Musical theatre for beginners

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Credit: WestEndTheatre.com

Hannah Patterson
Views Editor

Think you don’t like musicals? Views Editor Hannah Patterson is here to tell you why you’re wrong.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “I know musicals. I watched Joseph and The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat when I was seven and I hated it.” And I understand that feeling, I do. Musical theatre has been the pastime of middle-aged mothers and self-professed theatre nerds like myself for a long time now, but things are a-changin’. There’s a whole new world of musicals out there, and I promise there will be something for you to enjoy. Also, you literally can’t leave the house right now so you don’t have to worry about anyone seeing what you’ve got on your Spotify playlist and judging you; so set your browser to private, turn your speakers up, and try and rattle through some of the best of what the world of musicals has to offer to you:

Hamilton: You’ve probably heard of Lin Manuel-Miranda’s wildly popular historical musical, and that’s why it has earned a place on this list. Everyone talks about it because it appeals to everyone – whether or not you love musicals, you’ll enjoy Hamilton. It’s sung through which means you can listen to the soundtrack and feel like you’ve understood the story, and the music is catchy without being too in your face musical theatre. A perfect introduction to the genre.

Legally Blonde: In all honesty, I think Legally Blonde works better as a musical than a movie. I said what I said. The whole plotline is a little silly (in the absolute best way) and the tongue in cheek attitude, as well as the over top characters lends itself perfectly to a stage show, more so than a movie. The songs are absolutely on the button, and just the right level of inappropriate to bring a bit of colour to your cheeks while still being something you could listen to with your family in the room.

Dear Evan Hansen: Another one you might have already heard of, because it was an original in the topic it approached – Dear Evan Hansen is centred around the topic of male suicide. In a genre that is seen as inherently feminine, DEH is refreshing and incredibly emotional. Perfectly capturing the idea that boys find it harder to speak out about their feelings and pain than girls, sometimes with devastating consequences. Even if you don’t want to listen to the whole soundtrack (in which case I’m unsure what this article will offer you to be honest), I would recommend listening to You Will Be Found. It’s a beautiful song in a beautiful show.

Waitress: Yes, the same as the movie Waitress. The songs are written by Sara Bareilles, and the whole show is the perfect mix of light-hearted and touching moments. A lot of the songs could be listened to as singles from an album rather than a soundtrack from a musical (which makes sense with Bareilles’ background) and if you don’t find at least one song that makes you either laugh or cry throughout the album then I take no responsibility for you.

Mean Girls: Another musical taken from the screen to the stage and fairing all the better for it. Mean Girls is a cultural phenom as a movie, and its transition to the stage has been so gruel- and written by Tina Fey, so you know it’ll be good. The musical brings the movie references from 2004 to 2019, incorporating the use of smart phones, hashtags, and Instagram to make it culturally relevant for a whole new generation of teenagers. Plus, the songs are fun, especially the ones led by Damien. While it doesn’t have the powerful anthems of some of the other musicals in this list, it’s one of the more enjoyable shows I’ve seen.

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie: Another show that is a perfect combination of light-hearted and emotional, Jamie is a boy who has aspirations of becoming a drag queen, and struggling to gain the acceptance of his school and his father. Although it’s outlandish and over the top a lot of the time, the general message of acceptance and tolerance is put across beautifully. Also, there’s a version on YouTube with Vinegar Strokes from Drag Race in it, and Michelle Visage did a stint in it too – approval from the gods themselves!

So, there you have it. Welcome to the club – prepare to now annoy all your friends talking about them incessantly.