I’ve been head over heels in love with musicals from a young age, an obsession which has only intensified over the years. I love the bright colors. I love the choreographed dance numbers. I love the way that everything seems to sound better when expressed in song. To this day, one of my most magical memories is experiencing Cats on Broadway (because, let’s be real, you don’t just “see” Cats, and yes, I’m that person).
It’s no secret that most people aren’t particularly fond of musicals. I’ve spent a fair amount of time trying to figure out why, and all I can come up with is that it makes people uncomfortable when something out of the ordinary happens. I guess for some people an impromptu four-part harmony falls into that category, but come on! Who doesn’t want to watch Gene Kelly dancing his way through a rainstorm? Or Idina Menzel soaring above her minions in all her Wicked Witch of the West glory? Or Mitzi Gaynor washing that man right out of her hair on a South Pacific beach? I’ve decided that because I represent the minority when it comes to song and dance appreciation, I’m going to start advocating the heck out of musicals. If you need me, I’ll be studying up on the history and social relevancy of the art form, starting with these titles:
The Secret Life of the American Musical: How Broadway Shows are Built
A drama critic and executive in a group that owns five Broadway theatres looks at the construction of a successful musical. Using classic examples such as Gypsy, Guys and Dolls, My Fair Lady, and South Pacific, he explores their structure, from overture to finale. 2016.
The Sound of Music Story: How a Beguiling Young Novice, a Handsome Austrian Captain, and Ten Singing Von Trapp Children Inspired the Most Beloved Film of All Time
One of the most beloved movie musicals of all time is examined by film historian Santopietro. Starting with the first shot of Julie Andrews on a mountain, he looks at the film, its production and release, its cast and crew, and the von Trapp family who inspired it. 2015.
Hamilton: The Revolution
An account of the creation of the hugely successful musical about an unlikely topic: founding father Alexander Hamilton. The show’s creator and cultural critic McCarter chronicle Hamilton from its start as a performance at the White House. Includes the full libretto with commentary from Miranda. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. 2016.