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Musicals that should be included more often in playlists

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If you love musicals, you probably already noticed that in many YouTube videos, playlists and top ten lists the same titles often appear several times, giving no space to other productions. As much as I appreciate Andrew Lloyd Webber’s work, there is so much more to see than The Phantom of The Opera and Evita! Here’s just a couple of suggestions I wholeheartedly recommend.

Elisabeth – das Musical. This 1992 musical by Michael Kunze and Sylvester Levay revolves around the figure of Empress Elisabeth of Austria, from the years of her youth to her death; she is depicted as a free spirit, in contrast with the stifling formality of the Habsburg court, and pursued by Death towards whom she is growing mixed feelings. In the end even Elisabeth’s killer, the anarchist Lucheni, is shown as a mere agent of Death, letting the two lovers reunite at last. Several stunning solos and duets are included, like Ich Gehör Nur Mir (I only belong to myself), Die Schatten Werden Länger (The shadows are growing longer), and the final Der Schleier Fällt (The veil falls). Personally, I find that singer Maya Hakvoort has delivered the best interpretation in the title role, together with Mate Kamaras as a seductive Death and Serkan Kaya giving verve to the twisted and flamboyant Lucheni.

Tanz der Vampire. Based on Roman Polanski’s The Fearless Vampire Killers, the 1997 musical by Jim Steinman and Michael Kunze follows the adventures of Professor Abronsius and his young assistant Alfred in a remote corner of the Carpathians; they find shelter in Chagal’s inn and witness his daughter’s escape to join mysterious Count von Krolock. Unlike the movie, more space is given to the relationship between the innkeeper’s daughter, Sarah, and von Krolock. Instead of biting her straightaway, the vampire wooes her with a gift of new boots and invites her to the Midnight Ball; Sarah herself is depicted as being profoundly infatuated with the Count, not numb and brainwashed as in the movie. This musical offers many brilliant moment of music and dancing, like the thrilling Carpe Noctem (Seize the night) or the ballroom scene in Tanzsaal (Ballroom); my favourite is the sequence Draußen Ist Freiheit - Darf Ich Oder Nicht - Das Gebet - Stärker Als Wir Sind (Outside is freedom - May I or may I not - The prayer - Stronger than we are).

NB: A peculiarity of this musical is the presence of pop songs which have been translated and rearranged to fit in the context, the most notable example being Totale Finsternis, a readaptation of Bonnie Tyler’s hit Total Eclipse of the Heart; this can be easily explained given that the pieces have been composed by Steinman himself.


What do you think? Are there other "less mainstream" musicals you would like to recommend?

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Next To Normal. 

Its such a brilliant and raw portrayal of mental illness, and it’s affect on families and relationships. It’s also got one of the best performances ever by Alice Ripley.

Other than that one, some of the old movie musicals, like Singin’ in the Rain or Kiss Me, Kate, should get more play time. It’s honestly criminal that those old musicals get the shaft simply because they were on screen rather than stage.

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