My Top 5 Favorite Musicals

Storytelling in music is one of my favorite things, from lyrics to genres, from film scores to musicals. And we’ll stop at musicals, because that is the topic of this post. What’s so unique about musicals is that they are purely theatrical—meaning that they are purposely unrealistic (which is the main reason why many people dislike them). So, here’s my short list of my top 5 favorites, in no particular order.

My Top 5 Favorite Musicals - Tea with Tumnus

1. Les Miserables

This musical is so good. It’s a very heavy story that tackles the hardships of the poor in France during the French Revolution. It’s an incredible, literally breathtaking story of redemption—arguably the best piece of literature in the world. I saw the musical put on by a local theater company, and it was so amazing I decided to read Victor Hugo’s book right afterwards. What’s interesting about this musical is that there is no spoken dialogue. Everything everyone says is mainly in song, to music. Some of the songs have a tune that’s a bit hard to follow, and there isn’t really any main theme—but I absolutely love the overtures and the orchestral parts. Favorites include “One Day More,” “Do You Hear the People Sing?”, “Overture/Work Song,” “Castle on a Cloud,” “Red and Black,” “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables,” and, of course, the “Finale,” or Epilogue.

2. The Lion King

I am not a fan of the movie. (Or should I say old cartoon, since the movie redo is coming out next year and is worth much excitement?) I’m not a huge fan of the story, either; besides the glaring plot holes, I think there’s a lot of wasted potential with Simba’s character. I hope that this new movie reboot might take advantage of some needed improvement…but I’m getting beyond the point. The musical, in contrast to the actual film, is awesome, and is one of my favorites because of its epic grandscale. Many songs also have African ethnic roots, with a lot of ensemble lyrics in mostly Swahili and Zulu. The opening song — Cricle of Life — is breathtaking with a full-cast ensemble. I played a lioness/ensemble member in The Lion King Jr. a while back and it was an amazing experience.

3. Shrek

YES! I’m serious. Shrek the Musical is great, and I wouldn’t be here saying that if my brother didn’t play in the ensemble cast and I didn’t work backstage for nearly every show and eventually fall in love with it. I greatly dislike the movie (not sure why I even saw it in the first place), and the story is questionable, to say the least, but the musical is pretty awesome. It has humor, satire, and an epic overture, with some really cool ensemble songs. “Story of My Life,” “Freak Flag,” and “Who I’d Be,” are a few favorite numbers. Believe me, as weird as it sounds, my siblings and I did go through a Shrek the Musical phase, and it still remains a favorite.

4. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

This is currently my #1 favorite musical. I saw Pharoah’s Song on YouTube a while back and thought it was the most bizzare thing I’d ever seen. Several months afterward as my siblings rehearsed and put on the show with our community theater, cue the obsession of the musical. The story is basically the story of Joseph from the Bible, and the storyline in the musical is actually fairly accurate. The main source of humor comes from the style of songs—calypso, Brubeck jazz, country western, French chanson, and ’60s rock. For example, Pharoah’s Song features him dressed as Elvis as he sings Elvis style. As a writer, I greatly appreciated the blatantly hilarious lyrics, with brilliant language and word choice. Favorite songs include “Jacob and Sons,” the Hoedown (just an awesome dance number), “Joseph’s Coat,” “Go, Go Go, Joseph,” “Canaan Days,” “Song of the King,” and “Benjamin Calypso.” But, to be honest, I just love all of the songs.

5. Hamilton

Well yeah, Hamilton! Disclaimer: This is the only show listed here that I haven’t actually seen yet, and I haven’t even listened to all the songs yet (they were just touring 45 minutes away a few months ago and I’m still extremely disappointed that I wasn’t aware of it ahead of time). But I’m already in love. One of the brilliant aspects that stands out to me the most is how Lin Manuel Miranda pulled off a musical about the life of Alexander Hamilton with all the songs in the modern pop/hip-hop/rap genres. And, not to mention, but the word choice, rhythm, and rhyme in the numbers are just—well, they make me cry writer’s tears of joy. Just listen to “My Shot” and “Non-Stop.” Let’s just say, Miranda is a very talented, very intelligent individual, and I can’t wait to see the upcoming TV show The Name of the Wind with him doing the music *excited squeal*.

And those are my five main favorite musical theater productions! Have you seen any of these? Which ones have you seen live, on Broadway, or maybe even acted in? What are your top favorite musicals and why? Fangirl rants about Hamilton OK. And if you’re one of those people, what about musicals (theater, movies, etc.) do you dislike? Cheers!

 

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8 thoughts on “My Top 5 Favorite Musicals

  1. I read this whole list looking for Hamilton 😀 I actually got to see it, and it’s even better live. Lin Manuel is just BRILLIANT, isn’t he?? I can’t wait to see what he does with The Name of the Wind.

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    • So awesome you got to see it!!! Did you get to see Miranda playing Hamilton?? They were touring in San Diego close to me, but it wasn’t the original cast. It’s on the bucket list. 😀 He is SO brilliant, I can’t WAIT for The Name of the Wind!!! Thanks for reading!

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      • I didn’t see Miranda, unfortunately. I saw it a couple months after they switched casts. But it was still amazing, and I liked some of the cast even better than the original, if that’s possible.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes! Les Miserables is one of my all-time favorites. I’ve only seen two musicals in person: Les Miserables (AMAZING!) and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (not my personal favorite). There are aspects that I enjoyed seeing them live verses in a show, like the rotating stage for Les Mis. As a kid, I never liked musicals because I didn’t like how the characters dropped everything they were doing to sing a song. I couldn’t wait until they got on with the story. It wasn’t until college when the latest Les Mis came out that I started getting into musicals. One of my recent favorites is, of course, The Greatest Showman. That would be amazing live!

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    • I didn’t know Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was a stage musical!! I love that movie, and it does have lots of singing, so I guess that makes sense. 😀 Did you get to see the Broadway Les Mis?? I haven’t seen anything Broadway, but I have seen youtube videos of Hamilton and the rotating stage. Talk about choreography. XD Musicals used to annoy me too because the excitement would stop as soon they started singing, but now the excitement starts when they sing lol! The Greatest Showman is AMAZING. I’m waiting for the day it gets adapted for stage. Same with La La Land and Moana. 😀 Thanks so much for reading!

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      • I didn’t know Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was performed on stage either until one of my friends, who likes to follow actors on their vlogs, told me about it. I got to see Les Mis with her in London. I’m not sure if that counts as Broadway? But it was wonderful!

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  3. Seconding Les Mis and Joseph! 😀 Other favorites include The Sound of Music (I was in a production in high school), Wicked, Beauty and the Beast (the Broadway is beautiful and so much deeper than the movie(s)), the studio cast recording of the stage version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame (which to my knowledge hasn’t yet been staged in the US), the newish stage version of Anastasia, The Prince of Egypt (one of my very favorite movies and apparently it’s being adapted for the stage(!!!))… so many. XD

    I really need to listen to Hamilton. I’ve been putting it off because it’s really not my style, and I want to like it but I’m afraid I won’t be able to get past that…

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    • I’ve heard of The Prince of Egypt!! After being involved with Joseph, I really want to see that one now. 😀 I haven’t seen Sound of Music (except for the movie), Wicked, Beauty and the Beast, or Anastasia, but one of these days I will see a Broadway show. 😀 (Preferably Hamilton or Dear Evan Hansen. :D) I only got into musicals fairly recently, and now I’m in the stage of new discoveries. (Pun unintended.)

      Hamilton is great! It was never my style either, but if you listen to “Nonstop,” you’ll get a pretty good taste of pretty much all the songs. And “You’ll Be Back” is my absolute favorite song from the musical that I’ve heard yet, and it’s not rap/hip-hop, which is probably the reason why. 😀 You should try “You’ll Be Back and “Nonstop!” Give it a shot! (Wow, I promise I’m not trying with the puns today. XD)
      Thanks for reading!! I’m putting those musicals you mentioned on my To See list. 😀

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