Three musicals you should listen to (whilst studying)
This one is aimed at all the musical theatre fans out there, but even if you aren’t a huge listener of musicals, here are a few suggestions that could get you started! If you know me, you know that most hours of my day are spent listening to one soundtrack or another. By now, I think even Spotify is getting bored. Musical soundtracks are also my go-to when studying or revising and, over the years, I’ve found myself coming to love some musicals that I don’t think get the appreciation they deserve.
These are just a few. Maybe next time you are about to start studying, choose one of these soundtracks and, you never know, it could end up helping you out!
The Last Five Years | 1
Music and Lyrics: Jason Robert Brown.
Book: Jason Robert Brown.
Premiere Northlight Theatre, Illinois, 2001.
I thought I would start with The Last Five Years as it probably the best known musical on this list. It was popularized in 2014 by a live action remake starring Jeremy Jordan and Anna Kendrick as the two lead roles. It harbours a beautifully intricate score, that manages to help drive forward two narratives, one of which is told from the beginning of the relationship and the other from the end. The show is devastating and genuine, it tells a story of heartbreak but at the same time intimacy and the inevitable struggles that surround being in love, and falling out of it. An element of relatability, often absent in the spectacle of musical theatre that surrounds most shows, is present here and why I think this show deserves a place on the list.
Recommended Songs: The Next Ten Minutes, If I Didn’t Believe In You.
The Wild Party | 2
Music and Lyrics: Andrew Lippa
Book: Andrew Lippa
Premiere: Manhattan Theatre Club, Manhattan, 2000.
The Wild Party is actually based off a poem by Joseph Moncure March, exploring the unfolding events of a party that spirals fiercely out of control. Two versions of the show premiered the same year in different theatres, so Andrew Lippa’s version is not the only iteration of the show. However, Lippa’s production draws more on a pop-rock style of music, with the plot maintaining a strict focus on the central love triangle of the original poem. This way, the intensity and uncanny atmosphere that emerges creates a show that, thematically, is rather isolated in the realms of musical theatre. It is this unique sound and plot that make such a distinctive change; the courage to stray from the safety of mainstream ideas is what I find so enjoyable.
Recommended Songs: Maybe I Like It This Way, What Is It About Her?, Make Me Happy.
Side Show (Broadway Revival) | 3
Music: Henry Kreiger.
Book and Lyrics: Bill Russell.
Premiere: La Jolla Playhouse, California, 2013.
Originally, the show was written in 1997, but then adapted and revived for Broadway in 2014. The show is based on the incredible life of the Hilton Sisters, a pair of conjoined twins who manage to leave an oppressive Freak show in pursuit of a better life. This adaptation incorporated more factual information on the Hilton Sisters, taking a more authentic approach that really emphasises how easy it is to mistreat those we view as different and other; what happens when we define people by what they are not. I saw a really impressive amateur performance of this show in Birmingham, and fell in love instantly. The show is extremely underexposed,and I think deserves way more attention. Especially in today’s climate, it’s nice to see a show written decades ago that grounds itself on the themes of acceptance and love. I cannot recommend this show enough, the story is inspiring.
Recommended Songs: I Will Never Leave You, Come Look At The Freaks.
Now I know that listening to music AND studying at the same time isn’t always everybody’s cup of tea. I found it strange when I first started, but unless you try it, you never know! Happy listening.
Until next time,