject matter and the Victorian east-end setting. It's far too family friendly. Also the direction is stagey, Mark Lester's Oliver is really annoying, and Nancy's character is idealised. But I got to see the latest UK tour of the musical last year and it was fantastic! It made me love the musical! The show looked gritty, it had an amazing child ensemble, it had Bill Sykes' song My Name (which is an awesome character-building song) and it had Samantha Barks as Nancy in it! And she was brilliant!
Oom Pah Pah
As Long As He Needs Me
12. LORD OF THE RINGS This musical is my most recent discovery. It came to London several years ago and I remember being very dismissive of it. I thought "That's crazy! How can they expect to turn the whole of Tolkien's book into a 3 hour show?! It took Peter Jackson 9 1/2 hours to tell the story on film!" But then I finally heard the song Lothlorien and I was completely blown away by it. It's such a beautiful song and Laura Michelle Kelly's voice is stunning. She has the voice of an angel! I've been listening to this show's cast recording a lot lately : ) Of course it's a heavily condensed adaptation but the beautiful music goes a long, long way in making up for its faults!
So there you have it, these are the musicals that I love : ) Do you share any of my favourites? If so, which ones? And have I even introduced you to some musicals that you didn't already know?