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Fairly new fan of Broadway - what are five DVDs and five cast alblums I should experience?

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Showing 1-25 of 127 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 2, 2010 6:04:24 PM PDT
ColoNative says:
I am a new fan of the stage. As I have matured in life I have come to appreciate stage performances - both Broadway and non-Broadway. I try and make it to the theatre as often as possible, I live in Denver.

I would like to also experience performances from the comfort of my own home. So I would like some opinions on what I should be watching and listening to?

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 3, 2010 1:21:28 AM PDT
For cast albums, I recommend Wicked (2003 Original Broadway Cast), South Pacific (2008 Revival Broadway Cast), Hairspray (2002 Original Broadway Cast), Tick, Tick...BOOM! (2001 Original Off-Broadway Cast), and The Last 5 Years (2002 Original Off-Broadway Cast).

If you're not easily offended, you should also check out Avenue Q (2003 Original Broadway Cast).

For DVDs: I liked the filming of the Into the Woods production from the 80's, Phantom of the Opera, Chicago (although this is very different from the live show; not bad different, just different), West Side Story, and Dreamgirls.

My favorite musical is Rent, but it falls into that not-easily-offended category. The film adaptation is a fair one, but I really recommend seeing it live before you see the movie. Its last performance on Broadway was filmed and released on DVD, and it was very good. Hope this helps!

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 3, 2010 2:06:48 AM PDT
ColoNative says:
Thank you very much. Your post was very helpful.

Posted on Jul 3, 2010 10:35:51 AM PDT
J. Warner says:
Yay, a CO native! I'm a Colorado transplant, who is currently lost in the wilds of NC, but hope to be returning Denver soon.

I agree that "Wicked" & "Rent" are great cast albums. I would instead add Titanic & Les Miserables (Les Miserables 10th Anniversary Concert which also has a DVD of the concert as well). My final favorite is Ragtime (Ragtime - The Musical (1998 Original Broadway Cast)).

On DVD, there's Sondheim's "Passion," an intense, emotional love triangle. Lovely music and score. I would agree with the earlier post about "Into the Woods," also by Sondheim. The cd is fabulous too. If you're a Sondheim fan, they also have his musical, "Sunday in the Park with George" on DVD, as well. Its not one of my favorite musicals, but it stars the amazing Mandy Patinkin & Bernadette Peters. And its worth it just to watch their artistry. I would also suggest Andrew Llyod Webber's "Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" starring Donnie Osmond. Its a fun show & he has an amazing voice. Webber also has "Cats" on DVD too. There were film adaptations made in the 70s/80s of the musicals "A Chorus Line" & "Godspell." And, again, I agree that the final live Broadway performance of "Rent" is by far the best investment!!!

From the biggest broadway geek, who's never actually been to broadway! ;-)

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 3, 2010 2:35:47 PM PDT
ColoNative says:
Thank you. Your post is very helpful. Good luck in getting back to Denver!

Posted on Jul 4, 2010 7:51:58 PM PDT
Lane Wright says:
If you are wanting to listen to some of the great musical cast albums of all time, then I would definitely include the original cast recording of "Gypsy" starring Ethel Merman. From overture to final song, it's as good as they come. Anything by Stephen Sondheim is worth hearing: probably the original cast recordings of "Company," "Sweeney Todd," and "Sunday in the Park with George" best capture the essences of those shows. And for just plain fun, "The Producers" is hard to beat.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 4, 2010 10:19:27 PM PDT
ColoNative says:
Thank you, I enjoyed the Sweeney Todd move with Johnny Depp. I did NOT enjoy the Mathew Broderick version of The Producers.

Thanks again.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 5, 2010 8:25:18 AM PDT
Anthony says:
Go with the recordings that also tell a story with great music. You can then visualize what was happening on stage.
My favorites
1. Assassins
2. Sweeney Todd
3. Into The Woods
4. A Little Night Music
5. Sunday in the Park with George
You can tell I am a Sondheim fan.

I will add a non Sondheim great recording.

On the Twentieth Century. Madelyn Kahn and John Cullum are perfect on the very funny recording.

Posted on Jul 5, 2010 11:25:17 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Oct 27, 2010 7:13:14 AM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 5, 2010 12:05:35 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 27, 2010 7:13:48 AM PDT
Bill Mobley says:
You of course have to listen to "Rodgers and Hammerstein" musicals. They are true classics.
But try to get Mary Martin in "The Sound of Music and "South Pacific"

Company (Sondheim)

On The Twentieth Century (Be a little open minded. It's sort of a fun musical)

A Chorus Line
Whatever the problems may be with the movie version (People complain about how the song "What I did For Love," was basically thrown away) the final number makes up for all the faults.

My Fair Lady

A Little Night Music

Posted on Jul 20, 2010 2:07:08 AM PDT
Uncle Bruce says:
Just an opinion-If you are wanting to watch a musical on DVD play close attention to see if it is a stage version which was filmed, or was it made strictly for the big screen. There are big differences between them. Keep your eye on PBS, they will sometimes broadcast taped performances. Several years ago they aired The Light in the Piazza, one of the best things on broadway the season that it came out. Listen to the original broadway cast recording of A Chorus Line, if you have seen the movie version do not think that you have already heard it. Also, check out your library, they often have many items that you can sample, this way you can experience many genres without the worry of spending the money on items that you may not like. One thing that I have found helpful is to research a show to become familiar with the characters and the plot before listening to the songs, it helps me to have a better appreciation of the message that is being conveyed. Have fun! Bruce

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 20, 2010 3:58:21 AM PDT
Anthony says:
Don't forget that there is a DVD of the original Broadway cast doing Sweeney Todd. Great production.

Posted on Jul 20, 2010 12:07:36 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Jul 20, 2010 12:46:45 PM PDT]

Posted on Jul 20, 2010 1:00:14 PM PDT
Bella says:
Not an expert, but here's my two cents worth:

From the whitest guy around:

1. "Dream Girls." I love the film soundtrack, (I have the deluxe 2 Cd version which I highly recommend) but nobody will ever sing "And I Am Telling You..." like Jennifer Holiday on the Original Broadway Cast recording. Simply one of the best performances ever. Ever.

2. "The Wiz." Several versions again. I have the DVD, Cd with Michael Jackson & Diana Ross. A huge star-studded project by Quincy Jones. Critically panned, and a BO bomb, but I love it. The "Broadway" version starred Stephanie Mills and is generally applauded. Includes the song "Home" which has been remade numerous times. However, Ms. Mills really owns this song which is on her Greatest Hits Cd as well.

You probably already know:

3. "Phantom of The Opera." This is probably Andrew Lloyd Webber's biggest hit. I saw Michael Crawford's 500th performance in LA. It was incredible. The score is amazing and catchy. With some of these bigger hits (such as "Phantom") you'll find a 2 Cd set or a single Cd "Highlights" set. I recommend the 2 Cd set generally. In a few cases I've also enjoyed the "Highlights" for the song edits (for a Broadway hits playlist on my ipod, for example).

As much as I love Phantom:

4. "Aspects of Love" (London) is my favorite ALW score. It was one of his less successful, but I think it is the most romantic. It is also fun and a bit challenging.

5. "Sunset Boulevard." It's hard to get the brilliant Carol Burnett as Norma Desmond out of my mind, but this is film noir moody and over-the-top fun at it's best. Some shows offer a number of options as to cast recordings. Usually Broadway, London, or LA. I prefer the London version of "Sunset," but sometimes several are good. Check the track listings as they may be different and could omit or include a song you like.

6. "Jekyll & Hyde". It's hard to think of a musical with more flat out beautiful music. Linda Eder and Colm Wilkinson are amazing. "Love Has Come of Age" This is the Moment" and "Once Upon a Dream" will take your breath away. Not the cheeriest though.

Even less happy go lucky:

7. "Miss Saigon" (London Cast). Sort of a modernization like "West Side Story" & "Rent." Some wonderful music, but the Vietnam war isn't the most fun backdrop. "Last Night of The World" ranks high on my favorite song list.

For Guilty Pleasures:

8. "Xanadu." Worth it's price for either the liner notes, or the music. A miraculous adaptation of one of the worst movies ever made. Devilishly clever and Fun, Fun, Fun!

9. "Monty Python's Spamalot." I have some serious health problems, sometimes when my wife starts to fret, I sing "He is Not Dead Yet" and we laugh. If you liked "The Holy Grail" or Monty Python, then this is a gigglefest.

The children will go crazy over the DVD and Cd of:

10. "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" both with Donny Osmond. I can't believe how much kids like this, you'd think they were watching Spongebob. Really a great musical and fun for the whole family.

That's 10, not 5, hope that's okay. I thought a hick like me might relate to a newbie.

EDIT: Struggling to fix all my errors, I realized I forgot "Wicked." I have the 5 Year Anniversary Deluxe Edition (Broadway) which has a second disc with 8 additional absolutely unnecessary, but very fun cuts. I highly recommend.

Posted on Jul 21, 2010 5:52:34 PM PDT
I've been doing this longer than I think a lot of the other posters have, been going to musicals since early 60's, studied all the classical musicals from before that. I'm going to group things.

30's 40's musicals:

Anything Goes--either Hal Linden/Eileen Rodger on Epic or Patti Lupone on RCA. Some of the greatest songs every written for musical comedy.

Lady Be Good--Studio Reconstruction on Nonsuch. Great Gershwin score, a friend of mine, Ann Morrison is fabulous in the role created by Adele Astaire.

Annie Get Your Gun--Lincoln Center revival with Ethel Merman. Irving Berlin's greatest score

Boys from Syracuse--Off Broadway Cast on Capitol or Encore's production on DRG records. One of Rogers and Harts greatest scores

Oklahoma--1878 Revival on RCA. Another great Richard Rodgers score, this time with Oscar Hammerstein.

Greatest Musicals of All Time

My Fair Lady--OBC, MONO Version. Much more lively than Stereo London remake

South Pacific--OBC with Mary Martin if you can forgive the sound or Revival Cast with Kelli O'Hara and Paolo Szot, both on Columbia.

Guys and Dolls--80's revival cast with Nathan Lane and Faith Prince--RCA. Best overall recording. Also the OBC on Decca has great performances but the sonic quality is not great and cuts to the songs are damaging, but Stubby Kaye is not to be missed.

Carousel--Lincoln Center Revival with John Raitt in the performance of a lifetime. RCA

King and I--70's revival with Yul Brynner--RCA. Another forever performance in the best of all the recordings.

Gypsy--Possibly the greatest musical of them all. Ethel Merman is a must, but if you can't stand her, try Angela Lansbury's performance on RCA. Patti Lupone's recording is also very good, and I like Bette Midler's movie version as well. Its such a great score, pick the star you most like.

West Side Story--OBC on Columbia or London Studio Version on Jay Records for a more complete account of the score. The other candidate for Greatest Musical of All time.

Newer Musicals--70's and beyond

Chicago--revival cast on RCA--more complete

A Chorus Line--The score is electric, the show was too.

Les Miz--The only poperetta that I thing was truly a great show. New York cast albumor 10th anniversary concert. There is a reason it ran for 15 years.

Phantom of the Opera--Andrew Lloyd Webber's best score and the original London Cast is teriffic.

Hairspray--DooWap in service of a great feel good story. They were dancing in the isles. OBC for sure.


The King and I--one of the best film adaptations of a stage show.

The Music Man--Robert Preston's greatest performance.

Into the Woods or Stage version of Sweeney Todd--Sondheim's 2 best, choose one or the other

Victor Victoria--an hilarious comedy with songs. Infinately better than the stage version. Julie Andrews at her best and another great performance from Robert Preston

Singing in the Rain--greatest of the MGM musicals, just magical.

Good luck exploring.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 21, 2010 6:15:38 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 21, 2010 6:17:36 PM PDT
@ Donald A. Dangelo: If you have found such a thing, I would love to know more about it. The Sweeny Todd DVD that I've seen is of the National Tour -- with George Hearn in the title role, rather than Len Cariou. It also lacks Merle Louise, who was the Beggar Woman in the original cast. It's a terrific production, but NOT the original. But I would LOVE to hear that I've missed a recording of the original cast somewhere!!

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 21, 2010 6:39:27 PM PDT
Thanks for asking this question!! I saw a LOT of theater and collected show albumns in the 70's, 80's, and 90's, but have been away from that world more recently, and I'm getting back into it. So, I love hearing other people's opinions, particularly about the new shows. My favorite cast albums:
- Sunday in the Park with George (my favorite Sondheim)
- Spring Awakening (mature themes and language, and breathtakingly beautiful music)
- Sweeny Todd (my second-favorite Sondheim!)
- March of the Falsettos (amazing William Finn score)
- A Little Night Music (ok, MORE Sondheim!!)
- Funny Girl (the show, not the movie)
- Cabaret (the movie, not the show! lol! The show is VERY different from the movie, and is still good, though.)

Also, IMHO, if you're interested in building a general understanding of musical theater, you've got to get to know The Fantasticks, A Chorus Line, Grease (the original cast, NOT the movie or any revivals), something by Rogers and Hammerstein (I'm not a fan, but they sure wrote a lot of shows! I probably like the King and I best of their scores, although the plot seems horribly racist today), West Side Story, My Fair Lady, and as much Sondheim as you can get.

This makes me want to dig out my original cast LPs and digitize like crazy!! Have fun!

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 21, 2010 7:07:50 PM PDT
Anthony says:
You omitted Assassins from your Sondheim favorites. He thinks it is his most perfect show(I saw Sondheim on Sondheim last month). I think you will love it.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 21, 2010 7:17:39 PM PDT
Anthony says:
The DVD I was referring to is the Angela Lansbury, George Hearn cast.
Excellent production.

Posted on Jul 22, 2010 4:13:47 AM PDT
Terry says:
Try Barnum and//or La Cage if you want to sing along to your heart's content. Simply the best cast CD's.

Posted on Jul 22, 2010 8:43:48 PM PDT

Posted on Jul 22, 2010 8:44:36 PM PDT

Most Happy Fella

Posted on Jul 28, 2010 3:32:28 PM PDT
Steve Allen says:
CD (original cast) and the great film version of 1776. Also give a listen to and see a live production of the most romantic musical of all- The Fantasticks.

Posted on Aug 5, 2010 1:24:20 AM PDT
Phantom of the Opera--but don't get the movie!
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Into the Woods---there's a pretty good DVD of the stage play
Peter Pan---good production on tape/DVD with Cathy Rigby
Les Miserables
If you get a chance to see Mary Poppins on stage, go for it. WOW!

I went over the limit, huh?

Posted on Aug 6, 2010 8:31:59 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 6, 2010 8:33:07 AM PDT
A. H. Tucker says:
Company - either the original cast or the one with Raul Esparza. Both have their good point and sound great.
Into the Woods - original Broadway cast. This one was my favorite for a long time.
At least one Andrew Lloyd Weber show. Either Sunset Boulevard, Phantom of the Opera, or perhaps even Starlight Express. Not Cats though, unless you'd be willing to sit through a basically plotless show with some, admittedly, good songs.
Rent is an awesome show definitely worth checking out.
For the last one, although there are better shows, I'd probably recommend something from the jukebox musical category to show you where Broadway seems to be heading these days. For this, I would go for either Mamma Mia! (based on the music of Abba), Rock of Ages (based on classic rock songs), Jersey Boys (Four Seasons) or American Idiot (Green Day). Mamma Mia! and Rock of Ages are both great shows, with Rock of Ages being one of my favorites.

As for the DVD selection.
Rent - the version filmed live on Broadway
Passing Strange
Victor/Victoria - filmed live on Broadway
I enjoyed the Phantom of the Opera that came out in 2005. While it might not be completely accurate to the musical, at least it's able to do a better job with the whole chandelier dropping thing than they can live.
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