The Best Musicals of all Time

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The Best Musicals of all Time

The first piece that fits the modern concept of a musical was

The first piece that fits the modern concept of a musical was "The Black Crook" which was first performed in New York on September 12th, 1866. It featured both singing and dancing as a means of telling the story, which is why it's largely considered the first musical.

The first piece that fits the modern concept of a musical was "The Black Crook" which was first performed in New York on September 12th, 1866. It featured both singing and dancing as a means of telling the story, which is why it's largely considered the first musical.

The first piece that fits the modern concept of a musical was "The Black Crook" which was first performed in New York on September 12th, 1866. It featured both singing and dancing as a means of telling the story, which is why it's largely considered the first musical.

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Musical theater has been a major form of entertainment for over a hundred years. The first piece that fits the modern concept of a musical was “The Black Crook” which was first performed in New York on September 12, 1866. It featured both singing and dancing as a means of telling the story, which is why it’s largely considered the first musical.

Since then, hundreds of musicals have been written and performed. They fit into almost any genre: action, horror, adventure, comedy, romance, etc. Musicals are one of the few things everyone, no matter what age or gender, can enjoy. My dad and I have different tastes in entertainment, but we went to see “Les Miserables” together and we both had a lot of fun.

However, just like any other form of entertainment, some are better than others. Some people have incredibly strong opinions when it comes to musicals. Many people adamantly say “Hairspray” is the best musical ever, while plenty of others hate it.

So what makes one musical great and another awful?

A lot of it depends on personal taste. If someone is not a fan of blood and gore, they aren’t going to enjoy”Sweeney Todd”. If someone loves all things macabre, “Sweeney Todd” is an awesome choice.

Other factors include some base elements of storytelling that don’t just apply to musicals. If the plot isn’t gripping or the characters aren’t interesting, a musical is not going to do very well.

The audience needs to be invested in the plot and characters. They should want what the character wants as badly as the character does. That can be difficult to do for some writers.

A great example of this is Jack Kelly in “Newsies”. Jack Kelly leads the union of the newspaper boys in New York against Pulitzer, the owner of the World. He demands the young workers be treated fairly and taken seriously and as he reaches so hard for it, the audience finds themselves reaching for it too.

The emotional factor aids in creating a successful musical as well.

“A lot of good musicals deal with heavy subject matter,” said junior Alex Tada. “‘Waitress’ deals with toxic relationships and borderline domestic abuse. ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ deals with death and the loss of loved ones.”

People often enjoy shows they can relate to. When one can identify with a character or something they struggle with, they are drawn into it. Again, they want what the character wants as much as the character wants it.

The whole thing needs to be visually appealing as well. The setting is often interesting and the set is carefully constructed. Some musicals use bright colors that pop and add to the cheerful tone of that story. Others use muted colors if it is more on the dismal side. Nevertheless, there must be plenty of attention to detail.

Costuming is a critical factor in any show. The costumes must match the time period the story is set in. Costumes also help the audience distinguish different characters from each other. Especially watching something in a large theater full of people, seeing small details like the specific features on a persons face is next to impossible. That’s also the reason cast members wear a lot of makeup on stage.

Of course, a musical also has to have a great score to be successful. The story is important, but it isn’t just a play. The music, and often times, the dancing, has to be appealing and still carry the story. The score should sweep the audience away and make them want to dance and sing along.

“The more songs I enjoy singing from a show positively correlates with how much I like it,” said language arts teacher Joann Cassano.

“Les Miserables” has a fantastic score that’s emotional and powerful. There isn’t a single spoken line in the entire show. You can feel Marius’ pain during “Empty Chairs and Empty Tables”.

So what are the best musicals of all time?

It’s a question that theater nerds like myself have debated aggressively. While I cannot speak to everyone’s tastes, I have compiled a list of the best and worst musicals based on my own enjoyment of them and the factors above.

Top Five Best Musicals:

1) Les Miserables

“Les Miserables” is based off a book with the same title. It’s the story of poverty and strife in France and it follows a man named Jean Valjean, an ex-convict.

The story itself is beautiful and deeply emotional; the score follows the same theme. Every time I watch it, there are certain songs that give me chills.

2) Wicked

The first time I saw “Wicked,” it was on Broadway in New York. The show was incredible. “The Wizard of Oz” is a classic story, and this new take on it was intriguing.

Another reason I rank this one so high is the costumes. They were extravagant and eye-catching, and I still remember them clearly.

3) Matilda

“Matilda” is a story that I, and many others, grew up with. The original book was written by Roald Dahl. The main character is a little girl who is incredibly smart, but never gets the credit she deserves from her parents or her school.

This is a feeling many kids can relate to: feeling like they aren’t getting paid enough attention or are being treated unfairly. That is part of the reason young audiences in particular enjoy this one. It also has fun, upbeat music that gets a person dancing and singing along.

4) Chicago

“Chicago” is a classic musical about a young wannabe jazz singer who is arrested for murder. It’s full of dark humor and interesting characters, and the music is catchy and well known.

“Chicago” makes this list, not only because of my own love for it, but its general popularity. It’s much like “Les Miserables” in that everyone knows and loves it.

5) Hamilton

“Hamilton” is one of the most popular musicals on this list. For at least a year, it seemed like everyone was talking about it. Some people would argue it’s overrated. I understand that point of view, however, it’s one of my personal favorites.

It’s a fun take on American history. The songs are fun and catchy, and more than a few times, I’ve caught myself singing them while studying for an AP U.S. History test to remember certain details.

Top Three Worst Musicals:

1) Spiderman the Musical

This musical remake of novels has been known to be “good.” Two of the musicals above were remakes of novels. However, certain genres don’t always translate well, and superhero stories are under that category. When on Broadway, “Spiderman the Musical” received consistently low ratings. When I questioned peers about it, I consistently got responses like “Seriously? That exists?”

2) Cats

“Cats” is the fourth-longest-running show on Broadway. It made a lot of money and was very popular, but many people I asked didn’t enjoy it. I wasn’t all that invested in the plot and I can barely remember the tune of any of the songs.

3) Carrie

“Carrie” was originally a horror novel by Stephen King. As previously discussed, some genres don’t make good musicals, and horror is one of them. Carrie is rated low, although the series “Riverdale” did do a musical episode based on the show.

Honorable Mention:

Sweeney Todd

I absolutely love “Sweeney Todd.” It’s a fascinating story and the theatrical element is awesome. I love the dull tones, the black and white theme and how it contrasts with anything that’s red, like fire or blood. However, it isn’t one of the more popular ones. Most people aren’t aware it exists.

Most Controversial:

The Sound of Music

“The Sound of Music” was a difficult one to pinpoint. Equal amounts of people said it was their favorite or least favorite musical. It’s definitely a classic, however, I personally find it a little bit slow and old fashioned.

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