Even the best prophets of doom and amateur epidemiologists need the odd week off. Therefore, this column presents an an opportunity for readers to enjoy a little escapism and, we hope, make their own contributions.
While there seem to be innumerable lists of best this, that and the other, it isn’t apparent that many people have previously tried to determine their favourite soundtracks of stage shows.
Doing so has proved fascinating and nostalgic, reminding this dedicated critic that there are many different musical genres that can underpin this theatrical form.
It is worth noting that the final list really is based on the merits of soundtracks and is not necessarily a commentary on the best musicals to enjoy on a stage, assuming that readers can still remember what it is like to enjoy a musical live on stage.
It was necessary to set down a few ground rules to define the parameters. In particular, for no very obvious reason other than clarity and limiting the choice to sensible levels, operas and operettas are excluded (so no Verdi or Gilbert and Sullivan), together with plays with music, although that distinction can be difficult to draw. In addition, the list is restricted to stage shows and excludes films.
Some readers might be outraged at a number of inevitable exclusions, given that there are far more than 10 good musical scores out there.
There is no Rogers and Hammerstein, which means that great shows like Oklahoma and South Pacific didn’t make the cut.
Sadly, Cole Porter also finds himself amongst the also-rans despite the undoubted attractions of High Society, Kiss Me Kate and Anything Goes.
Similarly, nothing by Rice and/or Lloyd Webber is on the list, though Evita was head and shoulders above the competition, even given this writer’s fondness for Tell Me on a Sunday.
While it is tempting to include a number of jukebox musicals such as Beautiful, primarily to irritate the purists, frankly, none of them can compete with a top 10 that would have caused far less heartache and indecision had it been 15 or even 20, after all how can anyone choose between Chicago, Hair (with or without the Spray) and Spring Awakening?
At the other end of the scale, there are the show tunes that you could listen to constantly and many of them are included in this top 10 list.
As ever, they are in no particular order.
- Come from Away
- Guys & Dolls
- West Side Story
- Sweeney Todd
- Porgy and Bess
- Girl from the North Country
The final selection comes with apologies to those that have not made the top 10. There could be two reasons. First, because they didn’t spring to mind and secondly, due to lack of taste on the part of the one-man selection committee.
It would be great if readers could let us know about their own favourite musical soundtracks or, politely, explain why any of those above do not deserve to be ranked so highly.