Best Musicals of the 20th Century

Musicals have come and gone from theatre’s and it can be hard to keep up. However, some continue to perform every night. With a combination of music, dancing, inspiring stories told by talented casts, which musicals are the best of the 20th century?

Today, we are going to take a look at the best musicals of the 20th century that many fans continue to see today!

West Side Story – The West Side Story is a modern day Romeo and Juliet in the lives of New York street gangs. This famous musical is beloved by many as two gangs battle for control of their turf, while one gang member’s deep love for a rival’s sister complicates things further.

Les Misérables – Based on the popular novel by Victor Hugo, Les Misérables is about the lives of characters such as Javert, Valjean and Fantine during the French Revolution of the 18th century.

The Sound of Music – This beloved classic continues to run on Broadway even today. This show is about Maria, who becomes the nanny of a set of kids that changes her life completely.

The Phantom of the Opera – Inside a Paris opera house, the looking Phantom schemes and tricks his way to get closer to the beautiful vocalist Christine Daae.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show – In this cult classic, Brad and Janet are stuck with a flat tire under a storm and discover the mansion of Dr. Frank-N-Furter. Through dances and rock songs, Dr. Frank-N-Furter unveils his latest creation, a man named “Rocky.”

RENT – This favorite among many is known as an all time classic. RENT tells a story of one year of a group of New Yorker’s struggles through their love lives, careers and effects of the AIDS epidemic within their community.

Wicked – Wicked tells the untold story between Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West and Galinda, Galinda the Good Witch from their perspective as they were once the best of friends.

Broadway Shows for Kids

Do you love the theater? If so, you probably enjoy sharing the experience with a friend, loved one, spouse, or even your children. Sharing your love of the theater with your kids can be a magical experience. Finding an age appropriate show that captures the heart and interest of your child can be a bit tricky, though. We suggest starting with award winning shows, favorite children’s books, or films that s/he can relate to and follow the storyline easily. Here are some great choices to spark your child’s love for the theater:

  • Wicked – Based on the story of Oz, children will love the costumes, flying monkeys, and robust score. This show is on Broadway through the end of September.
  • Aladdin – Most children will recognize this Disney classic that follows the antics of Aladdin and the Genie, and the blooming relationship with Jasmin. Children will enjoy the scenery, costumes, songs they can sing along to, and characters they have come to love. This show runs through mid-August.
  • School of Rock Musical – Based on the 2003 feature film School of Rock, children will love the music and energetic actors who play students vying for a spot in the musical.
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – This favorite film and book runs on Broadway through January 2018. Children will love the story of Charlie as he wins his way into the mysterious chocolate factory and all the adventures to be had within.
  • Spongebob Squarepants – No, not your average Broadway Theater show, but loved nonetheless. This zany sponge who lives under the sea will delight even the youngest of viewers.

Stage Etiquette

Theater etiquette isn’t just important from an audience perspective, it is also important for actors and stage members to follow certain rules when in or around the stage. Aside from remembering your lines, stage etiquette comes a long way to everyone involved in the production as it helps to keep everything on track and helps make the production run smoothly each performing night.

Rehearsals – Rehearsals help everyone stay and remain on the same page, so always arrive on time for warm ups. Learn your lines, and follow along for tips and updates on a character.

Stick to the script – The script takes a long time to get it perfect and it is written the way it is for a reason. Unless you are doing improvisation, stick to it.

Before the Show – Stay off the stage and out of the theater once the house is open as it can spoil any surprises or part of the show. Especially avoid it when in costume, too.

Don’t talk backstage – Talking backstage can bring noise and distractions that the audience can pick up on. Instead, avoid speaking behind the scenes or while a play is happening. Avoid talking, whispering in the wings, or even noise in the dressing room. Sometimes a microphone can be left backstage leaving the audience to hear everything. If you wish to see the show backstage, instead hang out in the monitor or green room. It is also very important to stay out of the way for actors who will frequently be going in and out of the stage.

Food and drinks – Never eat behind the stage or near the wings. Instead, consume drinks and food in the Green Room. Things can spill and can possibly ruin costumes or create a trip/slip hazard for actors and production staff. It is also important to never put food, drinks or any object on a prop table.

The Tony Awards Winners!

 

The 71st annual Tony Awards premiered last night and it was a whirlwind! Kevin Spacey hosted the show, which aired on CBS from Radio City Music Hall in New York. Among many different shows throughout the night, “Hello, Dolly!” and “Dear Evan Hansen” were the biggest winners. For best musical, “Dear Evan Hansen” star Ben Platt won lead actor. Bette Midler however, won lead actress and best revival of a musical for “Hello, Dolly” giving a memorable speech after her win.

Check the list below to see if any of your favorites won?!

Best Play: “Oslo” (WINNER)

Best Musical: “Dear Evan Hansen” (WINNER)

Best Book of a Musical: “Dear Evan Hansen” — Steven Levenson (WINNER)

Best Original Score: “Dear Evan Hansen” — Music & Lyrics: Benj Pasek & Justin Paul (WINNER)

Best Revival of a Play: “August Wilson’s Jitney” (WINNER)

Best Revival of a Musical: “Hello, Dolly!” (WINNER)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play: Kevin Kline, “Present Laughter” (WINNER)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play: Laurie Metcalf, “A Doll’s House, Part 2” (WINNER)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical: Ben Platt, “Dear Evan Hansen”(WINNER)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical: Bette Midler, “Hello, Dolly!” (WINNER)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play: Michael Aronov, “Oslo” (WINNER)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play: Cynthia Nixon, “Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes” (WINNER)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical: Gavin Creel, “Hello, Dolly!” (WINNER)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical: Rachel Bay Jones, “Dear Evan Hansen” (WINNER)

Best Scenic Design of a Play: Nigel Hook, “The Play That Goes Wrong” (WINNER)

Best Scenic Design of a Musical: Mimi Lien, “Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812” (WINNER)

Best Costume Design of a Play: Jane Greenwood, “Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes” (WINNER)

Best Costume Design of a Musical: Santo Loquasto, “Hello, Dolly!” (WINNER)

Best Lighting Design of a Play: Christopher Akerlind, “Indecent” (WINNER)

Best Lighting Design of a Musical: Bradley King, “Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812” (WINNER)

Best Direction of a Play: Rebecca Taichman, “Indecent” (WINNER)

Best Direction of a Musical: Christopher Ashley, “Come From Away” (WINNER)

Best Choreography: Andy Blankenbuehler, “Bandstand” (WINNER)

Best Orchestrations: Alex Lacamoire, “Dear Evan Hansen” (WINNER)

Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre: James Earl Jones

Special Tony Award: Gareth Fry and Pete Malkin, sound designers for “The Encounter”

Regional Theatre Tony Award: Dallas Theater Center in Dallas, Texas

Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award: Baayork Lee

Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre: Nina Lannan and Alan Wasser

Tony Awards Facts

The Tony Awards are fast approaching and for theater lovers, it is the award show we look forward to every year! This year, the show will be hosted by Kevin Spacey at the Radio City Music Hall in New York.

On today’s post, we’ll take a look at some cool facts from previous Tony Award shows as we await for theater’s big night!

Mike Nichols has won more Tony Awards for Best Direction of a Play than anyone else! This includes: Barefoot in the Park, Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, The Real Thing, and The Prisoner of Second Avenue!

Bob Fosse continues to be the only director to win a Tony, an Oscar, and an Emmy all in the same year of 1973. He won an Oscar for Cabaret, Emmy for Liza with a Z and two Tony’s for Pippin.

In 1995, despite having nine nominations, Indiscretions had the worst Tony night, winning no awards.

Angela Lansbury has hosted and co-hosted more Tony telecasts than any individual including five telecast (1968, 1971, 1987, 1988, and 1989). Neil Patrick Harris and Hugh Jackman follow suit.

Amanda Plummer is still the only Tony Award winner whose parents both won Tonys. Amana won a Tony for Best Featured Actress in a Play for Agnes of God. Christopher Plummer, her father, won Best Actor in a Musical for Cyrano and her mother, Tammy Grimes, won as Featured Actress in a Musical for The Unsinkable Molly Brown.

Frank Langella and Boyd Gaines are both male performers with the most Tony Awards in acting categories, both winning four to date.

There are nine performers who have won a Tony and then an Oscar for the same role:

   – José Ferrer in Cyrano de Bergerac, won a Tony in 1947, Oscar in 1950.

   –  Jack Albertson in The Subject Was Roses, won a Tony in 1965, Oscar in 1968.

   – Joel Grey in Cabaret, won a Tony in 1967, Oscar in 1973.

   – Viola Davis in Fences, won a Tony in 2010, an Oscar in 2017.

   – Paul Scofield in A Man for All Seasons, won a Tony in 1962, an Oscar in 1966.

   – Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady, won a Tony in 1957, an oscar in 1964.

 

The 1978 play, Da, was the Tony Award-winning play with the shortest title!

Why Are Backdrops Used?

Many have wondered why theater productions need backdrops. Backdrops by Charles H. Stewart can give you an answer. Backdrops provide the perfect and final element that ties the theatrical production together. From dance recitals to events and to the perfect scenery. Backdrops allow you to set the stage and enhance the decoration with the visual impact that makes a presentation unforgettable.

Backdrops, also known as backgrounds, have been used in films, photography for a visual scene behind a subject. They are used all around. In theater, backdrops appear on the stage, within the background, providing the perfect scenery for the scene that is being enacted. The great advantage of using backdrops is the mobility. With every scene that is being used, the backdrop can be changed multiple times that can correlate with the different themes of the play at any given moment.

Backdrops are often varied and range from different rural scenes to modern designs to different colors. For example, backdrops can be used for scenes that use jungle backdrops, a scene depicting a grand ballroom, or an icy and snow covered mountain. Many of these scenes allow the audience to understand the mood, tone and purpose of the scene as the play continues. Another bonus, is that backdrops can also replace the need for and cut down on the expense of multiple set pieces and props since they provide a full visual on a grand scale.

From specific scenes to customization, at Charles H. Stewart, we can create the perfect backdrop for your production. Each of our backdrops are hand-painted on heavy-weight muslin with grommets and tie lines spaced 12-14 inches apart so you can have an easier way to hang it.

So if you have a production and have the perfect backdrop to use, contact us today! We are here to help and got your backdrop!

Movies That Turned Into Plays–Part II

Here are some more movies that were made into musical plays that you should check out:

 

Hairspray

Hairspray is an American musical with music by Marc Shaiman, lyrics by Scott Wittman and Shaiman and a book by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan, based on the 1988 John Waters film Hairspray. The songs include 1960s-style dance music and “downtown” rhythm and blues. In 1962 Baltimore, Maryland, plump teenager Tracy Turnblad’s dream is to dance on The Corny Collins Show, a local TV dance program based on the real-life Buddy Deane Show. When Tracy wins a role on the show, she becomes a celebrity overnight, and meets a colorful array of characters. She then launches a campaign to integrate the show.

The musical’s original Broadway production opened on August 15, 2002.

In 2003 it won eight Tony Awards, including one for Best Musical, out of 13 nominations. It ran for 2,642 performances, and closed on January 4, 2009. Hairspray has also had national tours, a London West End production, and numerous foreign productions and was adapted as a 2007 musical film. The London production was nominated for a record-setting eleven Laurence Olivier Awards, winning for Best New Musical and in three other categories.

 

High School Musical

High School Musical is a 2006 American television film, first in the High School Musical film franchise that was created by Peter Barsocchini and directed by Kenny Ortega.  It starred Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, Corbin Bleu, Lucas Grabeel, and Monique Coleman.  Upon its release on January 20, 2006, it became the most successful movie that Disney Channel Original Movie ever produced, with a television sequel High School Musical 2 released in 2007 and the feature film High School Musical 3: Senior Year released to theaters in October 2008. It is the first Disney Channel Original Movie to have a theatrical sequel. The film’s soundtrack was the best-selling album in the United States for 2006.

 

The film was adapted to a stage musical starting in early 2006 with two versions: a 70-minute One Act play and a full-length Two Act musical. On August 1, 2006, Playbill  announced that the Stagedoor Manor summer theater camp, featured in the film Camp, would be the first venue to produce High School Musical on-stage. Pacific Repertory Theatre School of Dramatic Arts staged the California premiere in 2007, which was revived in 2008.  From early 2007 though the end of July, North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly, MA had a production of High School Musical that featured Broadway actor Andrew Keenan-Bolger as Ryan and Kate Rockwell, a semi-finalist on Grease: You’re the One that I Want!, as Sharpay.  Theater of the Stars in Atlanta, Georgia was the first professional company to put on High School Musical.

 

High School Musical is a story about two high school juniors from rival cliques – Troy Bolton (Zac Efron), captain of the basketball team, and Gabriella Montez (Vanessa Hudgens), a beautiful and shy transfer student who excels in math and science. Together, they try out for the lead parts in their high school musical, and as a result, divide the school. Despite other students’ attempts to thwart their dreams, Troy and Gabriella resist peer pressure and rivalry, inspiring others along the way not to “stick to the status quo”.

 

Legally Blonde

Legally Blonde is a musical with music and lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin and book by Heather Hach. The story is based on the novel Legally Blonde by Amanda Brown and the 2001 film of the same name. It tells the story of Elle Woods, a sorority girl who enrolls at Harvard Law School to win back her ex-boyfriend Warner. She discovers how her knowledge of the law can help others, and successfully defends exercise queen Brooke Wyndham in a murder trial.

Legally Blonde premiered in pre-Broadway tryouts in San Francisco, California from February 6 through February 24, 2007. On April 29, 2007 the show moved to the Palace Theater on Broadway, opening to mostly positive reviews and grossed more than $1,000,000 a week on several occasions. Jerry Mitchell directed and choreographed with set design by David Rockwell, costume design by Gregg Barnes, and lighting design by Kenneth Posner and Paul Miller. The original cast included Laura Bell Bundy as Elle, Christian Borle as Emmett and Richard H. Blake as Warner. It received seven Tony nominations and ten Drama Desk nominations but failed to win any. The West End production opened in January 2010 at the Savoy Theatre. The West End production was nominated for five Laurence Olivier Awards and won three, including the Best New Musical award.  The musical was recorded in September 2007 and aired on MTV in October 2007.

 

The Producers

The Producers is a musical adapted by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan from Brooks’ 1968 film of the same name, with lyrics written by Brooks and music composed by Brooks and arranged by Glen Kelly and Doug Besterman. As in the film, the story concerns two theatrical producers who scheme to get rich by overselling interests in a Broadway flop. Complications arise when the show unexpectedly turns out to be successful. The humor of the show draws on ridiculous accents, caricatures of homosexuals and Nazis, and many show business in-jokes.

After 33 previews, the original Broadway production opened at the St. James Theatre on April 19, 2001, starring Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, and ran for 2,502 performances, winning a record-breaking 12 Tony Awards. It spawned a successful London production running for just over two years, national tours in the US and UK, many productions worldwide and a 2005 film version.

Protecting Your Voice

A voice is a vital instrument and tool that is important to the theatre. A voice can carry a scene, can inspire goosebumps in the audience with a song, and it can be a huge different between an average to an outstanding show. However, with the talent and brilliance of a voice, also comes the responsibility of taking care of it.

Doing 5 to 10 week shows can be a strain to your voice, or cause an actor to get sick. There are several ways that a voice can be injured. Here are some tips to take to maintain your voice in good condition:

Warming up/Exercise – Vocal warm-ups and exercise are not only great voice lessons, but can also maintain the vocal chords strength. Always find time to warm up your voice and before every practice session, rehearsal and performance. Without the warm ups, you can physically harm your chords. Exercise has numerous amounts of benefits. Exercising regularly will strengthen and boost your immune system which can help reduce the chances of unwanted congestion, and strengthening your lungs.

Staying healthy – Staying healthy is important for both, your vocal chords and body. The voice is a delicate instrument and it is easier to harm than one thinks. From getting a good nights sleep to eating well can make huge differences to your voice! Fruits, veggies, lean proteins and whole grains should be a staple in your diet, which can boost your sail through the flu season without a single sniffle.

H2O – Water! Water! Water! Water has incredible benefits for your voice! It can maintain its proper functions and it is highly recommended to stay hydrated during cold and flu season. Certain beverages like caffeinated can cause your vocal chords to dry out, so maintain hydrated with water is key.

Having a theatre voice can be wonderful and important for every production, but, whatever the issue, remember to always keep your voice healthy and maintain its health with the best tips and tricks that are known in the business.

Movies That Turned Into Plays–Part I

We’ve already posted some plays that were made into movies, but what about the other way around?  Here are some movies that were made into plays for you to check out:

Aladdin

Aladdin is a musical based on the 1992 Disney animated film of the same name with music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Howard Ashman, Tim Rice and Chad Beguelin. Beguelin also wrote the book. The musical includes three songs written for the film by Ashman but not used.   There and four new songs written by Menken and Beguelin. The story follows the familiar tale of how a poor young man discovers a genie in a lamp and uses his wishes to marry the princess that he loves and to thwart the Sultan’s evil Grand Vizier.

Aladdin premiered at the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle in 2011.  After several regional and international productions in 2012, the musical was given a Toronto tryout in 2013.  It opened on Broadway at the New Amsterdam Theatre on March 20, 2014 to mostly warm reviews and was nominated for five Tony Awards.

Big

Big The Musical is a 1996 musical adaptation of the 1988 film starring Tom Hanks. It was directed by Mike Ockrent and featured music by David Shire and lyrics by Richard Maltby, Jr., with choreography by Susan Stroman.  It involves Josh Baskin, a 12-year-old boy who grows up overnight after being granted a wish by a Zoltar Speaks machine at a carnival. With the aid of his best friend, Billy, he must cope with his new adulthood while finding the machine so that he can wish himself back and more.  The musical opened on Broadway at the Shubert Theatre on April 28, 1996, and closed on October 13, 1996, after 193 performances.  Although it was nominated for five Tony Awards (Best Actress, Supporting Actor, Book, Score, and Choreography), it was one of Broadway’s costliest money-losers

La Cage Aux Folles

La Cage aux Folles is a musical with a book by Harvey Fierstein and lyrics and music by Jerry Herman.  Based on the 1973 French play of the same name by Jean Poiret, it focuses on a gay couple: Georges, the manager of a Saint-Tropez nightclub featuring drag entertainment, and Albin, his romantic partner and star attraction, and the farcical adventures that ensue when Georges’s son, Jean-Michel, brings home his fiancée’s ultra-conservative parents to meet them. La cage aux folles literally means “the cage of mad women”. However, folles is also a slang term for effeminate homosexuals (queens).

The original 1983 Broadway production received nine nominations for Tony Awards and won six, including Best Musical, Best Score and Best Book. The success of the musical spawned a West End production and several international runs. The 2004 Broadway revival won the Tony Award for Best Revival, the 2008 London revival garnered the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Musical Revival. The 2010 Broadway revival was nominated for eleven Tony Awards, winning the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical. La Cage aux Folles is the first musical which has won the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical twice and the show that has won a Best Production Tony Award (Best Musical or Best Revival of a Musical) for each of its Broadway productions.

 Footloose

Footloose is a 1998 musical based on the 1984 film of the same name. The music is by Tom Snow (among others), the lyrics by Dean Pitchford (with additional lyrics by Kenny Loggins), and the book is by Pitchford and Walter Bobbie.  It opened at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on October 22, 1998 with 737 performances.  It was nominated for several Tony Awards.  With its Oscar’-nominated hit score (the film soundtrack album has sold over 15 million copies world-wide), the celebrated film musical now bursts explosively onto the stage.  The production has developed a following since its original release being one of the most frequently performed school musicals in recent years.

The Top Theater Myths

Theatrical superstitions and myths are real. Among the superstitious actors, it’s important to know them before ever entering or participating in a show, whether as a cast member or as an audience.
Follow along for the most famous superstitions that still linger on stages today.

Having three lit candles onstage – Having three lit candles on stage can bring bad luck. It is said that whoever is nearest to the shortest candle will be next to marry or die. Today, this is nothing but a rumor. Today, stages are instead lit by electrical lights. Instead of bad luck, having lit candles on or around the stage around flammable fresh paint, dim lighting and busy people will only burn the theater down.
Saying ‘Macbeth’ – If the name, ‘Macbeth’, is mentioned in a theatre there is a cleansing ritual to rectify the mistake. The ritual requires the person who said the name to leave the theatre building, spit, curse and spin around three times, before begging to be allowed back in. Other tricks also include, reciting a line from another Shakespearean work, brushing oneself off or running around the theatre counterclockwise. It is believed that Shakespeare got the words from a coven of real witches, and by using the word placed a curse on the play so no one, other than him, could correctly direct the play.
Bad Dress, Good Opening – Many stage actors believe that a bad and terrible dress rehearsal means a great opening night will occur. Although the origin is unclear, the comforting concept still continues today.
“Break a Leg” – Always replace the phrase “good luck” with “break a leg.” The saying might have originated from the ancient Greek practice of stomping feet instead of applauding. Others believed it could’ve originated from understudies jokingly wishing actors would “break a leg” so that their standbys were able to perform.
Flowers before the performance – Receiving flowers and a beautiful bouquet before a performance or recital is believed to cause a lackluster show. Instead, old school and new actors today require their flowers after the curtain call and never before!
Mirrors – Breaking a mirror can bring seven years of bad luck. However, breaking a mirror on stage will cause seven years of bad luck to the theatre. It is also believed that reflections from mirrors are distracting for lights, audience members and actors.