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.
Bare: A Pop Opera is a show with an interesting story. The show itself is based on the classic Romeo and Juliet plot, but recontextualised in a Catholic boarding school. The students are performing in a production of the Shakespeare play while simultaneously living out the story themselves. Falling victim to peer pressure, body image issues, drugs, alcohol, and sexual curiosity, everyone at St. Cecilia’s is facing their own coming of age. Bare: A Pop Opera was revised and re-released as Bare: The Musical in 2012, and although there aren’t major plot changes, it was changed from Pop Opera format to the more conventional book musical, which gives more space for character development. I personally prefer the Pop Opera, but the Musical version is still a good listen.
Standout track/s: Portrait of a Girl; Role of a Lifetime; Spring; All Grown Up; Once Upon A Time
You’ll like this if you enjoy: Spring Awakening, Next To Normal, Carrie, The Mad Ones
Working is a show about just that — working. In an office building, a steel mill, or at home with the kids, Working puts work center stage, with each character telling a story of their day, experiences, and struggles. It’s a really fun, interesting, and enjoyable show, and is a great pick for schools or universities due to its revue-like nature. The show was first staged in 1977, and went on to premiere on Broadway in 1978. Since then, it’s seen several revisions – most notably the 2009 revival, which included 2 new songs written by Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Standout track/s: Just a Housewife; It’s an Art; Fathers and Sons; Something to Point To
You’ll like this if you enjoy: Stephen Schwartz, shows like A Chorus Line or I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.
Bukowsical! is loosely based on the life of writer Charles Bukowski. Taking a much more satirical, tongue-in-cheek approach to a biographical musical, using Bukowski’s interest in alcohol, women, and labour as more literal plot points. We move through his childhood, all the way to the peak of his literary career, but please note that I have no idea just how much of it is truly accurate. It’s raunchy, dirty, funny, and downright crude at times – quite possibly the best way to honour the titular writer, even though I’m pretty sure he’d hate it.
Standout track/s: Art is Pain; Love Is (a Dog From Hell); Postal
You’ll like this if you enjoy: Parody musicals like Silence!, biographical musicals, Charles Bukowski (obviously)