10 best musicals of all time
Many musicals have warmed hearts and sold-out countless amounts of crowds with their whimsical lyrics and amazing story lines. Over the years, a few musicals have stood out and have forever changed musical history. Many of these great musicals have been turned into box office hits and their soundtracks have reached topped the charts. Here are 10 of the best musicals of all time.
Wicked is a musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and a book by Winnie Holzman. It is based on the 1995 Gregory Maguire novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, a parallel novel of the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz and L. Frank Baum’s classic story The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The musical is told from the perspective of the witches of the Land of Oz; its plot begins before and continues after Dorothy’s arrival in Oz from Kansas and includes several references to the 1939 film and Baum’s novel. Wicked tells the story of two unlikely friends, Elphaba (the Wicked Witch of the West) and Glinda (the Good Witch of the North), who struggle through opposing personalities and viewpoints, rivalry over the same love-interest, reactions to the Wizard’s corrupt government, and, ultimately, Elphaba’s public fall from grace.
The original Broadway production won three Tony Awards and 6 Drama Desk Awards whilst its cast album received a Grammy Award. It has since celebrated its ninth anniversary on October 30, 2012, making Wicked the 12th longest-running Broadway show in history.
Mamma Mia! is a stage musical written by British playwright Catherine Johnson, based on the songs of ABBA, composed by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, former members of the band. The title of the musical is taken from the group’s 1975 chart-topper Mamma Mia. Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, who composed the original music for ABBA, were involved in the development of the show from the beginning.
The musical includes such hits as Super Trouper, Lay All Your Love On Me, Dancing Queen, Knowing Me, Knowing You, Take A Chance On Me, Thank You for the Music, Money, Money, Money, The Winner Takes It All, Voulez Vous and SOS. Over 42 million people have seen the show, which has grossed $2 billion dollars worldwide since its 1999 debut. A film adaptation starring Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan and Amanda Seyfried was released in July 2008.
The Lion King
The Lion King is a musical based on the 1994 Disney animated film, with music by Elton John and lyrics by Tim Rice along with the musical score created by Hans Zimmer with choral arrangements by Lebo M. Directed by Julie Taymor. The musical features actors in animal costumes as well as giant, hollow puppets. The show is produced by Disney Theatrical.
The musical debuted July 8, 1997, in Minneapolis, Minnesota at the Orpheum Theatre, and was an instant success before premiering on Broadway at the New Amsterdam Theater on October 15, 1997 in previews with the official opening on November 13, 1997. On June 13, 2006, the Broadway production moved to the Minskoff Theatre to make way for the musical version of Mary Poppins, where it is still running after more than 5,350 performances. It is now Broadway’s fifth longest-running show in history. As of April 2012, it is the highest grossing Broadway show of all time, having grossed $853.8 million.
Rent is a rock musical with music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson based on Giacomo Puccini’s opera La bohème. It tells the story of a group of impoverished young artists and musicians struggling to survive and create in New York’s Lower East Side in the thriving days of Bohemian Alphabet City, under the shadow of HIV/AIDS.
On Broadway, Rent gained critical acclaim and won a Tony Award for Best Musical among other awards. The Broadway production closed on September 7, 2008 after a 12-year run of 5,124 performances, the ninth-longest-running Broadway show at the time. The production grossed over $280 million.The success of the show led to several national tours. In 2005, it was adapted into a motion picture that features most of the original cast members.
The Phantom of the Opera
The Phantom of the Opera is a musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber, based on the French novel Le Fantôme de l’Opéra by Gaston Leroux. It is considered by many to be the most successful musical of all time and is also the longest running show in Broadway history.
The Phantom of the Opera opened in the West End in 1986, and on Broadway in 1988. It won the 1986 Olivier Award and the 1988 Tony Award for Best Musical, and Michael Crawford won the 1986 Olivier and 1988 Tony for Best Performance by an Actor in a Musical. It is the longest-running Broadway show by a wide margin (celebrating its 10,000th performance on Broadway on February 11, 2012), the second longest-running West End musical, and the third longest-running West End show overall.
With total worldwide box office receipts of over $5.1 billion including a record-setting Broadway gross of US $845 million, Phantom is the highest-grossing entertainment event of all time and the most financially successful theatrical show in history. It’s been seen by over 130 million people in 145 cities in 27 countries by 2011, the most successful entertainment project in history.
Cats is a musical composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber, based on Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot. It introduced the song standard Memory. Cats first opened in the West End in 1981 and then on Broadway in 1982, each time directed by Trevor Nunn and choreographed by Gillian Lynne; it won numerous awards, including both the Laurence Olivier Award and the Tony Award for Best Musical. The London production ran for twenty-one years and the Broadway production ran for 18 years, both setting long-run records.
The show tells the story of a tribe of cats called the Jellicles and the night they make what is known as “the Jellicle choice” and decide which cat will ascend to the Heaviside Layer and come back to a new life. Cats is the second longest-running show in Broadway history, and the fourth longest-running West End musical. It has been performed around the world many times and has been translated into more than 20 languages. In 1998 Cats was turned into a made-for-television film.
Chicago is a musical set in Prohibition-era Chicago. The music is by John Kander with lyrics by Fred Ebb and a book by Ebb and Bob Fosse. The story is a satire on corruption in the administration of criminal justice and the concept of the “celebrity criminal”. The musical is based on a 1926 play of the same name by reporter Maurine Dallas Watkins about actual criminals and crimes she reported on.
The original Broadway production opened June 3, 1975, at the 46th Street Theatre and ran for 936 performances. Chicago‘s 1996 Broadway revival holds the record for the longest-running musical revival and is the fourth longest-running show in Broadway history. As of October 2012, it has played more than 6,600 performances. The musical ran in London’s West End for nearly 15 years, becoming the longest-running American musical in West End history, and it has enjoyed several tours and international productions. The Academy Award-winning 2002 film version of the musical was directed by Rob Marshall and starred Renée Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere, John C. Reilly and Queen Latifah.
Hairspray is a musical with music by Marc Shaiman, lyrics by Scott Wittman and Shaiman and a book by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan, based on the 1988 John Waters film Hairspray. The songs include 1960s-style dance music and “downtown” rhythm and blues. In 1962 Baltimore, Maryland, teenager Tracy Turnblad’s dream is to dance on The Corny Collins Show, a local TV dance program based on the real-life Buddy Deane Show. When Tracy wins a role on the show, she becomes a celebrity overnight. She then launches a campaign to integrate the show. Hairspray is a social commentary on the injustices of parts of American society in the 1960s.
The musical’s original Broadway production opened on August 15, 2002 and won eight Tony Awards out of 13 nominations. It ran for over 2,500 performances and closed on January 4, 2009. Hairspray has also had national tours, a London West End production, and numerous foreign productions and was adapted as a 2007 musical film.
Guys and Dolls
Guys and Dolls is a musical with music and lyrics by Frank Loesser and book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows. It is based on The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown and Blood Pressure, two short stories by Damon Runyon, and also borrows characters and plot elements from other Runyon stories, most notably Pick the Winner. Premiering on Broadway in 1950, the original production ran for 1200 performances and won the Tony Award for Best Musical. The musical has had several Broadway and London revivals, as well as a 1955 film adaptation starring Jean Simmons and Frank Sinatra.
Les Misérables, known to many as Les Mis, is a sung-through musical play based on the novel of the same name by French poet and playwright Victor Hugo. Set in early 19th-century France, it is the story of Jean Valjean, a French peasant, and his never ending quest for redemption after serving 20 years in jail for having stolen a loaf of bread for starving relatives. Valjean decides to break his parole and start his life anew after a kindly Bishop inspires him to, but he is relentlessly tracked down by a police inspector named Javert. Along the way, Valjean and a slew of characters he becomes entangled with get swept into a revolutionary period in France, where a group of young idealists make their last stand at a street barricade.
It continues to run in the West End as of late 2012, and has been running continuously there since October, 1985. It is the second longest-running musical in the world and the third longest-running show in Broadway history. It is the longest-running musical in the West End followed by The Phantom of the Opera. In 2010, it played its ten-thousandth performance in London and the production continues to run, as of 2012.
The show was nominated for 12 Tony Awards and won eight, including Best Musical and Best Original Score. A film version is set for release December 2012 starring Hugh Jackman, Amanda Seyfried, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway.
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