I’ve been hard pressed the past few days to think of a topic worthy discussing. I know there are many things going on in the world worth commenting on, I have just wanted to think a bit outside of the box, so to speak. I am, by nature, pretty vocal in my politics and beliefs, yet I feel sometimes it can be a bit much someone. So, in an attempt to lure those who may not particularly care for my politics, yet like some of my other writings, tonight I came up with a politically neutral topic. Broadway!!! Yes, I am a theater queen. I admit it. I am proud of it. I have loved Broadway show tunes ever since I can remember. To me, they are the only songs which really resonate with my life. And, call me sentimental, but give me Mame or Hello Dolly over American Idiot any day.
Today, I start my countdown of the top ten Broadway Musicals of all time with numbers 10-6.
This little treasure started life as an Off-Broadway one-act musical back in the early 1980’s called March of the Falsettos. Around 1990, Mr. Finn and Mr. Lapine opened a sequel to it (Off-Broadway again) called, Falsettoland. During the 1991-1992 theater season, they combined the two one-act shows to create Falsettos. This little show, with a cast of seven, earned two Tony Awards; for book of a musical and score of a musical. The show is a period piece, taking place in the early 1980’s at the start of the AIDS epidemic and portrays a family torn apart but somehow brought back together through tragedy. It truly show the meaning of family.
I know what you are all thinking. How could I? Well, I’ll tell you how. This show is amazing. Yes, it is big. Yes, it can be a bit overwhelming at times. However, at its heart is a show about loneliness and yearning and a desire to be wanted. The music is not too original, but the characters are real. They have flaws. This musical shows the dark side of Hollywood and answers the question: What happens when fame fades? Glenn Close won the Tony Award in 1995 for her portrayal of Norma Desmond. A performance which still sends shivers down my back. I am still hoping that Mr. Lloyd Webber is able to bring this gem back to the silver screen.
8. Blood Brothers-Willy Russell
This musical came to NY in 1992 from London’s West End. It’s about twin brothers,separated at birth and how their lives turned out dramatically different, yet completely intertwined with one another. The music is haunting and even though it is a bit melodramatic, it fits with the tone. The show is still playing in London, however American audiences just could not quite grasp the political and economic message it presented.
7. La Cage Aux Folles-Harvey Firestein and Jerry Herman
One of the first main stream musicals about homosexuality. This was a groundbreaking show when it opened in the early 80’s. Based on the French movie of the same name and having been revived three times on Broadway, the songs are magical, the dancing is fun and the characters are human. The showstopper, “I am What I am!” became an instant anthem for the gay rights movement. On the surface it may not appear too deep but when one looks beneath it all, it’s simply a love story and a story about family. What’s not to love?
6. The Producsers-Mel Brooks
The Producers can be described, in my opinion as the Oklahoma of the 21st Century. In recent years many have commented that the Broadway musical is dead. Well, Mel Brooks, made sure to prove those people wrong. His adaptation of his movie by the same title was pure genius. He brought back the song and dance musical which was wasting away in another era. Although I have nothing against the big blockbuster British imports of the late 80’s and early 90’s, it was exceptionally refreshing to see a musical of this caliber created right here in the United States. Finally, Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick were ingenious casting and will forever go down as Max and Leo!
This is the first five of my top ten. I will be releasing my final five decisions in the next few days. Please feel free to comment and let me know what you think should be on this list. What do you think should be in the top five? I love hearing from everyone.