Books and Musicals

Monday, 1 February 2016


I have this weird love for musical theatre. I don't know where it comes from. Neither of my parents are super into theatre, although they will bust out a show tune or two. I can't sing to save my life. I have no idea where this love came from, but it's there. 

So since two of the things I love most are books and musicals, I thought i'd take a stab at pairing some of my favourite musicals with some of my favourite books.
Let me know if I paired any of your favourites, and feel free to suggest more musicals or books in the comments below!


Let's get to it!


Fiddler on the Roof and Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood



2015 Revival Cast lead by Danny Burstein (Photo from Birdlaces on tumblr)




The show is so classic, so pairing it with Born Wicked might come as a bit of a surprise, but hear me out. Both stories tell of tradition, and groups of sisters, and family dynamics. Matchmaker is one of my favourite songs, because Hodel, Tzeitel, and Chava are some of my favourite characters, and I love Cate, Maura, and Tess just as much. And we all need more sister dynamics in our lives.

I cannot wait until the 2015 Revival cast records an album, but I do love the 2004 revival with Laura Michelle Kelly and Alfred Molina. 








The Last Five Years and Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler and 


Jeremy Jordan and Anna Kendrick as Jamie and Cathy in the 2014 Last Five Years film





The Last Five Years is told in two different ways. You have Jamie, telling the story of his and Cathy's relationship from beginning to end, and Cathy, telling the same story but from the end to the beginning. This inventive story that Jason Robert Brown created is why i'm reminded of Why We Broke Up. Handler's novel is beautifully crafted, and Min and Ed's story is just as heartbreaking as it is hopeful. And you feel that in The Last Five Years. The show starts with the post-break up song so you know how it ends. But you can't help but root for the characters, not necessarily the relationship.

If you're going to listen to the cast album, I prefer the Original Off Broadway Cast, because I think there's more emotion in it, but the 2014 cast album has better and fuller orchestrations. But Betsy Wolfe does the best Summer in Ohio. Take your pick!





Next to Normal and The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky



Original Broadway cast featuring Alice Ripley, Aaron Tveit, J. Robert Spencer, and Jennifer Damiano





Next to Normal is one of those shows that feels like a raw nerve. I had no idea what the show was about, but I heard the Prelude and knew that I had stumbled upon something special. And i've paired it with Perks partially for that reason. From the first 'Dear Friend', I knew that Perks would be a special story. But i've also paired these two because of the content and the way that mental illness is discussed. 

In Next to Normal, Diana is a bipolar depressive with anxiety and delusional episodes. She can see the son she lost 16 years ago. She's watched her son grow up, but he's not there. But the show doesn't stop there. The show discusses issues surrounding treatment and medication, and it focuses on her daughter Natalie, and how it's affected her life. And Dan, her husband, tells the story of watching his wife go through all of this. The show is as much about coping and family and support systems as it is about Mental Illness. And Perks is the same way. The story is as much about Charlie and his coping and living as it is about Sam and Patrick. There's just something that connects these two in my head. 









Pippin and Going Bovine by Libba Bray


2013 Broadway Revival Cast lead by Patina Miller as the Leading Player




Oh Pippin. What to say to you? Now, Pippin's story still makes me do a double take, and go "wait, what?" It's actually about the prince Pippin, son of Charlemagne, and his life's journey. But to me, that's not what stands out.
 it's the music. The music. The show and the music is all a little crazy but it's super fun. Especially the revival which was directed by Diane Paulus and was circus inspired. But it reminds me a lot of Going Bovine. I've always described Going Bovine as an acid trip that will have you in tears for the last 30 pages. And Pippin, while it's so crazy and kooky, it's got a heart of gold, and it's ultimately about finding your 'corner of the sky'. The show is so bright, and full of so much life, and even thinking about Going Bovine, I just smile. I love both of these so much.

Also, Patina Miller's glorious voice. Need I say more?







Once and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz


Original Broadway Cast of Once, lead by Steve Kazee as Guy and Cristin Milioti




I saw Once twice this past summer with the all Canadian cast, and I fell in love. The show is all about these two people: an Irish Guy who's lost love and has given up hope on love and music, and a Czech Girl who won't let him. The music is absolutely gorgeous, and it's got this Irish folk music influence. The show is so beautiful and understated, with all the music being played onstage by the ensemble, and the same set throughout the entire show. 

This show reminds me so much of Aristotle and Dante's story. It's so beautiful and honest. Ari and Dante's story is just as much about learning to love who you are, and learning to accept yourself as it is about loving others. There's this quote from the book that I just love, and it's "I don't always have to understand the people I love.”  It's lines like this that make me connect it to Once. You'll get it once you listen to it.








An American in Paris and Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins


Original Broadway cast of An American in Paris at the 2015 Tony Awards, featuring Robert Fairchild, Leanne Cope, Max Von Essen, Brandon Uranowitz, and Jill Paice 





I mean, this pairing is a bit self explanatory. Both are stories about an American in Paris, but tell very different stories. The musical is all about Jerry, an American soldier, and Lise, a French ballerina, in Paris at the end of WWII. The show, directed and choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon, is dance (specifically ballet) heavy, and is just so classic. And of course we all know the story of Anna and the swoon worthy Etienne St. Claire.

Both the show and the book are so romantic, and beautiful, and there's just something about this show that seems like a breath of fresh air. I love it. I love it. I love it.




Hamilton: An American Musical and All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr


Original Broadway Company of Hamilton, lead by the shows creator, writer, and composer Lin-Manuel Miranda as Alexander Hamilton






Hamilton is my current obsession. Well, it's everyone's current obsession. But there something about the show that just grabbed me and it has yet to let go. Honestly, I don't think it will ever let go. Hamilton is the story of Alexander Hamilton, the first US Treasury Secretary. It chronicles his life as a bastard, orphan, son of a whore who grew up in the Caribbean, moved to America, fought in the American Revolution, found love, became Washington's right hand man, and all the stories in between and after. 

Lin Manuel Miranda's writing makes you feel taken care of. There's something about the writing, and the way that the story is told that makes you care, and that makes you feel included in this story; like just by listening to the album, or watching the show, you're part of the story they're telling. There's a similar tone in All The Light We Cannot See. Anthony Doerr's characters come alive on the page and totally envelop you, and you feel like you're witnessing such an intimate moment when reading this book. Both stories are tell the stories of incredible people, and they narrate history in such new and innovative ways.

The cast album for Hamilton is insane and is probably the only thing i've listened to in months. I get to see this show this summer (My first Broadway show!!) with the original cast and I cannot wait for it.




Thanks for reading you guys! I'm really excited to share this post with you all! Leave me a comment, and tell me what your favourite musicals are!
Happy reading, and happy listening!
Make sure to connect with me on Twitter so we can talk show tunes!