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Five Feminist Musicals To See

Thursday, 9 January 2020

Musicals aren’t something we all love, but they are something I love. Ask any of my friends and they can tell you that there is always at least one musical track in my spotify discover weekly every week. I don’t have a full-on obsession with them as I did with anything on tumblr back in 2013, they are just a constant love of mine. So today, I thought what’s better than my love of musicals? Combining it with another cause dear to me. Feminism. There are some great shows that showcase female talent and bring themes more into a modern era than before and I thought I’d share them today. 

1. Company (2018 West end revival, 2020 Broadway production)

Company. A Sondheim classic with a frankly amazing score. Recently, Being Alive from it has been stuck in my head from watching Netflix’s Marriage Story but that’s a whole other different tale. Company originally revolved around the life of Robert, a 35 year old bachelor who is unable to commit to a relationship and is happy with just his friends. The show follows in a series of moments that lead to an epiphany for the main character that concludes with Being alive. Now you may be wondering what is so feminist about this right? This new revival changed the gender of Robert to Bobbie and Amy to Jamie, allowing for not only a female lead but representation of a same-sex couple. What I loved about this show is that it’s a tale that works with both a female and male lead, we all get to a point in our personal lives where we think what’s next sometimes and Company shows it isn’t entirely doom and gloom.

2. Six

Six, arguably I would say one of the newest shows in the west end but one that has almost the most dedicated of fan bases. A contemporary take on a historical tale we all know, the wives of Henry VIII. Except in this show they are competing Pop Princesses aiming to lead the girl group that is the Six Wives. One of the shortest shows I’ve been to recently, Six packs a punch with numerous witty one liners and a different but catchy score. The songs are more pop than a typical classic musical but that is what works about it. This image of the show as a pop concert really shines with how much of a spectacle each number is, that the show is so high energy that no character ever leaves the stage. It is one I would recommend seeing more than watching because of this, I find it so much easier to ger into the music when you see how it all fits into the show. Moreover, both Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss who created the show have stated there isn’t an ‘image’ which each queen needs to fill and anyone can play each role. I think this is a refreshing turn for musical theatre all-round, opening more doors for LGBTQ+ performers.

3. & Juliet

Now this is the only show so far on the list which I haven’t seem but I’ve only heard good things from it! Recently though I read a really good review for it over on A Lovely Cup of Life that I’d strongly recommend having a read of. &Juliet is a jukebox musical based on the music of Max Martin, think some of the biggest pop songs of the last 20 or so years and he probably had a hand in them. The premise of the show is Anne Hathaway goes to London to view the latest play of her husband William Shakespeare, she thinks the show ends on a rather dour note so decides to rewrite the story of Juliet… Led by Miriam Teak Lee, the cast recording is phenomenal and just a good laugh to listen to this new take on some classic songs. After listening to the soundtrack, I can’t imagine anyone leaving the theatre with a frown on their faces.

4. Heathers

Ah Heathers, a cult classic in both film and on-stage. Now, this isn’t really the best show for women empowering each other but it does pack some powerhouse vocals! Just because the story isn’t exactly women uniting, it doesn’t mean that the overall strength of each female character should be overshadowed. Veronica, though bowing to her boyfriend’s whims does eventually stand up against him and the power of her songs cannot be ignored. Not only that Heather Chandler really is the original Head Bitch in charge. The women in this show command the stage in such a way that almost all of the male roles are overshadowed by their strength. This was definitely a favourite show of mine back in 2018, and I will be getting tickets for the tour as soon as I can.

5. Waitress

Waitress, another sweet musical that although including a lot about love and relationships, really shows the strength of the classic female friendship motif. Jenna is a waitress, who unfortunately falls pregnant with her abusive husband’s baby and grows closer to her doctor throughout the check ups which results in an illicit affair. Again, not really sounding too feminist in this basic explanation, yet her friendship with fellow waitresses Dawn and Becky is what gets her through the show and her pregnancy. They are there for her through everything, encouraging her to pursue her dreams of opening up her own pie shop away from the diner they work in. The show is as feel good as it gets in the end, not to mention the west end lobby even smells of pie?? What is not to love! 

Now this is just a handful of shows that I think really shine in the west end or on broadway, I could easily go on waffling about all the great shows I know. I won’t though! I just wanted to limit my post to shows that are easy-ish to see at the moment since they’re open either here in the UK or across the pond.

 I would love to know your thoughts on either these shows, or maybe even your own recommendations for musicals for me to listen to! Let’s celebrate the work going on in theatre at the moment.

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