Legendary West End: Misty Albion musicals
In the modern world, for most people the word “musical” is traditionally associated with American Broadway, the shining lights and posters of many theaters, each of which beckons a charmed passerby to go through wide open doors and at least look out of the corner of his eye to a music show.
Of course, the musical as a genre really originated in America, combining operetta, ballet, variety show and drama on the same stage. The first musical is traditionally considered the production of “Black Crook”, which premiered in September 1866 in New York. Then, in the following decades, a musical boom hit Europe, the peak of which fell on Great Britain, which many today, alas, tend to forget.
A new genre took root in England in no time. Perhaps the greatest role in the rapid formation of musicals here was due to the fact that the English, by their nature, are very supportive of music. Suffice it to recall such grandees as Queen, The Beatles, Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Elton John and many others who were born in the United Kingdom to understand that the land of Misty Albion really somehow has a special effect on everything that associated with music.
The genre developed very rapidly, musicals appeared in Britain one after another, filling the West End with many theaters, each of which was ready daily to show a first-class show on any topic, from Disney tales to political dramas. Musicals, in fact, have become a real cultural phenomenon in the country: try to sing on the London street revolutionary lines from “Les Miserables” – “Do you hear the people sing?” – and you will see how people around begin to smile, and maybe even sing along. Also today, the production of West End musicals in British schools has become commonplace, and therefore you can even find a separate section on the sites of many shows dedicated to helping such undertakings.
But, unfortunately, in the public mind the West End still remains in the shadow of its “big brother” Broadway, despite the fact that most of the most recognizable and long-playing musicals of our time originated and were staged in England.
Therefore, we present to your attention 5 musicals that you definitely heard about, but most likely did not know that their West End is their homeland.
One of the most famous musicals, first staged in 1981, still collects full halls of spectators around the world, despite the seemingly somewhat strange storyline: the intricacies of the fate of several cats. But, as the experience of millions of viewers of the show shows, everyone is able to find himself in the characters of the musical – a real human drama is hidden behind a cat mask.
It’s funny at the same time that the show was staged according to Thomas Eliot’s comic poetry collection “The Popular Science of Cats, Written by an Old Opossum”. However, it was these children’s poems that inspired the legendary Andrew Lloyd Webber to write music that turned Cats into something truly significant.
2. “The Phantom of the Opera” (“The Phantom Of The Opera”)
It’s hard to find a person who has never heard the main musical themes of this musical – “The Phantom of the Opera” and “The Music of the Night”. The Phantom of the Opera became one of the most important world music events at the very moment it was first played on the stage of the West End in 1986. The musical won two awards at the Olivier Awards, including the Best New Musical Award, which was definitely synonymous with success.
The story of Christina and the Ghost, told by the music of Andrew Webber, already familiar to us, could not leave the audience indifferent. The chandelier and the Ghost mask falling at the beginning of the show are the musical attributes that are known today around the world, which is not surprising, because after a successful launch in the UK, the show found its home in 30 more countries around the world.
3. “Mamma Mia!” (“Mamma Mia!”)
It was with this production, which first saw the light in 1999, that a series of musicals began, which were staged based on the songs of famous artists. The compositions of the ABBA group inspired British Judy Kramer so much that she decided to write a story based only on the songs of her favorite group. As a result, the whole world saw this story: who is on the stage of theaters, and who is in the 2008 film adaptation with Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan and Colin Firth in the lead roles.
In the musical, the stories of two generations are closely intertwined: young Sophie and her mother Donna, which makes the production interesting for the audience of any age. The wonderful soundtrack and sincere story about finding your place in this world still conquers more and more new viewers, forcing them to forget about their problems for a while and sing along with their friends from childhood “Dancing Queen”, “Mamma Mia” and “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! Gimme ! ”
4. “Mary Poppins” (“Mary Poppins”)
In 2004, this musical brought true “magic in a spoon” to the UK. Firstly, it was the first original Disney show to be put on the West End (and not brought from America).