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Broadway, Here I Listen!

I don’t know when my love for Broadway musicals started but that doesn’t matter- what matters is that they are in constant heavy rotation on my spotify playlist. My love for these shows did not lead me to want to stand in front of a crowd,show off my talents and knowledge for these masterpieces. In fact, my crippling stage fright and tone-deaf voice prevented this from happening but it did not prevent me from belting out songs while I sit in traffic on the 40.

The first show that I ever saw live was Mary Poppins in New York City and while it isn’t my favourite show, the experience itself moved me. The powerful voices, the skills of the dancers and the story inspired from a beloved movie starring Julie Andrews becoming a performance on stage left me on the edge of my seat the entire time. When the actress flew across the audience on her umbrella, I understood why people spend millions of dollars on these shows to either produce or to just watch.Since then, I have seen other shows such as The Lion King and Wicked. My list of shows I wish to see is probably a mile long, but listening to their soundtracks or even watching short clips online is satisfying enough until I get to see them in person.

There are some Broadways shows that everyone has heard of or knows at least one song from because of their popularity., The ones I will be talking about are either less popular or some of which I love with every fiber of my being- which is whyI need to share so that you too can fall in love. It should be noted that there is a spoiler warning due to some being based on movies that have already come out.

With every show, I recommend listening to the songs in order to understand the story that is being told.Reading the play is also helpful to fully understand what is going on. While some of these are movies that have been adapted into musicals or the other way around, some of them were made for Broadway.


‘Six’, The Musical

I am going to be honest. Out of all the subjects I have studied in school, history was probably the one that I hated the most. This was probably because the focus was on Quebec and I took it in French. For whatever the reason, I always found boring anything historical rather boring. After spending way too much time on TikTok and hearing a certain song over and over again, I began my search for the full version. You can guess the surprise I had when I found out the song that I’ve had stuck in my head for weeks was coming from a historical musical. It was after that that my obsession started.

Six is about the six wives of Henry VIII. Now. although a man who had six wives may seem interesting to some, the basic concept was a tad boring. To add a spin, the creators of the show Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss let the wives tell their side of the story to compete and see who should be the leader of their pop group. That’s right, you read right. It’s a pop version of these amazing tales!

There is a whole range of music in the set list ranging from jams you can rock out too, to songs that make you want to cry from the emotions. My favourites are the opening number “Ex-Wives” which provides for a very upbeat and catchy lyrics that just set the right tone for the entire play. There is also fun and energetic numbers such as “No way” sung by Henry’s first wife Catherine of Aragon or “Get down” by his fourth wife. Each story not only makes you want to dance but also makes you actually want to research these wives,what they dealt with being with the horrible Henry as well as how they impacted history.

“Heathers: The Musical”

If you are a fan of the 80’s, you might have heard of this weird teen-dark humor movie created by Daniel Waters and directed by Michael Lehmann, starring a young  Winona Ryder and Christian Slater. If you haven’t then I would strongly recommend watching the film before even touching the musical version of it. It is a story of love, teen angst and murder! What more could you want from a film?

I would love to say that because I am a fan of the movie, I found out about the musical, but in fact it was due to the TV show “Riverdale”. “Riverdale” featured covers of the musical in their third season and while I was not a fan, the show did introduced me to the original Broadway soundtracks on Spotify.

The soundtrack starts with a very moving opening number about how teens feel about high school called “Beautiful.” A lot of the songs deal with a sadder and more dramatic tone due to the subject matter. Another example would be “Seventeen.” but there are some upbeat songs such as “Candy Store” which showcases the famous Heathers! There is also “Dead Girl Walking” which features the main antagonist Veronica Sawyer dealing with the fact that her popular high status in school is over she goes to hook up with the new bad boy of the school  Jason. These songs will not only make you want to unwatch the “Riverdale” version if you have seen it already, but to rewatch the original version and wonder why it wasn’t a musical in the first place.

“Legally Blonde”

Taking a beloved film and turning into a musical can be a risk. Sometimes these songs don’t get the whole jest of what the movie was about or the audience can’t connect to the actors on the stage because their hearts already belong to the ones that were on the screen. In 2007, Laurence O’Keefe, Nell Benjamin and Heather Hach took this risk by taking the beloved 2001 movie “Legally Blonde” and transformed it into a musical hit. As a sorority girl myself, to see my favourite Harvard blonde go from the big screen to the center stage, I couldn’t have been more excited and the songs did not disappoint.

If you don’t already know the movie, I would suggest to stop reading immediately and go check it out. Reese Witherspoon is a gem who showcases that you don’t need a man or a certain hair colour to succeed in this world. She shows the importance of not letting the world’s judgement stop you from being your best self. Just like her character,most of the songs in the musical are upbeat and fun. The opening number “Omigod You Guys” shows her life at the sorority house and who she is before joining Harvard’s Law program. We also get a sick diss song “So Much Better” towards her loser ex-boyfriend Warner. Of course, there is a whole song dedicated to our favourite move “Bend and Snap.” If you are searching for a fun soundtrack to sing along which shows the amazing journey of Miss Elle Woods, you have found it!

“Dear Evan Hansen”

Unlike the other musicals that I have mentioned, this one had a lot of buzz. I mean one of the reasons I even checked it out was because Kirsten Bell kept endorsing it on her social media- and when Princess Anna tells you to check something out, you gotta do it. This musical has much more slower numbers and a more sad overall storyline. The musical deals with heavy subject matter that may be triggering for some, so please keep that in mind before checking it out.

This show deals with heavy subject matter and because of that, the songs will make you feel some strong emotions. I mean I do not think I could listen to “You Will be Found” without shedding some tears. The musical is nothing like “Les Misérables.” There are some upbeat songs such as “Sincerely Me,” but the majority has a softer tempo. One of their most popular songs which I have on repeat to belt out when I drive alone is “Waving Through A Window.”

Honestly, I do not know what caught my heart first between the story, the songs or the magical voice of Ben Platt. I first heard his voice when he played the dorky magician in “Pitch Perfect” but it wasn’t until this show that he really caught my attention. The show itself has won 19 awards including a Grammy for best musical theater album in 2018 and a tony for best musical in 2017. 

I am sure there are a thousand other musicals I can fangirl over or express my love about but this is an article and not a novel. However if you ever run into me I am always happy to have a Ted talk about the joys of being a musical theater nerd. There is truly a show for everyone and once you find their scores, it will become a daily part of your playlist!

Ashley Cohen

Concordia CA '21

Ashley Cohen is a born Montrealer and studies English Literature at Concordia Unversity. She one day hopes to be a developmental editor for a big publishing house she now enjoys being a copy editor and honing in her skills. She is a sister of Delta Phi Epsilon sorority. She is passionate about books, food and animals especially her dog Chelsea.
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