3 Musicals With Amazing Writing

Musicals are oftentimes like Vegemite: you either love them or hate them. As a music and writing nerd, I fall into the love camp.  When I was little, musicals were a way to spend time with friends during the summer. I remember doing all sorts of silly warm-ups to warm up my voice for my chorus roles. As I’ve gotten older, my participation in musicals decreased. I’m enthusiastic, but a singer and actor I am not. Instead, I’ve become an observer. I listen to cast albums, see musicals when I can, and force my favorites onto my friends. Through my rekindled love of musicals, I’ve grown to appreciate the writers. Over the years, I have latched onto a few that always leave me fangirling at the writing. From comedies to drama, here are some of my favorite musicals in no particular order.

1. Hadestown

Hadestown is a more recent musical that is a breath of fresh air.  Disclaimer: I haven’t seen this musical, so most of my writing knowledge is from on the cast album. The story is an adaptation of the classic myth of Orpheus and Eurydice.  As a mythology nerd, I love how they took the original tragedy and put it in a more modern time. The New Orleans jazz-style music is a great medium for the lyrics. It’s a great way to illustrate the difference between the world above and the Underworld. 

The writers also use that backdrop to paint a picture of two story-lines that overlap. The plot follows the young lovers, as well as the fading love of Hades and Persephone. The musical uses similar musical themes and lyrics for Orpheus and Hades. It’s very evident when Orpheus helps Hades remember his pure love for Persephone. One of the most successful parts of this musical is the plotting. Despite knowing the myth well, I still hoped that the lovers would be able to reunite. The musical is great at giving you hope for a happy ending until fate catches up. Even after countless listens, the final songs always hit hard. You can’t help hoping that this time it’ll be different, that they’ll make it into the light. If you want to give a listen to this old tale from way back when, check it out here.

2.  A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder is a comedy that follows the adventures of Monty Navarro. Upon his mother’s death, he learns that he is ninth in line for a dukedom in the D’Ysquith family. Instead of waiting, he takes matters into his own hands and starts murdering his family. It sounds like it would be another dramatic tale. Instead, Monty finds himself in hilarious situations while he executes his crime. The writing for this show is sharp and witty. The writing reminds me of Clue, except we are inside the head of the killer. The music propels the plot forward with snappy lines and strong use of darker humor.  

I was lucky to see this musical with the original cast in New York City. In the production, one man plays all the  D’Ysquiths that Monty murders. The writers use distinct voices for each member of the family. This makes it easier for the audience to distinguish the characters. With the help of costumes and acting of course. The same is true for the two ladies in Monty’s life. Their dialogue and songs are very distinct. The only time they are very similar is when they are speaking of Monty, or are covering for him. There is also a bit of a plot twist among the deaths that Monty isn’t expecting. If you want to find out what happens, check out the original cast album here.

3. The Guy Who Didn’t Like Musicals

This musical is the only one on the list that isn’t a Broadway production. The Guy Who Didn’t Like Musicals is a creation of Starkid, a theater company known for A Very Potter Musical. The story follows Paul, a guy who hates musicals. With the title, you’d expect this comedy to follow a guy’s eventual love for musical theater. Instead, this musical is a horror-comedy where Paul faces a very strange apocalypse. People are singing and dancing out of nowhere! The writing in this play is full of unexpected twists and iconic characters. There is also a multitude of lines that stick in your head long after you’ve seen the musical. 

One of the great traits of this musical is the strong lyrics. They both tell us about the characters and the world that’s unfolding. The opening song itself helps paint a picture of the story from the perspective of the infected. Later songs help explain the infection and hints at how it spreads before we learn via dialogue. Characters also have strong voices in their dialogue. You can tell if Paul, Emma or Professor Hidgens are speaking based on how they speak. This musical also has a great finale and twist.  Thanks to the wonderful Starkid, you can see the entire story unfold on their YouTube channel. 

It was hard to narrow down my list to a few musicals. These are a few of the well-written musicals out there that you can watch or give a listen. What do you think of the musicals I’ve mentioned? What are your favorite musicals? Let me know in the comments below! If you are looking for a way to spice up your time at home, try giving a musical a listen! They’re full of fun stories and songs, and there’s one for everyone’s taste. Everyone stay safe and happy listening!

3 Books to Get You Into the Valentine’s Day Spirit

In a few days, the season of love and chocolate hearts will be upon us. If you’re a single pringle like me, Valentine’s Day is a mixed bag. Sure, it can be a bit of a bummer when you see couples being all lovey-dovey. But, there’s plenty of chocolate and cute gifts that you can get for yourself. Why not embrace the spirit of the day and celebrate self-love? I usually take myself out on a date to the bookstore and drink my favorite wine with takeout. 

I’m also a fan of themes, so every year I read romantic books at the beginning of February. It’s a great way to get yourself into the spirit, and also an excuse to read a sappy rom-com. With countless romantic stories to choose from, you can read any trope of your choosing. I have three go-to stories that I reread when the heart-shaped Reeses appear at Target.

Image via Goodreads

  1. A Little Something Different– Sandy Hall

A Little Something Different is a classic rom-com story with a twist. It tells the story of Gabe and Lea, two students who meet in writing class. Instead of hearing their sides of the tale, the story unfolds through the eyes of others. Everyone from the Starbucks baristas to delivery guy see their romance unfold. Their creative writing teacher ships them. The baristas watch them like they’re a real-life rom-com. The different points of view allow you to see how well these two work together despite their flaws. It’s charming, funny, and a lovely read. If you’re in the mood to relax with a glass of wine this Valentine’s day, this is the book for you.

Image via Goodreads

  1. Pride and Prejudice– Jane Austen

Is it a list of romantic stories without this book? Like many, I’ve read the story of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy a few times. Add the miniseries and 2005 movie to the mix, and you have many ways to enjoy this classic. The mix of dynamic characters and a strong plot make this a must-read. Also, the dynamic between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy is frustrating and exciting. At the beginning of the novel, you are as frustrated with Mr. Darcy as Elizabeth. As the story unfolds, both the reader and Elizabeth learn more about Mr. Darcy’s true character. It’s a great slow-burn romance that allows the characters to grow and learn more about each other. Each time I read it, I roll my eyes at Mr. Collins and shake my head at Elizabeth when she believes Wickham. The romance is still exciting to me, despite my knowledge of the end. If you’re in the mood for a classic enemies-to-lovers story, this novel is the one for you.

Image via Goodreads

  1. Emma– Jane Austen

Another Austen novel? What can I say, the lady is good at her job. This is another classic that tells the story of Emma, the well-off matchmaker. She sees no reason for marriage but enjoys intruding on her friend’s love lives. Meddling has consequences, which Emma must learn from to prevent more disasters. Emma, like Elizabeth, is a well-rounded character who is both frustrating and lovely. She wants what’s best for her friends, but more often than not she has no idea what that is. Her relationship with Mr. Knightley is dynamic and full of respect. When she stumbles, he isn’t afraid to call her out while helping her back up. If you’re a fan of friends to lovers stories with great side characters, this story is for you!

What books do you like to read during this time of year? Let me know in the comments below! If you have any romance novel recommendations, you can send them to me by filling out the survey here. I hope you all have a lovely Valentine’s Day! If you need me I’ll be counting down the hours until all the chocolate goes on sale between books. Happy reading!