Musical theatre is incredibly important to me. It always has been. Ever since I was a little girl, I was completely enamoured by the bright lights of marquees, the heart-stopping numbers, and the emotionally evocative (not to mention catchy) show tunes. I was practically born to love musical theatre - when my mum was pregnant with me, my parents saw a bunch of musicals including Les Miserables and Rent. Actually, it was at Rent that my parents guessed what gender I’d be and my dad wrote on a receipt that I’d be a boy (clearly he was wrong!). As I’ve grown older, musical theatre has stayed with me and become an even more important part of my life. Not a day goes by where I don’t listen to at least one Broadway tune or badger my boyfriend with a million different facts about my favourite production.
Today I thought I’d go over one of my favourite theatre-related topics and that is the beloved Original Cast Recording - or, as it’s often referred to, the OCR. These 5 soundtracks are some of my absolute favourites, ones that are on a constant repeat while I’m showering or commuting to school. I know every lyric, every inflection, every bit of dialogue to a T. While I haven’t seen these musicals live yet (I know, it’s a tragedy but I’m broke and Toronto gets minimal love), they have still found a place in my heart and I am so excited to share them with you!
Disclaimer: As I’ve not seen these productions live, I can’t comment at all on the actual visual performance. I can only share my opinions on what’s included in the soundtrack!
HAMILTON: AN AMERICAN MUSICAL
Favourite Lyric: “And when I meet Thomas Jefferson, I’m a compel him to include women in the sequel.”
Surely nobody is surprised that I kicked off this list with Hamilton. It is, after all, my favourite OCR of all time - and will likely end up being my favourite production of all time once I see it in 2020. For those who don’t know, this musical’s all about the American founding father, Alexander Hamilton, and how he fits into the story of the American Revolution and the inception of America as an independent nation. Prior to this soundtrack, my knowledge of the American Revolution was minimal at best. But Hamilton has actually made me more interested in learning about the Revolution! Each and every member of this cast is incredibly talented. They bring their own style to the characters, transforming historical figures into multi-dimensional people who you might sometimes hate or love, depending on the musical number. Lin-Manuel Miranda did a phenomenal job with this musical, as it’s so innovative and original. I love how diverse the cast is as well. The history of the war is not diverse at all, so I think that this representation was a crucial addition!
DEAR EVAN HANSEN
Favourite Lyric: “All we see is sky for forever. We let the world pass by for forever.”
Wow. Just, wow. This soundtrack is AMAZING. Ben Platt’s voice is angelic in every sense of the word. I cannot believe that he was only in his early twenties when he played Evan Hansen (he’s still only 25!!). I remember seeing him in Pitch Perfect, honestly I never expected that he was this talented from that role. This musical discusses teen suicide and mental illness, which is an extremely serious topic and I think they handle it quite well. I’m completely dying to see this live, as it’s currently in Toronto, but it’s so expensive so I’m living vicariously through other people seeing it and through the OCR lol. I think it’s really interesting how a play with such a serious subject matter can have an equal measure of serious tunes, light-hearted ones, and straight-up fun jams (like Sincerely, Me which is one of mine and my boyfriend’s favs).
THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME
Favourite Lyric: “My cold dark tower seems so bright, I swear it must be heaven’s light.”
I’ve loved Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame since I was a teeny tiny little girl. It was always one of my favourite Disney films, although it is highly underrated and not all that talked about. I’ve always thought the movie was exceptional, visually and musically. So it’s really not a surprise that I love the musical soundtrack as well. Here we’ve got Patrick Page, an absolute treasure, playing the nasty Frollo and doing the part so much justice (even going above and beyond the original film) and Michael Arden being utterly fabulous as Quasimodo. Everyone in this musical is fantastic and the additional songs that weren’t in the film are really really well done, they felt like they fit in perfectly and were well justified. Of course, my favourite song is Out There because duh but also Heaven’s Light/Hellfire is AMAZING as well!!!
HADESTOWN: THE MYTH, THE MUSICAL
Favourite Lyric: “Orpheus, all the pretty songs you sing ain’t gonna shelter us from the wind, the wind, the wind.”
ONCE UPON A TIME THERE WAS A RAILROAD LINE. This soundtrack is incredible. I listen to it so often that my boyfriend automatically assumes this is what I’m listening to when I say I’m jamming to musicals. I ain’t even mad. I love everything about this - the mythology, the jazz-inspired tunes, the storyline, EVERYTHING. And Patrick Page is once again in this!! He plays a phenomenal Hades, I really can’t see anyone doing such an incredible job. I love how they modernized the story of the gods and turned hell into “Hadestown,” this neon factory under Hades’ control. On the whole, Hadestown is so lyrically and musically beautiful, I’m absolutely in love with it. And, most of all, I have to mention how completely shocked I was to find out that Chris Sullivan (who plays Toby on This Is Us) plays Hermes in Hadestown!! I’ve said non-stop to my boyfriend for months now how much I adore Hermes’s voice in this OCR and to find out it’s Chris Sullivan really surprised me. Who knew he had such an incredible voice?
Favourite Lyric: “I wish you’d come with me… I wish I had more TNT.”
If you’ve ever seen the 1988 cult classic film Heathers, you’re probably doubtful that it could ever be adapted into an effective let alone entertaining Broadway musical. I get it. I was a non-believer too! But give the soundtrack a listen, and you’ll realize the impossible is extremely possible when put into the right hands. The OCR of Heathers has easily joined the ranks of my favourites in the last month or so. Barrett Wilbert Weed is the perfect Veronica Sawyer and her voice is amazing. And, of course, we cannot leave Jessica Keenan Wynn out of the mentions, because she’s absolutely incredible as Heather Chandler. Every song of this soundtrack is perfectly done (although Dead Girl Walking does sit a tad bit above the rest!).
What Broadway OCR do you absolutely adore?