NEW MUSICALS (in the last 30 years)
This list was equally difficult. (All you theatre geeks out there, try this exercise.) It is truly overwhelming to whittle the list down to only 5. I had to tell myself that only 5 would fit in my "life boat" or my "handcart."... it was a silly notion, but it helped my decisions. I probably like all of these shows because I saw them on Broadway or with the original casts... and just relished the entire experience.
Again, in no particular order.......
1. The Secret Garden is a musical based on the 1911 novel of the same name by Frances Hodgson Burnett. The musical's book and lyrics are by Marsha Norman, with music by Lucy Simon. It premiered on Broadway in 1991.
I love this classic tale of a little girl with no parents who just wants to find her place.
Wayne took me to this with actor/singer Mandy Patinkin in the main part, in LA. We were almost on the back row, yet the scenery and story were breathtaking. When Mandy sang the duet of "Lilly's Eyes"....it was silent....then thunderous applause.
2. Wicked is a musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and a book by Winnie Holzman. It is based on the Gregory Maguire novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West , a parallel novel of the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz and L. Frank Baum's classic story The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The musical is told from the perspective of the witches of the Land of Oz: Elphaba, the misunderstood girl with emerald-green skin, and Galinda, later Glinda, the beautiful, ambitious and popular blonde. IT debuted in 2003.
I have seen this 3 times ( NYC, NYC and San Fran)....and could see it again, and be equally satisfied. Any kind of injustice story tugs at my heart, plus the little twist at the end....priceless. I love to crank up this sound track in my car and sing at the top of my lungs.
3. Les Misérables --translated variously from the French as The Miserable Ones, The Wretched, The Poor Ones, The Wretched Poor, or The Victims), is an 1862 French novel by author Victor Hugo and is widely considered one of the greatest novels of the nineteenth century. The Muscial was produced by Cameron Mackintosh and adapted and directed by Trevor Nunn and John Caird. The lyrics were written byHerbert Kretzmer and opened on Broadway in 1987.
This is a timeless story about the power of forgiveness and love. I listened to the London cast soundtrack when it first came out over and over again. My little boys favorite song was "Lovely Ladies." I saw my first production with Wayne in NYC. Fantastic. The highschool has done the school edition of Les Mis twice, and even with student actors, and a small orchestra I am moved.
The 25th Anniversary edition was just on PBS...it was so fun to listen to, I even survived the token Jonas Brother. At the encore the four past/current Val Jeans sing, "Bring Him Home".........chills. Ahhhhhhhh....now that's musical theatre.
You can click HERE to watch it.
4. Sunset Boulevard is a musical with book and lyrics by Don Black and Christopher Hampton and music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Based on the 1950 film of the same title, the plot revolves around Norma Desmond, a faded star of the silent screen era, living in the past in her decaying mansion on the fabled Los Angeles street. When young screenwriter Joe Gillis accidentally crosses her path, she sees in him an opportunity to make her comeback to the big screen. Romance and tragedy follow. This opened on Broadway in 1994.
This is a total star vehicle female role....and the part of Norma Desmond is one I would love, love to play some day. So meaty and filled with power vocals. I saw this in LA with Glenn Close in the part. We were on the 4th row, and actually got spit on by Ms. Close. I didn't wash my arm for.....awhile. She was very impressive. I really love the Andrew Lloyd Webber music....so beautiful.
5. The Drowsy Chaperone is a musical with book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar and music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison. It opened on Broadway on 1 May 2006. The show won the Tony Award for Best Book and Best Score
We first saw this show with Standing room only tickets in NYC. We stood in the back through the entire 2 hours with our friends the Fowers. None of us even minded standing because the show was so fun, uplifting and contagious.
This is a perfect show for me because of the narrator man in chair part. He breaks the 4th wall and includes the audience throughout the show. The Man in Chair says everything that I feel and love about Musical Theatre. What I think in the dark prior to the opening curtain; how musical theatre transports me to a new place; how I identify with the characters and am interested in the actor's lives who play them; how musical theatre is an inclusive medium that brings people together.
I saw a sub-standard production in West Yellowstone, and I still liked the show.........
Honorable Mention: Stephen Sondheim's INTO THE WOODS.... Brilliant. Love the characters, the messages the amazing lyrics and fairytale quality.