To continue our look into musicals by decade... It's time to take a look at a massive decade for musical theater... the 1980s. There are so many shows from this decade, and I'm only familiar with a minuscule amount of them. So how do I rank the ones I'm familiar enough with? Read on!
Note: Two musicals I decided to leave off are Seven Brides For Seven Brothers and Singin' in the Rain. Although I dearly love these musicals, I decided to leave them off this list today. (I'm only familiar with the movies from the fifties, for one thing.)
6. Little Shop of Horrors (1982)
Okay, so the above clip is from the movie, but since the original stage production of this show was off Broadway, movie clips just seemed a better way to go. I watched this in its entirety when I was young, and it left a bit of a... terrified impression on me. I haven't watched the entire thing since, though I plan to. It's about a sweet man named Seymour (not the pain-loving dentist above), who helps keep a baby plant alive... a plant with teeth. Yeah. Anyway, havoc reigns and lots of camp and craziness occurs. It is definitely a wacky show, so maybe check out the film if you're interested.
5. Cats (1981)
Cats is a different sort of musical. It relies less on plot and more on song and dance. It's based on poems written by T.S. Eliot. The main sort of plot of the story is that all the cats in the musical are preparing for the Jellicle Ball where one special cat will be chosen to basically go to cat heaven. There is some brilliant dancing and singing so if you are interested in that sort of thing, you might like cats. I've been meaning to watch it again myself.
4. Chess (1984)
I don't know the most about this one except that it has beautiful music and a dramatic story. Taking place during the Cold War, this musical highlights a Russian longing for the homeland he once knew and a cocky American competing in a huge chess championship. It's a unique idea for a musical. The video above is from the concert version featuring Josh Groban.
3. Into the Woods (1987)
Classic Sondheim (the composer), you've probably at least seen promotions for the movie that came out. Well, this was a show far before that. This musical is pretty brilliant, though also dark. It shows you that what one thinks of as a happy ending isn't always perfect. Using classic fairy tales, we see them go wrong in some crazy ways. It really is a clever show. The above clip is one of my favorite songs from the musical.
2. The Phantom of the Opera
I had the hardest time ranking these last two musicals. As you can probably tell from many of my posts, I am obsessed with The Phantom of the Opera. It probably has something to do with the performers in the above video who are my favorites. There is just something about this show. The music is amazing, and the Royal Albert Hall version of the show features incredible performers. The story is very touching and heart-wrenching at times. This one is possibly my personal favorite. I never grow tired of hearing the music from it. It's about a young singer who has a frightening (possibly psychotic) admirer. I don't want to say too much, but you should definitely check this one out.
1. Les Miserables
Another one of my favorites of all time, this story has such a powerful redemptive message. It's about a convict who was arrested for stealing bread to feed his family, a crime that put him in prison for nineteen years. Thanks to the kindness of a priest, he turns his life around while being pursued by a police inspector because he didn't show up for parole. He takes in an orphaned child, helps her, and eventually, somehow gets sucked into a student revolution. I love the historical basis of this tragic musical. The story, music, and message are all so beautiful. Highly recommended.
What is your favorite musical from this decade? Are you familiar with my choices? Do you have a better list?