Spotlight: Wishful Musical Thinking...

June 29, 2015

I think it is fair to say that by now it is glaringly obvious that the Theatre Scene Cpt Gals absolutely adore their musicals. So one evening during load shedding, I entertained myself by making a list of musicals I would like to see in Cape Town (which as a city I truly believe can be the next Broadway or West End) if money and logistics were no issue.


So just for fun, I’m sharing the 10 musicals that jumped to my candle lit mind with you too…


On a work trip to London in 2012 I dragged my boss and two colleagues to the Apollo Victoria Theatre, to go see Wicked​​,​​ ​​which I had been raving about non-stop for years (based only on the Gregory Maguire book, Original Broadway Soundtrack, and the internet updates I religiously checked). I suspect they only agreed to go with to get me to stop ​​talking about it, but hey I take my victories where I can get them. It was an absolute theatre dream come true. Seeing the untold story of the Wizard of Oz come alive in true green glory with a dragon, flying monkeys, and even a floating bubble, was possibly the most amazing musical experience of my life. The fact that I converted three other people, who now also believe that musicals are “Popular”, is a bonus! (Only a Wicked fan will know what I did there… *sneaky grin*)


​​​​The ideal would be to see the legends Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth on stage as Elphaba and Glinda. However, I honestly believe that we have amazing home-grown talent with the stage presence and pipes to match these divas note for note. If I had my way though the only actor who would be allowed to play Fiyero (Elphaba's love interest) would be the uber talented Anton Luitingh. Ok and if placed on the spot to immediately cast a SA Elphaba and Glinda, the songstresses Angela Inglis and Lucy Tops just magically come to mind. Here is hoping that one day our theatre community can defy gravity and make my Wicked dreams come true ;)





















Soho Cinders​​
A theatre friend introduced me to the Soho Cinders soundtrack in I think roughly 2012/2013, and I fell in love with the music, the lyrics and the story. It is that kind of a triple threat! I doubt I would be lying if I said it played in my car for at least a month, non-stop.


With music by George Stiles, and lyrics and book by Anthony Drewe and Elliot Davis, this modern day urban Cinderella story (complete with political scandal) has reviewers calling it “Edgy, Fun and Deliciously Naughty!”. It is just that, with great sing-along-appeal, although for the sake of theatre etiquette I promise I won't. Any great musical however needs that huge earworm number that you end up humming in your sleep. Soho Cinders has a few, but a sure favourite will definitely be "It's Hard To Tell". Do yourself a favour and take a listen to samples of some of the others songs too. You will be hooked!



Something Rotten!

Welcome to the Renaissance! Something Rotten as a musical comedy grabbed my attention with its 10 nominations (including best musical) and best featured actor (Christian Borle as The Bard) win at the 2015 Tony Awards. From what I could gather from Youtube snippets I found it both entertaining and informative. Have you ever wondered where the idea for a musical came from? Something Rotten takes us back all the way to the 1590s. The Bottom Brothers, Nick and Nigel, want to write a hit play to escape the shadow of the Renaissance rockstar, The Bard. The local soothsayer, Nostradamus, luckily has a vision that foretells of a type of theatre where people just randomly break out in song and dance, and so Nick and Nigel are set on their path of writing the world’s first musical. Jealous much Mr Shakespeare?


I would say this is a necessary theatre history lesson that needs to travel the world and make an “educational” stop in Cape Town, don’t you think? With critics describing it as "FRESH, IRREVERENT and HYSTERICAL!", it is worth a little lunch time google stalking, trust me. For this one I can so see Paul Du Toit playing the lead role of Nick Bottom!




















American Idiot​​​​

Now this is heaven in the age of paranoia… where pop punk and musicals ​meet! Would it not be the greatest show ever to not just listen to Green Day’s American Idiot, but also see it brought to life as a sung-through rock opera stage adaptation?! In a nutshell it is the story of three friends who have to choose between their dreams and the safety of suburbia. Charles Isherwood of The New York Times declared it to be “thrilling, emotionally charged, and as moving as any Broadway musical I’ve seen this year!” Not convinced? Check out the cast performance at the 2010 Tony Awards. This is beyond epic! With lyrics by the man, Billie Joe Armstrong, himself, I am convinced this show will be a hit no matter what the theatre loving country or venue. So why not Cape Town then? *wishes on an American rockstar*



Finding Neverland

What would a walk down musical lane be without something whimsical? We all need something that makes us believe… and Finding Neverland appears to be the complete Peter Pan-type escapism package.


Based on the Oscar winning film by the same name, this show tells the story of how Peter became Pan through the eyes of imaginative playwright JM Barrie. It about his journey as a writer and reveals how he found the inspiration to be the man he wanted to be, upon meeting the charming widow Sylvia and her four sons. I would definitely not mind a dreamy trip or two to Neverland. Here is hoping Peter and the boys magically appear in SA one day too...




















Every theatre kid and musical geek would have watched the TV series, Smash. If you don’t know about it, it is time for you to get a Broadway education with a series marathon pronto… why are you even still reading this?! *sigh* 


The making of Bombshell, a musical about Marilyn Monroe's life, is the central plot around which the series revolves, as it explores the behind the scenes love and lives of the creators, directors, producers, actors and even to some extent the critics involved. To see this Smash vision come alive on stage would truly be an amazing musical moment! It was staged in a concert format (featuring some of the songs with cast performances) as a benefit event on 8 June 2015 just before the Tony Awards. After a sold-out “once-off” performance at the Minskoff Theatre on Broadway, it was announced that executive producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron will indeed keep the dream alive and bring Bombshell to a Broadway stage soon as a full musical production. The story of Marilyn will live on! Keep a close eye on this one theatre folks. Who knows, if Bombshell works, maybe Hit List will take on Broadway too... (not going to explain, just watch Smash already!)



Love Never Dies

You can’t call yourself a die-hard Phantom of the Opera “Phan” if you don’t know about Love Never Dies! With this musical, Andrew Lloyd Weber takes you back to 1907, 10 years after the Phantom disappeared from the Paris Opera House … now he lives in New York, Coney Island to be precise. It is definitely on my must-see list, even if just to experience the on stage magic as Christine Daaé (now married to Raoul) rediscovers her love for the Phantom in the electrically-charged world of his creation. Oh, did I mention she has a son and the music of the night is strong within that one too… *big pregnant pause* ... And really, who doesn’t like a good carnival theme? It basically screams big musical number, which from the soundtrack (yes I own this one too) there are many to choose from.


Clearly, in South Africa, there is only one man who can play the Phantom, Jonathan Roxmouth. Let’s maybe just give him the chance to finish up with West Side Story this year at the Artscape Theatre first before trying to convince him to present Mr T with a Love, Never, Dies law of attraction dream board…




















Kinky Boots​​
It’s a shoe thing. This musical had me at the poster; I want those hot red glitter ​​boots! In my pursuit of the red boots, I started listening to the Kinky Boots cast recordings and reading online reviews. It looks like great fun and is currently making its way to the West End too. This new Broadway musical by Harvey Fierstein and Cyndi Lauper, apparently inspired by true events, sees Charlie Price turn to his fabulous drag performer friend Lola for help to save the shoe factory he inherited from his father with some outrageously fashionable ideas. In joining forces they embrace their uniqueness and learn that to fit in all they need to do is stand out. This kinky revolution is definitely on my fabulous musical must-see bucket list!




No musical list is complete without some Disney inspiration. For that Newsies is top of the list! It is based on the 1992 movies that tells the story of the New York newsboys strike of 1899.


With a few added twists the musical adaptation tells the story of the rebellious Jack Kelly, a newspaper delivery boy with a dream of someday escaping the New York streets for a better life. A man on a mission, he rallies his fellow newsboys and takes a stand for their rights. Characteristically feel-good, as one expects from any Disney project, this fast paced, high-energy song and dance stage explosion won best score and best choreography at the 2012 Tony Awards. As someone who lives by a #DontWalkDANCE motto, this is my kind of musical.




















Hedwig and the Angry Inch (with Neil Patrick Harris)

This one will definitely not be everyone's cup-of-tea as it pushes the theatre boundaries as a musical that challenges audience perceptions. Hedwig and the Angry Inch, although described by some as a dark comedy is also a show about a search for love, self-acceptance and according to Rolling Stone, "The best rock musical ever!" Based on the book by John Cameron Mitchell, Hedwig and the Angry Inch tells the story of an East German rock and roll singer named Hedwig, formerly Hansel. It tells her story after she assumes a female persona following a botched sex change operation which she had because she wanted to marry an American man as a way to escape East Germany. This is grundgy, edgy musical theatre at its best.


My true musical dream would be to see it with Neil Patrick Harris in the lead, strutting his stuff in fishnets and heels. So if he could pop on over to Cape Town for a legen-wait-for-it-Neil-is-the-awesomest-dary show or two, I think I may just faint and have to be resuscitated by Doogie Howser, M.D. Ok, if Neil can’t play it, I have to agree with theatre critic, Marina Griebenow, who always says the Chris Chameleon will be perfect as Hedwig. I could definitely by into that casting choice.


These are the 10 musicals I came up with, while sitting in the Eskom sponsored dark. I didn’t list musicals like Phantom of the Opera, Cats, Les Misérables, Jesus Christ Superstar, Rocky Horror Show, War Horse and Little Shop of Horrors, purely because South African audiences have already had the pleasure of seeing these staged at a grand scale. But don’t get me wrong, I will definitely be first in line to buy my ticket if any of these come back to a Cape Town theatre soon!


So which internationally acclaimed musicals do you dream of seeing staged for our local enjoyment? Let us know and let’s keep the #lovetheatre dream alive together ... until our dreams become theatre realities!


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