blurb: Having been recently engulfed in the fiery wrath of exams (next week will be hellish-- FOB, econ and MELS), I haven't had even a note to spend on the Flower Duet arrangement. However, on a note I'm willing to spare, I was thinking of the time I was asked by a friend about my favourite musical-- yes, you heard right musical— and why exactly it is that I still can't answer the question.
Don't get me wrong, I enjoy musicals.
Actually, that's a too general of a statement. Let me rephrase: I like musicals that aren't crazy flamboyant pieces of nothing.
So, narrowing down all the good combinations of music and theatre I know, I'm still convinced it's a toss up between the following:
The Phantom of the Opera
Andrew Lloyd Webber, Cameron Mackintosh, Harold Prince and others
Ok. I honestly don't care that people think this musical is overplayed and Andrew Lloyd Webber is overrated. I've seen the show at least four times, and I've enjoyed it every time. The reason? There are many. First of all, the story, written by Leroux in the early twentieth century, translates very well into a theatrical piece. It's got all the tensions and resolutions necessary to keep an interesting tale continuously flowing. That's not enough however. Just having the potential to be a good theatrical piece hardly makes it one. That's where the people behind the Phantom have been so successful. They've managed to recreate the atmosphere, spirit and story incredibly. Secondly, the music. Sheer power. There is drive to every song in the Phantom, and it sweeps you along with it. In fact, I'm again convinced of this as I listen to it right now. Most people can clearly associate the drawn out force of the organ filling the air with the famous theme (Dm…, Dm, Dbm, Cm, B, Bb) with the musical. It's convincing, and the raw drive of it leaves one with no choice but to become engrossed in the tale. Plus, the sweeping down of the big chandelier always gets me.
Favourite songs? Hard to pick and choose.
Alain Boublil, Claude-Michel Schönberg, Cameron Mackintosh (again) and others
I really have no idea where to start with Les Mis. It's such an incredible totality. Sure it takes a while to get through Hugo's book (hah, yes. it is a beast.)— but again, the musical's roots are strong. Like Phantom, the transition to theatre (I would argue) was successful in delivering the essence of the work. In fact, the tale has practically everything! The music from Les Mis is also incredible. I like it for its variety and it's capability to heighten every element of mood the musical tries to create (the lyrics help here). In fact, I don't think there is one song in Les Mis I don't like. I am of the belief that music is one of the best ways to spark emotion, and used well it can be an incredible tool for a creative composer. I used to sit at the piano (still do when I have the time) and play Les Mis songs as best I could, and even when taken out of context as such, considering what the songs were about as I played them, I realized what a great connection the music and story have. I actually am not too sure of what to say about Les Mis. It has to be experienced as is. I'm not sure if I know of anyone that hasn't enjoyed watching it to an extent…
As for favourite songs…I couldn't say with Les Mis either. I can say that the first few Les Mis songs I heard were the ones associated with Eponine (most people can recognized On My Own or Little Fall of Rain) and that playing them over always gets to me. Recently, I've also found myself enjoying some of the more obscure songs even more— Red and Black and Look Down, for example.
Between the two, I can't decide. I hum songs from both, find myself unable to keep myself from playing them and in the end, can't seem to put one aside for the other!
side note: I know a lot of people might say 'But what about West Side Story?' and somesuch. Having acted in West Side, I'm still confident that out of the three, I find it easiest to push aside.