Hello fellow theater lovers! I thought it would be a good idea to start an annual tradition here. I have to set SOME kind of blogging standard for myself.
If you’ve never watched Extra Credits, it’s a website that makes YouTube videos about video game design, and once a year they put out a video called “Games You Might Not Have Tried” where they talk about interesting games that might not have received a lot of press but are worth playing. I want to do something similar, but about musicals. Not necessarily Broadway musicals, but all are at least available for listen on Spotify. Also, since this is the first year I’m even blogging and I can’t exactly go back in time, this list is going to expand beyond 2017. So while everyone else is stuck on Anastasia, Dear Evan Hanson, or still has Hamilton on repeat, let’s delve a little deeper into what Spotify has to offer:
- Anais Mitchell – Composer
Okay, this first one is already a cheat. I was initially going to say Hadestown, because the Canadian premier of that show DID come out in 2017. However, when I looked it up on Wikipedia, I discovered that the composer of this show, Anais Mitchell, is someone that I had never heard of, and she has more discography than just this show, so just go check out all of her work! I already made a Spotify playlist, and that’s exactly where I’m heading as soon as I’m finished typing this.
But yeah, Hadestown is AWESOME. Apparently, the show was originally Off-Broadway in 2010 and was just revived this year, but I had never heard of it. If you enjoy Greek mythology put to a folk-opera style show, you will adore this cast recording! Now, I am the kind of person who could listen to the story of Orpheus and Eurydice a thousand different ways and still enjoy it because it one of the most classic Greek tragedies. But this show has the most groovy, bluesy style that is positively addicting to listen to, and I guarantee that you will be toe tapping as soon as the opening song begins. Check it out! (Then go listen to my Anais Mitchell playlist.)
- Otherbody by Ryan Scott Oliver
From the man that brought you 35MM and Jasper in Deadland (another Orpheus and Eurydice tale, oddly enough) comes the haunting allegorical musical based on H.P. Lovecraft’s short story “The Outsider.” Ryan Scott Oliver keeps pushing the norms with his original scores. They’re always a perfect blend of eerie and funny and heartfelt. Although this one doesn’t have much comedy in it, like his other shows, Otherbody is one that you can listen to over and over again before you pick up on all of the musical nuances and the symbolism. It’s like nothing I’ve ever heard, and that’s a hard statement to make when it comes to modern day musicals.
**As a side note, keep an eye out for Oliver’s newest show, We Foxes. I haven’t heard anything from it yet, and I’m hoping it will hit Spotify soon.
- Rooms: A Rock Romance by Paul Scott Goodman and Miriam Gordon
We’re taking it back to 2009 with this one. Yeah, I’m a little behind, but in all fairness, I did discover this show a few weeks ago. It’s a classic love story of two people from very different backgrounds brought together by music, but it’s sung in wonderfully charming Scottish accents. Monica and Ian start a punk rock band and gain unexpected fame, but their different personalities and goals start to cause problems as their popularity gets out of hand. You’ve heard the story before, but that doesn’t make this show any less charming, and I wouldn’t even call it cliche, to be honest. The music is unique and the characters of Monica and Ian have depth and relatability. It’s also a two-person show, so you get to spend the whole time with just these two, and you love them both by the end.
This is not a single show so much as it is a search suggestion. If you’re looking for a showcase for some of your favorite Broadway voices, look no further than 54 Below’s collection of recordings. They have one-night only shows from Sierra Boggess, Aaron Tveit, Laura Benanti, Norbert Leo Butz, and many more. Plus, they’re always having shows there, so it’s good to keep checking Spotify for new recordings in the future. My number one suggestion is Laura Benanti’s “In Constant Search of the Right Kind of Attention” because Laura Benanti is hilarious in addition to being such a talented singer.
Finally, I have a website/newsletter suggestion. I don’t buy music from BwayTunes (because I’m cheap and rarely buy music), but I do sign up for their weekly newsletter because they always have great suggestions. My BwayTunes emails are the first place I look when I need to find a new album to listen to. It was the first (and only) place I saw the 2017 recording of Hadestown. Their newsletter consists of new and upcoming recordings from individual Broadway stars, under-the-radar shows, concept albums, upcoming projects, you name it. And, like me, they tell you what’s on Spotify. They’re website is pretty gaudy, but hey, it’s showbiz. Check ‘em out!
Well, that’s my list of suggestions for the year. I guess it’s a little slim, but it’s been a busy year, and I actually haven’t kept up with Broadway as much as I usually do. If you just want to look through wide range of Broadway playlists, check out my Spotify account BroadwayBrokenDown. I’m always adding and updating, but if you have any suggestions, leave a comment! Don’t worry, I’ll read it. I promise. . . It’s not like I have a ton to read. . . ALSO, if you have any suggestions of musicals that are underrated that I might not have heard of, let me know. Have a sparklejollytwinklejingley Christmas!
It’s an Elf the Musical reference, by the way.