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5 musicals to remind you just how cool they can be

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know that the most hyped-up musical EVER has finally arrived in London. Hamilton is a Broadway smash hit which uses singing AND rapping to tell the story of one of America’s Founding Fathers, Alexander Hamilton.

Tickets are hotter than Zac Efron in a sauna, so it’s unlikely that I’ll be watching the show anytime soon. If you’ve got one, good for you (said through gritted teeth). If not, join me as I wait for Zac to enter my life with two VIP tickets in hand, and pass the time by re-watching these shows that turned musical theatre from lame to insanely good.

Moulin Rouge

The unofficial best musical of all time according to, well…me. Baz Lurhmann’s Moulin Rouge is a post-modern wonder that is currently being trialled as a stage production (NBD!!!). Reworking a diverse selection of rock and pop hits from the likes of David Bowie, Nirvana, Whitney Houston and Elton John – it was always going to make musicals cool again. Ewan McGregor is a total babe as the oh-so-charmingly bohemian and tragically in love Christian, while Nicole Kidman literally sparkles as the showgirl Satine. It’s an indulgent feast for the eyes and ears. J’adore.

La La Land

You probably need no introduction to last year’s multi-award-winning masterpiece, La La Land. A tap dancing Emma Stone and piano playing Ryan Gosling was enough to make me go and see it twice at the cinema, then listen to the soundtrack approximately 67 times since. With an opening sequence as epically optimistic as Another Day of Sun, and an ending montage more devastating than when Rose let go of Jack in Titanic (I nearly threw a shoe at the screen), it really does celebrate old school cinema with a gloss of contemporary pizazz.


Full disclosure: I – your musical maestro for this article – am yet to see this production. But with one of Roald Dahl’s best stories taken from his magical world, and music written by the wonderfully eccentric Tim Minchin, I just know that this is as good as everyone has told me it is. If you can’t get your hands on a ticket at the moment, delve into the book again or re-watch the brilliant film, about the highly-intellectual but neglected young girl who turns out to have peculiar powers… Here’s hoping that many more Roald Dahl delights will be made into future musical productions.

Billy Elliot

If you’ve seen the film, you’ll be familiar with the heart-warming story of the ballet dancing boy living in Durham during the mining strikes of the 80s. His tale is one of identity, struggle and going for your dreams despite the odds. The film is brilliant, but the musical production is arguably even better, with a score by the legend that is Elton John. It’s sad, hilarious, thought-provoking and dazzling in equal measures. You can buy the recording of the stage show if it’s not currently touring. Make sure you have tissues to hand – I have never sobbed as uncontrollably as I did when Billy sings The Letter with his mum.

The Sound of Music

And if you’ve managed to make it to your teen years without sitting down to watch this with the family, I suggest you rectify the situation immediately. Julie Andrews is a musical goddess in her role as the all-singing, guitar-strumming, sweeter-than-strudel nanny, Maria Von Trappe. It’s based on the real story of an Austrian family who fled the country during World War 2 by trekking over the hills. But against such a dark time in history, the songs in this show are a pure, precious light that you can’t help but hum for days afterwards. It’s the best classic out there.

And these are just the tip of the musical theatre iceberg. Anything that makes you want to sing, dance and jump around is mega cool in my eyes.

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Image: Moulin rouge


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