I’ve worked on a lot of music productions over the years – and I have to admit that I do love a bit of musical theatre. So if I was stranded on my favourite desert island (and had enough fellow castaways, costumes and instruments to do this) which five musical would I love to stage?
Little Shop of Horrors
I love everything about this production from the songs to the characters to the big-ass talking plant hell bent on world domination. There’s a delightful sense of fun about this throwback to ‘50’s Americana and the awesome B movies of that era. From the opening notes of Skid Row to the final strains of Don’t Feed the Plants the songs are amazing. My personal favourite being Dentist and I do have a terrible fondness for Mean Green Mother from Outer Space – but that song only appears in the film so I’d have to cheat a little to get it included. The tremendously downbeat ending (well it’s a bugger for the human race but not so much for plant-kind) does give the production a bitter finish but I still love the show no end. You really can’t go wrong with a homicidal talking plant, a sadistic dentist, a few sweet souls in Seymour and Audrey and some great songs.
The character I’d like to play: Orin Scrivello DDS
The Rocky Horror (Picture) Show
Another stage show that became a movie and has its roots firmly in the films of the 50’s. Rocky Horror has its kink proudly on display and wears a subversive smile on its face as it lures you into its dark, sensual world of depravity. From the opening of Science Fiction Double Feature that literally pays lip service to some classic sci-fi movies to the reprise at the end the songs are quirky and fun. Eddies Teddy, Timewarp and Sweet Transvestite are my favourites from the great score. The story of a wholesome all American couple losing their innocence to the transvestite alien scientist Frankenfurter and his creation Rocky is all kinds of mad fun. Throw in a groupie, a creepy manservant and his sister (and their decidedly dodgy sibling attraction) and a few quirky twists and turns and you have an enduring classic. I just hope I can get enough rice and water pistols for the wedding and the walk in the rain!
The character I’d like to play: Riff Raff
Return to the Forbidden Planet
This is the only musical on my list that hasn’t been made into a movie – but it does owe its genesis to one. Taking elements from the great sci-fi movie and borrowing heavily from Shakespeare and pop culture this is a cracking tale of love with a touch of megalomania thrown in for good measure. The songs are Rock ‘n’ Roll classics taken from the 50’s and 60’s, melded into the story and peppered with pop culture references. Favourite songs include Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood, Young Girl and She’s Not There. There’s a wonderful sense of humour to the script and like Rocky Horror there is a great element of audience participation – the Polarity Reversal drill.
The character I’d like to play: Prospero
The Wizard of Oz
This is one of the all time feel good movies for me and as a sometimes stage show it’s allowed to make my list. From the opening song Over the Rainbow to the closing If I were King of the Forest the music is timeless. The story of Dorothy Gale’s adventure in the land of Oz after being transported there via tornado is pure joy. The characters she befriends and the journey they take is magical and filled with hope. With the Wicked Witch of the West and her army of flying monkeys (Flying Monkeys!!!) making brilliant adversaries for the ragtag band as they each seek their hearts desire it’s a fabulous spectacle.
The character I’d like to play: Scarecrow
This little gem has a long history of adaptation and tells the story of cabaret performer Sally Bowles at the seedy Kit Kat klub set against the backdrop of the rise to power of the National Socialist party in 1930’s Germany. The opening song Willkommen sets the tone right up until the jawdropping title number. There have been various adaptations that have upped the raunch factor somewhat – and for a tale that was cheerfully sleazy in a charming way already it can sometimes leave little to the imagination. It does give a great insight into the way people act and react as their world transforms around them. My favourite numbers are Cabaret, The Money Song (from the newer revivals) and the beauty and horror of Tomorrow Belongs to Me.
The character I’d like to play: Emcee
And there you have it; my five favourite musicals that I’d love to perform if I was stranded on a desert island. All I need are another dozen or so singer/dancer/actors, a handful of musicians and an audience…