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.
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown is based on the Spanish black-comedy film of the same name. The title is rather self explanatory, with the plot showcasing a group of women with tumultuous relationships with the men in their lives. The writing team was made up of David Yazbek and Jeffrey Lane, who had both previously worked together on Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. To say the Original Broadway cast was absolutely star studded would be an understatement – you’ve got Sherie Rene Scott, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Danny Burstein, Mary Beth Peil, Laura Benanti, and even Patti LuPone. Yes. Patti was in this show (and she sounds amazing). However, even a stellar cast couldn’t save it – the show closed after 30 previews and just 69 Broadway performances. Unfortunately, I have to admit I agree with the critical response for this show. The plot moves around so much, it’s just a bit too hard to follow. Jokes and songs don’t really get a chance to ‘land’ because it’s just moving in so many directions all at once. Nonetheless, I still think it’s a great one to listen to, particularly the OBC recording.
Standout track/s: Lie to Me; Time Stood Still; On the Verge; Invisible
You’ll like this if you enjoy: Nine, other David Yazbek shows (The Band’s Visit, Tootsie, The Full Monty), anyone in the cast.
Is There Life After High School? asks the questions and tells the stories we all had and knew. Loosely inspired by Ralph Keyes’ best selling novel of the same name, the show format uses a series of monologues and songs to explore everything about the high school experience, and the years that follow. There’s a moment for everyone in this show, a piece of music or text that everyone who has been through high school can relate to. It’s a really gorgeous little show, with a small cast of 9, and would be an ideal performance for a university production or community theatre company.
Standout track/s: The Kid Inside; Nothing Really Happened; Reunion
You’ll like this if you enjoy: I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, coming of age musicals like 13 The Musical and Edges.
I can’t find a full recording of Is There Life After High School? available for streaming, but click here to listen to selected songs on YouTube.
The Great American Trailer Park Musical follows the relationships of tenants at the Armadillo Acres Trailer Park in Florida. There’s an agoraphobic Dr. Phil fanatic, a tollbooth collector, and even a stripper on the run. The original off-Broadway cast featured some well known performers, including Orfeh (Legally Blonde, Pretty Woman), Leslie Kritzer (Beetlejuice, Something Rotten), Shuler Henry (Les Mis, The Music Man), and Linda Hart (Catch Me If You Can, Hairspray). It’s a hilarious country-rock musical about America in all its ridiculousness, and really is a good time. The show sees regular rounds of the independent and fringe theatre scene, so keep an eye out if it pops up near you!
Standout track/s: This Side of the Tracks; Flushed Down the Pipes; Panic
You’ll like this if you enjoy: Hands on a Hardbody, Cry Baby, Reefer Madness, any of the cast.