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.
Side Show is based on the lives of Daisy and Violet Hilton, conjoined twins who became famous performers in the early 1930s. The show follows the struggles the sisters face when thrust into the limelight, and the decisions they must make as a team to overcome them. The original Broadway production featured Emily Skinner and Alice Ripley as Daisy and Violet respectively, but closed after just 91 performances. The 2014 revival suffered a similar fate, closing after just 56 performances. Although the show has not seen much success on the big stage, it’s a favorite of regional, independent, community, and university productions.
Standout track/s: Come Look At The Freaks; Who Will Love Me As I Am?; Tunnel of Love; I Will Never Leave You
You’ll like this if you enjoy: Cabaret, 1930s style musicals, circus-themed shows like Barnum and The Greatest Showman.
Disaster! is a musical send-up of 1970s disaster films, written by Seth Rudetsky and Jack Plotnick. It takes place in late 70s Manhattan, where the Barracuda, the first ever floating casino and disco is opening. In true disaster-film fashion, an earthquake strikes (among other things), and utter hell breaks loose. And, of course, the show is a jukebox musical, with its score made up of iconic disco tunes from the time. Disaster! saw several Off-Off and Off-Broadway seasons before finally making its Broadway premiere in 2016, with an absolutely stacked cast- Kerry Butler, Roger Bart, Faith Prince, Adam Pascal, Kevin Chamberlin, and Seth himself, just to name a few. The show is part funny, part ridiculous, and all of a good time. It’s a great ‘gateway’ musical for those who may not be as deep in the canon as the rest of us.
Standout track/s: Hot Stuff; Do You Wanna Make Love?; Feelings.
You’ll like this if you enjoy: Parody-style shows like The Rocky Horror Show and Reefer Madness.
Steel Pier is a gem from powerhouse writing duo Kander and Ebb (of Chicago and Cabaret fame). The period comedy focuses on a marathon dancing competition in Atlantic City, where champion Rita Racine is left partnerless, and is forced to pair with a mysterious new man. The show is a love letter to the 1930s dance scene, and is filled with absolutely gorgeous tunes. Steel Pier did reasonably well in its 76 performance Broadway run, but was overshadowed at the Tony awards by Titanic. It’s definitely not as strong and polished as the writing teams’ other work, but it’s a good laugh of a show. And, fun fact, it marked Kristin Chenoweth’s Broadway debut!
Standout track/s: Everybody’s Girl; Lovebird; Two Little Words
You’ll like this if you enjoy: Kander and Ebb shows (Chicago, Cabaret, The Rink, Curtains), 1930s musicals like Anything Goes and Girl Crazy.