I love Gypsy. I love all the music, and I love the mix of happy life with tragic life. I think that I and many other mothers of theater children identify with Mama Rose. I dislike the Bette Midler film version, BTW. I prefer this musical live rather than in a movie. After all, much of the story takes place backstage or on stage, so the perfect venue is a stage. Lyrics are by the great Sondheim!
I also love Finian’s Rainbow, but it’s seldom produced these days. Too uncomfortable for a modern audience. But what a brilliant message against racism.
I tend to prefer the musicals in which the singing is part of the story rather than something that just happens out of the blue. E.g., I love *Fiddler on the Roof * because many of the songs are just part of everyday life for Tevye and his family. The Sabbath prayer isn’t just some song that the family suddenly starts singing (weird!)–it’s a prayer and it makes sense to be singing it at mealtime.
The music that cracks me up the most is The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. I could sit through this a million times, it’s soooooo funny! Not appropriate for young children, BTW–there are erection jokes, and also lots of stereotypes that young children may be confused by.
I also like Sweeney Todd, but not the movie. I prefer a “staged” bloodiness. Again, the wonderful Sondheim! He is so multi-talented!
One musical that I highly recommend is Hairspray. I thought it sounded stupid and trite, but I went because my husband’s synchronized skating team skated to this music (as have many other figure skaters and synchro teams), and I felt that it would be useful to know what the story is all about. I was completely taken by surprise–this show is one of the best anti-racism venues that I have ever seen. It’s just delightful. I want to see it again and again! Highly appropriate for children and teenagers. Wonderful music and the dancing–it makes you want to get up and join in! It’s really fantastic and if you have a chance to see it, go. I wish that it was more clear from the promotional material that this is a show that African Americans would love–I think that the promotional material makes it look like the show is about a fat girl. Not at all.
My daughter is a professional stage manager, and has been backstage for several of the Broadway musicals, including West Side Story (the current revival, with the Spanish and English) and Phantom of the Opera. Her ex-boyfriend (still a friend) worked with the Rent tour. I’ve asked her what her favorite musical is, and she can’t pin it down. She likes so many of them. She highly recommends the new musical on Broadway called Next to Normal. It’s about clinical depression. She said she started crying during the first song and really didn’t stop crying until the end.