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.
Based on the iconic 1988 film of the same name, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels follows a pair of con men who make a bet of who can swindle $50,000 from Christine Colgate, the youngest heiress in town. Part romcom, part farce, the musical really embraces the energy of the original film and does a great job at translating it to stage. With book by Jeffrey Lane and music and lyrics by David Yazbeck (who previously worked together on Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown), you can expect some toe-tapping bops, as well as some beautiful floaty ballads, all mixed in with a hilarious plot. The Original Broadway cast is exceptional too, boasting John Lithgow, Joanna Gleason, Norbert Leo Butz, and Sherie Rene Scott – fans of The Last Five Years will be happy to hear those last two duetting again. The Australian premiere hit Sydney’s Theatre Royal in 2013, with a powerhouse cast of Tony Sheldon, Matt Hetherington, Katrina Retallick, and Amy Lehpamer.
Standout track/s: Give Them What They Want; Great Big Stuff; Here I Am; Love is My Legs
You’ll like this if you enjoy: David Yazbeck shows like The Band’s Visit, Tootsie, and The Full Monty, the original Dirty Rotten Scoundrels movie, Catch Me If You Can.
Standout track/s: Self Portrait; Better; Scintillating Sophie
You’ll like this if you enjoy: A Chorus Line, bio musicals like Chaplin and Barnum, the work of Ed Kleban.
Coco is an often forgotten show with book and lyrics by legendary writer Alan Jay Lerner (Paint Your Wagon, My Fair Lady, Gigi) and music by acclaimed classical and jazz musician and composer André Previn. It follows the life of French fashion designer Coco Chanel as she decides to return to Haute Couture after 15 years of retirement, and utilises a series of flashbacks to chronicle key moments of her life in the industry. The Broadway production was directed by Michael Benthall, choreographed by Michael Bennett (A Chorus Line), had costume and set design by Cecil Beaton (My Fair Lady, On A Clear Day You Can See Forever) and starred Katharine Hepburn in her only stage musical. However, even the star power of the creative team couldn’t save the show. The major driving force of the show’s success was Hepburn, and with her being replaced eight months in, the show closed after only 329 performances. Regardless, it sounds like it would have been a fascinating piece of theatre, and I really hope that it sees a revival at some point in the future.
Standout track/s: The World Belongs To The Young; Fiasco; Always Mademoiselle
You’ll like this if you enjoy: Golden age musicals like An American in Paris or Meet Me In St. Louis, other Lerner shows like Camelot, Brigadoon, or those mentioned earlier, War Paint.