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 on the first Monday of each month I’ll list a few, give you some comparisons, and a few examples of songs for you to check out.
Ride The Cyclone is an absolutely bizarre concept for a show. In the fictional town of Uranium City, 6 students from the St. Cassian High School chamber choir have died on a faulty rollercoaster ride – the titular Cyclone. While in limbo, each student tells a mechanical fortune teller their story for the chance to win a return to life. It’s an eerie, touching, and unique story that definitely sits apart from existing musicals, exploring themes like life, loss, and grappling with the concept of death. It premiered in Canada in 2008 and saw some success across the country before its 2015 Chicago opening. It has since played off-Broadway and in several U.S. cities, but to my knowledge has never had a professional run in Australia. Ride The Cyclone is also quite small in scale from a production perspective, so would be a great choice for a high school, university, or small independent company.
Standout track/s: What the World Needs, Noel’s Lament, The Ballad of Jane Doe
You’ll like this if you enjoy: Repo! A Genetic Opera, shows about teenagers like Bare and Spring Awakening.
Mythic The Musical follows the growing trend of using Greek mythology as source material for a show. It takes the story of Persephone, daughter of Zeus and Demeter, and reframes it into a modern age, full of rock stars, celebrities, and politicians. No longer a demure goddess, Persephone is a pop-punk rebel who has no interest in taking over her family’s business – in fact, she’s caught the eye of the local bad boy, Hades. Mythic is a delightfully revitalising interpretation of the mythology we are all too familiar with, and I really would love to see a production of it. At the moment, it has only seen an off-West End run in 2018, but hopefully things change sometime soon!
Standout track/s: Mess Around; Not A Chance In Hell; You’d Be Surprised
You’ll like this if you enjoy: Rock musicals like American Idiot and Jesus Christ Superstar, shows based on Greek Mythology like Hadestown and Percy Jackson.
Illyria is yet another Shakespeare play-turned-musical show. Using Twelfth Night as its basis, the show adds a contemporary score to the classic text. Twins Viola and Sebastian are shipwrecked, and they each think the other has drowned. Viola decides to disguise herself as Cesario to work for the Duke, Orsino. As all good Shakespeare comedies do, love triangles and chaos ensue. None of the plot of Illyria is different from the play, but the music draws on classic Broadway and Light Opera styles to refresh the material. It premiered in 2002 off-Broadway, and since saw a revival in 2008. While I haven’t seen the show in person, the fusion of the play and music are a really great way to entice those who may not be interested in Shakespeare into giving it a go. It’s definitely more prescriptive than other adaptations, but is still worth a listen if you have the time.
Standout track/s: Olivia; Love’s Night; Tango of the Blades; Blues in the Dark
You’ll like this if you enjoy: Shows based on Shakespeare such as Kiss Me Kate, West Side Story and Two Gentlemen of Verona; musical adaptations of Twelfth Night such as All Shook Up! and Play On!