j. leigh bailey’s Top 5 Favorite Musicals

Thursday February 08, 2018


Hello, Dreamreaders! I grew up in Fort Atkinson, WI, a town that is probably most known for its dinner theatre, The Fireside. This meant that I had early access to some great live musical theatre. So today I’m going to share with you my top five favorite musicals from my childhood.


5. Rent—You may notice the rest of this list is a little old-school. I admit, I do sort of have a preference for the classics. That being said, when I saw Rent in 1999, it kind of blew me away. Seeing so many social issues brought to life through Jonathan Larson’s music, lyrics, and book really illustrated the power of music and words as social commentary. It wasn’t the first of its kind (I’m pretty sure playwrights and poets and musicians have been doing this since the dawn of time), but this was the first time I’d seen a show commentating on current social issues.


4. The Unsinkable Molly Brown—I was in high school when I saw this show, and I was so intrigued by the story of Molly Brown (fictionalized as it was), I immediately did some research to find out how true-to-life the musical, with music and lyrics by Meredith Willson and book by Richard Morris, really was. It didn’t matter how closely fact and fiction resembled each other.


3.  Newsies—I have to admit, I saw the movie first, but since the musical is based on the movie, which is based on the actual New York City Newsboys Strike of 1899, I suspect I can be forgiven. Also, Christian Bale. Anyway… I love the story of the underdog achieving the nearly insurmountable, brought to life by the music of Alan Menken, the lyrics of Jack Feldman, and a book by Harvey Fierstein. I love this musical so much, that I bought my entire family (and me!) tickets to see Newsies at the Fireside next month.


2.  Guys and Dolls—With music and lyrics by Frank Loesser and the book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows, Guys and Dolls was the first musical I ever saw live. And while it is far from politically correct, I still love the opposites attract romance and the catchy music.


1. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers—With music by Saul Chaplin and Gene de Paul, lyrics by Johnny Mercer, and based on the short story “The Sobbin’ Women,” this is by far my favorite musical of all time. I can still recite the names of the brothers in order, and I have a huge crush on Benjamin. This story has it all—a feisty heroine, burly men, and a cool family dynamic. And the dance numbers are always top-notch.


So, how about you? Are you a fan of musical theatre?
Which shows are your favorites?