These are my 10 favourite musicals….in order of how much I love them. An order that changes by the second so take it with a pinch of salt. Girl power seems to be a link between them all, that was an accident, but I am here for it!
Falsettos - William Finn/James Lapine
Falsettos is currently my favourite musical. It started as the Marvin Trilogy, featuring In Trousers, March of The Falsettos and Falsettoland. The latter two were later combined to make what is now known as Falsettos. So, why is this my favourite musical you may ask? Firstly, it’s sung through, a bonus with any musical. It has gays, lesbians, and an amazing score. You will find yourself reflected on stage no matter who you are, and you truly feel like you’re living ‘A Day in Falsettoland’
2. Wonderland - Frank Wildhorn/Jack Murphy/Gregory Boyd
There are two very different versions of Wonderland. The Broadway version and the UK version. I love them both and will not pick a favourite! The songs are what draw me into Wonderland. There is such a mixture of styles, from the Caterpillar’s jazz number, to the Queen of Hearts’ numbers whose sound are pure Broadway. It has a wonderful story of finding who you are, and not just who you think you are; the UK production’s ‘This is Who I Am’ being a prime example of accepting yourself for who you are.
3. Six - Toby Marlow/Lucy Moss
Who would think a musical about Henry VIII’s ‘Ex-Wives’ would be amazing? I did. Impulse buying tickets to see it was a very good decision! There’s an all female cast. It’s an up and coming production that has played sell out shows at the Edinburgh Fringe and during its limited West End run at The Arts Theatre, London. The music is enchanting, you literally want to get up and dance during every song. The songs intertwined by the characters arguing about who’s had it worse, lends for an engrossing storyline. I wouldn’t be surprised, and I certainly hope to see it have a much longer run back in the West End in a few years time!
4. The Pirate Queen - Claude-Michel Schönberg/Alain Boublil
Based on the true story of Gráinne (Grace) O’Malley. A girl power icon from Elizabethan times. She explores her struggles and triumphs of being a ‘Woman’ in this time as well as becoming the first female pirate and Captain. As a Boublil and Schönberg musical that features revolution, there are some tones that remind you of Les Miserables throughout. Some parts of the score are kind of drab compared to the story, but it is still an amazing musical!
5. The Mystery of Edwin Drood - Rupert Holmes
Firstly, you decide how this musical ends. The murderer, the detective and the lovers are all decided by the audience. This allows for a different outcome every show. There is a play within a play. It has features of classic music hall with the male lead, Edwin Drood, being played by a fictional famous male impersonator, Alice Nutting. The show does a great job of reminding you just how thankful to be for your life with its closing number ‘Writing On The Wall’.
6. Fun Home - Jeanine Tesori/Lisa Kron
The first Broadway musical with a lesbian lead! The first Broadway musical with an all female writing team to win a Tony for best score! (You see where that girl power theme is coming in?!) Everything about this musical is fantastic. It is performed in 90 minutes without an interval. A time that encapsulates the entire story perfectly. It’s a show that will make you cry, but there are some light moments too. It’s another show that features acceptance of oneself, with Little Alison realizing this through ‘Ring Of Keys’.
7. Legally Blonde: The Musical - Laurence O’Keefe/Nell Benjamin/Heather Hach
Finally, a musical most people will know. The songs are ridiculously catchy, you know for a fact as soon as you hear somebody say oh my god you’ll start a rendition of ‘Omigod You Guys’. Again, this musical is all about accepting who you are and girl power! The cast are amazing and look freakishly similar to their movie counterparts. Also, the choreography is something that really stands out, from intense skipping, to Irish dancing, it has everything and more! It’s a dancer’s dream and worst nightmare.
8. 9 to 5: The Musical - Dolly Parton/Patricia Resnick
A musical with songs by Dolly Parton. It’s a musical you can put on and sing along to in your car with no real care for the story. Not that the story is bad, in fact it’s another amazing celebration of the power of women, this time in the 70’s! ‘One Of The Boys’ celebrates the idea of a female CEO. Whilst the entire premise of the musical is of the three female leads changing how the business is currently run, taking control from a misogynistic boss.
9. Sympathy Jones - Masi Asare/Brooke Pierce
A spy musical! I already really like things that involve spies - movies, books, tv shows - so when I found out a spy musical existed, I died. We follow the female lead with an ‘Every Day’ receptionist job with the dream of becoming a spy. This is a musical where the female lead has no love interest and has a platonic relationship with her mission partner. The lead genuinely considers joining the ‘bad guys’ which is not often seen in any entertainment format.
10. Jekyll and Hyde: The Musical - Frank Wildhorn/Leslie Bricusse/Steve Cuden
First and foremost, I am a Frank Wildhorn geek. I will talk about any of his works for a good few hours. Jekyll and Hyde was the second Wildhorn work I was introduced to, the first being Wonderland. It’s such an amazing take on a classic tale of ‘Good ‘N Evil’. I love the story, I love most of the songs, and I love the musical.
So many of these musicals were unknown to me for a long time, they weren’t Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen or Wicked famous. A lot of them closed on Broadway in less than three months (Wonderland, The Pirate Queen, 9 to 5), some have never even seen a Broadway stage (Sympathy Jones, Six) and some ran forever (Jekyll and Hyde). Yet all of these are some of the best musicals I have seen; whether this is because I loved the story, the score or the strong female leads in all of them, they will all hold a dear place in my heart.
Written by: Charmaine Lambert