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#525064 07/24/07 12:36 PM
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Asking two questions out of pure curiosity:

1) What Broadway or off-Broadway "book" musical, in your opinion, is the best written? By this I mean well-crafted libretto, lyrics, =and= music, with well-defined characters you want to root for (or love to hate), lyrics that are evocative, interesting, and idiomatic, and music that is in some way memorable. If you have more than one in mind, please limit yourself to two shows.

The next question may have the same answer(s), but for very different reasons:

2) What Broadway or off-Broadway "book" musical is your all-time favorite? If your answer is different from that in question #1, what makes this one your favorite? Again, please limit yourself to no more than two shows.

Film musicals (shows that originated as musicals on film) don't count; we're only talking about staged shows for this.

Thanks!

Last edited by Steven L. Rosenhaus; 07/24/07 12:37 PM.

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Please forgive my ignorance but I'm not always sure how things originated. I loved "Bye Bye Birdie", "Funny Girl", and "Phantom of The Opera". They are very different in style and content but each succeed in their own right. They are my three favorite at present.

Reasons Why:

Bye Bye Birdie is clearly a fun, sweet and feel-good musical with a happy ending. For some reason I loved that song "One Last Kiss" and the melody just stays with you.

Phantom's story was unconventional yet almost believable. Costumes beautiful and the music was, well need I say more.

Funny Girl (based on a true story) was brilliant, from acting, costumes, lyrics, and although it had a sad ending (and I prefer happy) it was just one of the best. Well crafted libretto was plentiful in this musical. Barbra's singing was probably 75% of the reason why I enjoyed it so much!


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For me it has to be Les Miserables. And I'm pretty sure that's my answer for both questions. I mean, it was one of the first book musicals back in the 80's and it gave way for many more to come.

It's my favorite because I've seen it 3 times and could easily see it again. It's one of those musicals that I MUST do before I die. You really feel for the characters. The costumes are brilliant (I love historical costuming). And it's just a beautiful show overall.

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For me, the answer to both would have to be "A Chorus Line." Every line leads you into who the characters are and why they are there at this particular moment in time. My favorite line is "God, I'm a dancer, a dancer dances!" The whole thing seems to be one big character study.

I grew up on musical theatre, and eventually got a degree in Theatre production. Musical theatre has always held a special place in my heart. This show left a huge impression on my soul.

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Lynn Orloff posted:
>Please forgive my ignorance but I'm not always sure how things
>originated. I loved "Bye Bye Birdie", "Funny Girl", and "Phantom
>of The Opera". They are very different in style and content but
>each succeed in their own right. They are my three favorite at
>present.

All three shows you selected were on Broadway first, then made into movies.


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Okay, now for the flip side of the questions:

Which musical that is generally considered a "great" show (is popular, or lauded in some way, or both) do you =not= like, and why? I am not talking about shows that should never have gone on the boards in the first place ("Carrie"? "Dance of the Vampires"?), but musicals usually acknowledged as good, solid shows that you find yourself asking "Huh? Why are they saying that show is good?"


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Hi Steven,

I didn't care for "RENT" and almost walked out. It was a last minute decision and we went mistakingly on the advice of strangers in front of us in line for discount tickets the day of the show. There were two middle aged women who claimed to be "seasoned" show goers who raved how great it was. The language was vulgar, one actress drops her drawers and shows her bottom, etc. Yes the talent was there for acting and singing but it wasn't my cup of tea. I didn't know it was a "rock opera" where everything is sung including conversation. I kind of prefer a breather between songs and "songtalk" with normal conversation.

Best,
Lynn


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Love Wicked, Gypsy and The Producers. Don't hate any musicals...just like some more than others. I loved the songs for "Sunset Blvd" and thought Betty Buckley was the best thing I'd seen on Broadway. But, the script fell flat for me.

As for "Rent," the thing that got me about that show was the talented cast. They used the same cast for both the Broadway stage show and the film. I was amazed by their talent. I can understand Lynn not liking the story line, language or format, but if you just look at it as a work of art, it was done quite well.

I'm just happy that we are seeing such a resurgence of the artform...especially in Las Vegas where I live. We have so many great shows now. Broadway is coming back strong too, after 911!


"And, in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make." Paul McCartney
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My favorite musicals are listed in in no particular order:


West Side Story
The Sound of Music
Les Miserables
Chorus Line
The Wizard of Oz
My Fair Lady

Have operettas been mentioned? I love Porgy and Bess and
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat!

"I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Miserables brought tears to my eyes the first time I heard it...."Over the Rainbow" always moves me... smile

Emily



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Oh Emily, you're right, how could I have left out "The Wizard of Oz" and "The Sound of Music". Where was my head? Mind you, there are many musicals I have not seen so my list may not contain those that could become "favorites". Ironically I am working on a little musical of my own right now just out of pure passion.

Thanks Steve for this interesting thread.


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Lynn,

I know what you mean! smile There are many musicals I would lvoe to see, and few old ones I need to see again.
I really prefer to see all of them on stage; the magic of live performance is lost in film. Even though I enjoy watching musicals on film, I prefer to watch them on stage smile

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It's only fair, having asked the questions, that I give my opinions as well, so here goes:

1) The best written Broadway or off-Broadway musical? First off, there is no "perfect" musical, no matter how hard we (that is, writers, producers, performers, etc.) try. But I can tell you what shows work for me and why.

"My Fair Lady" comes to mind. Based on George Bernard Shaw's play "Pygmallion" (sorry, not sure about the spelling without sources at hand), and possibly the filmed version of it (with screenplay by Shaw!). Lerner and Loewe came pretty darn close to making this seamless. Once you've seen the musical it's =very= hard to watch the original play without "hearing" the songs. The music truly reflects not only who the main characters are (more on that in a moment) but what happens when they interact. Explanation: Liza's music, no matter how she talks, is almost always lyrical and unabashedly beautiful ("Loverly" for example). Higgins, on the other hand, has mostly patter songs--witty, verbose, snide, etc. BUT. "Show Me" is Eliza's patter song; she is irate at Higgins but takes it out on poor Freddy. Higgins has clearly gotten under her skin. By the same token, Higgins' "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face" is his =lyrical= moment--obviously Eliza has gotten under =his= skin. The only song in the show that doesn't work for me (it seems stuck in there as an excuse for Eliza's "Show Me" and a scene change) is "On the Street Where You Live." It's a lovely song but seems to serve no real purpose.

Some folks have a problem with "Sunday in the Park with George," but I have only minor concerns with it, mostly in the second act. Still, it captures the essence of what it means to be a creative person (regardless of the type of art created), and how creating art can celebrate life while being detrimental to the person creating it. And "Children and Art" is an amazing song, better, to me, than "Children Will Listen" in Sondheim's "Into the Woods."

"West Side Story" is simply amazing. Sondheim's lyrics now sometimes come off as predictable, but when they were written they were some of the most powerful written. The strength here is the music and the characterizations. From a composer's viewpoint I find the use of a particular "cell" (C, F#, G, and various tranpositions and permutations of them) throughout the show fascinating.

"A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" gets my vote for the best show with a long title, not to mention something that takes every cliché in the book, turns it on its head, and makes it work. And it can work even without Zero Mostel, Nathan Lane, or even Whoopi Goldberg in the role of Pseudolus. Not actor-proof (no slight intended), but close.

Also not to be ignored: "A Chorus Line," "Cabaret," "Fiddler on the Roof," and "Gypsy."

2) The above shows are some of my favorites, but I have my "guilty pleasures" as well. "Return to the Forbidden Planet," a British show that played here briefly (I actually saw it in London) took back "The Tempest" from the sci-fi flick "Forbidden Planet" and threw in all sorts of classic rock tunes--and Robby the Robot was on roller skates before "Starlight Express" hit the boards. I've got a list of reasons to =not= like "Les Miserables," but I do anyway. Go figure. I also like "The Fantasticks," and "Oklahoma." Probably more if I think about it.

3) There are shows I find very frustrating, as they have a lot going for them but never seem to exploit their potential. Unfortunately many of these, for me, are Lloyd Webber shows. "Evita" works pretty well until Act II, when you start getting reprises of melodies for no apparent dramatic reason. Every succesive (and yes, even successful) LW show thereafter uses the device in exactly the same way. Basically he's giving you the "big tunes" just because you haven't heard them for a while--no other reason. I find it frustrating because it doesn't help the story or the characters, and ultimately makes the show sound bereft of music!

"Phantom of the Opera" is another show that should work but doesn't, for me at least. There's the musical world of what is being presented on the operatic stage (done very well and tongue-in-cheek), and the music off-stage. Then there's the Phantom's own music, complete with =disco= synthesizers. Huh? That and LW's penchant for consistently setting the rhythm of the heroine's name as "CHRIS-tine" instead of "Chris-TINE" drives me up the wall.

Once again, these are only my opinions. Your mileage may vary.


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I was hoping you'd share your list Steven. Thanks!


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I've been a fan of Broadway musicals since the mid-Seventies. I'd have to list my favorites as:

Pippin
Camelot
My Fair Lady
Sound Of Music
A Chorus Line
Jesus Christ Superstar
Jekyll and Hyde
Scarlet Pimpernel
Wicked

Just saw "Spring Awakening" and absolutely hated it. This show winning the Tony for Best Musical is akin to calling snow boarders "Olympians". It seemed like a show that should never have made it uptown from Off-Off Broadway.

Rich


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I too, was not thrilled with either Rent or Phantom of the Opera. I've never been huge on the rock musicals, and seeing Phantom left me thinking, "that was okay, but not as great as all the hype."

I forgot about one of my favorite musicals...Kiss Me Kate

I got to see it live with Rachel York, and boy was it a good show. If you haven't seen it, go rent the Dvd with her performance of it. It is wonderful! I'm also a fan of Wicked, although I was one of the people who read the book, so I was sort of disappointed in the "disneyfacation" of it. I even sang defying gravity at a recital at school and was video taped. (http://www.hamline.edu/cla/honorsday/video/alison.html)

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Hi Alison,

I sent you a PM.

Best,
Lynn


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I would have to saw that "Annie" was one of my favorite musicals I really don't why but I really like the characters other than Annie herself they just seemed always more interesting. I also liked a lot of the songs.

Another favorite would have to be "Little Shop of Horrors" sadly however I was not able to afford a ticket to see the most recent theatrical version which I think came out one or two years ago but I heard it went over pretty big. As far as the movie versions there are two. The first one was in black and white and was not a musical and also was a little more morbid but at the same time still had an aspect of comedy. It also had "Jack Nicholson" in it when he was really young and he played the guy who goes to the dentist because he loves pain inflicted upon him. The second version I am sure everyone is familiar with and I find to be the most fun. My favorite song from that was "Big Green Mother from Outer Space"


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I realize you are talking about the musical about Little Orphan Annie, but you reminded me of the time I took my daughter to see Bernadette Peters in Annie Get Your Gun on Broadway a few years back. I really enjoyed that show immensely, even though I generally shy away from musicals. I always knew she could sing well because I had heard her on TV on the Johnny Carson's Tonight show and other variety programs, but hearing her live really blew me away. That tiny lady with such a big voice, wow. My daughter got to meet her after the show and get her autograph. She was living at the time, across the street from my uncle in NYC.

I guess as I get older I am becoming more tolerant of musical forms that I used to dislike. I have found myself, almost unconsciously listening to opera once in awhile if I come across it on a Saturday morning on the radio. My uncle directed many of them as I was growing up so I saw many of them reluctantly. Now as I get older I remember certain pieces that have been seered into my brain and if I hear them now, I have to give them a listen and think about my uncle.


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