Musical Mondays #45

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.

Doug Hansell, Blake Erickson, and Katrina Retallick in the Australian production of Who’s Your Baghdaddy

Who’s Your Baghdaddy, or How I Started the Iraq War is a satirical comedy play about war. We follow a series of events leading up to the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, and how the CIA and BND provided Bush’s government with justification for doing so. Traditionally set in an ‘AA-style’ support meeting, the audience get a glimpse into the lives of each person who each believe they are somewhat responsible for starting the Iraq war. It’s a hilarious, biting caricature of the events, packed with thoroughly entertaining songs. It definitely isn’t subject matter you’d expect a musical about, but somehow it just works. An Australian production was streamed in 2020 during COVID lockdowns – and it’s available for on demand viewing on BroadwayHD! The Aussie production revamped the location of the show (to fit in with COVID protocols), with each actor being livestreamed from different rooms in the house for a brilliant night of entertainment. Since we have access to a filmed version, I highly recommend people give this one a watch.

Standout track/s: The Pledge; We Deserve Better; Berry and the Bad Boy

You’ll like this if you enjoy: Who’s Your Baghdaddy kid of sits on its own in terms of style, but if you like satirical musicals like The Book of Mormon and The Producers I’d recommend it

Click here to listen to the Who’s Your Baghdaddy cast recording.

Ryan Yeates and Elenoa Rokobaro in Hayes Theatre Co’s Caroline, Or Change | Photo by Phil Erbacher

Caroline, or Change is a beautiful show, telling the story of the Gellmans, a Jewish family, and their African American maid (the titular Caroline) in Louisiana. It’s a powerful piece of theatre set during a pivotal time of American history – the rise of the Civil Rights Movement and concurrent assassination of President John F. Kennedy.  The show’s music was penned by Jeanine Tesori (Shrek, Fun Home, Violet) and book and lyrics by Tony Kushner (Angels in America) – so it’s no wonder the musical is so stunning. The score combines traditional Jewish klezmer music with classical, folk, blues, and motown; truly transporting listeners to different worlds. Kushner has stated that parts of the show are loosely based on his own childhood in Louisiana. It’s a fascinating and moving exploration of race relations in 1960s America, with some of its messages still ringing true in our modern society. Hayes Theatre Co. managed to stage a production of the show in 2019, and I really hope other companies consider doing the same.

Standout track/s: The Radio; Stuart and Noah; The Chanukah Party; I Hate The Bus

You’ll like this if you enjoy: Other work by writers Jeanine Tesori and Tony Kushner, musicals that deal with social injustice like Ragtime, Hairspray, The Color Purple, and Allegiance.

Click here to listen to the Caroline, Or Change cast recording.

Barnaby Hughes and Scott Hunter in Yank! | Photo by Anthony Robling

Yank! A WWII Love Story tells the story of a young man drafted into the military during WWII, and his experiences grappling fear, war, and coming to terms with his sexuality. We don’t often hear stories about gay men serving in war (particularly since, at the time, American servicemen could face imprisonment for being gay), and Yank offers an insight, laced with fact, into the stories that these individuals have held on to for years. Writer David Zellnik spent hours upon hours combing through historical archives and memoirs to collect stories from these gay servicemen in order to collage together their experiences for the show. And the music is stunning. David and his brother Joseph both scored the show, and even stated that they attempted to create “the show that Rodgers and Hammerstein never wrote.” It’s a lush and sweeping golden-age style score, but with a subject matter that obviously would not have been in focus during the R&H era.

Standout track/s: The Saddest Gal What Am; Blue Twilight; Just True

You’ll like this if you enjoy: Bandstand, Golden Age musicals like South Pacific and Oklahoma!

Click here to listen to the Yank cast recording.

Gabi Bergman

Gabi Bergman is a Melbourne-based performer and educator, and is the current Deputy Editor-in-Chief of She holds a Double Arts degree in Theatre Studies and Film/Screen Studies and a Master of Teaching (Secondary Education). Gabi has always been an avid lover of theatre, specifically musicals, and spends way too much money than she’d like to admit on tickets. Her most prized possession is her crate of theatre programs.

Gabi Bergman

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