7 Unforgettable Musicals on BroadwayHD
7 Unforgettable Musicals on BroadwayHD
By: Brian Scott Lipton
Ask many theatergoers and they will immediately tell you that nothing is as satisfying as a great musical. It’s not only, as Irving Berlin wrote, “the costumes, the makeup, the scenery, the props,” that make this art form so special; it is also the glorious scores of these gems from the Great White Way that make us want to treasure every moment. Although the curtain has come down and the closing notice has been posted on these seven shows, we are thrilled they can all be viewed (and heard) on BroadwayHD.
As befits one of its most popular songs, watching “Candide” can feel like living in the best of all possible worlds. The brilliant story, both silly and satiric, originated by great French author Voltaire and adapted by the one-and-only Lillian Hellman, relates the star-crossed romance between the naïve Candide (Paul Groves) and the once-innocent Cunegonde (Kristin Chenoweth.) The lush score by Leonard Bernstein (with clever lyrics by John Latouche, Richard Wilbur, and Dorothy Parker) borrows from opera, operetta and musical theater for a dazzling effect. This rare musical is indeed a jewel that glitters!
“It’s the little things you do together,” sings one of the many “happily” married couples in Stephen Sondheim and George Furth’s landmark 1970 musical “Company.” Fortunately, you can watch this unforgettable show by yourself, with your partner or in a large group and still adore every minute. Five decades later, the question of whether perennial bachelor Bobby can commit to another person—to fully embrace “Being Alive”—remains as relevant as ever, and those “good and crazy people” who love him are just as vibrant as they ever were! There are two brilliant versions of the show on BroadwayHD, so if you’ve never seen it, please let “Company” come into your life.
The year after “Company,” Stephen Sondheim (along with book writer James Goldman) continued his exploration of marriage with “Follies,” one of his finest and most daring achievements. Set at a one-time reunion of the Weissman Follies, this provocative musical focuses on the travails of two unhappily wed couples while also paying tribute to the golden days of Vaudeville. With such show-stopping numbers as “Broadway Baby,” “Losing My Mind” and “Could I Leave You?,” it’s little wonder that theater fans are thrilled that “Follies” is still here to watch over and over.
‘Kiss Me, Kate’
William Shakespeare could never have imagined he would become such a major force in musical theater, but the Bard’s work has informed everything from “West Side Story” to “Something Rotten.” But there are few shows like “Kiss Me, Kate” Cole Porter’s delicious romp juxtaposing a musical version of Shakespeare’s comedy “The Taming of the Shrew” with the backstage drama of a production. The cast is mostly Fred and Lilli, a pair of warring (still-in-love) exes. Few shows have been both as hot and utterly cool as this 1948 masterpiece.
Arguably the most epic musical ever created, the 1987 blockbuster “Les Misérables” ran for 16 years in the first of its three Broadway incarnations. That’s not a surprise as most viewers couldn’t help but be swept up in this sung-through adaptation of Victor Hugo’s classic novel. Set in 19th century France, the show tells the story of reformed bread thief Jean Valjean trying to raise his adopted daughter Collette and help his fiery countrymen, all the while being pursued by the single-minded policeman Javert. The ravishing score (including the iconic “I Dreamed a Dream” and “Castle on a Cloud”) is a continuous delight for the ears.
Race relations in the 1950s has been the subject of many well-known plays, but Joe DiPietro and David Bryan (a member of rock super-group Bon Jovi) tackled the topic to Tony Award-winning effect in the soulful musical “Memphis.” This singular show tells the story of DJ Huey Calhoun, a poor white guy who not only makes his way into the city’s segregated clubs (and later introduces “race music” to the general public) but falls in love with talented African-American singer Felicia Farrell. It reminds us, no matter what, that “love will stand when all else fails.”
‘She Loves Me’
A love letter to love letters, Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick’s ravishing 1963 musical “She Loves Me” is as intoxicating as the perfumes on the shelves of Maraczek’s, the emporium in Budapest that serves as the show’s main setting. There, co-workers Georg and Amalia bicker all day, unaware they are each other’s pen pals and source of romantic infatuation. Fortunately, tensions soften (and “Vanilla Ice Cream” is eaten) before the truth is finally revealed and a happy ending ties everything up in a brightly-colored bow.
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