As this is my 100th Blog here on Musical Theatre Lives In Me, I have decided to set a challenge. The challenge if you choose to accept it is to select your top seven shows and explain why you chose them. Now, that may sound easy but for someone like myself who has seen more than sixty different shows, its not easy to narrow it down to just seven. I have seen so many amazing shows, and there are many shows that I completely adore. But that is what makes this such a tricky challenge, for it will really make you think why some shows hold such a special place in your heart.
Here are the rules of the challenge. You must select your seven top shows, then explain why you chose them in 100 – 200 words for each show. It’s harder than it sounds. (If you prefer videos to blogs, make that 1 – 2 minutes for each show)
So, here it goes. Here are my top seven shows, in reverse order. Choosing the seven is the easy bit compared to putting them in an order. This challenge takes a lot of thought.
7. Joseph and the amazing technicolour dreamcoat
Joseph and the amazing technicolour dreamcoat is one of the first musicals I can remember watching on television, and since that moment it has always had a special hold on me. I remember being transported into a world of colour and laughter and wonder, and becoming completely hypnotised by it. I can remember being told the story in school assemblies but it was the musical that really brought it to life. I know that the most recent touring production did not get the greatest of reviews and many people believe that this musical has had its day but I loved it when I finally got to see it live back in 2013. Yes, it has its issues. The style is a little bit dated perhaps and thinking of the production I saw, a slightly larger cast could allow for a better flow, but no matter what, I will always love this musical. The songs are catchy and clever, and it brings a wonderful story to life in a way that captures the imagination.
6. Titanic The Musical
I call this show my surprise obsession. It was a show that I never originally planned to see, but I had heard such good things about it when it was running at the Charing Cross Theatre, I just had to pay it a visit. And then I was absolutely blown away by this beautiful production. The music is simply stunning, a mixture of catchy numbers and huge operatic numbers that will completely amaze you. Taking stories of the real life passengers on that ill fated liner, this musical tells the story of the titanic from the moment it set sail to the moment it sunk down into the freezing waters. It is sorrowful and haunting, but something about it makes my heart soar. A show performed by an incredible ensemble playing multiple roles, it is the most beautiful tribute to those who were aboard and those that they left behind. I can just sit and listen to the music from start to end and be amazed by its beauty and power, and there is something very special about that.
5. Kinky Boots
I can remember watching the film version of Kinky Boots when I was properly seven or eight years old, properly a little bit too young to understand and appreciate the deeper importance of the plot, but it stuck with me. So when I heard that a musical version was coming to the West End, I knew that I had to see it. I have now seen it multiple times and every time it amazes me and lifts me up. It is a story of acceptance and changing your mind, stepping out of your comfort zone to discover who you are truly meant to be, and that is a story that everybody should understand. People have the right to decide who they want to be without the fear of being judged or ridiculed. Kinky Boots is filled to the factory rafters with hit songs and killer dance moves. Drag queens in six inch heels will always be fabulous. I have seen all three west end casts of this show and they have all been amazing, and I’m sure that I am not the only person thinking that there will be a big hole in Theatreland when this show leaves next year.
4. Matilda The Musical
Another show that I cannot stay away from for too long. There is something very magical about Matilda the musical. It will transport you to a world where you feel capable of doing anything, and a world in which you can overcome anything no matter your age or size. Based on the book by Roald Dahl, it tells the story of an extraordinary little girl with an incredible mind who sets out to teach the horrible bullying adults around her a lesson. She sees the worst and the best sides of the grown ups in her life and decides to write her own story rather then constantly being told she is wrong. This is one of the cleverest, slickest and most beautiful shows currently in the West End, with one of the cleverest catchiest cast recordings to match. Everything about this show will leave you feeling like a big kid and feeling like you can anything you set your mind on.
3. Les Miserables
The biggest and most well known musical on my list is the world famous Les Miserables. This is yet another show that I find myself having to revisit every year or so. This is theatre art work at its very highest standard, and until you have seen it live you won’t understand the beauty and the scale of it all. No matter how many times I have seen this show, I am always amazed by it. The music is breathtaking, and the staging is incredible. Everything about it is on a huge scale, and seeing it all unfold in front of you is truly magical. There is a reason that Les Miserables is one of the most famous musicals ever. It is a story of passion and heartbreak, set against the back drop of the student rebellion. This is a show full of characters you will learn to love and hate, and even though I have seen it many times, I always notice new things about the show and about the characters.
2. Mamma Mia
This is a show that has been running in the West End for many years now, as well as touring all over the world, and it is one that I absolutely love. I have seen it many times now and it never fails to make me smile and laugh. I am sure that most people have at least seen the film, but the show is just so much better. It can make the coldest winter day feel like a tropical holiday on a beautiful sun drenched island, and make you smile until your cheeks hurt. The story is great, a daughter trying to find her father and a mother having to face the facts about her past. Pair that story with some of the catchiest pop songs ever written, and it is no surprise that Mamma Mia is a sell out hit across the globe. Its full of love, heart and comedy and has some incredibly lovable characters that you can relate too and understand. This is a show that demands return visits, you simply cannot stay away from the island for too long.
- Half A Sixpence
Okay, anyone who knows me should have guessed that it would be Half A Sixpence that would take the top spot. The show says it itself ‘Is it comic? Is it Tragic? There’s a special kind of magic in the joy that the theatre brings’. That is how to some this show up in a nutshell with one simple word. Joy. This musical was full of heart and joy. Telling that story of young shop apprentice who inherits a fortune, Arthur Kipps has to decide between two girls, his childhood sweetheart Ann or wealthy member of high society Helen. I have loved Half A Sixpence since I first saw the film when I was only little and I jumped at the chance to see it live on stage. This production has become a huge part of my life, and introduced me to a number of incredible performers. Everything about this show was perfect in every way, oozing charm and happiness in every moment. I will never forget Half A Sixpence and only hope that there is life in it yet, something this magical cannot just disappear never to be seen again. Once a sixpence girl, always a sixpence girl.
So there we have it. My seven show challenge. Are you ready to take it on?