Broadway continues to be the last refuge of the musical. Once a driving force in entertainment, musicals have lately been all but extinguished in the cinema. On Broadway, you can find musicals based on just about anything. Of course, these days they’re even more tapped for ideas than the writers in Hollywood. These four shows are proof of just that.
1. Little Shop of Horrors
If this isn’t proof that a strange storyline and ignorance of the source material can’t stop a dedicated writer, we’re not sure what is. It follows a down on his luck floral shop worker who raises a plant that feeds on human blood. Since that’s not creepy or weird in the slightest, the florist soon discovers that the plant can talk and requires greater and greater amounts of human blood to grow. A psychological and physical struggle soon follows between the plant and it’s “master”.
Nothing a pair of hedge clippers and a little “Round-Up” couldn’t fix
Based on a dark comedy film by Roger Corman from 1960, the play was later re-adapted to the big screen. This version also called “The Little Shop of Horrors”, is probably the most popular and well-known version. The play as a whole is probably better known for the celebrities who made cameos in the various movies: Jack Nicholson appeared in the original in one of his first roles and Steve Martin played a sadomasochistic dentist in the second film.
For any basement dweller or computer programmer obsessed with “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”, this show contains the same basic jokes taken to their illogical conclusion. Strange but fun, the musical version has all of the beloved scenes from the movie with a number of great musical interludes added in. And this is on top of the upbeat “Camelot” song from the beginning.
It’s popular enough that nerds have almost ruined it.
The Pythons were known for their absurd musical stylings. ‘The Lumberjack Song’, ‘Sit on My Face’ and other such works that we can’t name without losing sponsorship deals were big parts of the show in the ’60s and ’70s. While the play wasn’t written by the actual group, the music does make the story even crazier and it is a rare moment when the audience isn’t laughing at the pure absurdity of it all.
3. The Rocky Horror Show
Alien transvestites. We’ll let that sink in. This is one musical that probably never expected to gain the amount of attention and notoriety that it has. This show tells the story of two newlyweds who find themselves the guests of Dr. Frankenfurter, the kind of doctor you would probably ask to see the degree of before you let him touch you. What develops is a tale of sex and depravity that has shocked and entertained audiences for years. To the internet generation, this means it’s about as damaging as fifteen seconds on any given shock website.
Oh no! A man in ladies underwear! Our civilization is ruined!
Its film adaptation continues to be the longest-running theatrical release in movie history. Featuring Tim Curry as Frankenfurter, it has developed a cult following of weirdoes who like to go to run down theaters and throw stuff at the screen.
4. Avenue Q
A Broadway play for the Sesame Street generation, Avenue Q mixes real actors with puppets because… well… they just do. As kids, most of us enjoyed learning about letters, numbers and not helping your friends with financial problems even after they start living in a trash can. Avenue Q takes characters that are similar, but legally distinct, from those of your childhood and has them discuss issues that affect adults.
Apparently scoring Michelle Obama doesn’t make them as “edgy” as they’d hoped.
Blending humor, satire and maybe more than a little harsh reality, characters like “Trekkie Monster” sing songs like “The Internet is for Porn,” “What do you do with a B.A. in English” and “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist”. Also, like any high-quality piece of entertainment, there is some puppet sex.