Best stage musicals I've ever patronised
by jgcorrea created 14 Oct 2012 | last updated - 10 Sep 2013
It is of course impossible to watch everything that one would like to. Somehow I got to witness some memorable song and dance performances. Here they are.
“ Minha Querida Lady, the Brazilian version of My Fair Lady, was a cornerstone in many ways. The show had run the world when it was brought to Brazil in 1962. Bibi Ferreira starred alongside Jaime Costa, Paulo Autran and Sergio Viotti. A team of 150 people, including artists, singers, musicians, dancers, painters, electricians, carpenters, machinists, seamstresses, makeup artists, hair stylists helped to mount this blockbuster production. The producers saw that the show featured original sets, and original wardrobe, identical to Broadway's. ”
“ Times are hard in 1846 London and one must make do. Nellie Lovett adds something extra to the meat pies she peddles on Fleet Street. The secret ingredient: freshly murdered victims of her partner in crime, barber Sweeney Todd. Composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim refashions a macabre tale into a musical masterwork in this dazzling performance of the 1979 Broadway hit originally staged by Harold Prince. In her Tony-winning role, Angela Lansbury plays Nellie. George Hearn turns his stage role of twisted Sweeney into an Emmy-winning triumph. The score coils around itself in every-tightening spirals. The lines ripple with black humor and madness. Enter Sweeney's tonsorial parlor. Attend the tale. (Written by dramaking1227) ”
“ WEST SIDE STORY's London run: Collegiate Theatre, July 3rd (Summer season)
Music: Leonard Bernstein
Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim
Book: Arthur Laurents
Director: Bill Kenwright
Choreographer: Robert Arditti
Musical Director: Ed Coleman
Producer: Bill Kenwright (David Gordon Productions)
Cast: Jim Smilie (Tony), Rosamund Shelley (Maria),
Roger Finch (Riff), Michael Howe (Diesel),
Peter Daly (Bernardo), Clovissa Newcombe (Anita)
Note: This production had come to the Collegiate (now known as the Bloomsbury Theatre) following a long UK tour. ”
“ A Chorus Line (Shubert Theatre, (7/25/1975 - 4/28/1990)
Opening Date: Jul 25, 1975
Closing Date: Apr 28, 1990 Total Performances: 6137
Setting: An Audition. A Broadway Theatre.
The characters portrayed in A CHORUS LINE are, for the most part, based upon the lives of Broadway dancers. This show was dedicated to anyone who has every danced in a chorus or marched in step...anywhere. ”
“ With a high degree of sophistication, Claudio Botelho and Charles Moeller signed in 2000 the production of "Company" by Stephen Sondheim and George Furth, this being the first performance of a work of Sondheim in Portuguese. 'Company' became a critical and popular success and was attended by both Sondheim and Furth, who visited Brazil specially to check the Brazilian troupe. Sondheim went backstage to talk with the cast and spent a few minutes with Claudio, who must have had then the most precious moments of his (Claudio's, of course) life. The composer's words were a mixture of praise and surprise as he found so prepared a cast in Brazil. Altogether, a cast of 14 actors and an orchestra of 13 musicians, conducted by André Goes, participated in this outstanding (far from revolutionary) version of Sondheim's musical. All songs were translated into Portuguese by Claudio, who had already adapted the author's lyrics when he staged, as from 1995, the show "Sondheim Tonight" alongside Claudia Netto. In "Company," Bogtelho updated the action for the present time, since the text had been written in the 70s. Tha cast also included Claudia Netto, Totia Meireles, Daniel Boaventura, Regina Restelli, Solange Badim, Ricca Barros, Cidália Castro, Mauro Gorini Raul Sawyer, Paul Mello, Sabrina Korgut, Doriana Mendes and Patricia Levy. The show was characterized by humor and lightness, as a counterpoint to the original American version (directed by Harold Prince). 'Company' remained for five months in Rio theaters and was quite successful. The same did not happen in Sao Paulo, where the show debuted on the same day of the biggest blockbuster of the musical 'Les Miserables'. The timing did not work. ”
“ Nine (46th Street Theatre, (5/9/1982 - 2/4/1984)
Total Performances: 729
Setting: A Venetian spa. The early '60s.Book by Arthur Kopit; Music by Maury Yeston; Lyrics by Maury Yeston; Adaptation from the Italian by Mario Fratti; Music orchestrated by Jonathan Tunick; Musical Director: Wally Harper; Choral composition and musical continuity by Maury Yeston
Directed by Tommy Tune; Choreographed by Thommie Walsh
Raul Julia and Karen Akers were far superior to Daniel Day-Lewis and Penelope Cruz in the later, unfortunate movie ”
“ Fredrik Egerman (Len Cariou, in the London 1974 production) is very happy in his marriage to a seventeen-year-old virgin, Anne. Only she's been a virgin for the whole eleven months of the marriage, and being a bit restless, Fredrik goes to see an old flame, the famous actress Desiree Armfeldt (lovely Jean Simmons, ditto). Desiree is getting tired of her life, and is thinkin of settling down, and sets her sights on Fredrik, despite his marriage, and her own married lover Count Carl-Magnus. She gets her mother to invite the Egermans to her country estate for the weekend. But when Carl-Magnus and his wife Charlotte appear, too, things begin to get farcical (Send in the Clowns), and the night must smile for the third time before all the lovers are united. ”
“ 1776 is a musical with music and lyrics by Sherman Edwards and a book by Peter Stone. The story is based on the events surrounding the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It focuses on, and partly fictionalizes, the efforts of John Adams to persuade his colleagues to vote for American independence and to sign the document. It premiered on Broadway in 1969, earning warm reviews, and ran for 1,217 performances. The production was nominated for five Tony Awards and won three, including the Tony Award for Best Musical. The musical was revived in England in 1974. ”
“ I saw two magnificent productions, Washington National Theater's (1981) and Rio João Caetano's (1983, if I'm not mistaken) starring Claudia & Carlos Augusto Strazzer, and Mauro Mendonça. Evita is a musical with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice. It concentrates on the life of Argentine political leader Eva Perón, the second wife of Argentine president Juan Perón. The story follows Evita's early life, rise to power, charity work, and eventual death. Evita began as a rock opera concept album released in 1976. Its success led to productions which enjoyed considerable success. A disastrous 1996 film of the musical starred Madonna and Antonio Banderas. ”
“ 42nd Street The Song and Dance Fable of Broadway (Winter Garden Theatre, (8/25/1980 - 3/29/1981)
Total Performances: 3486
Setting: 1933. New York City and Philadelphia.
Music by Harry Warren; Lyrics by Al Dubin; Lead Ins and Crossovers by Michael Stewart, Mark Bramble and Bradford Ropes; Based on the novel by Bradford Ropes; Musical Director: John Lesko; Vocal arrangements by John Lesko; Music orchestrated by Philip J. Lang; Dance arrangements by Donald Johnston; Additional lyrics by Johnny Mercer and Mort Dixon
Directed by Gower Champion; Choreographed by Gower Champion ”
“ PIPPIN - London run: Her Majesty’s, October 30th (85 Performances)
Music & Lyrics: Stephen Schwartz
Book: Roger O. Hirson
Director-Choreographer: Bob Fosse
Musical Director: Ray Cook
Producer: Robert Stigwood
Cast: Norman J. Calloway (Leading Player),
Paul Jones (Pippin), John Turner (Charlelemagne),
Bobby Bannerman (Lewis), Diane Langton (Fastrada),
Elisabeth Welch (Berthe)
Songs: Magic to Do, Corner of the Sky, Morning Glow,
Simple Joys, On the Right Track
Story: A modern free-wheeling account of the life of Charlemagne’s son, Pépin (Pippin)
who, yearning for glory, becomes involved with war, women and social causes. Throughout
his search for his own “corner of the sky” he is under pressure from rivalry with his brother, Lewis, and his scheming stepmother, Fastrada. Above all, there is pressure from the “Leading Player” who sometimes seems to be acting as a representative of Heaven and also from Hell. Eventually after rejecting the final glory of self-immolation, he takes the advice of his wise old grandmother, Berthe, and settles down to an ordinary life of domesticity with
his wife Catherine.
This was an anti-war story in a commedia-dell-arte style, reminiscent of the “flower power” philosophy of the recent past, and was a great success on Broadway, running for 1,944 performances. The London production was an expensive flop in
1973. I enjoyed it very much, though.
Photo by Philip Ingram
Photo by Reg Wilson
Paul Jones 28 ”
“ As of 2005, the transcendental optimist, Dr. Pangloss, could indeed say that "everything was for the best, the best of all worlds" after the premiere of "Candide", at Rio's Theatro Municipal. Leonard Bernstein's opera sounded like an astonishing revue-operetta thanks to the translation of the libretto by Claudio Botelho, who preserved the original rhymes and signalled a willingness to make the show rather more accessible to a non-operatic audience, and to Matisse-inspired sets & costumes, which earned an almost juvenile connotation. ”
“ In the depths of the 1930's, Annie is a fiery young orphan girl who must live in a miserable orphanage run by the tyrannical Miss Hannigan. Her seemingly hopeless situation changes dramatically when she is selected to spend a short time at the residence of the wealthy munitions industrialist, Oliver Warbucks. Quickly, she charms the hearts of the household staff and even the seemingly cold-hearted Warbucks cannot help but learn to love this wonderful girl. He decides to help Annie find her long lost parents by offering a reward if they would come to him and prove their identity. However, Miss Hannigan, her evil brother, Rooster, and a female accomplice, plan to impersonate those people to get the reward for themselves which put Annie in great danger.
The Kennedy Center in Washington has co-produced more than 300 new works of theater, including such an outstanding, Tony-winning show like Annie, in 1977. ”
“ Based on an idea by Richard Maltby, Jr., Murray Horwitz, Murray Horwitz and Richard Maltby, Jr.; Conceived and Directed by Richard Maltby, Jr. and Richard Maltby, Jr.; Staged by Arthur Faria and Arthur Faria, AIN'T MISBEHAVIN' - The New FATS WALLER Musical Show - came to Rio de Janeiro's Sala Cecilia Meireles in 1988, featuring a splendid collection of music celebrated by Thomas "Fats" Waller: "'T Ain't Nobody's Business If I Do", "Fat and Greasy", "Spreadin' Rhythm Around", "I've Got My Fingers Crossed", "I Can't Give You Anything But Love", "Mean to Me" "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter", "Your Feet's Too Big", "That Ain't Right", "Fat and Greasy", "Two Sleepy People", "It's a Sin to Tell a Lie" etc. etc ”
“ Originally an offBroadway show, for some unknown reason the London production of GREASE did not take off and only managed a mere 236 performances. The film version in 1978 made a great difference as far as London was concerned, but I must say Richard Gere and Stacey Gregg were a long way superior to Travolta & Newton-John.
Venue: New London Theatre, June 26th (236 Performances)
Music & Lyrics: Jim Jacobs & Warren Casey
Director: Tom Moore
Choreographer: Patricia Birch
Musical Director: Barry Booth
Producer: Paul Elliott & Duncan Weldon
Cast: Richard Gere (Danny Zuko), Stacey Gregg (Sandy),
Jacquie-Ann Carr (Rizzo), Peter Armitage (Kenickie),
Stephen Alder (Teen Angel), Derek James (Doody)
Songs: Summer Nights, Freddy My Love, Greased Lightning, Mooning, Look at
Me I’m Sandra Dee, We Go Together, It’s Raining on Prom Night, Beauty
School Drop Out, There are Worse Things I Could Do
Story: The setting is Rydell High School where the greaser Danny Zuko is attracted to the prim and proper Sandy Dumbrowski, who eventually learns that in 1950s Chicago there is no fun in being virtuous. The show is a satirical, bang-on-target look at the dress, manners, morals and music of teenagers at the beginning of the rock’n’roll era, where kids had little on their minds except hanging out and making out. Underneath it all, the show mocks individuality and champions eventual conformity with the real world of 1950s America.
Anyway, recent revivals of “Grease” have been hugely successful everywhere. ”
“ THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW - London's King’s Road Theatre, 1974.
Music & Lyrics: Richard O’Brien
Director: Jim Sharman
Musical Director: Richard Hartley
Producer: Michael White
Original Cast: Jonathan Adams (Narrator),
Tim Curry (Frank-n-Furter).
Rayner Bourton (Rocky Horror),
Christopher Malcolm (Brad), Belinda Sinclair (Janet),
Richard O’Brien (Riff-Raff), Patricia Quinn (Magenta),
Little Nell (Columbia), Paddy O’Hagan (Eddie/Dr Scott)
Songs: Science Fiction Double Feature, Over at the Frankenstein Place, Sweet Transvestite, In Just Seven Days I Can Make You a Man, Time Warp, I’m Going Home.
Story: It is a dark and stormy night. Brad and Janet are stranded when their car breaks down, so they seek refuge in a nearby castle owned by Dr Frank’n’Furter, a sweet transvestite from Transylvania and staffed by his strange butler, Riff-Raff, and the very odd Magenta and Columbia. Frank has collected the appropriate body-parts to make himself the perfect muscle man to serve his wicked way – a wicked way he also achieves with both Brad and Janet.(Frank’s previous attempt at making a perfect man is kept in the deep-freeze, since Eddie turned out to be damaged goods!) Rescue appears in the form of Dr Scott, the wheelchair-bound former college tutor of Brad and Janet. He gets to the bottom
of the set-up: the inhabitants of the castle are really aliens from the planet Transsexual, controlled by Riff-Raff. Frank has over-stepped the mark and is exterminated before the others take off in their spaceship. Brad, Janet and Dr Scott are left behind, having developed a taste for wearing basque, suspenders and fishnets.
(This was a seven-year success story that started in a tiny studio theatre in 1973, then became a cult movie.) ”
“ Unforgettable staging of The Merry Widow, Franz Lehár's operetta, in 1990, at Rio's Theatro Municipal, under the mise-en-scène of Oswaldo Loureiro, libretto translated by Millor Fernandes, sets, lighting and choreography by Robert Ray including a third-act ballet by Douglas Gamley. The cast: Celine Imbert in the title role, Paulo Fortes as Baron Zeta and Eduardo Alvarez as Count Danilo. ”
“ In Rio de Janeiro, Charles Mingus' last live presentation took place at the Teatro João Caetano, on May 23rd, 1977. The band was formed by Charles Mingus (bass) - Danny Richmond (drums) - Ricky Ford (st) - Jack Walrath (trumpet) - Robert Neloms (piano).
Mingus was one of the last great composers in jazz history, a bold arranger and an innovative bassist. His original, provocative music, rich with melodic, harmonic and rhythmic surprises and wonders, marked the period subsequent to Bebop. Influenced by Duke Ellington, by the blues and black religious music, he conveyed emotions of an unusual expressive power, always turning to jazz roots. The constant tempo changes, the flexibility of rhythmic passages, his exacerbated techniques have been widely copied by subsequent generations of musicians. His compositions differ from the usual standards of the era, with characteristic shapes, styles, humor, even sarcasm and an indescribable ferocity, albeit interspersed with other soloists' improvisations. ”
“ Duncan Sheik's 'Spring Awakening' with book and lyrics by Steven Sater based on the play by Frank Wedekind, covers topics such as teen pregnancy, homosexuality, incest and suicide, thus dealing with the subjects of innocence end during youth and discovery of a new life. The Brazilian version premiered in Rio de Janeiro on August 21, 2009, at the Teatro Villa Lobos. Winner of 8 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, SPRING AWAKENING is a rock musical adaptated from an expressionist play about such trials and tribulations, and the exhilaration of teen years. It’s Germany, 1891. The beautiful young Wendla explores her body and asks her mother where babies come from. Elsewhere, the brilliant and fearless young Melchior defends his buddy Moritz -- a boy so traumatized by puberty he can’t concentrate on anything. One afternoon in the woods, Wendla and Melchior discover a desire unlike anything they’ve ever felt. SPRING AWAKENING explores the confusion and desperation that ensue when the onrushing tide of hormones meets the ignorance of children. SPRING AWAKENING celebrates the unforgettable journey from youth to adulthood with a power, poignancy, and passion that you will never forget. This is an overall celebration of rebellion. ”
“ Doriana Mendes in 2001 sang the role of Polly, in André Heller's triumphal staging of Kurt Weill's "The Threepenny Opera" at Sala Baden Powell, RJ. Licio Bruno was a fine Meckie Mesher ”
“ In 2000, Charles Moeller & Claudio Botelho launched 'Cole Porter ele nunca disse que me amava' ('Cole Porter - He Never Said He Loved Me'), which featured the story of the American composer through the eyes of six women. A ten-month sellout at the Café Teatro de Arena (Rio de Janeiro) preceded two more years in Sao Paulo and Portugal. The show was rather a musical fantasy than a vaudeville revue. Thirty nine illustrating songs punctuated Porter's bio: "Night and Day", "I've Got You Under My Skin," "Love for Sale", "Get out of the Town", "Let 's Do It, " etc. In the original cast: Ada Chaseliov, Alessandra Verney, Gottsha, Inez Viana, Ivana Domenico, Maria Stella Rodrigues, Kiara Sasso, Adriana Garambone, Kacau Gomes and Regina Restelli. The costumes, signed by Antonio Augustus, were very fine. ”
“ With tenderness towards a beloved text, with emotions from a then-deleted climate, with love for Colette and her Parisian "demi-monde", Filippo Crivelli directed in 1995 "Gigi", the "little musical" that Lerner and Loewe had created in 1958, which won nine Oscars and became a Broadway hit in 1973. ”