Last Updated on 7th May 2017
20. Jesus Christ Superstar
Jesus Christ Superstar was the second work from Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. Superstar began life as a rock opera in double concept album form. Looking at the last days of Jesus Christ from the viewpoint of Judas Iscariot, the rock operas route to the stage was never assured but a concert staging in front of 13,000 in Pittsburgh paved the way for a Broadway staging that opened in October 1971. Jesus Christ Superstar arrived at the palace Theatre London in 1972 where it remained for eight years. The show has since played around the world continually since that time most recently winning a 2017 Olivier Award for Best Musical Revival. Book tickets for Jesus Christ Superstar at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
One of the most unlikely musicals ever to reach the stage, Cats was the brainchild of Andrew Lloyd Webber who saw the theatricality in T S Eliot’s Old Possums Book Of Practical Cats. Produced by Cameron Mackintosh, directed by Trevor Nunn and choreographed by Gillian Lynne, Cats as a dance-driven musical captured the public’s imagination and with the addition of the hit song Memory would go on to conquer musical theatre stages around the world. Cats would run for twenty-one years in London and eighteen years on Broadway, winning the 1981 Olivier Award for Best Musical and the 1983 Tony Award for Best Musical.
Named after the 1950’s USA youth subculture known as greasers, Grease opened in 1971, the collaboration between Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey. When the show originally opened in Chicago it was raw, aggressive, raunchy and vulgar. Those qualities were toned down in subsequent productions. Grease’s original Broadway run lasted for 3,388 performances which at the time was the longest in Broadway history. It has since become an international hit which is continually performed around the world and its movie adaptation one of the most popular movie musicals ever. Book tickets for the latest Grease UK Tour.
17. Mamma Mia!
One of the first jukebox musicals, Mamma Mia! features a book by Catherine Johnson which features the songs from supergroup ABBA composed by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus. The show opened in London in 1999 and it continues to run there at the Novello Theatre. The Broadway production ran for fourteen years which made it the eighth longest-running show in Broadway history at the time. The movie adaptation of the show remains one of the most successful movie musicals of all time earning over $600 million. Book Tickets for Mamma Mia in the West End or the Mamma Mia UK Tour.
With music and lyrics by Lionel Bart, Oliver! is based on the novel Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. Premiering in London’s West End in 1960, it was perhaps the first British mega-musical enjoying long runs in London and Broadway. It was made into a major musical film in 1968. Oliver! won the 1963Tony Award for Best Original Score. Since that time Oliver! has been performed thousands of times around the world amongst professional, amateur and school groups.
With music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb and a book by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse, Chicago is a musical based on the 1926 play of the same name by Maurine Dallas Watkins. Based on the Real-life criminals and crimes Watkins reported on, Chicago is a satire on administrative corruption and the concept of the celebrity criminal. Opening on Broadway in 1975 and running for 936 performances, the show was moderately successful. It was not until the show was revived as part of the Encores programme in New York that Chicago came of age. Chicago currently holds the record as the longest-running musical revival on Broadway, it is also the longest-running American musical in Broadway history. The film version of the musical won the Academy Award in 2002 for Best Picture and is credited for reviving the film musical.
14. Blood Brothers
Blood Brothers is a contemporary musical take on the idea of nature versus nurture with book, lyrics and music by Willy Russell. The musical was originally developed as a play for schools. The musical version debuted in Liverpool before a short West End run in 1983 where it won the Olivier Award for Best Musical. Revived in 1988 at the Albery Theatre then at the Phoenix Theatre it ran for more than 24 years and continues to tour around the UK. It remains the third-longest running musical in West End history. Book tickets for the Blood Brothers UK Tour
13. The Book Of Mormon
Hello! The Book Of Mormon is a musical by Robert Lopez, Trey Parker and Matt Stone which opened on Broadway in 2011 where it continues to set box office records. The show won nine Tony Awards including Best Musical and the Grammy Award for Best Musical Theatre Album. In 2014 the show won the Olivier Award for Best Musical. Book tickets for The Book Of Mormon
Based on the children’s novel by Roald Dahl, Matilda was adapted by Dennis Kelly with lyrics and music by Tim Minchin. Produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company, the musical was trialled in Stratford Upon Avon before opening at The Cambridge Theatre in 2011 where it is still running. The production won seven Olivier Awards including Best Musical. The Broadway production opened in 2013 at the Shubert Theatre where it won five Tony Awards including Best Book Of A Musical. Matilda will tour the UK and Ireland from late 2017. Book tickets to Matilda in London.
With a book, music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson, Rent is a musical that loosely uses Puccini’s La Boheme as a template for its tale of impoverished artists living in New York’s East Village in the dark early days of the AIDS epidemic. Workshopped Off Broadway, the show’s opening was overshadowed by the death of Larson on the eve of its opening. Rent won a Pulitzer Prize and the production which had become a hit transferred to Broadway in 1996 where it won four Tony Awards including Best Musical. It closed 12 years later. Rent has continued to be world-wide phenomena around the world and is currently touring the UK to great acclaim.
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