DAODS’ Top 100 Musicals of All Time – 75 to 51

Thank you all for your lovely feedback on the last list. We are back today to count down the next twenty-five entries – and this time it actually is twenty five. A note I should have mentioned before, where it says Alex’s song choice that is me. Not Alex. Or Alex. Or Alex. Or Alex. There are some big name shows that fall before the top half today, so without further ado let’s crack on!

75.  La Cage Aux Folles

Points – 15

Votes – 3

Firsts – 1

As a genre, musical theatre deserves a lot of credit for promoting social issues, and in particular the work it has done pushing gay protagonists.  Well, much of this can be traced back to La Cage Aux Folles.  Telling the story of the manager of a drag club and his boyfriend, the lead performer, this was a daring step in the seventies, and one that birthed “I Am What I Am”, now considered a gay anthem.  Not bad for a show that Barrowman keeps insisting on doing.

Julia Bull’s Song Choice – “I Am What I Am” (“heartbreaking”)

74. Sweet Charity

Points – 16

Votes – 2

Firsts – 0

I always feel that Sweet Charity manages to straddle a line between two different musical theatre worlds.  It has what is quite a traditional story structure, and yet encapsulates the coolness of the era it comes from and with its Fosse elements has a certain abstract level to it.  Regardless, it remains a well-loved classic with some numbers that transcend the show.  As I type this as well, it popped up on my TimeHop (yes, I still use TimeHop and my four year streak is my proudest achievement) shows that nine years ago today I saw Gemma Matthews perform in it with Rachel, Sarah and Ben at Blackheath Halls.  In case I forgot to say, well done Gemma.

Alex’s Song Choice – “Rhythm of Life” This has been the theme song for my choir – Bexley Phoenix Choir – for the past twenty years and is probably the song I have sung most in concerts by some way.  Alex was sad to learn recently that we sing a somewhat sanitised version – unsurprising considering the number of cathedrals we sing in.

73. Sunday In The Park With George

Points – 16

Votes – 2

Firsts – 1

Musicals are often based on books, or films or real life events.  Some use a photo or a painting as a stimulus, but they tend to think about what is depicted in the picture.  Sondheim, naturally, thinks a little more outside the box, and created this work based on the actual painting itself, casting the painter, George, into the leading role, and using it to really say something . “It taught me that people are complicated, and they can love you even if they don’t say it or show it.” – Abby James  The London production starring Jake Gyllenhaal has been pushed back to next summer so there is still time to catch this beautiful show.

Abby James’ Song Choice – “Finishing The Hat

72. Copacabana

Points – 16

Votes – 5

Firsts – 0

Speaking of unusual roots for musicals, 1994s Copacabana is based on a 1991 stage show.  This stage show is based on a 1985 TV musical film.  This TV musical film is based on the 1978 song Copacabana.  Which itself came from a conversation Barry Manilow had with Bruce Sussman about whether there had ever been a song called Copacabana.  How they got so much mileage out of such a banal conversation is anyone’s guess, but they are world famous writers and I am not, so who I am to complain.  DAODS’ production of the show was before my time, but I have always heard people talk about it incredibly fondly which is reflected in its surprisingly high number of votes for a show this low in the list.  No doubt many others will also be very pleased with its inclusion.

Paul Farlie’s Song Choice – “Who Needs To Dream

71. High Society

Points – 17

Votes – 2

Firsts – 1

When putting together the film High Society, producers had put together two of the greatest voices in history, Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby. Unfortunately, they then realised rather late on in the day, that there was no opportunity for the two to sing together. This was rectified by borrowing a song from the lesser known Cole Porter show – Du Barry Was A Lady, and thus Well Did You Evah? Became one of the better known songs. Anyone who attended the recent Dartford Symphony Orchestra concert will know that I stole that blurb entirely from my speech there – sorry!

Sam Blanking’s Song Choice – “I Love You Samantha

70. Bugsy Malone

Points – 17

Votes – 3

Firsts – 0

If there ever was a gateway drug to musical theatre, then Bugsy Malone would be able to put in a good claim for it.  In fact, it was the show that launched the careers of Jodie Foster, Dexter Fletcher, Catherine Zeta Jones, Sheridan Smith and Jamie Bell.  Retelling the classic gangster story using only children and ‘splurge guns’ instead of real bullets could just be a cute idea, but is done with such pizzazz and with timeless and catchy tunes that it has become an important show.

Thomas Hughes’ Song Choice – “You Give A Little Love” This is just siply the best thing – the moment everyone freezes on stage.

69. Heathers

Points – 17

Votes – 4

Firsts – 0

Imagine being in a group where you share a first name with someone.  Well, let’s not just say someone, but several people.  All of you going around being called the same thing.  Maybe you are doing a show and you have the same name as the director.  And the production secretary.  And the stage manager.  Hahaha – so far-fetched.  And yet this is the starting point of Heathers, where three members of the same social group are called Heather.  From there it descends into a crazy plot of murder and sex.  Every generation seems to have a show that graduates young people from shows like Bugsy to grown up musical theatre, and I have a feeling that this incredible show may be one for this generation.  Don’t be surprised if this is higher in the future.

Alex Moore’s Song Choice – “Seventeen

68. Hadestown

Points – 18

Votes – 2

Firsts – 1

Another very recent musical – and incumbent Best Musical at the Tony Awards – Hadestown is a modern rock version of the classic Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice.  There is something about the Greek myths that keep modern pop culture returning to them and updating them, and despite having not seen this, the visuals when you research the show are incredible and it suggest to me that its limited London run last year is sure to turn into a longer stay at some point soon.

Ellesse Cooke’s Song Choice – “Way Down Hadestown

67. Calamity Jane

Points – 18

Votes – 6

Firsts – 0

Warner Brothers were desperate to get the film rights to Annie Get Your Gun to work as a star vehicle for Doris Day.  When they failed to do so, they decided to just write their own version, and as a result Calamity Jane was born.  An instant classic, and one that several people told me got them into musicals as a kid, Calamity became a role model for many young girls.  A scary fact – Calamity Jane was released closer to the time that the real life Calamity lived than now, by twenty years!

Emily Jackson’s Song Choice – “Secret Love” A song that has become a gay anthem in its own right.

65. (Tie) Best Little Whorehouse In Texas

Points – 19

Votes – 2

Firsts – 1

If there ever was a show that explained itself in the title then it is this.  Based on the struggles of a brothel in Texas to remain open after becoming the subject of the ire of a roving reporter.  It later became an Oscar nominated Dolly Parton film (and people say she’s just…) and also became a real rarity for a musical in that it spawned a stage show sequel – The Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public – the title of which sounds like the least appropriate Enid Blyton book ever.

Dawn Wood’s Song Choice – “Girl, You’re A Woman

65. (Tie) South Pacific

Points – 19

Votes – 2

Firsts – 1

South Pacific was one of the first winners of Best Musical at the Tonys, and has a legacy that continues to this day.  Rogers and Hammerstein’s partnership is a cornerstone of musical theatre, and despite being over seventy years old South Pacific still holds up today in a way that many current musicals surely can only dream about.  Some Enchanted Evening, Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair, Bali Hai, Happy Talk, Nothing Like A Dame, Younger Than Springtime – I don’t know if there are any other shows on this list that can claim to have so many songs in the public consciousness, and if there are, chances are they are also by Rogers and Hammerstein.

Alex’s Song Choice – “There Is Nothing Like A Dame” This was my DAODS audition song.

64. The Trail To Oregon

Points – 20

Votes – 3

Firsts – 0

I have a feeling that this may be the show on the list that is least familiar to our membership.  Created by a student group – Starkid, probably more famous for A Very Potter Musical and launching the career of Darren Criss – and based on a computer game – possibly the only example of this happening – it lets the audience pick the character names and have an influence on the outcome of the show.  Very funny and different, it will become far more familiar in the near future as Ella and Luke Walden along with Gavin Kirrage bring it to Heathfields Hall.  Having had a listen to the soundtrack, I can’t wait.

Liam Winter’s Song Choice – “Pays To Be An Animal” – however, I am also linking the whole show by StarKid here as well.

60. (Tie) Spring Awakening

Points –21

Votes – 4

Firsts – 0

When people ask me what I am most proud of, I often tell them this show.  Spring is an incredible show in itself, but if you will allow me a little self-indulgence here, I really think we put together something special when we did it at the Hall.  The cast were incredible, the crew amazing (take a look at that lighting), but what truly made it was Ellie putting together some of the best and most innovative choreography I have ever seen.  It will always hold a special place in my heart, and I urge any of you who haven’t seen the show to check it out.

Alex’s Song Choice – “Touch Me” Maybe my hardest song choice in the entire list.

60. (Tie) The Hot Mikado

Points – 21

Votes – 4

Firsts – 0

The history of this show is really something.  The Mikado is another G&S classic (as an aside, I teach a play at school where one of the characters is performing in The Mikado.  Trying to explain to teenagers that there really is a classic operetta featuring Nanki-Poo, Pish Tush and Titipu is tough – they genuinely think I am making it up) and in the 1930s a version was written where African-American dialect was added and the numbers made a little more swing.  This was called The Swing Mikado.  When Mike Todd – future husband of Elizabeth Taylor – was turned down to produce, he commissioned The Hot Mikado to run next door.  To complicate matters further, hardly any of the script or music for this has remained to this day, so The Hot Mikado we perform today was written from scratch in the 80s, making it the fourth adaptation of the show.  What a lot of Titipu.

Jill Taylor’s Song Choice – “He’s Going To Marry Yum Yum

60. (Tie) A Chorus Line

Points – 21

Votes – 4

Firsts – 0

A Chorus Line is the show that made me join DAODS (well, sort of.  Pat texting me to say he was auditioning that evening and my fear of missing out was the main thing, but also A Chorus Line).  Our production really was great, and there is something about watching theatre about theatre that is hugely appealing to many of us.  Evidently this extends further than just us who perform, as for many years it was the longest running show on Broadway, and is still performed regularly as one of the best ensemble shows out there.

Amy Cooper’s Song Choice – “The Music and The Mirror

60. (Tie)Gypsy

Points – 21

Votes – 4

Firsts – 0

Every time I write one of these for a Sondheim musical and I see the date of the original show, and then remember that he is still writing, I am blown away.  1959 is when Gypsy came out.  61 years ago.  Phenomenal.  Based on the autobiography of Gypsy Lee, it is another show about shows, but had had a huge impact.  It regularly tops lists such as this one, and has had in impressive four Broadway revivals.  In another 61 years, I can still imagine that it will be running regularly.  And I can still imagine Sondheim will be going at the tender age of 150.

Alex Tyrrell’s Song Choice – “Everything’s Coming Up Roses

59. The Rocky Horror (Picture) Show

Points – 22

Votes – 5

Firsts – 0

When I was fifteen, my parents took me and my sister Jeni to see The Rocky Horror Show at the Orchard.  As we sat down I felt a tap on my shoulder and heard ‘fancy seeing you here Freeman’.  My form tutor was say behind us.  I’m not so easily embarrassed so this was fine.  What was less fine was my mum greeting him at the parents’ evening held not long after with “Ah Mr Hill! I can’t see you any more without thinking of stockings and suspenders!”.  Childhood scarring aside, this is a formative show for many, and I have had a couple of people predict even a top ten finish for it.  Despite more and more shows presenting a wider worldview, it remains a borderline scandalous show, and a rite of passage for many – not to mention about the only show I can think of with a script for the audience.

Alex’s Song Choice – “Dammit, Janet!

58. Six

Points – 22

Votes – 6

Firsts – 0

It gives me untold pleasure to see how many votes this show got.  The rapid rise of this show is impressive.  First performed only three years ago at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe by a Cambridge University group, it has grown and grown to become a West End show and tour America.  Nearly everyone I know who has seen it has come back saying “You know, I wasn’t expecting it to be very good, but…” and as flippant as that sounds, that is quite a feat.  A pop concert where Henry VIII’s wives battle to see who sings lead sounds ridiculous – but what better medium for the ridiculous than MT.  Still showing in the West End (well, obviously not right now) this is a show that is well worth a look.

Hannah Burton’s Song Choice – “Lose Your Head

57. Shrek

Points – 23

Votes – 4

Firsts – 0

Such a tricky one to talk about at the moment, as I am sure for many of us, the week that should have been show week was tough. But if there ever was a show to not get sad about, it is this one.  It is ridiculously silly, yet incredibly clever with its numerous musical theatre references.  It is farcically funny, yet tells a wonderful heartfelt story.  It has moments of real pathos, and huge exciting chorus numbers.  I have loved doing this show, and I can’t wait to be back at it, showing everyone the serious talent that we have here at DAODS.  Miss you all!

Dan Cross’s Song Choice – “Freak Flag

56. (Tie) Jekyll and Hyde

Points – 23

Votes – 5

Firsts – 0

It seems somewhat strange to me, but Jekyll and Hyde has never had a West End run.  It has had two UK tours and managed a Broadway revival, but somehow the West End has eluded it, meaning that our stellar production can lay claim to potentially being one of the best in the London Area (the second tour started at Bromley, but let’s be honest, Dave Kerry walks all over Marti Pellow any day of the week). This was the first DAODS production that I saw after becoming a member, and made me proud of all my friends and really made me understand why people say our shows are of professional standard.  On a totally different, and very strange note, This Is The Moment was recorded by The Moody Blues to appear on the official album for the 1994 FIFA World Cup.  Obviously.

Ella Walden’s Song Choice – “Façade

55. (Tie) Into The Woods

Points – 23

Votes – 5

Firsts – 0

Fairy tales make such a good source material, but in my personal opinion, the best way to use them is to really play with them.  We have seen that in several guises already – notably Shrek from this list – but ever reliably, leave it to Sondheim to make it into high art.  Weaving together characters from Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella and the like, he created a show that people are fanatical over, and for good reason.  All of his creative flair is on show, managing to pick up Tony Awards in a year that featured the juggernaut that is Webber’s Phantom, and even got three Oscar nominations for the film – although one of them was for Meryl Streep and I think she gets nominated even if she hasn’t been in a film that year anyway.

Matt Kellett-Baines’ Song Choice – “Agony

54. Grease

Points – 23

Votes – 8

Firsts – 0

The general public may have put it at number one, but the members of DAODS do not quite hold it in such high regard.  Plenty of votes at the lower end of the scale for a show that holds nostalgic value for many, but predominantly, Grease is now a reason to separate the dance floor into men and women at the Dinner Dance (and very often a third group for surprised other-halfs who don’t even know when the ‘Urgh’ is supposed to happen).  Grease provides so many musical theatre classics and is loved by kids the world over, despite the lyrics being filth and the overall message being that the best thing a girl can do is totally change everything about herself just to please a man.  I realise that this sounds scathing, but actually this is a great show, so God knows what I am going to be like when we get to some of the upcoming shows that I actually don’t like…

Michelle Wright’s Song Choice – “There Are Worse Things I Could Do” Stockard Channing is everything

53. The Last Five Years

Points – 24

Votes – 6

Firsts – 0

Jason Robert Brown seems to be the Van Gogh of our day.  He is undoubtedly a genius, and some of the things he has written are world class – clever and innovative, with unusual takes on story and approach.  And yet he just doesn’t seem to have had the success that he probably should receive – and indeed that many musical theatre geeks think he deserves.  The Last Five Years is probably his most famous work – telling the story of one relationship with him starting at the beginning and working towards the end, and her starting from the end and working backwards to the beginning, with only one scene, their wedding, featuring both performers.  It is incredible, emotional, moving and so damn clever, and yet it seems that Brown will likely never reach Webber levels of commercial success.

Matt Kellett-Baines’ Song Choice – “Goodbye Until Tomorrow

52. Seven Brides For Seven Brothers

Points – 24

Votes – 6

Firsts – 1

For a little while, I thought that Seven Brides was going to be the real surprise package of this poll, as some early votes put it in the top ten for a while, and whilst they obviously tailed off as time went on, it was noticeable how many people mentioned it in their ‘this just missed out’ comments.  As a kid I remember not being very impressed – these men just come and steal some women? Doesn’t seem right to me.  And whilst I still can’t get on board with that, it impressed me that the story is actually based on an Ancient Roman myth (they have made a couple of slight changes though I believe.  Few Roman myths were based in Oregon).  Also it seems to be the only show I have encountered so far that the writers put songs in specifically on the suggestion of choreographer Michael Kidd.  I have always been happy to push my belief that the choreographer is the single most important part of any piece of musical theatre, so this probably explains why this works so well.

Emily Jackson’s Song Choice – “Bless Your Beautiful Hide

51. Five Guys Named Moe

Points – 25

Votes – 3

Firsts – 1

This is the show in which I made my West End debut.  Clarke Peters’ abstract show about Nomax and the five Moes that emerge from his radio is incredibly fun, with wonderful music and incredible choreography.  When seeing it at its pop-up Marble Arch venue a couple of years back, I was randomly selected from the audience to come and sing the Act One finale, Push Ka Pi Shi Pie, on stage.  As crazy as that sounds it is all true!  Except the randomly bit.  I think Jacqui and Martin, working as Stage Door and Front of House Manager respectively, may have had a little something to do with it…

Keith Hills’ Song Choice – “Azure Te

And that is today’s lot done! There will be an additional little bit of information for each show in the next list as we edge ever closer to the top ten, and finding out what DAODS’ favourite show of all time.

1 thought on “DAODS’ Top 100 Musicals of All Time – 75 to 51

  1. South Pacific at no 65! Wish I’d got my vote in. Remember cast album being in charts for over a year late 50s

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