DAODS’ Top 100 Musicals of All Time – 100 to 76

There have been votes pouring in, and I am pleased to announce the start of the countdown of the Top 100 Musicals of all time according to the members and friends of DAODS. Seventy-seven people voted, the youngest being Tom Hughes and the oldest being Betty Knott (sorry Betty!), one hundred and eighty shows were mentioned, and I have totalled up the scores.

This is how they work. Everyone voted for a top ten in order. First place got ten points, second nine and so on down to one point for tenth place. Shows were put in order according to total overall votes. Ties were split first by number of overall votes, and then by number of first places. Any shows after that on the same scores I put as a tie, meaning we will actually see 103 shows in this list as things were a lot tighter at the bottom.

I tried to check and double check the scores, but if you notice that I have made a mistake, do me a huge favour and don’t tell anyone.

Without further ado, here are your first 28 shows!

99. (Tie) Side Show

Points – 10

Votes – 1

Firsts – 1

We start our list out with one of the many shows that received one top vote, but no other votes, and one that is an unusual and interesting one.  Side Show tells the story of a group of ‘exhibits’ at a sideshow, and in particular the love life of two conjoined twins.  Bill Russell is an underrated writer, and this is well worth a look, as anyone who was fortunate enough to catch our cousins over at Bromley Players’ production a couple of years ago will surely attest.

Rebecca Hills’ Song Choice – “Who Will Love Me As I Am

99. (Tie) Acorn Antiques

Points – 10

Votes – 1

Firsts – 1

A few years ago, we sadly lost one of Britain’s greatest comedy talents, Victoria Wood.  She made a name for herself with a mixture of stand up and music, and combined these talents with her soap opera parody in order to create the wonderfully funny Acorn Antiques.  Wood was trained at the University of Birmingham’s Drama Department, which also produced such greats as Tim Curry, Tamsin Gregg and, well, me.

Martin Hutchinson’s Song Choice – “Middle Class Show

99. (Tie) Fun Home

Points – 10

Votes – 1

Firsts – 1

As a winner of Best Musical at the Tony Awards, it is probably its limited run off-West End that means this innovative and interesting show is not so well known here in the UK.  Based on a graphic novel of the same name, it deserves better recognition if only for the fact that it is the first Broadway musical to feature a lesbian protagonist.

Lily Turner’s Song Choice – “Telephone Wire

99. (Tie) Man of La Mancha

Points – 10

Votes – 1

Firsts – 1

With a lead part hard enough to sing that Rex Harrison turned it down, and Peter O Toole was dubbed in the film version, it is unsurprising that Man of La Mancha is predominantly only known now for it’s huge number, The Impossible Dream.  None of that stopped Kirk Douglas offering to pay $1 million to play the part.  It is a shame it is not performed more regularly as it is a crazy play within a play told by an unreliable narrator who is paraphrasing Don Quixote.  Awesome.

Gavin Kirrage’s Song Choice – “Aldonza” – (“The song is brilliantly written in flamenco style with alternate bars of 6/8 and 3/4 throughout”)

99. (Tie) Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812

Points – 10

Votes – 1

Firsts – 1

Sometimes I wonder if they are running out of things to turn into musicals.  Then someone writes a musical about a seventy page section of War and Peace, and gets Josh Groban – a man who is definitely famous for singing, but I am not sure anyone knows more than that – to play the lead (I believe Pierre.  Not Natasha.  Or the comet.)  You know what though, it’s brilliant.  Proper weird, but brilliant.

Ella Walden’s Song Choice – “Prologue

99. (Tie) Brigadoon

Points – 10

Votes – 1

Firsts – 1

Brigadoon seems to be a rarity in musical theatre – an original story.  I can’t find any reference to it being a book or film beforehand, and seeing as how it centres around a Scottish town that appears only once every one hundred years, I imagine it is not based on a true story.  Betty thoroughly enjoyed performing this with DAODS, and apparently has many a story to tell about it, but I shall leave that to her!

Betty’s Song Choice – “The Heather On The Hill”

94. (Tie) The Greatest Showman

Points – 10

Votes – 2

Firsts – 0

The Greatest Showman deserves a lot of credit.  As a drama teacher, it is sometimes difficult to get kids into musicals, and yet when this film arrived all of a sudden, at least for a while, they were cool again.  They all know the words and most of the dance moves.  In a world where that usually only happens to a Tik Tok dance, this show should be fully appreciated.  Even if I thought it was a bit overrated.

Alex’s Song Choice – “The Greatest Show

94. (Tie) Footloose

Points – 10

Votes – 2

Firsts – 0

With enough well known songs in it that it is easy to wonder if it is a jukebox musical, Footloose is an iconic slice of eighties.  Of course, it manages to fit the tropes of musical theatre by being a bit crazy – it is about a town that bans dancing.  It is the first show we hit on this list that has been performed by DAODS in my time, and I was blown away by some of the vocals in a wonderful production.  Better than the Gareth Gates version I saw.

Alex’s Song Choice – “Somebody’s Eyes” I could listen to DAODS’ version of this song for hours.

94. (Tie) Boogie Nights

Points – 10

Votes – 2

Firsts – 0

Written by, of all people, Shane Ritchie, Boogie Nights is unbelievably the second show that starred Gareth Gates in position 94 on this list.  It is also the second show that I have done at DAODS where I have sung a song with Paul Farlie whilst pretending to have a wee.  An incredibly fun show that our audiences loved, for those of us who were in it, it will be remembered for a crazy twenty minute dance routine at the end.  This far into lockdown I am not sure I even have the energy to watch that.

Alex’s Song Choice – “Finale Megamix

94. (Tie) On The Town

Points – 10

Votes – 2

Firsts – 0

On The Town is great – it is a fun musical with some cracking songs and some brilliant roles.  It has a somewhat optimistic idea of what is possible to do in twenty four hours in New York, but that is still somewhat realistic in the realms of musical theatre.  As Abby pointed out to me, it is impressively progressive in its portrayal of female roles, and the recommendation here will give you a little insight into that.

Abby James’ Song Choice – “Come Up To My Place

90. (Tie) Priscilla Queen of the Desert

Points – 11

Votes – 3

Firsts – 0

I only very recently saw the film version of Priscilla.  I am not quite sure why I waited so long.  It is a wonderful tale of two drag artists and a trans-woman journeying across Australia in a camper van.  This would still be seen by many as progressive nowadays, but considering it is over a quarter of a century old, this is all the more impressive.  It also shares a huge crossover in featured music with fellow Top 100 entrant, Boogie Nights.

Sarah Kearley’s Song Choice – “I Will Survive

90. (Tie) Dreamgirls

Points – 11

Votes – 3

Firsts – 0

I have not seen Dreamgirls – something I have been quite rightly chastised for by Rebecca – but its impact has been huge.  Something that I didn’t know is that the stage show precedes the film by twenty five years.  Based loosely on real events surrounding early RnB bands such as The Supremes, it is also the first musical to win an Oscar for a former competitor in a televised singing competition.  The only surprise is that it was Jennifer Hudson and not Gareth Gates.

Rebecca Coker’s Song Choice – “And I Am Telling You

90. (Tie) Rock of Ages

Points – 11

Votes – 3

Firsts – 0

I don’t know what I was doing in the mid 2000s, but along with Dreamgirls, Rock of Ages seems to have slipped by me.  Some research shows me that it seems to be a Brechtian rock opera with a killer score of classic rock songs.  Various different productions have had casts that have included Noel off of Hear’Say, Zoe who was voted off in fourth place of Pop Idol (just behind Gareth Gates) and one of Blue.  Oh and Tom Cruise.  But not in the same production.

Michael Scott’s Song Choice – “Every Rose Has Its Thorn

90. (Tie) Pirates of Penzance

Points – 11

Votes – 3

Firsts – 0

I am a firm believer that Gilbert and Sullivan still has a place in Musical Theatre.  Having seen Matt Kellett-Baines’ award winning HMS Pinafore last year, I can attest that it is still relevant.  I haven’t seen Pirates (I don’t know what I was doing in the mid 1880s either) but there is a playfulness to all of the G&S that I have seen that lends itself nicely to modern theatres.  If you get the chance to catch it, then please do, and I am very pleased to see it get a place on this list.

Jane Hughes’ Song Choice – “Poor Wandering One

89. Top Hat

Points – 11

Votes – 4

Firsts – 0

Starting with just one, and building and building to a full stage of tuxedoed tap dancers filling every inch of space, DAODS’ production provided both a tap dance spectacle and a wardrobe nightmare.  But it was worth it.  Based on the Fred Astaire film of the same name, it was a very unusual 76 years after the original that it was adapted for the stage.

Alex’s Song Choice – “Let’s Face The Music And Dance” – I have loved this song since being transfixed by Torvill and Dean in 94.

86. (Tie) Slipper and the Rose

Points – 12

Votes – 2

Firsts – 0

DAODS considered this as a show many moons ago, and I tried watching the film, but I must be honest and say that once I realised it featured a duet between John and Edward, I started to find the whole thing quite funny.  This retelling of the Cinderella story has gained a cult following however, including the late Queen Mother who described it as having some of the most beautiful music she had ever heard.

Steph Lee’s Song Choice – “Protocoligorically Correct

86. (Tie) The Life

Points – 12

Votes – 2

Firsts – 0

Despite the musical theatre pedigree of Cy Coleman, I imagine that for many DAODS members, our recent production of The Life was our first introduction to the show.  And what an introduction it was.  With sultry music and a powerful script, it is a gritty show that was bought beautifully to life at our very own hall, showcasing some of the amazing talent we have.

Rebecca Bartlett’s Song Choice – “My Way Or The Highway

86. (Tie) Once

Points – 12

Votes – 2

Firsts – 0

If I had a pound for every time someone told me that Once is exactly the kind of musical that I would love, I would… well, I don’t know about be rich, but I might be able to afford a ticket to see it.  Another Tony Award winner – and indeed Oscar, putting it on track for its own EGOT – it contains some of the most beautiful and different music in musical theatre, and should the tour that was so cruelly cancelled by the current situation, then you would do well to go and see it.  As would I.

Matt Wright’s Song Choice – “When Your Mind’s Made Up” (“as the song builds and builds, it gives the viewer hope, nay believe, that they will actually make something of their musical talent, and of their relationship – even as the song sometimes sounds like it is veering out of control”)

85. Merrily We Roll Along

Points – 13

Votes – 2

Firsts – 0

Sondheim is an absolute great of musical theatre.  Even with his ninetieth birthday passing last month, he is still writing new music, which is incredibly impressive.  This particular show almost didn’t take off however.  The director, Prince (yes, that Prince), decided to dress all the characters in exactly the same costumes.  Audiences somewhat understandably had a hard time following the plot as a result.  Having listened to the recording the other day though, I can confirm that it is a beautiful and sumptuous Sondheim score.

Pat Thornhill’s Song Choice – “Old Friends

82. (Tie) Memphis

Points – 14

Votes – 2

Firsts – 0

Memphis is another Tony Award winning musical that doesn’t seem to get as much recognition as it probably deserves.  A loose retelling of the life story of radio DJ Dewey Phillips and how he became one of the first white DJs to play music by black artists, the show is both poignant and full of big fun numbers.  An important show that earned rave reviews at the time and will surely make a return to the West End at some point soon.

Mike Scott’s Song Choice – “Steal Your Rock and Roll” (“A song about standing up for what you believe in and not letting anyone steal your thunder”)

82. (Tie) Annie Get Your Gun

Points – 14

Votes – 2

Firsts – 0

When my niece Madison came to see this show she became obsessed and dressed like Annie for a month.  She is in good company, with no less a figure than Queen Elizabeth II being a huge fan of this show.  It has a storied history, debuting months after World War II ended, and originally being attached to Rogers and Hammerstein, Dorothy Fields and Jerome Kern before being picked up and predominantly written by Irving Berlin.

Madison (and The Queen)’s Song Choice – “Anything You Can Do

82. (Tie) Summer Holiday

Points – 14

Votes – 2

Firsts – 0

Cliff Richard has had an incredibly long careers – he had number one singles in the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and missed the 00s by a week (Damn you Westlife knocking the admittedly dreadful Millennium Prayer off the top spot).  Despite being an absolute icon here, he seems to have had little international success, but he did have a hit with this film musical which later became a successful stage show featuring inexplicable celebrity Darren Day.

Annabelle Storey’s Song Choice – “Let Us Take You For A Ride

81. Hairspray

Points – 14

Votes – 3

Firsts – 1

You can add this to the surprisingly long list of shows that somewhat passed me by (there are an embarrassingly large number still to come), and I always considered it to be a lightweight bit of fluff based on what I had heard.  Then when the kids at school wanted to do it as a production, I started to do some research and found that there is a surprising amount of depth about a very difficult part of American history, that has been cleverly wrapped up in fun and exciting music to make it more accessible.  A perfect example of what musical theatre is actually capable of.

Steph Lee’s Song Choice – “You Can’t Stop The Beat

80. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Points – 14

Votes – 6

Firsts – 0

It is almost impossible to talk about this fantastical tale of a magic flying car without the oft repeated fact that it was written by Ian Fleming of James Bond fame, and Roald Dahl of Roald Dahl fame.  Well, it is almost impossible if you are me at least.  The reviews as they came in at first seemed to amount to a shrug that children’s films are a thing, and it is at least that (“a picture for the ages – the ages of between five and twelve”) but despite that and the scariest character in musical theatre, Chitty has become a staple favourite, and even spawned a highly expensive stage production.

James Lockwood’s Song Choice – “Toot Sweets” – which it is only as I am typing this now, I realise is a pun!  Excellent!

78. (Tie) Young Frankenstein

Points – 15

Votes – 2

Firsts – 0

Mel Brooks’ considers this to be the best thing he has ever done, and as a certified MT genius I think it would be foolish to disagree.  Incredibly funny, and very well received, it tells the story of a descendant of the original Dr Frankenstein, and his attempts to replicate the same procedure.  This is another show that took a long time to adapt for the stage, although at thirty-three years, it was around half the time of the show it stole one of its most iconic moments from, the aforementioned Top Hat.

Martin Hutchinson’s Song Choice – “He Vas My Boyfriend” – with a particular recommendation to check out the version done by Lesley Joseph, but I can’t find it on YouTube.

78. (Tie) Follies

Points – 15

Votes – 2

Firsts – 0

Follies is a Sondheim show that I know very little about, so I will hand over to a couple of our members for this one.  Abby said “I went to see it three times at the National.  I cried the whole way through each watch!  You feel for every character – each of them grieving for unrequited love, what could have been and their lost youth.” Pat Thornhill said “The song right at the beginning, Beautiful Girls, makes me emotional”.

Pat’s Song Choice – “Beautiful Girls

Abby’s Song Choice – “Too Many Mornings

76. (Tie) Me and My Girl

Points – 16

Votes – 3

Firsts – 0

There is something about this show that reminds me of Sunday afternoons in my youth.  It has been around for over eighty years now, having been reworked several times and contributed some mainstays to the British songbook – Lambeth Walk, The Sun Has Got His Hat On and Leaning on a Lamppost to name but a few.  With contributors such as Stephen Fry and productions as recently as 2018 starring baked potato fan Matt Lucas (as well as previously close personal friend of Jacqui Campbell, Robert Lindsay), this is likely to continue for a good while yet.

Pat Thornhill’s Song Choice – “Once You Lose Your Heart

76. (Tie) Half A Sixpence

Points – 15

Votes – 3

Firsts – 0

This was the first show that I directed at the Orchard Theatre, and as a result, it holds a special place in my heart.  I am so proud of some of the performances people put into it, and there were some fantastic numbers in it.  Based on the novel Kipps by renowned sci-fi writer HG Wells, it became a Tommy Steele vehicle, and is probably the biggest proponent of banjo music in British culture.

Alex’s Song Choice – “Flash! Bang! Wallop!” – There is a reason that this is probably the best known song from the show.

And that is your lot until tomorrow when we count down the shows places 75-51. Hope you have enjoyed and look forward to seeing you all then!

2 thoughts on “DAODS’ Top 100 Musicals of All Time – 100 to 76

  1. As someone who’s love of musicals is based mainly on films, I was surprised to see some that were holding up the rest of the pack. If I’d got my list in in time The Greatest Showman might have been no 90.

Leave a Comment