My husband and I have season tickets to the touring Broadway shows in Baltimore. Our tickets are for the final night of the run, but I know other people who have tickets on earlier nights in the week. The show that just finished its run in Baltimore was Come From Away and at the birthday party I was at on Saturday night I was having a conversation with people who had already seen it and who were saying it immediately vaulted into their top 3 or 5 shows ever. I had actually seen it already on Broadway and adored it, but I wasn’t sure I was willing to put it that high in my rankings. After seeing it again though it might actually be.
It’s a super affecting show. The fact that all the actors play so many characters with essentially only their mannerisms and perhaps a small piece of wardrobe identifying them as someone else is amazing. The music is wonderful. I will say that I think Come From Away may have the best opening number of any musical I can think of. It’s a rare show that has me laughing out loud and in tears multiple times throughout and it’s all done in a tidy one act. So yeah, even if I’m not sure it’s in my top 3 or my top 5 it’s definitely up there. That had me thinking though if it’s one of my favorite shows then what else goes on that list. So here you go in no particular order.
Les Mis has to go on this list because it is the show that first made me fall in love with musical theatre. There’s a reason this show is a classic. It’s not a perfect show and in some ways feels very much of the time and the way musical theatre was when it was written, but that doesn’t mean I love it any less.
Anything Goes was the first show I saw live that was not just some production aimed at kids that we saw on field trips at our local Civic Center. I did not actually see it on Broadway though. I actually don’t remember what my first Broadway show was. I saw Anything Goes in the West End in London when my family took a trip there I think between my fifth and sixth grade years. It’s still a show I love. Cole Porter’s music is clever and fun. I’m also a sucker for tap dancing. The huge tap number to the title song in the revival with Sutton Foster from a few years ago is still one of my favorite things ever.
Rent is definitely still one of my favorite shows. I can still sing every word. I listened to that cast album approximately one billion times. It’s also the show I’ve seen the most times and in the most iterations given the movie and the recent Rent Live production. It was also the first show where the voices on that cast album were the same ones I was seeing in the live production. When you’re intimately familiar with a cast album hearing other people sing it can be a bit jarring sometimes. Granted that rarely happens to me now because if I’m interested enough in a show that I’m likely to listen to the cast album I’ve probably seen it before the cast album was even recorded. Interestingly the show I saw with much of the original Broadway cast was in London again not on Broadway. The year I studied abroad in London was the same time when probably about 3/4 of the original Broadway cast went over to London to open the show in the West End. I luckily made it to the show the first time before they left because I saw it multiple times and went I went back the second time there was a new cast.
Because you know Hamilton.
If you pinned me down, put a gun to my head, and forced me to pick a favorite musical it would probably come down to Anything Goes or Cabaret. I love the music and the story and the dance and the end is a real gut punch every time. I’ve seen several productions of this show and was super happy to get to see Alan Cumming reprise his role as the Emcee opposite Emma Stone a couple of year ago.