- 1An amazing musical, everything from the songs to the composing to the casting is perfect. They've been many interpretations but this is by far my favourite - with Colm Wilkinson as Jean Valjean, Philip Quast as Inspector Javert, Lea Salonga as Eponine and Ruthie Henshall as Fantine, it really is the dream cast. My favourite songs would have to be Who Am I? - The Trial sung, Javert's Suicide and Stars. Although I find the plot around the escaped convict Jean Valjean and Inspector Javert to be the most interesting aspect of the story, with years of conflict and huge moral choices which shape the lives of the people around them, I find the love story of Cosette and Marius a little tiresome, although it does although for Eponine's touching tale of heartbreak as the one she loves falls for another woman. Definitely my favourite musical of all time!
- 2A lot of people dislike Moulin Rouge! as it's very fast-paced and a bit frantic. True the constant camera changes are annoying, and there is a lot going on but I love how all the many stories of this movie interwine, I never personally had trouble keeping up but some people may wish for a bit of a reprieve at some point. A lot of the songs are recycled from elsewhere, 'Diamonds' from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Madonna's 'Material Girl' and 'Like a Virgin,' but it's the songs written from the musicals are those that stand out the most - Elton John's 'Your Song' is a classic which has been reproduced by many artists since its release, including its most recent release by Ellie Goulding. The film's beautiful to look at though, the sets are stunning with all the pomp and pageantry of a real theatrical production. The movie's stars have amazing voices, especially Ewan McGregor who I think surprised many people with his ability to sing not only well but with intense emotion. The highlight of this musical for would be 'Le Tango de Roxanne,' perhaps my favourite musical song of all time - intense, dark and full of emotion, the crescendo of the movie.
- 3Chicago is a popular favourite with musical fans and general movie-goers alike. There's many brilliant songs, but enough space between them to not get on the nerves of those who don't appreciate a big song-and-dance every thirty seconds. That being said I believe it's hard to not find at least one song to like in this musical, whether you're a fan of broadway or not, my personal favourite is 'The Cell Block Tango,' it's intricate, clever and you can feel the murderesses' rage when they belt it out. The plot is also well-written, reflecting how you can away with almost anything as long as you can grab enough headlines. Renee Zellweger was surprisingly good at singing, although not amazing, but it's Catherine Zeta-Jones who steals the show as Velma Kelly, who's not afraid to do what it takes to achieve fame. A brilliant film, a lot of fun and full of amazing musical numbers.
- 4One of Andrew Lloyd Webber's masterpieces, The Phantom of the Opera is the longest-running Broadway musical of all the time as well as the highest-grossing entertainment event of all time. Safe to say there's a reason for its success - not only Webber's amazing compositions, but lyrics (mostly) by Charles Hart and voices such as Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman it's no wonder it's so popular. Now, this may be a controversial view, but I actually much prefer the voices of Gerard Butler and Emmy Rossum, but that's all down to taste. The high point of this musical for me personally is 'The Music of the Night,' although the title song packs a lot of power it's the slightly more understated song which follows it which has always been my favourite, more emotional and melodious. The story is also one to spark emotion in the audience as you struggle to decide whether The Phantom is a cold-blooded murderer or simply a man driven mad by the cruelness of the world, a conflict of morals which makes you feel much more involved in the plot than with more outlandish or light-hearted musicals - a must see for any musical-lover.
- 5Although the Disney original certainly isn't to be sniffed at, it is the Broadway version which brings this musical to life. Although the original songs are the efforts of Elton John and Tim Rice, Lebo M also brings many new songs to the production, with much stronger African influences, including a few songs such as 'Grasslands Chant,' which are performed completely in the African language. It's hard to top classics such as 'The Circle of Life,' but I feel the song that tops the rest in this musical is 'Shadowlands,' a new contribution to the Broadway production. The musical is amazing to watch, with most or all of the characters protrayed as puppets or actors in intricrate costumes and headpieces, with dazzling and complex choreography and on-stage chorus line to provide the backing vocals throughout the production. In my opinion The Lion King is among the best musicals to see live, if not THE best.
- 6Hairspray is a fairly new musical, based on a movie of the same name. This is a very light-hearted musical, although it deals with some heavy issues - telling the story of the fight against racial segregation in the 60s. But that's not the whole story, the moral Hairspray tries to get across is accepting who you are, whatever your race, however old you are, however much you weight, but it does it all without becoming bogged down in moral despair. The songs are catchy and fun and Zac Effron's portrayal of Link completely changed my opinion of him as both a singer and actor, teaching me a lesson of not assuming that the Disney lot are completely without talent (just stuck in a bad deal me thinks!) The best songs are the ones that make you want to sing and dance-along, you big up-beat tracks like 'You Can't Stop the Beat' and 'Run and Tell That.' A fun musical with a great cast.
- 7Now I'm sure I was happy as anyone when it turned out that Johnny Depp was going to be in another musical (although I'm not personally a fan of Crybaby). This is a sombre musical, which suits his voice, as his isn't one to belt out huge show tunes. This is another musical which those who aren't usually fond of the genre can enjoy - it's not quite as campy as others (although it has its moments) and the plot is gripping. It's also an unusual combination of genres - horror and musical. It's not something done often but it works fairly well and it has a few heart-lighted moments to stop things becoming too depressing during the course of the story. Out of all the songs, I'd have to peg 'A Little Priest' as my favourite, it's just so much fun! Whoever decided to write a song about baking people into pies is a genius in my eyes!
- 8I WAS going to try keep this list Broadway, but I just couldn't help myself with Hunchback of Notre Dame - it deserves its place in my list! The songs are beautiful, and the story was written with the mind to introduce some darker themes to a family movie, making this something both children and adults can appreciate. There's a lot of hidden subtexts that parents will appreciate, making this so much more than just a kid's film - although don't get me wrong, children will love it too. It's hard to pick a favourite song because so many of them are so good, but if pressed I'd have to pick 'Heaven's Light/Hellfire,' half-ballad half-creepiness, it's dual-sung by Quasimodo and Frollo and nowhere else are the contrasts between good and evil more prevelant in a Disney film. The art is beautiful through the film and the characters are more complex that Walt's usual fare. True, the end result isn't nearly as dark as the source material, but what you see is a beautifully-constructed tale with plenty to make you think about.
- 9A golden-oldie, Oliver! is a classic which hasn't lost any of its appeal over the years. Even after decades after its release, it's still enjoyed by families everywhere and the songs are as iconic as they ever were. A touching tale of Oliver Twist's ascent from workhouse boy to finding his long-lost family is full of twists and obstacles. Although the musical is probably most well-known for its more up-beat tunes, it has a few darker moments too, and Bill Sykes is a genuinely unsettling character. Although many of its tunes are classics now, my personal favourites would be 'Pick a Pocket or Two' and 'Consider Yourself.' As far as I'm concerned when it comes to Oliver! The More cockney the better!
- 10Definitely NOT one if you're not already a fan of the genre, Cats relies heavily on its songs and not so much on story. In fact, very little goes on at all throughout the musical, but the songs more than make up for it. They're true Broadway tunes, big, over-the-top songs which are hard to forget once you've heard them. And not only is it a wonder to hear, but also the watch. Every song has its own complex choreography, introducing you to all the Jellical cats - and everyone has a favourite, whether it's the elegant Victoria, the fun Rum Tum Tugger or the Evil Macavity. And of course, one of the most famous songs ever from a musical, Elaine Paige's beautiful rendition of 'Memory.' A musical best seen live.
- 11Pure, unabashed fun - The Rocky Horror Show is a MUST-see live. A musical where everyone dresses up, sings and dances-along, it's full of energy and I doubt you'll only go to see it once. Not one for the close-minded, this is a musical of transvestites, sex and over-the-top campness, put to song! There's few musicals out there as fun as this one - it doesn't take itself seriously and one of its greatest assets is its cult-following and audience participation, when you go to see The Rocky Horror Show you don't go to sit and watch it, you go to join in! It's weird, it's hopelessly camp and perhaps the funniest musical you'll ever see!
- 12Now, I know a lot of people really love Grease, but I can't say it's one of my favourites. Don't get me wrong, I do like it, it's fun, it's got a great cast and fantastic songs, it just lacks a certain depth. Everyone knows the songs from Grease, from 'Summer Nights' to 'Greased Lightning,' this musicals full of well-written tunes that anyone can sing-along to. The plot's not amazing but again, it's the songs that hold the appeal. There's a decent range of variation in the songs, not only are there the up-beat, fun tunes, but also ballads which, although overshadowed by the bigger songs, are full of the cheesy campness we love in musicals!
- 13Again, a musical you'd probably expect to see higher up on the list, but despite some true classics, this musicals just drags on for sooooooo long! I'm ashamed to say I've never been able to watch the whole things in one sitting, but I love the songs so much individually that it still earns a place in my top 20. The compositions are clever and witty, the characters have real personalities and there are some real iconic moments (cue mountain scene). There's plenty going on in way of plot, and The Sound of Music is a musical which will be loved by whole families, meaning that many people have grown up with it, making it that much more endearing. A good old-fashioned musical if there ever was one.
- 14Another fairly new musical, the Broadway production's been around since about 1996, but the film adapatation was only made a few years ago. I've never seen the Broadway version so I can't speak for it, but comparing voices from both the movie and the live version online I'd say that I personally prefer the film cast. What's really going for Rent is the plot - whereas a lot of musicals skimp a bit on the story, Rent's got plenty to ponder on. The main focus is on a group of impoverished New-Yorkers, many who suffer from HIV/AIDS, and the plot tracks their lives as they struggle with the disease and find love. Somehow depressing yet uplifting at the same time - sure, many of the characters have a disease which will one day kill them, but they don't let it affect them, they persevere and carry on. And besides the great story, the songs are fantastic too, the best among them being 'La Vie Boheme,' controversial but hilarious! The only reason this is so low on the list is that unfortunately it's a movie I only watched once or twice - I could listen to the songs again and again, but I didn't find the movie had much replay value. Still, definitely worth seeing.
- 15Based on a old comic strip, Annie's been around since the late seventies and is on the musicals I grew up with. It's a family film and very cutesy, despite being a story about an little girl who's an orphan it's pretty up-beat most of the time. A classic story of someone at the bottom going straight to the top, Annie's adopted by a rich millionaire who just can't resist how darn cute she is!...So not the most realistic of storylines but it's the naive optimism of it all which makes it perfect for kids. I have to admit that as I've gotten older Annie's lost some of its appeal, but that's not to say that adults won't enjoy it at all. There's a few twists to keep the plot interesting and the songs are fun, although the ones that really stand out are the ballads - 'Tomorrow,' being the most well-known. If you're looking for a bit of light-hearted entertainment, Annie's a good bet.
- 16Bugsy Malone's a clever idea for a musical, with an all-kids cast you'd probably expect sub-par acting, but they have a really great cast here. Jodie Foster above all stands out with a really great performance as Tallulah, out-acting pretty much anyone else in the scene with her. At first it's a little off-putting that the songs basically consist of the kids miming along to vocals done by adults, but as you keep watching you stop noticing and it seems completely plausible that it's the children singing. One thing Bugsy Malone does well is draw you into the story, almost as though you're not watching a film at all. A lot of it's puns, spoofing and silly humour but it is a lot of fun, and just wouldn't be the same if all the actors were a couple of feet taller. The songs are pretty catchy, although not especially dazzling, they'll be stuck in your head for a long time. Silly fun.
- 17One thing musicals seem to do that other genres can rarely manage is take a biblical epic and make it into something entertaining without losing the moral the story means to convey. Many religious musicals such as 'Jesus Christ Superstar,' 'Prince of Egypt,' and Joseph have been very successful without sacrificing the source material. Joseph and The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat is very entertaining but sticks to the original story more-or-less, there's a few embellishments here and there, but nothing too drastic. It's also something kids can watch, making the story more accessible to them. Personally I'm not religious so that doesn't affect me very much, but there's real value in telling stories like Joseph which usually have important moral lessons to teach, regardless or whether someone's that religion or not. But as well as that, there's so decent songs in Joseph - none are amazing, and a couple are I'm afraid, a bit terrible - but the ones to look out for are 'Close Every Door,' and 'Any Dream Will Do,' hopelessly sentimental but nice to listen to anyway. Not the best musical out there, despite having big names like Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice behind it, but still worth a watch.
- 18A classic, the original Broadway version opened in the mid-60s. The film adapatation was made a good decade later, but the two have significant differences. Whereas in the live version almost the entire thing was singing, the movie version had intermittent songs which were only performed by the two of the main characters - played by Liza Minelli and Joel Grey. There a lot of good songs in Cabaret, including the title song and my personal favourite 'The Money Song,' but I've never found Cabaret to be particularly memorable. It's okay to watch, but not brilliant, the songs are good, but not fantastic, it's largely 'adequate' rather than anything spectacular. It's quirky though, it's won a lot of awards and the plotline is good - it's just never been a persona favourite.
- 19In a film with both Beyonce Knowles AND Jennifer Hudson you're bound to have some terrific vocal performances, and DreamGirls delivers. There's some real belters in this musical, including one of my all-time favourites 'And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going.' In terms of a show that transferred over from Broadway to the big screen Dreamgirls is probably one of the most successful, making the transition a bit more gracefully than other musicals like Rent. The story focuses on how cutthroat show business can be, how appearance can take presidence over talent and the up-beatness of the songs often contrasts the problems occuring behind the scenes. It's a clever musical, beautifully presented and well worth a watch.
WickedNow, by all counts I shouldn't be able to put Wicked on my list as I've never seen it. But purely based on the songs I've heard it earns a place. Wicked's one of the newest musicals around and is gaining notice and popularity daily, it's got some fantastic songs in, including one of my favourites 'Defying Gravity,' which isn't out of place on any list of top Broadway tunes. The cast offers some of the best and most modern vocals I've heard in a musical and some excellent lyrics. I'd urge anyone with the chance to go see this musical, I know I'll be trying to and it could very well be moving high up this list soon.