The Musical Project – The List


Updated with a few new musicals to represent George M. Cohan and the introduction of successful playwrights such as George S. Kaufman

PART TWO of a SERIES (Find Part 1 here)

Who else would run a musical library, I ask you?

(I mentioned in the last post that I would start with The Broadway Melody of 1929.  I’ve added a couple titles previous to that.)

This is not a complete list.  For a much more all-encompassing sense of the entire English language musical theatre canon, please visit The Guide to Musical Theatre, The Internet Broadway Database, and Musical Theatre Audition.com.  This list actually meshes nicely with my Alternative Movie List project, so I’m excited to see how it all turns out…when I turn 111, because that is probably how long this will take.

As I created this intense but not exhaustive list, something struck me;  I don’t know whether to be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of work produced by a very small group of composers and lyricists, or disconcerted that more productions from lesser known writers never make it to the Big White Way.  I guess I’m both.  But yikes that list is heavily white and male, isn’t it?  Yay Lynn Flaherty!  Also, if making this list has does nothing else, it has really opened my eyes to the quality of musical that remains Off-Broadway.  Floyd Collins, Martin Guerre, even some Sondheim never makes it to Broadway.  Sometimes that just indicates depth.

What you won’t find:  Ragtime, Jersey Boys, The Music Man, Annie Get Your Gun, Les Miserables, Cats, Annie, The Boys from Syracuse, Camelot…  Why?  Because I’ve either seen them, been in them (sometimes more than once), or am very very familiar with them.  That said, if you see a screaming omission, please let me know.  I might have left it out on purpose, but then again, I might not have.  Also, in reference to the stage, this refers solely to the American stage – generally Broadway, New York as opposed to the West End.

I have purposefully avoided Shirley Temple movies.  Yes, they are musicals.  And yes, I love them, but they fail without her.  I want stand alone works here, not star vehicles.  One could argue that Gypsy is a star vehicle for a Patty type, but there were many Rose’s before Patty.  If this is faulty logic, lemme know.  I did include an Elvis movie – Jailhouse Rock.   I’m sure that Elvis is integral, but what I was more interested in was the feel of the decade and the introduction of rock ‘n’ roll to the musical canon.

Also, I’m looking for movie musicals that have found life on a stage.

Although this group is large, I didn’t include every musical to grace the Broadway stages.  Basically, this is a list of musicals I’ve heard of, but don’t really know.  How unscientific is that!?  Many times, particularly in the case of older musicals from Cole Porter, the Gershwin boys, and other heavy hitters, I may actually perform a piece of theirs in either my audition or performance repertoire, but I, embarrassingly, don’t really know the show.  Sometimes, I knew the show, but I haven’t seen it for many many years.  OR I may have seen a high school production, say, but nothing I’d call representative of the content of the show.  But then again, all I’ve seen of Li’l Abner is a high school production, and yet, I somehow feel I “get” the show.  Some things just don’t run much deeper than that.  (And yes, I not so secretly want to play Mammy Yokum.  LATER.  Much later.) While it’s been awhile since I’ve seen Nunsense III Jamboree, I don’t think I need to retread that path.  Sometimes I’m familiar with the vocal selections, but not really the entire piece.  And EVERY once in awhile, I have absolutely NO idea what a show is, I just liked the name (see Sweet William).  And then, no matter whether I know a certain show backwards and forwards or not at all, if I am auditioning for it, I will review it.  Expect a Sunday in the Park With George post soon.  I really love Sunday in the Park with George, but this will be the first time I audition for it.  It changes the way you listen to a production.  And every once in awhile, I pretend a musical doesn’t exist (Dirty Dancing.)  There are probably some surprising items on this list.  How could I not know Songs for a New World?  Well, I do in the sense that many a college girl was shrieking it out in 2002, but I really only know the vocal selections.  I don’t really know what’s actually happening.  Why IS Jenny afraid of water?  I have no idea.  You’ll also find an occasional Esther Williams piece and some Disney (in that they have found life on the stage of late).  If this list was for the general musical theatre education of the masses, I would probably include The Jazz Singer and maybe even a Muppet movie or two.  Why not a Don Bluth cartoon while we’re at it?  Well, I’ve seen The Jazz Singer, and all the Muppet movies.  And many Don Bluth cartoons.  This list is for me, although I do hope you will follow along and lend me your insight.

Before we start this list, let me note my current favorite musicals.  I expect the Musical Theatre Project will change this list, so I would like to note it now:

In no particular order:

  • Ragtime
  • Les Miserables
  • The Music Man
  • The Life
  • Sweeney Todd
  • West Side Story
  • Godspell
  • Jesus Christ Superstar
  • Hedwig and the Angry Inch
  • Annie (shut up.  I want to play Hannigan)
  • Once on This Island
  • Gypsy
  • Sunday in the Park With George
  • Jesus Christ Superstar
  • Chicago

Moviewise, I really love Guys and Dolls, All That Jazz (could easily be considered NOT a musical), The Band Wagon, White Christmas, Meet Me in St Louis,  any Doris Day movie ever, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and Funny Girl.  (The Music Man, too, but the movie is very true to the stage.)  I lean 50’s with the movies and 60’s and 70’s with the stage. And yet, my audition rep is very 40’s.  I’m interested to see what I have a taste for “Nowadaaaaaaysssss”….

Finally, instead of butting recordings up against books up against movies, I’ve decided to just take a title, and see what there is to offer in reference to that title.  So, for example, if I can get the original recording of Kiss Me Kate, the movie AND the revival recording, so much the better.  The date listed is the earliest incarnation that this mortal coil was able to find.  Ergo, if the movie came before the stage*, then the movie date is listed and vice versa.  But I’m human, and I might be wrong.  Please let me know if I am.  I am striving to be accurate, but I’m not going to contact the estate of Jerome Kern, know what I’m sayin’?

*In the case of Jesus Christ Super Star, it was a studio recording before it was anything.  Just an interesting side note.  It’s also not on this list.

Okay.  Pre-babble over.

Let’s get on with the show, y’all.

The Musical Project

My attempt at reschooling myself in part of my chosen profession.

  1. Little Johnny Jones – 1904 George M. Cohan’s first Broadway success.
  2. The Student Prince – 1924
  3. No, No Nanette – 1925
  4. Show Boat – 1927
  5. The Broadway Melody of 1929
  6. Of Thee I Sing – 1931
  7. The Band Wagon – 1931  The movie is great
  8. The Phantom President – 1932 George M. Cohan stars in a dual role
  9. 42nd Street – 1933
  10. Three Penny Opera – 1933
  11. The Gay Divorce/Divorcee – stage 1933, movie 1934
  12. Anything Goes – 1934
  13. The Great Ziegfeld – 1936
  14. On Your Toes – 1936
  15. Pennies from Heaven – 1936
  16. Shall we Dance – 1937
  17. The Cradle Will Rock – 1938
  18. Babes in Arms – 1939
  19. Du Barry Was a Lady – 1939
  20. Panama Hattie – 1940
  21. Broadway Melody of 1940
  22. Cabin in the Sky – 1940
  23. Pal Joey – 1940
  24. For Me and My Gal – 1942
  25. Carmen Jones – 1943
  26. a yet to be made selection from the Gene Autry canon
  27. On the Town – 1944
  28. Cover Girl – 1944
  29. Going My Way – 1944
  30. Pin-Up Girl – 1944
  31. Anchors Away! – 1945
  32. Ziegfeld Follies – 1946 (There were Ziegfeld Follies every year from 1911 – 1927 and then scattered over the years until 1957.  This particular title is a film.  If there is someone out there that can convince me to dig around for the original recordings – if they exist – to a particular year of the staged Ziegfeld Follies, please do.)
  33. St. Louis Woman – 1946
  34. Finian’s Rainbow – 1947
  35. Allegro – 1947
  36. Oklahoma – 1947 (While I am very familiar with the film and many a local production, I haven’t heard the original recording.  For such an influential piece, I thought it would be worth it to have a listen)
  37. Easter Parade – 1948
  38. Kiss Me Kate – 1948
  39. Brigadoon – 1949
  40. The Barkleys of Broadway – 1949
  41. In the Good Ol’ Summertime – 1949
  42. Neptune’s Daughter – 1949 (There is a Neptune’s Daughter from around 1906.  It was produced in accordance with two other shows.  I suspect that at the very least, they were in revue form and likely nearly impossible to find, so I’m going with this one.  If you can talk me out of it, do it.)
  43. South Pacific – 1949
  44. Carousel – 1950
  45. Pagan Love Song – 1950
  46. Guys and Dolls – 1950
  47. Summer Stock – 1950
  48. Lullaby of Broadway – 1951
  49. Paint Your Wagon – 1951
  50. The King and I – 1951
  51. Bloodhounds of Broadway – 1952
  52. Me and Juliet – 1953
  53. The Boyfriend – 1953
  54. Calamity Jane – 1953
  55. The Glen Miller Story – 1953
  56. Can-Can – 1953
  57. Wonderful Town – 1953
  58. Kismet – 1953
  59. There’s No Business Like Show Business – 1954
  60. A Star is Born – 1954
  61. The Pajama Game – 1954
  62. Fanny – 1954
  63. Plain and Fancy – 1955
  64. Silk Stockings – 1955
  65. Candide – 1956
  66. The Most Happy Fella – 1956
  67. Bells are Ringing – 1956
  68. Jailhouse Rock – 1957
  69. Gigi – The play is 1951, the musical is 1973. I will get back to you on how I’m going to handle this one.
  70. West Side Story – 1957
  71. Flower Drum Song – 1958
  72. Gigi – 1958 I don’t know the relationship of the movie to the musical.  The musical opened in 1973.  The play, by Anita Loos, in 1951
  73. Once Upon a Mattress – 1959
  74. Gypsy – 1959
  75. Fiorello – 1959
  76. The Fantasticks – 1960. Can anyone confirm what my research reveals, that The Fantasticks never actually played on Broadway?  From what I can tell, The Fantasticks opened off-Broadway in 1960, and was revived in 2002, also off-Broadway.
  77. The Unsinkable Molly Brown – 1960
  78. Irma La Douce – 1960 (may have originated elsewhere)
  79. How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying -1961
  80. Carnival! – 1961
  81. Little Me – 1962
  82. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum – 1962 I know the movie, but I’ve never heard or seen it staged.
  83. Oliver! – 1963 – I am very familiar with the movie, however I’ve never seen or heard a stage production.
  84. She Loves Me – 1963
  85. High Spirits – 1964
  86. Hello, Dolly! – 1964
  87. Pickwick – 1965 This appears to have premiered in London.
  88. Flora the Red Menace – 1965
  89. Hard Day’s Night – 1964
  90. Anyone Can Whistle – 1964
  91. Funny Girl – 1964 I know the movie, but I’ve never listened to the stage recording.
  92. Man of La Mancha – 1965
  93. The Yearling – 1965
  94. Do I Hear a Waltz – 1965
  95. The Apple Tree – 1966
  96. Mame – 1966
  97. Sweet Charity – 1966
  98. Cabaret – 1966 I know the film well, but I have little experience with it on stage
  99. Promises, Promises – 1968
  100. Hair – 1968 The same applies to Hair
  101. 1776- 1969
  102. Applause – 1970
  103. Company – 1970
  104. You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown – 1971
  105. Follies – 1971
  106. Jacque Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris – 1972
  107. Grease – 1972  I’ve heard the original, the Chicago storefront version of Grease is raunchy as hell.  Now.  How do I find it?!
  108. Pippin – 1972
  109. A Little Night Music – 1973
  110. Mack and Mabel  – 1974
  111. Yentl – 1975
  112. The Wiz – 1975
  113. Tommy – 1975  I actually know embarrassingly little about Tommy.  The movie is from 1975.  It never made it to B-way until 1993?  Looks like it may have premiered in the West End in 1979.
  114. Chicago – 1975  I know the revival recording and the movie but I’ve never listened to the original
  115. A Chorus Line – 1975 I know the movie, but there is a cool documentary about the revival so I’m keeping this on the list
  116. Godspell – 1976
  117. A Star is Born  – 1976 Non-stage remake, BUT it’s Barbra and both the original and remake are on my movie lists.
  118. Pacific Overtures – 1976
  119. Annie – 1977  I know it frontwards, backwards, forwards and crossways.  Pure guilty pleasure that it’s here.  BUT there are some really good documentaries available.
  120. I Love My Wife – 1977
  121. Side by Side by Sondheim – 1977
  122. The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas – 1978
  123. Working – 1978
  124. On the Twentieth Century – 1978  I’m noticing a penchant for Art Deco here in the 70’s.
  125. Evita – 1979  Sadly, all I know is the Madonna version, and myriad divas singing Don’t Cry For Me
  126. Sweeney Todd – 1979.  Preceded by a production in England called The Demon Barber.  Also, a play entitled Sweeney Todd was on Broadway in 1924.
  127. Barnum – 1980 We ring in the decade of my birth with a circus.  How apropos.
  128. Merrily We Roll Along – 1981 The George S Kaufman play is from the 30’s I think
  129. Dreamgirls – 1981.  1981!  You guys, I had no idea.
  130. Baby – 1983
  131. La Cage aux Folles – 1983
  132. Song and Dance – 1985  Opened in London.  1985 was the year it hit Broadway.
  133. The Mystery of Edwin Drood – 1985
  134. Rags- 1986
  135. Starlight Express – 1987 Although I believe it opened in 1984 in London
  136. Into the Woods – 1987
  137. Chess – 1988 I believe it came to us via London where it premiered in 1986
  138. Grand Hotel – 1989.  This is a movie from the 30’s.
  139. City of Angels – 1989
  140. Tick Tick Boom – 1990
  141. Aspects of Love – 1990
  142. Assassins – 1990 Off Broadway.  Broadway in 2004
  143. Miss Saigon – 1991  A lot of London hits from the 80’s seem to have made their way to the US during the early 90’s
  144. The Secret Garden – 1991
  145. Children of Eden – 1991 London.  Never on Broadway.
  146. Crazy for You – 1992 Obviously, Gershwin wasn’t sitting at the premiere.  I have to do more research.
  147. Falsettos – 1992
  148. Five Guys Named Moe – 1992
  149. Kiss of the Spider Woman – 1993
  150. Hello Again – 1994
  151. Passion – 1994
  152. Sunset Boulevard – 1994
  153. Floyd Collins – 1994 Never made it to Broadway.  Tina Landau wrote the book!  I had no idea.
  154. Victor/Victoria – 1995
  155. Smokey Joe’s Cafe- 1995
  156. Songs for a New World – 1995
  157. Martin Guerre – 1996
  158. Bat Boy – 1997
  159. The Lion King – 1997  Ughhhh… I’m not a fan of the movie, first of all.  And no, I never saw it.  I’m a HUGE Taymor fan… but, I don’t know…I just never really made the effort.  Of course, by the enormity of this list, you can see I actually rarely make the effort.
  160. Parade- 1998
  161. Marie Christine – 1999
  162. The Full Monty – 2000 The movie is earlier, but it’s not the musical.
  163. The Wild Party – 2000
  164. Mamma Mia – 2001  Is this the beginning of the end?  Is this when they started writing musicals with other people’s songs?  Sure, Cole Porter may have borrowed from himself.  Irving Berlin, too, but this….this…..
  165. The Last Five Years – 2001  Premiered at Northlight!  I had no idea.
  166. The Producers – 2001
  167. By Jeeves – 2001 By Jeeves, I believe, is a rewrite of Jeeves which is from the 70’s.  I’ve heard one song from By Jeeves and I adored it.  I’m going to go ahead and believe that the rewrite is the way to go.  Jeeves seems to have premiered in England and never even made it to the US so I’m doubtful I could find the original Jeeves, anyhoo.
  168. Movin’ Out – 2002
  169. Hairspray – 2002
  170. Zanna, Don’t! 2002 What the hell, I already have the recording.
  171. Brooklyn – 2004
  172. Spamalot – 2005
  173. The Woman in White – 2005
  174. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels – Look, I love Lithgow.  I do.  But I also love the original non-musical movie.  This musical has a lot to live up to.  And it also needs to break through the barrier of “Sweet fancy Moses, why do they keep creating musicals out of MOVIES?! ”  I want to joke about the making a musical about the movie Overboard, but c’mon…it’s ripe for the picking, so you heard it here first:  I bet there will be an Overboard musical.
  175. The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee – 2005  I auditioned for it.  Here.  For the tour, I think.  Or the Chicago production.  I can’t remember.  My first Equity crash.
  176. Little Women – 2005 Did you know Louisa May Alcott wrote her own play version of the novel?  She did!  It premiered on Broadway in 1912.
  177. The Light in the Piazza – 2005.  Honestly, this has never enticed me.  But it’s seems to be really popular.  But then so is Wicked and I ZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
  178. The Drowsy Chaperone – 2006
  179. Spring Awakening – 2006  I remember it blew my head off at the Tony’s.  Then I downloaded it, and then I couldn’t stop listening to Mamma Who Bore Me and the Reprise and I never got around to the rest of the show.
  180. Grey Gardens – 2006  I’m looking forward to this.  I’ve seen the original documentary.  I, too, have a revolutionary costume.  Fake eyelashes, sky high heels, and what’s in the middle doesn’t really matter. As opposed to 80’s and 90’s comedies, I like the idea of a documentary as source material.
  181. Xanadu – 2007
  182. Legally Blonde – 2007  Hmmm…2007.  Shit year for musicals?  TBD.
  183. The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin – 2007  I stumbled upon this little gem on Pandora.  I love EVERYTHING I’ve heard.  But I haven’t hear everything.
  184. In the Heights – 2008
  185. Billy Elliot – 2009
  186. 9 to 5 – 2009
  187. American Idiot – 2010

Okay.  There it is.  As I said before, I will attempt to go roughly in order.  But library holds, auditions, and availability will all effect what I actually focus on.

Now, off to get my learn on.

It’s Showtime, Folks!


We all go through phases.  I am particularly adept at going through phases.  In fact, I read a great book called The Renaissance Soul which actually helps you manage multiple phases.  I love this book.  Read it if you love to do a lot of things and you don’t really want to choose one over the other.  But I digress.

I’ve heard people say they’ve gone through a “musical theatre phase.”  I can understand that.  It’s a bizarre, fun, and fascinating world.  I, on the other hand, went through a NON-musical theatre phase.  You see, much of my life has somehow been influenced by musical theatre whether it was accompanying my Dad and Mom to Camelot rehearsals with Archbold Community Theatre, or soulfully and geekily rocking out to my Mom’s West Side Story record, or being in a musical myself.   Then I went to college.  I purposefully attended a theatre program that did not emphasize musical theatre.  In fact, when other students would start to complain that we only did one musical per year, we would shout “Go to CCM!”  or “You knew this was how our program was when you applied” Or “F*CK OFF!”  I had spent most of high school doing musicals (and a few plays) and I felt like if I went to a musical theatre school, I would never learn how to act.  I don’t regret this decision.  (I should have taken more dance, but I just didn’t have room in my schedule. ) However, in my go big or go home style, I basically completely wrote off musicals unless I was cast in one.  And even then, EVEN then I was still sort of considered resident musical theatre expert and that was basically like being a Star Trek expert at a cool kids convention.  Not something you want to advertise, but also very difficult to hide.  I’ve have actually shouted “Pal Joey!” and then clapped my hands over my mouth when I overheard someone say, “I actually really like that song ‘Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered’. ”

Then I moved to Chicago and slowly began to miss musicals.  I also met two people named Jamie and Bob who showed me what it truly means to love musical theatre.  I mean…I can’t even…they just.  They know a lot of musicals.  Encylopedic knowledge of musicals.  I was proud I had a selection from “Fanny” in my audition book.  Bob quoted “Brooklyn” at Jamie’s wedding.

So, to review, so far I’ve loved musicals…been loved by musicals…loathed musicals…and totally gotten back together with musicals.  As such, I’m trying to fill in the gaps of my musical knowledge.  I’m starting at the 40’s and moving up.  Then I may move back from the 40’s and head into the past.  The 1940’s are significant because it was the first time musicals really made the leap from either vaudeville or operetta to their current incarnation.  More plot than vaudeville, but not as classically styled as operetta.  I believe I’m going to start with Panama Hattie.  This is not an arbitrary selection.  1.  I figure, why not start with Cole Porter? 2.  I use a song from Panama Hattie in my audition repertoire.  3.  It’s pre-Oklahoma, which is sort of the starting point for the modern musical in the sense of production value, score, and general feel.  1947, the year Oklahoma premiered is sort of a watershed year.  All of sudden, you’ve heard of the musicals that were produced.  Annie Get Your Gun, Finian’s Rainbow, Oklahoma…  Before that, it was Big Ben, Evangeline, The Night and the Laughter. Never head of ’em either.    I want to listen to the build into 1947, so I figure 1943, the year of Panama Hattie, is as good as any, no?  Now.  This of course, only addresses, the stage.  Back in a little town called Hollywood, people had been escaping from the woes of the depression via the movie musical for years.  (Note to SITC2: next time follow that Liza instinct all the way through. )  So I clearly can’t start this project (which happily coincides with my general movie project) at 1943.  Luckily, I’m combining mediums.  I will watch/listen/and play my way through the musical theatre cannon.  Certainly, I’m not starting from scratch.  I’m merely puttying and painting over the cracks.   So, while this will be a learning experience, I certainly wouldn’t call it Musical Theatre 101.  Let’s call it Musical Theatre 452: Thesis Concentration.  (It would be really fun to design a Musical Theatre 101, however.)

I’m a person that likes graphs, charts, statistics, trends.  I won’t be going about this in a particularly random way. I want to watch the art form itself grow.  While new art forms have certainly emerged since the musical, you’d be hard pressed to find one so inherently American.  I want to start from somewhat of a beginning.  SO, while 1943 will be my stage beginning, I have to go back to 1929 for the movies.  This is pre-crash movie musical.  I want to see what they looked like before they became the ultimate escape.  So, we begin with what some refer to as one of the greatest films of all time, The Broadway Melody of 1929.

It would be overwhelming and not very productive to watch/listen/and/or play every musical I come across.  Sometimes things are obscure because they aren’t that good.  So, in putting together this research list I’m looking for longevity, historical significance, and variety.

What’s the point?  Well, I have a sneaking suspicion it could make me a better actor/singer/dancer.  Also, it will expand my repertoire.  I want to hear the evolution of vocal styles.  And I want to rekindle the love.

I’ll post the list, eventually, once it’s made.  My goal is a musical per week.  Maybe two.  I might rent/go see/dig through a score/listen to a cast recording.  Maybe more than one of these.  I want to strive to experience the original material when I can, as opposed to a revival. Things are reorchestrated, modernized, cast with goofy incapable reality stars. So if all I can find is a cast recording (as opposed to a ticket, a film, or a score) I will go with the original one.

This will be tagged as The Musical Project.  I am also considering doing this with classic and new plays.  But that’s another post.

Let me know if you don’t like my methods.  Let me know if you want to nominate some selections.  No, I probably won’t rewatch Little Shop of Horrors for the 100th time during this project.   Again, this is gap-filling.  But you might be able to introduce to something I would have ignored.  Maybe you think I should start now and go backwards.  Maybe you think I should skip movie musicals all together.  I’m all ears.

Part Two:  The List coming soon!