One of the gripes I get from people who aren’t fans of musical theatre is that ‘It’s all jazz hands and sparkly lights and URGHH WHY ARE THEY ALL SO HAPPY’. Yes, some of the biggest musicals in the world fall into the jazz-hand-y all smiles and no sadness category or the Les Mis/Webber penned operatic affairs that win Oliviers and your grandparents probably consider classics. But don’t write of the musical genre just yet.
I hold a strong personal belief that there’s a musical out there for anyone. So whether you’ve been haunted by the awful that was High School Musical, or are sick to death of hearing about how great Anne Hathaway was singing I Dreamed A Dream, gear up your excuses, cause I’m about to fire off some serious suggestions to turn you into a musical theatre convert…join us we have Schmakery’s cookies* ^_^
I live that thug life, ain’t no musical out there for me. Jay Z is king and no artist will ever come close to Biggie and Tupac (NB: I’m probably a skinny white boy who likes Eminem)
First of all, please excuse my awful appropriated slang. Second of all, hello? Jay Z sampled ANNIE in Hard Knock Life, get off your high horse.
Arguably rap has existed in musicals since the earliest patter songs in musicals such as The Music Man. Flashforward to 2015 and let me introduce you to the man who changed the game: Lin Manuel-Miranda.
A rap/hip-hop aficionado who grew up in crime-ridden Inwood, New York, Miranda was also raised on the Midtown musical theatre scene. His first musical, In The Heights, inspired by the Latino community in NYC and became a smash hit thanks to Miranda’s cool infusion of Latin American Hip Hop and traditional theater styles. And now there’s his second juggernaut, Hamilton, the unlikely story of one of America’s lesser known founding fathers set to the beat of Miranda’s high octane Rap and R&B – you can see influences scattered throughout the score from Biggie and Tupac to Mary J. Blige and Jay-Z (who actually went to see the musical with Beyonce!). Don’t believe me check out how quick Daveed Diggs can spit beats in Guns and Ships.
I’m not a jazz hands person, I go to pretentious indie gigs in bars with low lighting, drink craft beer and probably own at least 3 pieces of ‘ethical clothing’.
Hello fellow hipster! Need a bit of acoustic guitar in your musical collection – not to mention gritter topics and serious angst? The ‘indie’ musical may be for you. Check out Sting’s The Last Ship; Tony nominated LGBTQ-geared Fun Home; ‘I don’t know what I’m doing with my life’ themed If/Then and Tick, Tick, Boom; divorce dramedy The Last Five Years; and Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens – an emotional musical songbook with similar themes to RENT. And that little indie movie ‘Once’ you love? Yeah, it’s a musical. It won a Tony Award. In terms of specific songs? Sink your teeth into Louder Than Words (Tick, Tick, Boom), Falling Slowly (Once), or Changing My Major (Fun Home).
from top left, anti-clockwise: Fun Home, If/Then, Spring Awakening, American Idiot
Pfft musical are so lame, gimme a gee-tar and sick drum beat, duuuudee – p.s. I am probably closeted emo kid who had pictures of Pete Wentz and Brendon Urie on my wall when I was 14.
Let me present to you my favourite musical genre of ALL TIME. The rock musical. Spring Awakening and Next To Normal are two of my favourites that I highly recommend to musical naysayers. Both musicals are admittedly more on the alt rock spectrum than death metal but have guitar heavy soundtracks you can head bang (try out Bitch Of Living from Spring Awakening for that) to and tackle tough topics such as living bipolar disorder, suicide and teen sexuality.
Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (punk), Tommy (glam), Loserville (pop-rock) and Bare (acoustic and grunge), all get honourable mentions for the genre. If you still aren’t convinced, they basically turned the entirety of Green Day’s American Idiot (and some of 21st Century Breakdown) into a rock opera too – complete with a kick ass female empowerment song, Letterbomb.
Why so serious? Les Mis made me wanna shoot myself, and Mama Mia is far too clean for my liking.
Ah the musical fan with a mind in the gutter who swears like a sailor – I like you, let’s be friends. For shits and giggles you’ll be wanting South Park creator penned Avenue Q and The Book of Mormon, two musicals I am never letting my mother anywhere near (be careful with the soundtracks, you don’t want The Internet Is For Porn or Hasa Diega Ebowai blasting through your headphones at work/school). First Date’s good for rom-com humour (it also starred the dreamy Zachary Levi), Hedwig & the Angry Inch for sweary-rock-y-silliness, and Urinetown…cause Urinetown as a premise is so ridiculous (seriously look that one up).
I hate musicals. Leave me alone.
FINE…but give Forbidden Broadway a go. If you won’t watch a musical you can at least listen to a song collection that will take the piss out of them.
Let me know what common ‘excuses’ you get from non-theatre folk for not watching musicals.
*and when you decide to become a fully fledged musical theatre fan I will explain this reference for you