Musicals, for People Who Hate Musicals

So, I am a die-hard fan of musical theatre.

And my boyfriend and brilliant co-writer, who I currently live with and who ergo is a pretty inescapable provider of commentary on all the pop culture I consume, is not.

Not, to the tune of will not watch Les Miserables despite watching every other movie on Empire’s Top Movies lists. Not, to the tune of “I’d rather slice through my eyeballs than listen to that song from Rent you like again, Louise, please, God”. And well, I’ve made it my mission to sell him on as many brilliant, barmy and batshit musicals as I can- because I can’t take no for an answer, and because he made me sit through that pretty crap first half of  season three of Hannibal and he owes me, dammit.

And, knowing I can’t be the only one in such a dire predicament as this, I thought I would bring back a look at some of my favourite musicals of all time. Forget La La Land, let’s look at the shit that actually works. I covered this very topic before on my personal blog, The Cutprice Guignol, but No But Listen is really just a chance for me to get all pretentious about film, and I see no reason why I can’t share a revised list of the best way to get the people in your life who hate musicals to love the damn things. To the list!

1. Repo! The Genetic Opera

One of the first posts I ever made on this gaping void of the internet, and I still love it just as much to this day as I did all those years ago (Jesus Christ time slips through my fingers like uncooked rice, that was seven years ago). A super-dark, super-gory, super-gothic feast for the eyes, Darren Lyn Bousman (he of the Saw-franchise fame) helms this fantastically over-the-top and wildly fun horror rollick through a bizzarre world of stylish surgery, organ repossessions, and Paris Hilton being somewhat excellent. Packed with a great cast (Anthony Stewart Head, Paul Sorvino, Bill Moseley, Sarah Brightman, etc) and songs far from the jolly, polished Broadway standard, The Genetic Opera is deliciously dark and as addictive as Zydrate. See also: The Devil’s Carnival, a twisted circus set musical from the people behind Repo.

2. Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Repo might be out there, but it’s nothing on Hedwig and the Angry Inch (no, it has nothing to do with Harry Potter’s owl, for the last fucking time). Revolving around the story of a trans woman travelling from East Germany to American after a botched sex change operation, it’s pointedly surreal, dipping in and out of a variety of musical genres and visual styles as it follows the sprawling journey of Hedwig and her gender-bending band.

It’s an exqusite, lyrical look at gender identity, the search for love, and, again, boasts a fantastic cast- John Cameron Mitchell, who also wrote and directed the cult classic, stars in a mesmerising performance as Hedwig, while Miriam Szhor and Michael Pitt make up some of the brilliant supporting characters. Oh, yeah, and The Origin of Love, the movie’s centrepiece song, is one of the best you’ll ever hear and if you can get through it without at least tearing up a little bit while looking lovingly at your favourite pet you’re a stronger wo/man than I.

3. Muppet Treasure Island

Do you know one surefire way to make people like anything, literally anything, you put in front of them? Add the Muppets, that’s how. You might have your own personal favourite Muppet musical, but if it’s not this, you’re wrong- not only is it eminently quotable and endlessly fucking hilarious, it also has by far the best songs and is the sharpest adaptation they ever got away with. It’s wall-to-wall crammed with songs, and, for all that it might just be a Muppet movie, it’s a great example of how musical storytelling can weave shorthand through its songs to make for a tighter, leaner movie than anything that could be achieved without.

All your favourite Muppets are here, along with some of your favourite non-Muppets, too- Tim Curry, Jennifer Saunders, Billy Connolly, to name but a few. If you don’t like this, I inherently don’t trust you as a person and may or may not throw you out of my house.

Aaaaand now I’m going to have Cabin Fever in my head for the rest of the day. Great.

If you enjoyed this article and want to see more stuff like it,  please consider supporting us on Patreon. You can check out more of my work on my personal blog, The Cutprice Guignol!

By Louise MacGregor

(header image via birth.movies.death)

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