Hawthorn's Ramblings

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Best Musicals Of All Time

I heard a discussion recently on the best musicals of all time, so thought I would submit my thoughts on the subject. Best Musicals Of All Time; what an impossible decision to make! I am torn between just giving my top 10 or dividing musicals into different sections, for example, pre-1980, post-1980, serious, comedy, song and dance etc.

However I will resist that temptation and just give a rundown of my personal favourites, though I know of course that it's inevitable that I will leave some good ones out!

My first ever London music to see was Cats, and I will never forget it's magic. I had never been to a west end show, and the whole atmosphere was terrific. When the lights dimmed and the overture struck up, hundreds of cats eyes appeared from nowhere! And the finale was magic, spectacular and moving.

The older musicals still have a charm, and hold up very well against the more contemporary ones. When you consider the facilities and effects available today,and the spectacular lighting and sets, the musicals of earlier years certainly deserve great respect for what they achieved. And of course many of the older shows were just as good or better when it comes to the music and the songs. I also found it amazing that West Side Story was written around 1960. It has such a modern feel even today, and a very intricate and wonderful musical score. The Sound of Music, Oklahoma, and Oliver are in my opinion, among the most rewarding musical experiences also.

Then of course, in recent years a great and powerful selection of musicals presents itself; Cats, Phantom Of The Opera, Blood Brothers, Miss Saigon, Joseph, Mama Mia and many more. So here now in reverse order is my list! :

From 20 to 12: Chicago, West Side Story, South Pacific, The King & I, Annie, Grease, Annie Get Your Gun, Buddy, Chess,

Top 11

11 Miss Saigon - a spectacle

10 Oklahoma - still has its magic

9 Oliver - funny and yet dark, I will always want "more"!

8 Cats - what a "Memory"! Now and Forever!

7 Joseph & His Dreamcoat - pure fun!

6 Chitty Chitty Bang Bang - even more fun!

5 The Sound of Music - the hills will always be alive...

4 Mama Mia - and the glorious music of ABBA

3 Phantom of the Opera - delicious!

So as I approach my top two, I have no doubt that some purists might bemoan the inclusion of some "fun" musicals in my list, but I've based it on what I personally enjoyed. Remember there are many I haven't seen. And I can genuinely say that two of the best night’s entertainment I have had were at Chitty Chitty and Mama Mia.

So my no 2, will this shock you...? I DON'T HAVE A NUMBER 2, but a JOINT NUMBER 1 !

Yes, 2 contrasting musicals, yet both reaching to the depths of ones soul in emotion and human conflict. One a modern show with a very clever but not spectacular set, simple costumes, a band on-stage, characters playing multiple parts, and a show that needn't cost millions to stage; the other a spectacular set and staging, elaborate costuming, full orchestra (or is it tracked now?), a huge cast, and probably does cost millions to stage!!!!

But they both have a splendid (though very different) story-line, great scores (one spectacular the other clever) and the most powerful finales you could imagine.

Yes people, I couldn't separate....my favourite shows from London’s West End…..


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