Posted in Musings on Musicals 🎵, Theatre

My Favourite Musicals | Musings on Musicals 🎵 #1

Hello! Welcome to the first in my Musings on Musicals, this is a new post series where I will be sharing my thoughts on everything musical theatre-related. It’s basically the content I was doing before I had my year hiatus but under a flashy new name that gives it it’s own special category. To kick this new series off, I wanted to share my absolute favourite shows. And, I mean these are my all-time favourites, not just current favourites.

Now, it would be impossible for me to actually put them into a list so I’ve instead picked my top nine and put them into tiers – everyone loves a good tier ranking system don’t they? So, tier one includes my top three absolute favourite musicals but I can’t put them in a 123 order so just know that I love all three of those equally. Tier Two is the my next three favourites which although I completely adore, just don’t quite make it to tier one and again, within their tier, they aren’t in any particular order and so on. I hope this makes sense, it did in my head!

Tier One

Hamilton – Some say it’s overrated, I say we don’t talk about it enough for my liking. I really do think Hamilton is the best musical ever written. It’s achingly smart and the impact it has made, not only on theatre, but in modern pop culture is an incredible feat.

Rent – This is the musical that catapulted me from musical fan to super-fan. I think I’ll write a whole post about it when I’m feeling sentimental but the first time I encountered Rent was when I watched the film and I cried at four different moments. Rent is a total marmite show, you either love it or hate it and I completely adore it.

Les Miserables – This is another show that really got me into musicals and, well, it’s just a classic, isn’t it? This is a show that all my family love and we used to play the songs on long car journeys. For me, this show is greater than just my love of theatre, it’s also a part of my childhood and reminds me of family memories.

Tier Two

Bare: A Pop Opera – It’s the style of the music – to me more rock than “pop” – and the heartbreaking story that I really love with this one. Also, I don’t think I’ve ever related to a song from a show so much as Nadia’s A Quiet Night At Home. I wish more people knew this show because it deserves so much more love.

Come From Away – I always think of Come From Away as a musical hug. I’ve seen it twice in the West End and can’t wait to see it again once theatres reopen. I can’t help but smile listening to this amazing true story and Me and the Sky is one of my favourite songs.

Jesus Christ Superstar – I’m slightly ashamed that this is the oldest musical on this list as it’s only from 1970 but I’m usually more of a contemporary musical gal. There’s something about this show that I love though. It’s thought-provoking with amazing songs and I couldn’t tell you the amount of times we’ve watched the Glenn Carter version in my house.

Tier Three

Once On This Island – This is a really recent favourite as I only listened to it this year but it has grown so much on me from multiple listens – I wouldn’t be surprised if it doesn’t move up a tier in time. This show is just gorgeous.

In The Heights – Weirdly, when figuring out this list, I was a bit surprised I found myself putting In The Heights this high but I can’t not put it here because it really is one of my favourites. I can’t wait for film next year so that I can rewatch the story whenever I want and more people can discover In The Heights.

The Last 5 Years – Again, I didn’t really expect to put this here and I was actually between this and Bat Boy which I’ve bumped down a tier. It’s the lyrics that I love most of all with The Last 5 Years, especially in songs like Nobody Needs To Know.

Honourable Mentions

Whistle Down the Wind – Although Whistle Down the Wind isn’t an especially high-ranking favourite for me anymore, it was my first ever favourite musical so I think it needs an honourable mention. After seeing a production as a kid I fell in love with the show and it was the first musical I bought to play on my portable CD player.

Bat Boy – As I said earlier, this show nearly made it to tier three but I’ve moved it to honourable mentions instead. I love Bat Boy and it’s my favourite funny musical.

Dear Evan Hansen – It’s here because I felt weird not putting it somewhere, I love Dear Evan Hansen and You Will Be Found is a song that easily brings a tear to my eye.

What are your favourite musicals? Let me know in the comments!

Posted in Theatre

I Saw Come From Away’s First London Performance!

Squee. My first ever time of seeing the first performance of a new London show was a pretty epic experience. Come From Away’s first London performance was on the 30th January 2019 and I saw it from the third row. I had eye contact with the actors at points. I don’t think I’ve never felt more #blessed lol.

So, what was it like? Well, let me tell you, Come From Away is not a show that disappoints. It’s a fantastic celebration of all that’s good in humanity and a reminder that kindness and positivity can still prevail even in the darkest of times. I know that’s kind of a cliché but when you remember that Come From Away is based on a real event and each individual story told in the show is based on a real person’s accounts of what happened to them, this message loses it’s corniness and starts feeling like a real comfort. Especially in light of the grim stories that are being churned out of the news every day.

Come From Away had me laughing (A LOT more than I thought I would, honestly) and holding back the tears too. It was fun and it was heart-breaking and it was simple and complicated all in one. In case you haven’t been able to guess this already, I completely loved it.

I’ve listened to the cast album many times and I’d consider Me and the Sky to be one of my favourite songs ever (it’s, like, a feminist anthem!) so needless to say I was very excited about the seeing the show. The first thing I’ll say is that the cast and the band were amazing. The way the cast so quickly changed characters, which often involved switching accents and rarely involved leaving the stage in-between character changes, was seamless. One moment I was believing Rachel Tucker was Annette, a Newfoundland fantasist, the next, there she was as Captain Beverley Bass, the first female captain of a US commercial airline. The whole cast worked together so well and the comedy and sense of camaraderie that the show thrives on was generated brilliantly by everyone involved. The live band got to shine as well, particularly during Screech In and at the end when they showcased how talented they all were as individuals.

What surprised me the most was how little of the story I knew from listening to the cast album. There’s a whole storyline about Bonny and the animals on the planes (including the only rare Bonobo chimp in Newfoundland which was particularly touching) that you only get from seeing the show itself. I also found myself getting very emotional over certain parts of the story, particularly Hannah’s struggle to find out the fate of her son and her budding friendship with Beulah and the treatment of Ali by those around him. The show doesn’t shy away from important topics and actually makes the audience see issues from different points of view without ever losing the cheery spirit of the performance for too long. This is something I really admire in the writing of Come From Away.

It’s a beautiful show and I feel very lucky to have been there. I bought a Me and the Sky t-shirt on my way in and collected my free “I’m an islander” badge on the way out (they’re only giving out 20,000 of them so that felt a little bit special too). It’s uplifting and thought-provoking and moving and I hope I get to see it again before the end of its run but if I don’t then so be it. I still got to see it and it has to be one of my best theatre experiences ever. Getting to see it on its first London performance when the audience was full of die-hard fans and there was a buzz of excitement throughout the theatre was really special.

Just one question I was left with… why is every West End show now performed on a revolving stage??

What’s it about?

Come From Away is a musical about Operation Yellow Ribbon. After 9/11 happened, the USA closed its airspace and the planes flying in were told to land at Gander International Airport in Newfoundland. The show tells the stories of the plane crew, passengers and the people of Newfoundland who took in 7,000 people for several days until they were able to get back in the air. It’s a heart-warming show with a small cast playing multiple roles to tell the stories of many different individuals involved in the operation.

How can I see it?

Come From Away is currently showing at the Phoenix Theatre in London’s West End and booking until the 25th May.