“Really Nifty Stuff” is my column for things that I want to recommend to everybody.
It will include all kinds of things grouped together in a theme whenever I do one. There will usually be 3 -5 things in each post, with a little bit about why I think you should take a look at whatever it is.
I’ve always been a fan of musicals, but in the past few months, I’ve come across several that I’ve fallen absolutely head over heels in love with, and I wanted to share them all with you, my dear readers. You’ve probably seen or heard me talk about these musicals recently if you’ve been paying attention to me at all. If you’ve been in my car, this is what you’ve been listening to for the last six months.
Hamilton, as you might have guessed, is a musical biography of Alexander Hamilton, based on Ron Chernow’s comprehensive biography. (I reviewed the biography here!) This musical has taken the founding fathers and reworked them into people that we can actually understand, love and hate, by putting their words and lives into hip hop and rap songs. This musical is a beautiful combination of hip hop, rap, and traditional broadway style, and America has fallen in love with it.
If you follow me on Twitter or Tumblr, you’ll have seen me posting about Hamilton a lot. If you know me in person, I’ve probably recommended this to you. This musical opened off-Broadway in February 2015, and opened on Broadway on August 25, 2015 at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. Exactly one month later, the original soundtrack (OST) was released digitally, and I bought it about a week later. You might have seen it at The Grammy’s, where it won a Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album. If you didn’t, you can watch their live performance here. It’s written (and starred in) by the amazing Lin-Manuel Miranda, whom you might know as the creator and star of In The Heights. He’s also writing the soundtrack for the next Disney film, Moana.
If you look at live performances, you’ll notice that there are very few white cast members in Hamilton, and that’s on purpose. The casting call specifically asks for non-white actors except for the part of King George III, who is played on the soundtrack by Jonathon Groff. You might recognize Groff as Melchior Gabor in Spring Awakening, Jesse St. James in Glee, or as the voice of Kristoff in Frozen. This cast call really helps to transform Hamilton into something that’s appropriate for the style of music it’s written in, as well as something that looks much more like America today.
I would absolutely love to get tickets to this show, but I’m not sure that it’s possible for me, due to the distance I’d have to travel and the lack of available tickets. This play has been sold out for months, and until nearly the end of the year. My favorite song changes all the time, but I think you will all enjoy Aaron Burr’s (played by Leslie Odom, Jr.) “Wait for It.” Give it a try.
This play is based off of 2007 movie Waitress starring Keri Russell and Nathan Fillion. I watched the movie a few years ago because I’m a huge fan of Nathan Fillion, and I loved it. When I heard that Sara Bareilles was writing the music for this musical, I knew that I had to at least buy the album. The album that I’ve linked to was performed by Bareilles and Jason Mraz, and the OST isn’t actually out yet, since it doesn’t hit Broadway for a few more weeks. I can’t wax quite as poetically as I did about Hamilton, due to much less material, but I have loved everything I’ve heard and seen from Waitress so far. It seems to follow the plot of the movie, but give us more character exposition, at least on the husband’s part.
I dare you to listen to “You Matter to Me” and not have feelings about it. The first time I listened to it, I legitimately cried, and that doesn’t happen very often.
Hunchback of Notre Dame
This album was released on Jan 22, 2016, and I actually found out about it from Lin-Manuel Miranda’s twitter and fell in love with this redone version of the original Disney musical. The OST for Hunchback of Notre Dame had everything I loved about the original musical, and more. It was billed as a “dramatic retelling of the famous love story on a grand scale, with a lush, emotionally rich score.” There were a lot of changes to the play from the Disney movie, such as a new ending and a ton of new songs or pieces of songs. I absolutely adored this soundtrack. This version of Hunchback of Notre Dame unfortunately did not get moved to Broadway, and performed its last show on Easter Sunday 2015.
Take a listen to what “God Help The Outcasts” sounded like on Broadway with Ciara Renée as Esmerelda.
What musicals have rocked your world recently? I’d love to hear your favorites!