Musicals Thread (Needs Defending)

Hello! If you’re reading this you’ve decided that you love musicals so much that you want to go back and read the old Musicals Threads. That’s great! This was a particularly insane post from me, so I hope you’ll enjoy it. Feel free to comment and join us each Tuesday to discuss all things musical!

Welcome! The purpose of this thread is to talk about all things related to the wonderful world of musical theatre. Each week I will post a thread with a topic/question for everyone to respond to. This is also a great place to mention any new musicals you’ve discovered and/or general recommendations for other musical fans. Heard/seen any good shows lately? Tell us about it!

This week’s question is inspired by last week’s discussion: Do you love a musical that you feel the need to defend? There are some musicals that nearly everyone has agreed are great works of art, but not all musicals receive the same love. Every now and then you may fall in love with a show that everyone around you seems to think is silly, boring, or downright bad. For me, this musical is Jekyll & Hyde. Last week nancy drew wrote about this for their “Musical of the Week” feature, reminding me that this can be a difficult musical to sell. I’ve been a huge fan of Jekyll & Hyde since high school, but it never even occurred to me until I was older that this musical was not everyone’s cup of tea. On the one hand, I can understand why people would be turned off by the cheesy lyrics, the extremely dramatic plot, and the over-the-top musical numbers. On the other hand, I love all of those things! In fact, I love them so much that I prefer the earlier version of the show (The Complete Work recording that came out in 1994) which is way more over the top and dramatic than the Broadway version. It’s the longest version of the show, and, in my humble opinion, features the best Jekyll/Hyde: Anthony Warlow (I can’t stand David Hasselhoff). This role is, for me, the most important one because it requires some serious talent to pull of both characters. But this isn’t a post about what makes the ultimate, best recording of a show (we’ll save that for another week).

So, why do I love Jekyll & Hyde? 1) It’s spooky and macabre, which are two of my favorites things. The first song I heard was Hyde’s “Alive” and I was immediately hooked. It’s a truly frightening song, and I think you can really feel the evil in Warlow’s performance. 2) It’s also hilariously cheesy at times, and it doesn’t hold back even a little bit. It’s so over the top that you can’t help but laugh at some of the lyrics, but I love that about it because it just feels so perfectly silly. The silliest lyrics deal with the hypocrisy of Victorian society, so it seems appropriate to me. As someone who occasionally teaches and studies Victorian literature, I feel that they were a very silly lot. 3) And yet, the musical is also surprisingly touching at times. The ending always makes me tear up just a little, and it’s hard not to sympathize with some of the characters. I realize that I might be alone in this—I tend to be overly emotional—but there is some real heart in this show. This, of course, is not to say that story is perfect. It’s definitely not, but I still find myself singing along to these ridiculous songs, sympathizing with some of the characters, and fearing Hyde. In the recording I prefer, the musical is described as a “Gothic Musical Thriller” which is probably the best way to describe it.

If you’re curious about this show, here are some songs you might enjoy:

In addition to these samples from my preferred recording, I have to include the one song that is far, far better in the Broadway recording: “Dangerous Game”. I’m so glad they changed this number because it was truly awful before, and now it is one of the best moments in the show:

And, if you’re thinking to yourself “how can anyone like this musical?” Well, I don’t really blame you. It’s a tough sell. So, is there a musical that you love that most people seem to think is less than stellar?