Riverdale’s latest episode revived the musical version of Carrie and it was AMAZING! While the episode itself was great (no spoilers here) the musical numbers couldn’t have been more impressive. If only it could lead to a revival of the musical, which is an absolute hidden gem. At least this episode of the popular show will draw attention to an often overlooked musical.
Beginning its life in the late 80’s, Carrie the Musical was based on Stephen King’s novel. The musical was written by Lawrence D. Cohen who penned the script for the 1976 film and Michael Gore who worked on Fame. The story follows Carrie White, a girl from a deeply religious home. Bullied both at school and at home, Carrie craves to be accepted but the onset of puberty brings an added extra to the usual awkwardness: Telekinetic powers.
“A Night To Remember/In” from Riverdale’s Carrie adaptation:
With the success of Riverdale showcasing Carrie to a larger audience, here is a list, in no particular order, of five lesser known musicals that deserve some attention:
1. The Evil Dead
Carrying on the classic horror theme, The Evil Dead is another musical based on the cult film that came before it. This musical takes the plot of all three Evil Dead movies and mashes them together to almost become its own creation. It is hilariously fun, gory and X-rated!
For anyone not familiar with the Sam Raimi classic; the story centres around five college students who spend a weekend in an abandoned cabin in the woods where they come across the Necronomicon (Book of the Dead) and accidentally unleash the titular “Evil Dead.”
After his friends are posessed, Ash has to fight back with his boomstick, chainsaw hand and quick wit to save the day and stop the demons taking over the world. The musical boasts a campy, quirky soundtrack including songs like All the Men in my Life Keep Getting Killed By Candarian Demons, Do the Necronomicon, What the F**k Was That? and many more, the comedic intent of the show is obviously clear.
“Cabin in the Woods” from The Evil Dead:
2. Everybody’s Talking About Jamie
Based on a real life story of a boy who decided he wanted to go to his school prom in drag. The BBC documentary Jamie: Drag Queen at 16 followed the emotional and heartwarming story back in 2011. Everybody’s Talking About Jamie takes that story to the stage.
The musical is pretty new and will go on to be very well known. It premiered in February 2017 in Sheffield and has gone onto a permanent home in London at the Apollo Theatre. There will even be a live cinema screening across the UK on July 5th.
With music written by Dan Gillespie Sells from The Feeling, lyrics and book by Tom MacRae (Doctor Who, Threesome) There is even a song by Sophie-Ellis Bextor! It is a musical not to be missed.
“Don’t Even Know It” from Everybody’s Talking About Jamie
3. American Psycho
Based on the film and the book, the musical follows Patrick Bateman, a succesful businessman and murderer in 1980’s Manhattan. Matt Smith (Doctor Who) played Bateman in the London version of the show. It was his first stage appearance after wrapping as the iconic Time-Lord.
The music is eighties inspired with some beautiful covers of songs like In the Air Tonight, True Faith and Everybody Wants to Rule the World. Not to mention some of the stunning original songs like Not a Common Man and the super catchy, early-Madonna-sounding You Are What You Wear.
“Not A Common Man” from American Psycho
4. Elisabeth: Das Musical
This musical is a little different to the others in that it is entirely in German and is biographical. The plot revolves around the Empress of Austria, Elisabeth, and her obsession with Death, who appears in corporeal form for the purpose of the play. It takes us through Elisbeth’s life from her childhood, to her marriage and her eventual assassination at the hands of an Italian political activitst.
It’s a very dark, heavy and political musical with themes of death and suicide and tension beneath a glossy surface. Youtube has versions with subtitles for anyone willing to give it a chance. The music is beautiful, haunting and unforgettable. It’s one of those stories where after the first few minutes, the language and subtitles go un-noticed because it’s completely gripping. It has run for nearly three decades in Austria and Germany which stands to prove how popular it is.
“Ich Gehor Nur Mir” from Elisabeth: Das Musical
5. Dirty, Rotten Scoundrels
If you’re looking for a side-splitting comedy, rather than something dark and depressing then Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is for you. Again, based on the film, it follows the story of a con man who preys on vulnerable, rich women at an expensive resort. When he meets a young con man who isn’t very experienced, he takes him under his wing and they team up. No spoilers here if you’re not familiar with the plot but naturally, hilarity ensues.
This musical began in September 2004, moved to Broadway in 2005 and was led by John Lithgow, who needs no introduction and Norbert Leo Butz. Musical theatre nerds will of course, most likely, recognise Butz as the original Fiyero in Wicked and his countless other roles.
Trailer for Dirty, Rotten Scoundrels on West End
There are so many musicals out there that deserve so much more attention than they get, but to create a full list of every single one of them would take far too long, so here are a few honourable mentions that didn’t quite make the list:
This one is based on the iconic Disney film about a mother and daughter’s body-swapping nightmare. Back on September 29th 2017, Disney Channel announced a TV adaptation of the stage musical! This is definitely one to watch out for!
“All of This and Everything” from Freaky Friday
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Another Disney musical! This time, based on the Disney film and using songs from the 1996 animated adaptation of Victor Hugo’s novel. This version is darker, more serious and draws on more detail to make Frollo the horrific villain he should be. It has a beautiful soundtrack, well worth checking out. Not to mention, Ciara Renee is absolutely stunning as Esmerelda.
“Rhythm of the Tambourine” from The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Repo! The Genetic Opera
Limited to a small release in 2008, the film was subject to negative reviews. Somehow it gained a following but, 10 years on, seems all but forgotten, despite absolutely iconic performances from Paris Hilton, Sarah Brightman, Anthony Stewart Head (Yes, Giles from Buffy) and Alexa PenaVega.
Set in a futuristic world where organ transplants are almost necessary after a nasty epidemic of organ failure, Repo Men hunt down those who don’t keep up with payments for the surgery to reclaim the organs. The rest is crazy, dramatic, visually stunning and an absolute cult classic. If you’re interestedp in gothic, cyber-punk visions of the future, graphic gore and Paris Hilton’s face falling off this is for you. Yes. You read that right. Paris Hilton’s face. Falls. OFF!
And here’s the song you won’t be to stop singing!
“Zydrate Anatomy” from Repo! The Genetic Opera
Love Never Dies
The sequel to Phantom of the Opera follows Christine Daaè, her husband, Raoul and their son, Gustave being mysteriously summoned to Coney Island. When they arrive it seems that something much more sinister is going on. The scenario feels familiar and it isn’t long until the Phantom shows himself. He is still in love with Christine and won’t rest until he has her.
Andrew Lloyd Webber had the idea in 1990 but didn’t write the music until 2007. When it finally released in 2009 it was harshly criticised and only had a short run. Fans of the original weren’t pleased that in the decade since we last saw the characters everything had changed. Raoul is now an alcoholic and his marriage to Christine was not the fairytale it once seemed…and that’s just the mildest of twists.
It’s a gorgeous musical that was mostly overlooked. It did, thankfully, have a DVD release of the Australian stage performance which is definitely worth watching if you’re a fan.
“Beneath A Moonless Sky” from Love Never Dies
And now, last but not least, let’s not forget that this beauty is finally on its way!
Having opened (AT LAST!) on Broadway on 8th April, the excitement is too much to handle!