Long, long gone are the days when musicals were nothing but happy, sappy sugar-coated pieces of theatre meant to distract from the harshness of the everyday world. We’re lucky enough to live in an age where almost anything can be turned into a musical. That includes…
Just appeared on Broadway last season, with music and lyrics by Duncan Sheik (Spring Awakening). It’s now closed in the wake of Hurricane Hamilton, but still a noteworthy piece of theatre and totally appropriate for the season. Yes, it’s based on that movie with Christian Bale based on that book by Bret Easton Ellis. The soundtrack is that dancy techno that I really don’t know anything about (house? electronic? I don’t know what the kids call it these days). It also brings the story into the present with lots of projection work, for which Finn Ross won the Drama Desk Award. Personal favourite song from the musical is the opening number “Selling Out”.
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
A classic, with oddly catchy tunes for such a dark story. Thank you Stephen Sondheim for gifting the world this spooky play. Another musical serial killer, this time set in 19th-century London and involving cannibalism – sort of. If you aren’t familiar with this one I suggest the 2001 concert version with Patti LuPone and and Neil Patrick Harris. I’d avoid the Tim Burton movie version with Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter unless you’re drunk. It’s actually a great movie when you’re drunk. I’m a big fan of the 2005 revival cast album (again with Patti), as they made the score all folksy, but if you aren’t familiar with the music I’d suggest listening to the original first.
Jekyll and Hyde
One of Frank Wildhorn’s more memorable (i.e. not a flop) pieces, based on The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. Yeah, another serial killer. Notice the theme. Anyway this one involves a split personality case and is hugely dramatized compared to the original source material. Honestly half the characters in the play don’t exist in the novella. But it’s cool, because we as musical theatre fans get another hooker with a heart of gold character to add to our list of favourite Mezzo Ladies Who Suck at Love. Also the guy playing Jekyll/Hyde needs a HUGE range of emotion, which David Hasselhoff can absolutely pull off. A professionally filmed version of the stage production can be found in full on YouTube.