I went to see South Pacific on Saturday afternoon. It was really good, very enjoyable. After the show, someone asked me what my favourite musical is. South Pacific is actually one of my favourite musicals, but it’s not my absolute favourite. The question got me thinking about all the musicals I’ve seen and trying to decide what actually is my favourite musical.
Here, for my own records, really (so sorry if this is boring), is a list of the musicals I’ve seen/heard in their various formats:
All Shook Up
Annie Get Your Gun*
Fame the Musical
The King and I*
Kiss Me, Kate
A Little Night Music
Me and My Girl
My Fair Lady
The Pajama Game
The Pirates of Penzance
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers*
West Side Story**
When Midnight Strikes
On screen (film versions)
Guys and Dolls
The King and I*
Meet Me in St. Louis
Scrooge (1970 version)
South Pacific (2001 and 1958 versions)
Singin’ in the Rain
The Wizard of Oz (does that count as a musical?)
On screen (Super 8 cutdowns)
I should explain. My dad collects Super 8 films – not just musicals, anything he’s interested in. He has quite a few ‘cutdown’ (I think this is the technical term, but I’m not sure) musicals, which basically consist of all the songs without any of the in-between dialogue/action bits. He does quite like musicals, so we have seen a few over the years. I suspect I’ve forgotten some, but these are the ones I can remember:
Singin’ in the Rain
The Sound of Music
Cast recordings only
These are musicals I’ve heard a cast recording of, but never actually seen the musical.
I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change (I don’t think I’ve listened to this all the way through)
Into the Woods
The Last Five Years
A New Brain (I don’t think I’ve listened to this all the way through, either)
Songs for a New World
I hope I haven’t missed any out!**** The musicals in bold type are the ones I’ve seen professional productions of. As you can see, most of the musicals I’ve seen on stage have been amateur productions. I mainly have my late grandma, the Singing Librarian and another musical colleague (who was in South Pacific on Saturday and very good she was, too!) to thank for this, as they’ve either been in the shows or taken me with them to see them!
So, after all that, what is my favourite musical (so far)? Hmm…well, I said Titanic to the person who asked me, but I think The Last Five Years and Parade are probably about equal with it in my list of favourites. I also love Meet Me in St. Louis, Carousel, All Shook Up, Hot Mikado, Oklahoma, and South Pacific, of course. And then there’s A Little Night Music and Company, West Side Story and When Midnight Strikes…
It’s hard to say which is my absolute favourite, because I like all of my favourites for different reasons*****. Some I love because they make me laugh, some because they make me think, others because they make me cry, and others that because they make me laugh, and think, and cry. I suppose the musicals that do all of those things are the ones that are at the top of my list.
*I saw this so long ago that I can’t really remember it.
** I saw this once a long time ago and once more recently.
***I sort of saw this at school, because I was playing in the band for the show and then saw it properly at university, when the university operatic society performed it.
****Oh dear, I now realise I have missed out some Stephen Sondheim musicals whose cast recordings I borrowed from the Singing Librarian ages ago, but I can’t remember which ones they were.
*****I don’t think I have actually seen a musical that I actively disliked, although there are some bits of musicals I don’t like, and I’ve found some musicals quite difficult to engage with, for various reasons.