Going to the theatre is one of my greatest pleasures in life; there is nothing more gratifying than watching amazing actors perform beautiful pieces of work. Theatre has opened me up to new experiences, new music, and most importantly it is something I share with friends. We laugh together, we cry together, we spent hours waiting in the cold and the wet waiting for tickets for our favourite show, I’ve even crossed the Atlantic to meet up with friends to watch shows.
I love going to see a wide range of different pieces of theatre, however it has be said I am a total musicals nerd and I make no apologies for that. So in honour of Thanksgiving here are the musicals that I am most grateful for.
The Tony and Olivier award winning musical Kinky Boots, based on the movie of the same name, tells the story of a Northampton shoe factory which is saved when it starts to make shoes for “women who are men”. The musical, which features songs by Cyndi Lauper, written by Harvey Feirstein, with Jerry Mitchell as director and choreographer, is based on a true story and the rags to riches story is definitely something that attracts audiences across the world. I knew of the show before it opened at London’s Adelphi Theatre in August 2015, and I was lucky to be in the audience for the first preview (as was Lauper herself) and boy I was hooked.
The music is stunning, the story is wonderful, and well what’s not to love about watching seven stunning drag queens performance after performance; and here in London I think we definitely have the best Lola in the Olivier Award winning Matt Henry, and her angels are just perfect. The amount of times I have seen this show proves how important it is to me, more than 50 but less than 100 times.
My love for the show is due in no small part to the fact that I share my love of this show with so many amazing people, people who I now count as some of the best friends I have; after all I wouldn’t spend 17 hours on the street outside a theatre with anyone – as Charlie Price says “It’s not just a factory. This is my family”. Kinky Boots has brought some of the kindest people into my life, and for that I will be eternally grateful, and I can see myself following the careers of many of the performers from the original cast for a long time. In fact I already am !
The musical teaches a group of blue collar factory workers about acceptance and in this current climate, any musical that is doing that can only be a great thing, so “just be” and if you can watch this musical and I dare you not to walk out humming.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Anyone who knows me will know that John Cameron Mitchell’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch is probably my number one musical ever. I have flown to New York purposely to watch the revival when Darren Criss was playing the genderqueer East German punk rock star; I have watched the movie adaptation of the show more times than I can count, including once in the same movie theatre as John Cameron Mitchell. I could probably recite the whole show and well don’t get me started on the play count on the THREE different versions of the soundtrack I own.
The music, written by Stephen Trask, is some of the most beautiful I have ever heard and I love the fact that Hedwig and the Angry Inch isn’t afraid to stretch boundaries for example on the current leg of the US tour, Tony winner Lena Hall plays Hedwig one show a week. The show when you watch it is loud, in your face, funny, and yet tear jerking all in one beautiful denim package.
Ladies and gentlemen, whether you like it or not Hedwig and the Angry Inch is another musical that is just what we all need in the world we currently live in. After all who would have thought that an underground rock musical with a protagonist living with the after effects of a botched sex change operation would become a Broadway smash and clean up at the Tony Awards; with Neil Patrick Harris winning Best Actor in a Musical, Lena Hall winning Best Featured Actress in a Musical in 2014 and John Cameron Mitchell winning a Special Tony in 2015.
In The Heights
Mention the name Lin-Manuel Miranda and everyone automatically thinks Hamilton, but back in 2008 Miranda premiered the musical about 3 days in the life of a group of people living in Washington Heights. The musical opened at the Richard Rogers which of course would become the home of Hamilton a few years later.
Miranda played Usnavi, the lead character who runs a corner bodega; and the musical was a runaway success and was nominated for 13 Tony awards and won 4 at the 2009 awards including Best New Musical, and Best Original Score. The original cast of In The Heights included now recognisable names such as Christopher Jackson, who has just left the cast of Hamilton as George Washington, and he played the “romantic” lead Benny. A number of the Broadway casts have gone on to star in various productions of Hamilton.
The music in the show is infectious and when you listen to the soundtrack or see the show, it is definitely clear to see that Miranda has a definite sound which also comes through in Hamilton.
The show opened in London in 2014 and moved to its current West End home, Kings Cross Theatre North, in 2015 and the show won 3 awards at 2016 Olivier Awards including Outstanding Achievement in Music for Miranda himself. The London cast which sees Sam Mackay taking on the lead role as Usnavi is incredible and the West End will be a lesser place when the show closes on January 8, 2017. I have had the pleasure of watching this show a lot and have multiple trips planned before the show closes next year.
It’s the story of a guy meeting a girl over a hoover that has lost it’s sook. This bittersweet love story tells the story of Guy who meets Girl, they fall in love; but they realise they will never be together. The Tony and Olivier award winning musical is based on the 2007 movie of the same name, and has some of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard. I defy anyone not to cry when you hear “Falling Slowly (Reprise)”, I mean I sobbed every time I saw the show (and that was a LOT).
Again with so many of the musicals that make this list, I made some brilliant friends during my time watching Once, and it introduced me to a number of actors who I am still watching today in different productions. There is something very beautiful about a show that can bring amazing people into your life and even after the show has gone (as most of them do) you still have the people.