Friday Five: Musicals on my Mind

Every Friday I’ll indulge my order-crazed brain in a list of randomness. Welcome to my Friday Fives.

In the last week, I’ve seen two musicals close to my heart, Les Misérables and Oklahoma!. They’re even better when your friends and hubs are in the pit, celebrating the last week of their festival with energized performances and texts during intermission.

As much as I love being part of the action, I love sitting in the audience too – basking in the glow of everyone’s hard work without breaking a sweat, not having my heart race before a hard or exposed section. I just get to take it all in. It’s pretty blissful.

My background is definitely in opera. I played a lot of it in school, performed with a huge opera company for three years and worked for another for one. Opera is amazing. But…BUT…I love musicals. I have since I was a little girl, when Disney movies WERE musicals.

Since leaving the theater this week I’ve had songs from the shows running through my head constantly. (Right now? A Little Fall of Rain.) Can’t stop, won’t stop: I’ve got Broadway on the brain. I think I’m 1/6th jazz hands.

When I started making my list of favorite musicals, it got out of hand fast. In the first brain dump I had over ten and that was me barely putting any thought into it. So, I had to make a few categories for Friday Fives—a Broadway Series of sorts. Today’s list are my pinnacles—the best of the best—where each song is its own hit—the shows I know entirely by heart.

There will be other lists, like favorite shows to see live, musicals I want to see, best movie musical adaptions, etc…but today, this is as good as it gets for me. And, spoiler alert, there’s not a Andrew Lloyd Webber title in sight. For shame!

5. Grease

This musical also wins the award for “Best Musical that is Routinely Ruined by High School Productions.” Step away from the auditorium and see this on a big stage, or better yet, the movie screen. It’s before John Travolta got weird and weirder. It’s total perfection and I frequently have “You’re the One that I Want” blasting in my car.

4. The Sound of Music

Here’s another one repeatedly botched by inexperienced kids and high school administrations that want to shy away from any hint of Nazis. But, when it’s done right, this is a classic of “Barbra Streisand” proportions, which translates to “biblical” in Broadway talk. This show permeates my childhood memories and still pops up when my sibs and I do the “Sound of Music pose” for photos.


3. Miss Saigon

When it comes to sheer power, this musical would be my #1. I’ve known the soundtrack since I was little, when I confiscated my parent’s CD. I certainly didn’t understand what it was about, but I loved the beautiful music and quickly learned both parts of “I Still Believe”—which I sing in my car all the time. But, after seeing this live, my face was puffy for a day from all of the crying. It’s such a great story, made even better with stunning music. I mean, “Bui Doi”? It’s like four minutes of constant chills. If this is coming to a theater near you, please go. You’ll be forever changed. Not convinced? Watch this awesome promo for its revival in London’s West End. #chillsfordays

2. West Side Story

*snap* *snap* *snap* I. love. this. musical. Like, with every ounce of my being. There isn’t one moment where I’m not entralled when watching. It’s way better than the Shakespeare from which it’s based. Blasphemy! But TRUTH! Bernstein proves his mettle in WSS’ unforgettable score, a score that’s made even more awesome in the hands of Stan Kenton…if that’s even possible. (It’s our go-to CD for road trips.) But, my favorite song has got to be “One Hand, One Heart,” which we had played by horn quartet at our wedding. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous.

1. Les Misérables

I don’t even know where to begin with this one. There will never be too much Les Mis in my life. I’ve seen it live at every opportunity, I own the movie, I’m obsessed with the 25th Anniversary Concert, and it makes for a pretty incredible drum corps show. It also is the foundation of my family’s sing-a-longs, which have me and Booh battling it out for Eponine. Bryan does a mean Javert and would easily give Russell Crowe a run for his money. In my mind, this is the most perfectly crafted story + score from beginning to end. Forever my favorite, it’s my 2-4-6-0-#1.

Anyone sad there’s no Cats or Phantom on this list? Bryan, are you singing Aida as you read? What would be on your list of faves?


5 thoughts on “Friday Five: Musicals on my Mind

  1. Love this Friday Five! I think I can quote the entire Grease movie from beginning to end. In 10 years let’s have a slumber party with Abby and we can introduce it to her together.
    I was a nun in my high school’s production of The Sound of Music and because I was the tallest they made me the old, wrinkly nun. Ha!
    On a high school trip we saw Miss Saigon in NYC and I cried like a baby, too. I was so embarrassed that my crush saw me crying. 🙂
    Wow…sorry this is long. Have you read Les Mis? It’s been on my list for years.

  2. Great list! Sad there aren’t any Adam Pascal appearances on here though.

    My top:
    5. Aida
    4. Wicked
    3. Rent
    2. Les Mis
    1. Starlight Express

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