Hey guys, did you know I’m into musicals? (*cue sarcastic shouts of ‘Nah really Ria I had no idea?! That is brand new information to us!’) I’m a huge advocate of converting every single person I know into a musical theatre fan and seeing as the Olivier Awards are being held this weekend in London, I thought it’d be nice to extend this out into my blogging world too – you have been warned!
Of course the most important part of the musical is the music and as in most cases it’s super hard to actually go see a show (they’re either super expensive, all the way in London or New York, or unfortunately closed) But musical theatre soundtracks become the next best way to experience the magic.
Now I know a few of you are novices in this art form so I’m not gonna throw something weird or outrageous like Hedwig and the Angry Inch or Spring Awakening at you – though do look up the original cast recordings for those they’re freaking incredible – I thought I’d introduce you to a few soundtracks that’ll get you falling in love with the genre.
They may not be the most obvious choices, but they are some of my favourites. So sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.
In 3 | Childish rebellion, naughty lyrics & fist-pumping music
You probably know the film very well, but did you know they adapted it for the stage? The Matilda soundtrack is one of my favourites at the moment for many reasons but number one is the fact songwriting g e n i u s Tim Minchen wrote the music and lyrics for the show. As you’d expect from Mr Minchen, every line is carefully crafted just dripping with wit and humour. You’ll definitely find yourself laughing and singing along to many of the songs.
You’re spoiled for choice with these soundtracks as there’s a West End AND Broadway editions of it – personally I love the West End one because British actors are obviously more adept at British accents lol Though I do love the US version of ‘Loud’ more because of of Leslie Margherita.
Favourite song | School Song: A perfect demonstration of how clever Tim is with his words. Utterly menacing and so fast-paced, I dare you all to try and sing this 10x times quick!
We Will Rock You
In 3 | Sing-a-long tunes, serious air gee-tar moments, & uplifting ballads that’d make Freddie proud
You know the band, you probably already know the songs but switch them into the musical genre and it’ll change your life! ‘Rock You’ tackled the dystopian genre before it was cool and follows the story of two outcasts as they team up with a bunch of musical rebels to bring back Rock n Roll. It’s super fun and doesn’t take itself too seriously either.
The original cast recording has some serious talent on it in the form of Kerry Ellis and Tony Vincent, two of most powerful rock opera voices in the biz.
Favourite song | No One But You: Sung by incredible Kerry Ellis, this song will majorly tug at your heartstrings and placed within the context of the musical it’s a wonderful tribute to the late great Freddie Mercury.
Book of Mormon
In 3 | Toe-tapping tunes, dangerous levels of innuendo & Family Guy humour
If you like your musicals rude, crude and full of white dudes the Book of Mormon is the musical for you. Laced with the humour from the guys who brought you South Park and with Andrew Ranells and Josh Gad (yeah Olaf from Frozen) as the two semi-hopeless Mormon missionaries sent to Uganda to preach the gospel, the soundtrack is both laugh out loud funny and ridiculous but also really uplifting too.
If you want to delve in further with the soundtracks look up bootlegs of Gavin Creel (Elder Price, first US tour and West End transfer) and Nic Rouleau (Elder Price, Broadway replacement and currently on the West End)
Favourite song | You & Me (But mostly me): Elder Price (Ranells) takes the lead in the ultimate humble brag song and a hilarious semi-tribute to The Wizard & I/Defying Gravity from Wicked.
The Last Five Years
In 3 | Sexy jazz beats, swooping love songs & relationship angst
If you need a healthy dose reality from your musical, look no further than The Last Five Years. A story about a couple’s journey through falling in love and out of love, the soundtrack has a good mix of serious angst and light sarcasm (my favourite!). Written by musical legend Jason Robert Brown, L5Y is probably his most famous work. Musically it’s full of JRB’s trademark off-beats, jazz-inspired piano solos and sweeping crescendos, all coupled sitting alongside the emotional arch of the story.
The original soundtrack with Sherie Renee Scott and Norbert Leo Butz is pretty powerful, but if you want an accessible listen try the new movie version with Jeremy Jordan and Anna Kendrick.
Favourite song(s) | It’d be unfair to choose between Cathy and Jamie so I’m going with two favourite songs for this one.
Moving Too Fast: Remember that jazz-piano solo I mentioned earlier, yeah this song is choc-full of them and plenty of tongue and cheek sexy lyrics too, that’ll get your heart racing.
Still Hurting: Absolutely bleeding with emotion, Cathy’s song of heartbreak has some beautiful lyrics set to a soaring musical backdrop.
In 3 | Fierce levels of fabulousness, rock n roll drama & ’tissues-at-the-ready’ heartbreak
A modern classic, Rent’s reputation is well known in the musical theatre world. The original show opened in 1994 but the stories and journeys the characters take are utterly timeless and universal. It’s creator, Jonathan Larson, sadly never got to see his inspiring stories come to life on the stage but the music he’d written lives on as his legacy.
There are so many versions you could delve into but I’d probably start with the 2005 movie soundtrack – with big hitters like Idina Menzel, Rosario Dawson, and Jesse L Martin. The cast that finished RENT’s run on Broadway in 2008 are also incredible (the final performance is around on DVD if you fancy a gander)
Favourite song(s) | Finale B – Everyone loves Seasons of Love, but Finale B beautifully ties up all the themes of the show, both in terms of story and musically too. Plus it’s one of these songs that will make you want to sing along in solidarity with the cast with
Let me know what you think of these (and if you have any favourite introductory type show soundtracks you love too!)