Welcome back to Musical Mondays! My name is Gabi and I am a self-confessed musical junkie.
In case you missed the first post, 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.
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.
This week, we have some contemporary faves…
Lysistrata Jones takes its plot from Greek playwright Aristophanes’ Lysistrata. In short, it’s about the women of Athens rebelling by refusing to have sex with their lovers and (or!) husbands until the war ends. The play itself is a hysterical commentary on gender and sex. In the musical, the plot is flipped so that the men are a basketball team and the women cheerleaders – the war revolves around the fact that the team hasn’t won a game in 30 years. A hilarious twist on the original play, the music is wonderful and with Patti Murin in the titular role (who originated the role of Anna in the Broadway production of Frozen), the show is super fun, empowering, feminist show and a great listen if you really wanna get pumped up.
Standout track/s: Give it Up!; Where Am I Now?; You Go Your Way.
You’d like this if you enjoy…: Bring it On!; Legally Blonde
jon & jen is a two-person show with music by Andrew Lippa and lyrics by Tom Greenwald. It focuses around the relationship between a brother and sister, and subsequently, the sister’s response to losing her brother in the second act. A true display of how just two actors can transport you to another world, jon & jen is a beautiful exploration of human emotion and relationships.
Standout track/s: Dear God?; Run and Hide; Every Goodbye is Hello
You’ll like this if you enjoy…: Big Fish (also with music by Lippa); Carolee Carmello
A New Brain is a semi-autobiographical show about the life of the writer, William Finn (he wrote Falsettos!). Throughout his life, he dealt with arteriovenous malformation, a tangle of blood vessels in the brain, which causes seizures and issues with movement, vision, and speech. The show depicts how Finn used music to cope with his disorder, and is a truly beautiful product of personal struggle and art as a catharsis. Finn is a personal favourite composer of mine, and I’m sure I’ll mention other shows of his in future posts. However, A New Brain strikes a nerve for me personally (and I’m sure will for some others) – music is an incredible tool for dealing with sadness, loss, and tragedy. Finn wrote parts of the music shortly after being discharged from hospital, and when coupled with James Lapine’s gorgeously eloquent lyrics, the entire musical is immensely touching. Plus, the revival recording has Jonathan Groff, Christian Borle, Jenni Barber, and Ana Gasteyer… need I say more?
Standout track/s: Heart and Music; Sailing; Change
You’ll like this if you enjoy…: William Finn as a composer; Jonathan Groff