Musical Mondays #14

Welcome back to Musical Mondays!

In case you’re new here, this column is a peek into the depths of the Musical Theatre archive, where I will showcase a few musicals that I think deserve a little more love. You can read my past posts by clicking here!

They’re the smaller, niche shows that not everyone will be familiar with – and that’s the point! They deserve just as much love as the big name shows, so every second Monday I’ll list a few, give you some comparisons, and a few examples of songs for you to check out.

The original Off-Broadway cast of A Strange Loop | Photo by Joan Marcus

A Strange Loop is one of the most interesting musicals I have ever come across. With music, lyrics, and book all written by Michael R. Jackson, the show follows Usher (named for his occupation as an usher at The Lion King on Broadway) as a fat, gay, Black writer trying to manoeuvre through the white heteronormative world. The show opened Off-Broadway in July 2019 and was honoured with a slew of awards, including 2 Lucille Lortel Awards, 5 Drama Desk Awards, 2 Obie Awards, and 6 Outer Critic’s Circle honours. Most impressively, it also took out the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, a category only 10 musicals have won since the award’s inception. It’s funny, heartfelt, political, and downright brilliant; and I can only hope that the show opens on Broadway once theatre is back up and running in NYC.

Standout track/s: Intermission Song; Today; Boundaries; A Strange Loop

You’ll like this if you enjoy: This show is truly like nothing else. Take my word and just give it a listen. 

Click here to listen to the A Strange Loop cast recording.

The cast of The Last Ship | Photo by Matthew Murphy

The Last Ship has music and lyrics by Sting, and is based on his own childhood experiences. It tells the story of a young boy and his relationship with his father, juxtaposed with the collapse of the shipbuilding industry in Wallsend. The show received two Tony nominations (for Best Score and Best Orchestrations), and has some truly beautiful music – the score is mostly original songs, but does feature a few tracks from past Sting albums. It melds folk music with pop and is a really lovely surprise of a show.

Standout track/s: The Last Ship; All This Time; Hymn

You’ll like this if you enjoy: Billy Elliot, Sting music

Click here to listen to the The Last Ship cast recording.

Cagney tells the story of the acclaimed titular performer, James Cagney, and his rise to fame in Hollywood. The story of his career is absolutely fascinating, moving through Vaudeville, to Broadway, and went on to become one of the most iconic film stars of his time. With book by Peter Colley, and music and lyrics by Christopher McGovern and Bobby Creighton, the show features some classic George Cohan favourites, and is a true must-see for any fan of classic Hollywood movie musicals.

Standout track/s: Black and White; Give My Regards To Broadway; Some Other Guy

You’ll like this if you enjoy: James Cagney, Golden age Broadway shows

Click here to listen to the Cagney cast recording.

Gabi Bergman

Gabi Bergman is a Melbourne-based performer and educator. She holds a Double Arts degree in Theatre Studies and Film/Screen Studies and a Master of Teaching (Secondary Education). Gabi has always been an avid lover of theatre, specifically musicals, and spends way too much money than she’d like to admit on tickets. Her most prized possession is her crate of theatre programs.

Gabi Bergman

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