*Because I couldn’t knuckle it down to 5
Why: It’s just warming, fun and magical. It’s the musical I’ve seen the most in theatre. There’s a strange snobbery around musical theatre, for example if you like a ‘mainstream’ musical such as Wicked it means you’re not as clued up on ‘real’ musical theatre. To be honest, I think this idea is stupid and you can love whatever you want without fear of being judged. It’s message, its music, its story line; we’ve all felt like Elphaba at one point or another at school and this show gave me a sense of belonging when I was young.
Favourite Song: Has to be ‘I’m Not That Girl’. I did many dramatic renditions in my bedroom as a love-struck teen.
Seen: Yes, about 6 times!
Recommend to: Families, young girls – just about everyone really!
Why: This is my favourite musical in the whole world. It’s a coming of age story, angsty teen story. It shows how closing off teenagers to their sexuality and the changes that go on with their body has dire repercussions. Its raw, it’s moving, it’s tragic with a killer rock soundtrack.
Seen: Not the original because I was quite young but I’ve watched the original off and on Broadway version on YouTube a billion times and watched a few fringe versions in London.
Favourite song: ‘Those You’ve Known’
Recommend to: It’s very controversial with sensitive content so I’d definitely put a trigger warning on it. But I do feel like teenagers as young at 16 needs to watch it.
Why: It’s THE most liberating musical. Address race issues of American 60s. It is timeless as it passively relates to racial discrimination issues of today, especially in America! Its many side stories; inter racial relationships, body image issues. There are so many layers to this musical and also has some BOPS!
Seen: Never the professional stage version but we’ve all seen the movie and I’ve seen a few am-dram versions and school productions.
Favourite song: ‘I Know Where I’ve Been’
Recommend to: Absolutely everyone, which is why it’s the perfect musical for a school production!
Why: Great musical for its time. The songs are raw and the story is bold. It represents such a serious issue prevalent in today’s society with the Me Too campaign but also with false accusations which has been in the news a lot recently. Jason Robert Brown is forever a musical genius by bringing this heart wrenching, true story to life.
Favourite song: ‘You Don’t Know This Man’
Seen: No, sung a lot of the song and worked on the musical at my old drama school which is where I fell in love with it.
Recommend to: This is not for the faint hearted so definitely for an older audience.
Why: As much as I love a cheesy musical, this is anything but. It doesn’t feel like a theatre show it’s almost like you’re looking into the life of these people. It’s very relatable, from one struggling creative to the next. By tackling immigration issues, Once is very topical to today.
Favourite song: Falling Slowly (reprise)
Recommend to: To the majority of people! It’s really not a musical so to people who want to broaden their musical horizons. And if you like Irish style country music; the songs are definitely for you.
In The Heights
Why: The king Lin Manuel Miranda – that’s it. It has such a sense of home and community. Makes you feel warm and proud of where you come from. The songs are brilliant and insanely catchy!
Favourite song: ‘When You’re Home’
Seen: Yes, twice! And a few am-dram versions.
Recommend to: Anyone who wants to dance and sing at the top of their lungs! Also anyone who is a bit bored of the typical musical theatre sound.
Les Miserables – I’ve never actually seen this on the West End but the songs and story are epic.
Hamilton – I’m seeing this show in January and I am almost certain it would make its way into my list afterwards.
The Wiz – This was the first ever musical I performed in at my drama school. It is a revolutionary musical that did so much for the black community. (I’m having second thoughts; maybe this should have gone into my list)