With theatres heartbreakingly closed due to this terrible global pandemic, I thought of all those past shows I was lucky enough to catch live on stage in both the West End of London, where some ori-ginate, and the White Way itself, BROADWAY. Some, li-ke The Lion King and Aladdin, took your breath away with its sumptuous costumes and stage designs while others pul-led at your heartstrings with deep melodic songs and sad story lines that inspire. You never walk out of a theatre wi-thout a changed soul or thought.
So how can we continue to enjoy these masterpieces of theatre and style without sitting in a germ-filled audi-torium, with the coughing and spluttering of strangers in-terspersing the lines of the actors? At home, of course! The TV screen has now a selection of Musicals that have been recorded for posterity and available either free, by subscription to channels or by renting, and can be viewed from the safety of your sofa.
• Cats: Like Phantom of the Opera, musical impre-sario, Sir Andrew Lloyd Weber took a book and created a musical. This time a book of Cat poems is set to music and dance and is about as creative as you can get. Available on Broadway HD and Amazon Prime.
• Hamilton: A revolutionary tale to revolutionize musical theatre as we know it, is about one of America’s founding fathers, Alexander Hamilton. Tickets for this show were selling like gold dust. Just imagine it is now available to stream with the original cast including Lin Manuel Miranda himself on Disney Plus.
• Rent: This musical play loosely based on the story of the famous opera, La Boheme, tells a sad tale of love and loss and the song, Seasons of Love will linger in your head for days. “Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hun-dred minutes. How do you measure, measure a year?” I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like that song. You can see and listen to it performed on youtube and watch the whole musical on Amazon Prime.
• Falsettos: This show will make you laugh and cry as it deals with the difficult lives of two gay men in 1980s New York – Amazon Prime and Broadway HD.
• Billy Elliott: A story of a lovable boy who pre-fers ballet to boxing shows us how sticking to and pur-suing your dreams and your passions can win over all obs-tacles and the hardest of hearts. Amazon Prime, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, and DVD.
• Into the Woods: Not the movie with James Cor-den and Meryl Streep but Sondheim’s successful Broadway show is available to stream on YouTube, Google Play, Vudu, Amazon Prime, iTunes, Broadway HD and DVD on Amazon.
• Kiss me Kate: This fun, foot-stomping classic musical first appeared on Broadway in 1948 and still ex-cites and attracts audiences all over the world with its catchy tunes and dance routines. The 2003 production is available to stream on Amazon Prime, BroadwayHD and Google Play, and on DVD from Amazon.
• Newsies: the tale of the newsboys strike in New York City in 1899 is told in this lively musical and is being streamed now on DISNEY PLUS
• Les Miserables: I took my seat high up in the vaults of one of London’s oldest theatres and when the cannon blast ripped through the theatre, I almost fell from my seat onto the stage. No, it wasn’t an attack. It came from the realistic sound effects of the barricades in Act 2 of Les Misérables. I knew then that this musical tinged with ex-plosions of music, lyrics and sounds would be unforget-table and one of my favourites of all times.
Taking a revered historic novel and turning it into a musical was a risky prospect. An all-singing version of this story of inequality, injustice and revolution struck a chord in people’s souls. It was first produced in France in 1980 and in forty years has become an iconic mainstay on major theatres around the world, and heads the bill as the longest running musical in West End and Broadway history.
So imagine my delight in meeting the man who was to digest almost 3000 pages of a classic novel to digestible ly-rics that convey the story with pathos and clarity. Then set-ting these lyrics to music that is as haunting as the novel itself makes no surprise that Les Miserables has constantly sold out seats and been turned into numerous TV and movie produc-tions, winning many awards along the way. (Alain Boublil lives in New York with his wife, Marie, who played Cosette).
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