Staff picks: Favorite Broadway musical

Musicals are one of the very few all-inclusive forms of art, and they are fun, emotional and interesting to watch. From the talented acting to the amazing dance breaks, here are some of our favorite musicals.

Danielle Pucillo, multimedia manager, said, “The Lion King.”

“The Lion King” is my favorite Broadway musical. I have always had a passionate interest in zoology and geography, so naturally I loved the animated film as a child. But the Broadway musical brings the vibrant horizon of the African plains to life and lends the characters an anthropomorphic charm. I’m very fond of some of the historical and religious references in the show. I personally see some religious parallels in “He Lives in You,” which is my favorite song from the musical.

Jacqueline Lytle, co-editor-in-chief, said, “Hairspray.”

While I haven’t seen many Broadway musicals to truly have a favorite, one I absolutely loved both onstage and on-screen was “Hairspray.” Following a spunky, plus-sized teenager named Tracy Turnblad in 1962, the musical extends the message of acceptance to all audiences. With a dream to dance on The Corny Collins Show, Tracy learns dance moves from a group of African-American students while in detention. These new moves land her a spot on TV, and she quickly becomes a star, advocating for racial integration on Corny’s show. The Tony Award-winning musical is bright and inspiring, as we watch a ridiculed nobody become an influential somebody who wants equality for all.

Grace Ducanis, co-editor-in-chief, said, “Bye Bye Birdie.”

Although “Wicked” comes in at a close second, no other musical is as entertaining and nostalgic to me as “Bye Bye Birdie.” This musical, which was based on the story of Elvis Presley’s draft into the army in 1957, never fails to dazzle with crooning 50s tunes, outdated teenage slang and flashy dance sequences. Though the high school girls of Sweet Apple, Ohio will have to say goodbye to Conrad Birdie, “Bye Bye Birdie” is one show I’ll never say goodbye to.

Aidan Rivas, visual design assistant, said, “Shrek the Musical.”

I say this half as a joke, but I’m completely serious. If you love the movie Shrek, which everyone does and should, you will love the musical. It’s essentially the same story, but with unnecessary additions like skeletal dancers performing a song with Dragon, who sings like Diana Ross. It was a pleasure the whole way through, and I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.

Brianna Walker, assistant news editor intern, said, “Hairspray.”

While I haven’t seen Hairspray on Broadway, I love the movie version with John Travolta, Zac Efron and Nikki Blonsky. Hairspray is definitely one for the books because of its ability to present various societal issues such as race, body image and self-conformity but not overshadow the comedic and upbeat feeling of the film. The musical follows an overweight, star-struck and quirky Tracy Turnblad, creating a character that everyone can relate to. The film also features catchy songs, a blond Queen Latifah and a cross-dressing John Travolta. What more can you ask for?

Carli Lutz, chief of visual design, said, “West Side Story.”

One of my favorite musicals is “West Side Story.” West Side Story was inspired by the story of “Romeo and Juliet,” but it is set in New York and the lovers are associated with rival gangs. It’s a beautiful love story with a lot of great songs and, to be honest, I’ve been obsessed with it since I was a little girl because it was the first musical I saw. Sometimes when I’m getting ready for work I’ll sing “I Feel Pretty” to myself in the mirror, and I am not ashamed.

Ben Underhill, arts and entertainment editor, said, “Nice Work if You Can Get it.”

Lovingly referred to by me and my cast mates as “Nice Work,” this musical was my senior year show during high school. The entire musical is based around music by George Gershwin and is set during the Prohibition. The show is so funny to watch and even be backstage for, with its subtle innuendos and in-your-face numbers. I loved dancing to and singing the catchy swing songs like “Fascinating Rhythm” and “I’ve Got to Be There Reprise,” all while watching a dramatic comedy unfold.

Rachael Hirstein, news editor, said, “Phantom of the Opera.”

“The Phantom of the Opera” is my absolute favorite musical. I watched the movie first, then saw the show in Chicago for the first time in 2014. It was the greatest moment of my life. I will never get tired of hearing the theme song or my favorite song, “The Music of the Night.” Every single piece of music composed for this musical was, and still is, flawlessly gorgeous and dramatic, and the set design is breathtaking. I hope to be visited by “the angel of music” one day so I can sing as beautifully as Christine Daaé.

Nicole Chavannes, copy editor, said “Les Misérables.”

Although I have yet to see it on stage, the film version of “Les Misérables” is my favorite Broadway musical. Although it’s a sad story, I love how raw and emotional it is, and I think the decision to have the actors sing their songs live for the film was genius. Each take was different, giving the actors freedom to experiment with their portrayal of the songs and allowing for more emotional performances. I enjoy films and art in general that pull at my heartstrings and make me feel something, even if it’s sad or unpleasant.

Jenna Kopec, features editor, said “Cabaret.”

I had never seen a Broadway musical until recently. I have to say, “Cabaret” is one spectacular show. My favorite song from the piece is definitely “Maybe This Time.” Despite the humor that lies throughout the production, there are a lot of layers and depth to the script and characters. In terms of a well-planned script and plot, you can’t ask for much more. If you’re into cool comedic reliefs, risqué everything and a dark ending, hit me up and we’ll watch “Cabaret” together.

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