The second part of our blog to discover the best musical of all time takes us back to Broadway and the West End of London to singalong to even more great songs. In part one we looked at The Phantom of the Opera, Wicked and Sweeney Todd, and now we follow the Yellow Brick Road for even more entertainment.
A Chorus Line
The old adage that nothing lasts forever was nearly proved wrong when A Chorus Line first hit Broadway. The first performance was at the Public theater in 1975 and this massively popular musical continued playing to packed audiences for another fifteen years.
There is now a revival of the production which stays true to the story-line of want-to-be hoofers taking auditions to the final eight of a chorus line. The stories unfold of the disappointments and successes of each applicant, until the final number where all hopefuls come together one last time.
Into the Woods
The latest production of this hit performance is by Timothy Sheader who captures the scariness of the forest and the park after dark. The story tells of a frightened boy who has run away from an argument with his parents, musing he thinks up a jumbled fairytale of famous characters all coming together in a new world.
The production is excellent, the audience is transposed into another world of sinister trees, quivering branches, marauding giants and spiteful witches. This new production has, in some ways, elevated the old production into something far more enjoyable.
West Side Story
Broadways adaptation of Romeo and Juliet is back again and is consistent with the 1957 original. Everybody remembers the first time they saw West Side Story and the magical way it portrayed the doomed love affair between a modern reincarnation of Romeo and Juliet.
The Bernstein score is given true reverence by the excellent choreography and dancing, and the New York gangs that represent the two warring families are as good and as effective today as they were over fifty years ago. The new production has been carefully designed for an international audience, but it in no way affects the power of the performances.
Jesus Christ Superstar
This latest London production takes the music from Andrew Lloyd Weber and really dilutes the impact by presenting it in an arena, the O2 in London. All the old biblical characters still remain and the lyrics hold true to the Tim Rice text, but there is something missing.
Jesus Christ Superstar was an immense hit on Broadway in 1971 after the highly successful concept album hit the charts. It was bold and brash, somewhat irreverent but not overly so, and the cast were amazing. It is often hard to recreate an original masterpiece and the new production struggles quite dismally. The main problem is that as a spectacle, it seems to lose both its impact and its way.
The concluding part of our blog of the best musicals of all time travels to Austria and The Sound of Music, takes a road trip across Australia with Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and enters the world of ballet with Billy Elliot.