By Katelyn Shibilski
Are you interested in listening to musical theater but don’t know where to start? Look no further. The following musicals are some of my favorites and provide a wide variety for new listeners.
- Phantom of the Opera
Composer: Andrew Lloyd Webber
Synopsis: A phantom man living in the basement of an opera house falls in love with one of the ballet girls, Christine, and is determined to make her the lead, and his wife, whatever the cost. But when Christine falls in love with someone else, the phantom decides he must go past the point of no return to win Christine for himself.
Most memorable song: “The Phantom of the Opera”
- Lion King
Composer: Elton John and Hans Zimmer
Synopsis: Based on the Disney movie, this musical follows the story of a young cub named S
imba finding himself and the strength to rule his pride. Befriended by Timon, a meerkat, and Pumba, a warthog, Simba learns the lesson “Hakuna Matata” and brings order back to the land ruled by Scar, his evil uncle.
Most memorable song: “I Just Can’t Wait to be King”
Composer: Lin-Manuel Miranda
Synopsis: This musical follows the life of Alexander Hamilton, one of the founding fathers. Hamilton immigrates to America and immediately makes a name for himself. He later becomes George Washington’s right hand man, writes 51 essays for the Federalist Papers, and becomes the first secretary of treasury. The style of this musical is inspired by musicals from the Golden Age and rap.
Most memorable song: Non-Stop
Composer: Stephen Schwartz
Synopsis: We all know the story of Dorothy and her friends in the Wizard of Oz, but what happened before Dorothy landed? Wicked tells the story of Elphaba (The Wicked Witch) and
her unlikely friendship with Galinda (The Good Witch). The two friends uncover deep troubles within Oz, which test their friendship and strength.
Most memorable song: Defying Gravity
5. Les Misérables
Composer: Claude-Michel Schönberg
Synopsis: Based off the book by Victor Hugo, Jean Valjean is an escaped convict who finds a new life through God. He takes on a new identity and becomes the mayor of a town. Javert is a policeman in France who is determined to find and capture Valjean, one of the few convicts that ever escaped him. The musical follows the lifeof Valjean, showing his affect on people in revolutionary France, whether he is adopting a dying woman’s daughter or saving a young man’s life on the barricade. Les Misérables teaches the value of love and belief in what you stand for through the stories of “the miserable” in France.
Most memorable song: One Day More
- The Producers
Composer: Mel Brooks
Synopsis: A failed Broadway producer and nerdy accountant are determined to make a flop musical on Broadway when they discover it will make more money. They find the worst possible script, the worst director in town, the worst choreographer in town, and cast the worst singers. However, when a musical intended to offend makes people laugh, it becomes the best new comedy and the producers find themselves in trouble. This comedic musical holds the record for most Tony’s (like the Oscars, but for Broadway) ever won.
Most memorable song: I Wanna Be a Producer
- Fiddler on a Roof
Composer: Jerry Bock
Synopsis: This musical tells the story of a Jewish family living in pre-revolutionary Russia, where Jews and Russians live in a delicate balance. The family’s traditions will be challenged as the daughters grow up and fall in love. This drama captures themes of love, community, and most of all, tradition.
Most memorable song: If I Were a Rich Man
- Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Composer: Stephen Sondheim
Synopsis: Benjamin Barker was jailed by a corrupt judge, but has escaped and returned to exact his revenge as Sweeney Todd. Sweeney teams up with a local baker woman to create a cover as a barber and get closer to the judge. However, when Sweeney realizes he won’t get close as quickly as he thought, he decides to kill people while giving them a haircut and having the baker woman bake them into her meat pies. This dark comedy will keep you guessing until the end.
Most memorable song: A Little Priest
- A Chorus Line
Composer: Marvin Hamlisch
Synopsis: Thousands of dancers show up for a “cattle call” for Broadway dancers. The people are brutally whittled down until there are only 16 people left. Each person is then told to explain their life story and why they love dance. This musical gives a in depth look at the people dancing behind the stars, and just how hard the job can be.
Most memorable song: One
Composer: Jonahtan Larson
Synopsis: This musical tells the story of a
group of friends living in New York City during the AIDS epidemic. Each person has been affected by AIDS in a certain way and the show displays how they cope, how they love, and how they live. With its diverse cast and heart wrenching story, Rent teaches the importance of love without judgement.
Most memorable song: Seasons of Love