With emails flying back and forth with plans to see the revival of Evita on Broadway next spring, today’s 10 on Tuesday topic seems especially timely. I’m very particular about what musicals I like, and in most cases having been written between the early 1970s and early 1990s seems to help dramatically – though there are a few outliers. I haven’t limited myself exclusively to musicals I’ve seen on stage; some are ones I’ve seen only as movies, and a couple I’ve never actually seen, I just love the music that much.
1. West Side Story – My first favorite musical. Dad and I used to watch this whenever it was on tv, and it was also the first live show he took me to, so it’s both an awesome show and a sentimental favorite.
2. Big River – This was the first musical I saw on Broadway, back when I was in high school. I’ve been in love with the music ever since, and had the great good luck to see the revival 10 or so years ago, which was performed with a combination of singing and sign language, which was such an unusual – and well done – interpretation.
3. Assassins – My college was one of the first to get the rights to perform this after its off-Broadway run in the early 1990s, and it remains one of the most fun shows I ever worked on – and the only one where I ended up with an ejected shell casing landing in my cleavage. (True story. Ask Shannon or Wendy.) A few years back, a bunch of us who were involved with the college show met up in New York to see it finally make its Broadway debut – starring Neil Patrick Harris. It was wonderful to finally see it get the attention it deserved, and to see Doogie Howser on stage before he became re-famous on “How I Met Your Mother.”
4. Les Misérables – I think this is the only show I’ve seen on Broadway, in the same run, more than once. And one I would have seen again on the revival tour at the Kennedy Center this fall, had I only been sufficiently organized to make it happen.
5. A Chorus Line – I was minoring in theater in college when I saw this, near the very end of its lengthy original run on Broadway. Even though I was primarily a technician and not a performer, I still related heavily to its story of working so hard to be good enough, and wanting that one chance to prove it.
6. Chess – Musically speaking, this might be my favorite of all time, but as a show, it’s a mess, and always has been. Reworked for nearly every production, it’s a bunch of terrific pop tunes (written by the dudes from ABBA!) held together by a barely cogent plot. I finally had a chance to see it on stage a few years ago and honestly wished I hadn’t, because I was finally able to see for myself that it just didn’t work. But I still love the songs enough to include it on the list.
7. Grease – I was seven when the movie starring Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta came out, and I was enchanted by the music, which I had on LP. My mean mom, however, would not let me actually see the movie (“You’re too young!”) and somehow, I didn’t end up seeing it until college.
8. Jesus Christ Superstar – We watched this in my confirmation class at St. John’s when I was in high school. Already a huge fan of musicals, I loved it’s music and hippie vibe. It didn’t (and doesn’t) seem especially reverent or churchy to me, and seeing it remains, possibly, the only good thing the Catholic church ever did for me.
9. Evita – One of the two shows (the other is below) on this list that I’ve never seen on stage or as a movie. Yes, I know Madonna made one, but after hearing my dad tell me umpteen thousand times that when he saw it on Broadway, he was “close enough to see the seams in Patti LuPone’s stockings,” somehow watching Madge play Evita just doesn’t see right.
10. Into the Woods – So full of quirky wit and wisdom (“When going to hide, know how to get there – and how to get back… And eat first!”) that I used to have quotes from it pasted on my bedroom walls. Really.
So, that’s my list. What’s yours?
Updated to add the photo, which I forgot to scan before work.