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 Wedding Singer is based on the 1998 film of the same name. It follows Robbie, the titular wedding singer, as he falls in love with the presently engaged Julia. The show is a fabulous trip back in time to the 80s, and is filled with hilarious songs – including some from the original film (a highlight being “Somebody Kill Me”). The original Broadway production saw Stephen Lynch as Robbie and Laura Benanti as Julia, and scored 5 Tony nominations and 8 Drama Desk nominations in its run, and an Australian tour is set for 2021. It’s a total good time show, and has seen many worldwide tours, college, and community theatre productions.
Standout track/s: Someday; Come Out of the Dumpster; If I Told You
You’ll like this if you enjoy: The Prom; musicals set in the 80s such as Footloose and Fame; the original The Wedding Singer
Based on a 1937 Hungarian play, She Loves Me tells a story that may be quite familiar to many. Parfumerie by Miklós László acts as the basis for the show, as well as several film adaptations including The Shop Around The Corner, In The Good Old Summertime (starring Judy Garland), and most famously, You’ve Got Mail (with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan). The plot sees Georg and Amalia, employees at Maraczek’s Parfumerie, unknowingly become eachother’s pen pals despite hating one another in real life. The music and lyrics are by legendary duo Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock (Fiorello!, Fiddler on the Roof), and book by Joe Masteroff (Cabaret, 70, Girls, 70). The show was revived in 2016 and its recording is one of my favourite of all time, starring a killer lineup of Laura Benanti, Zachary Levi, Jane Krakowski, and Gavin Creel in the leading roles. The Australian premiere hit the Hayes Theatre in 2018 and was met with great praise, directed by AussieTheatre’s former Editor in Chief Erin James.
Standout track/s: Days Gone By; Vanilla Ice Cream; A Trip To The Library; She Loves Me
You’ll like this if you enjoy: Bock and Harnick shows, ‘classic’ shows set in the 30s like On The Twentieth Century, Crazy for You, and Girl Crazy.
Smile is such a unique show, and was so ahead of its time. With music by Marvin Hamlisch (A Chorus Line, They’re Playing Our Song) and book and lyrics by Howard Ashman (Little Shop of Horrors, Beauty and the Beast), it’s loosely based on the 1975 film of the same name. The show recounts the struggles of a fictional Young American Miss beauty pageant in California, from the competitors to the coordinator. It’s a scathing social critique of the pageant industry and the idea of being ‘self obsessed,’ themes which are still so relevant in contemporary society. The original Broadway run opened in 1986, but closed after just 48 performances. It saw the creative team do some significant rewrites and restructures which have been left in the current licensed version of the show. Smile is often considered to be a ‘lost’ musical, as no official cast recording was ever made – instead, there is a demo CD that was recorded for the show’s licensing by the original Broadway cast. I’d love to see this one revived (or at least produced) sometime soon.
Standout track/s: Disneyland; Shine; In Our Hands
You’ll like this if you enjoy: Marvin Hamlisch and Howard Ashman’s work, shows like The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.