I generally avoid Facebook fads, but about a week ago, friends started cutting and pasting a template telling the world how they feel about Broadway musicals. They asked me to list a musical I hate, a musical I think is overrated, a musical I think is underrated, a musical I love, a musical I cherish and a guilty pleasure. I decided to play along, and, to date, I’ve gotten over 100 replies from people with their own lists. It’s been so much fun I thought I’d share my answers with all of you who may or may not be my Facebook friends.
Musicals I hate: “The Book of Mormon.” And, no, as approximately 50,000 Deseret News commenters have pointed out, I haven't actually seen it. But I still hate it. I hate its cheerful bigotry and shock-tactic vulgarity. All of that is on display in the cast recording.
Also “Grease,” which teaches every girl that promiscuity is your ticket to popularity, and that good girls have to lower their standards to get a guy. I don’t understand how high schools keep doing this show, because it sends a terrible message.
Musicals I think are overrated: First off is “Spamalot.” I say this as a massive Monty Python fan. The music is largely forgettable, and the movie didn't translate well to the stage.
Then there's “Evita.” I really don’t understand the affection for this show. Yes, it’s got some lovely songs in it, but the authors seem so intent on showing off all their research that it plays like a Wikipedia article set to music.
Oh, and “Peter Pan.” I have great childhood memories of seeing Sandy Duncan perform the lead role at the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles, and I clapped as hard as anyone to bring Tinkerbell back to life. But seeing it as an adult has forced me to admit that the show goes absolutely nowhere and is a noodling, meandering mess.
A musical I think is underrated: “Will Rogers Follies,” in which I will be appearing next month at Pioneer Theatre Company! Except I'm playing Wiley Post and only have one line — "Let's go flying, Will!" — but I do get to say it three times.
Musicals I love: “Hamilton.” Except everybody loves “Hamilton,” so I’m almost embarrassed to say this. And, no, I haven’t see it on stage, either. But the song "It's Quiet Uptown" still moves me to tears every time I hear it.
I also adore “The Pirates of Penzance” because it always makes me laugh. During my five years producing theater in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, this was the only show we did that I could watch every night without getting bored.
Musicals I cherish: “The Music Man.” I’ve played the lead role twice — once back in high school and once on the Tuacahn stage down in southern Utah. It's a perfect slice of Americana, and it had rap numbers long before rap was cool.
And “Into the Woods” may well be my favorite musical of all time. Nobody is lukewarm about this show — they either adore it or despise it. Many think the second act, where happily ever after starts to fall apart, is too depressing, but I think it’s the whole point of the show.
Guilty pleasure: “Annie.” I don’t really feel guilty about being an “Annie” fan, but it’s not a show that is very impressive to theater sophisticates. As a kid, I used to listen to the cast recording for hours on end, and it’s the first musical I fell in love with. I think the movie version stinks, but I very much like the TV adaptation with Victor Garber and Audra McDonald that aired a decade or so ago.
So what musicals make your list?