Welcome back to Musical Mondays!
In case you’re new here, this column is a peek into the depths of the Musical Theatre archive, where I will showcase a few musicals that I think deserve a little more love. You can read my past posts by clicking here!
They’re the smaller, niche shows that not everyone will be familiar with – and that’s the point! They deserve just as much love as the big name shows, so every second Monday I’ll list a few, give you some comparisons, and a few examples of songs for you to check out.
You’ll like this if you enjoy: Ryan Scott Oliver’s music, musicals about marriage and relationships like Company and I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.
Alice By Heart is another Alice In Wonderland-inspired musical, this time set in Post-WW2 London. The titular Alice is forced to take shelter in a train station after the London Blitz, and escapes into her beloved copy of the Lewis Caroll story. It’s a really beautiful and poignant story, and deals with a lot of mature themes such as grief, loss, and pessimism. It’s a really interesting take on a typical bildungsroman/coming of age story, and with gorgeous music to accompany it. The creative team on Alice By Heart are Duncan Sheik, Steven Sater, and Jessie Nelson – the former pair famous for their collaboration on Spring Awakening, and the latter known for writing the Broadway adaptation of Waitress. If the creative team wasn’t enough to sway you, the original off-Broadway cast may: Wesley Taylor, Noah Galvin, Colton Ryan, and Grace McLean are just a few of the fabulous cast. What I find really interesting is the history of the show – across the years and various workshops, an incredible array of performers were involved. What I would give to hear the 2015 workshop cast of Ashley Park, Ben Platt, Anthony Ramos, Emmy Raver-Lampman, and Mary Testa… Just listen to this show. You won’t regret it.
Standout track/s: Still; Manage Your Flamingo; Some Things Fall Away; Afternoon
You’ll like this if you enjoy: Spring Awakening, other musical adaptations of Alice In Wonderland such as wonder.land (Albarn/Buffini) and Wonderland (Wildhorn/Murphy).
[title of show] is such a good time. I am convinced it is impossible to hate this show. Taking a meta approach, it follows the struggles of a writer and composer penning a show for a theatre festival – specifically the New York Theatre Festival, where [title of show] made its premiere. Hunter Bell and Jeff Bowen started writing the show with just 3 weeks left for festival submissions, and decided that the idea of ‘two friends writing a musical about two friends writing a musical’ was not only hilarious, but incredibly original. The pair joined with other friends Heidi Blickenstaff and Susan Blackwell (of whom their subsequent characters are also named), and the rest is history. The show did reasonably well in its off-off and off-Broadway runs, but sadly didn’t see the same response in its Broadway run, closing after just 13 previews and 102 performances. It remains a favourite pick of independent, college, and community theatre productions due to its small cast and simple staging, and for good reason – it’s a fantastic show.
Standout track/s: Untitled Opening Number; Part of It All; The Tony Award Song; Nine People’s Favourite Thing
You’ll like this if you enjoy: Comedy musicals like 21 Chump Street, The Musical of Musicals The Musical!, and Silence! The Musical (with book by Hunter Bell), other Bell/Bowen works like Now. Here. This.