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.
Lady In The Dark follows Liza Elliot, a woman unhappy in every aspect of her life. She hates her job, she doesn’t know which of the two men she’s seeing to pursue, and is completely stuck in her inability to make a decision. She decides to see a psychologist to find the root of her unhappiness, and ultimately, to help her be decisive. The discussion of psychoanalysis is allegedly based on real experiences from bookwriter Moss Hart (Merrily We Roll Along, A Star is Born), and the show’s songs appear only in ‘dream sequences’ – the Glamour Dream, the Wedding Dream, and the Circus Dream. The interesting structure seems like a trademark of Weill, with the show more like a series of operettas than a musical in structure. Lady In The Dark opened on Broadway in 1941, with a cast boasting Gertrude Lawrence, Danny Kaye, and Bert Lytell.
Standout track/s: One Life To Live; The Princess of Pure Delight, Tschaikowsky (And Other Russians); The Saga of Jenny
You’ll like this if you enjoy: Kurt Weill shows like The Threepenny Opera and Love Life, the works of Ira Gershwin such as Crazy For You, Nice Work If You Can Get It, Shall We Dance, and Funny Face.
I Love My Wife is a hilarious satirical comedy from Cy Coleman (City of Angels, Barnum, Sweet Charity) and Michael Stewart (Bye Bye Birdie, Hello Dolly!, 42nd Street). It’s set during the sexual revolution of the 1970s, a time where sexual liberation was championed, and the acceptance of non-monogamous and non-heterosexual relationships increased, and more discussions were had in regards to the normalisation of pornography, premarital sex, abortion, and contraception. We see two married couples – Wally and Monica, and Alvin and Cleo – realising that their lives and relationships have become a little dull. Their solution? Deciding to experiment outside of their monogamy and enter into a polyamorous ménage-à-quatre. The four-person show follows all the ups and downs of polyamory, and questions the notion of monogamy. It’s fun, it’s sexy, and it’s an all-round good time.
Standout track/s: I Love My Wife; Married Couple Seeks Married Couple; Sexually Free
You’ll like this if you enjoy: Cy Coleman or Michael Stewart shows, musicals about sexual liberation like Hair and Hedwig and the Angry Inch, shows about relationships like I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change
On The Twentieth Century is part operetta, part farce, part screwball comedy, and all fantastic. With music by Cy Coleman (again!), and book and lyrics by iconic long-time collaborators Betty Comden and Adolph Green (On The Town, Wonderful Town, Singin’ In The Rain), it is absolutely no surprise that every moment of the show is a joy. On The Twentieth Century follows the relationship between hot-headed actress Lily Garland and bankrupt producer Oscar Jaffee, and we learn about Oscar’s ridiculous ploy to rekindle their romance. The Broadway production won 5 Tony Awards and starred Madeleine Kahn in the role of Lily. When Kahn left the show, Judy Kaye took over, launching her theatrical career. Since its premiere, the show has travelled to the West End twice, and received a stellar Broadway revival in 2015 with Kristin Chenoweth and Peter Gallagher.
Standout track/s: Five Zeros; Never; Our Private World; Mine
You’ll like this if you enjoy: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Hello Dolly, Bells are Ringing, the works of Cy Coleman, Betty Comden, and Adolph Green.