With Christmas coming up we’re all on our guard to be extra nice. No-one wants coal in their stockings, after all. But what good is all this sugar without a little spice? So, to help celebrate the launch of Hamilton in the UK (and to help you purge some wickedness before the festive season) we’re going to look at the seven deadly sins of musicals.
To be brutally honest, we’re spoilt for choice with this one. It’s not hard to think of a musical with a bit of what’s good for you mixed into the narrative. There was, however, one clear winner in the lust department: The Rocky Horror Picture Show. First performed as a stage show, this decidedly family unfriendly musical features Dr. Frank N. Furter welcoming all-American couple Brad and Janet into his weird and wonderful world of sex (and, yes, a bit of murder as well). The sauce!
Eating proved a bit tougher in terms of appearances in musicals, especially eating to excess. It became swiftly obvious that there is one foodie that stands leaves and tendrils above all other comers. He’s just a mean, green mother from out of space, and he’s baaaaad: it’s Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors. From the moment Audrey II suckles at his owner, Seymour’s pricked finger to Seymour’s realisation that Audrey II won’t be happy “Less I open a vein”; Little Shop of Horrors hinges on the insatiable hunger of Audrey II for sweet sangre. In the original ending Audrey II even gets away with it!
More! More! More! How do you like it? In the case of our musical appreciation of greed, we like it very much. As honest Bugsy Malone tries to make his way as a boxing promoter and win the heart of Blousey, Fat Sam comes under fire (well, assault with a splurge gun) from Dandy Dan, the gangster who wants it all for himself. Dandy Dan learns his lesson in the end, the first moral ending for a musical in this list.
With all that singing and dancing the musical isn’t the ideal genre for the lazy, but in the name of listicals we persevered. Oh, the irony. But where in the realm of the musical picture could we find some real, top quality, sloth? The answer, however, lay with a different mammal. The ass. After a fairy brings Pinocchio to life he is promised the opportunity to become a real boy if he proves himself brave, truthful, and unselfish. Pinocchio proceeds to cock this right up. Swallowed whole by a whale; suffering indignities of the nose (related to lying); and eventually taken to Pleasure Island for an easy life; Pinocchio finds that his life of leisure is setting him up to be turned into a literal beast of burden. More morals! That’s Disney for you.
“Don’t you know me Kansas City? I’m the new Berlin Wall. Try and tear me down!” Both the angriest musical I’ve ever seen (opinion), and the greatest musical ever committed to celluloid (fact, come at me). Hedwig and The Angry Inch is witty, rocking and seething. Hedwig follows her ex-lover, Tommy Gnosis, on his tour of America’s enormodomes; searching for the way to bring him down and gain recognition for the songs he stole from her. During her journey, one thing becomes clear: Hell hath no fury like “some slip of a girly boy from communist East Berlin” scorned. But then Hell hath no tunes, jokes or heart like Hedwig either.
Snow White and The Seven Dwarves is one of the greatest musicals on celluloid, with seven of the greatest supporting actors in film history, a bit of a dull protagonist, and a villain for the ages. Snow White does very little but fall asleep in the titular role (she could be played by my grandfather, such is her prowess at nodding off after eating). However, the wicked queen, driven by jealousy (and possibly already lost to psychosis given her relationship with her mirror), is the pounding black heart of this cartoon. Sadly she is done away with by the seven dwarves and we have to suffer the feckless and tedious Snow White coming back at the end of the film instead hanging out at the castle with the queen. Bummer.
What’s worth your social standing, your sense of self, your image, if it stands in the way of true love? This is the question asked by Grease! in amongst the songs about hot cars, summer romances and what life might look like after high school. Grease! is a rowdy celebration of teenage desire and the joy of being an individual; dressing up in opposition to the establishment; and taking pride in your status. Sadly, it ends with Sandy and Danny wussing out; swallowing their pride to become some monstrous halfway house of what they imagine the other wants. Good luck with that relationship, y’morons.
With 11 Tony Awards, a Grammy and a Pulitzer Prize under its belt, Hamilton is a show like now other. And in 2017, Sir Cameron Macintosh will be bringing the musical to London’s West End.
The show notably incorporates hip-hop, rhythm and blues, pop music, soul music, traditional-style show tunes and protest songs. This collection features selections from the songs Alexander Hamilton, Dear Theodosia, Hurricane, It’s Quiet Uptown, One Last Time, That Would Be Enough, Washington on Your Side and more.