If there’s anything that New York is known for, it’s musicals. Apart from museums, food, being the city that never sleeps, The Empire State Building, shopping, the Rockettes, the Yankees and more, New York is known for its Broadway shows. However, New York has also been the setting for some of the most famous musicals in the world. In honour of the upcoming release of Jersey Boys, let’s have a peek at a few of those.
Based upon the popular comic strip, Little Orphan Annie, the show originally opened in 1977, with Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin supplying the music and lyrics. The first film adaptation followed soon after. The 1977 film takes place in 1933, during The Great Depression, where Annie lives at the Municipal Girls Orphanage. Annie is looked upon as the “parent” of the orphanage, as she often takes care of the younger children. The orphans are maltreated by the head of the orphanage, Miss Hannigan. Annie goes on a series of adventures throughout the show, including spending a night out in the City (there’s even a song titled N.Y.C.). She is eventually adopted by Daddy Warbucks. Showcasing the brilliance of New York including numerous attractions and shops like Tiffanys, the film starred Albert Finney, Bernadette Peters (a legend of Broadway,) Carol Burnett, Tim Curry and Aileen Queen in the titular role. This year sees a brand new adaptation starring Jamie Foxx and Quvenzhané Wallis
This movie has it all. Enchanted is a fairy tale story, with a heroine, a prince, an evil witch and the roguish hero (in the form of a businessman), and even the sidekick in the form of a chipmunk. Giselle, a young lady who lives in Andalasia, falls in “love” with Prince Edward, true to Disney fashion, in one day. They decide to marry. Unfortunately, Edward’s stepmother (again, true to Disney fashion), does not approve, as she wants to take over the throne herself. Narcissa banishes Giselle to a far away, horrible land, named New York City. Giselle must make her way through the city (she makes her entrance into the city, via a sewer hole, in the middle of Times Square), with the assistance of a toughened, widowed lawyer named Robert, and his daughter, Morgan. Sights throughout the film include Central Park and more, enchanting the vibrancy of the Big Apple. Talks of a sequel surfaced, with Patrick Dempsey behind the idea, but it never surfaced. Enchanted also marked the first Disney appearance of Idina Menzel, who would eventually voice Elsa in Frozen.
The story is the semi-biographical story of real life film, theatre star and comedienne Fanny Brice. Funny Girl tells of Fanny and her rise to fame. She starts the show, reflecting on her life, as she awaits the release of her husband from jail. The show is then told in flashbacks. Her mother and friend try to talk Fanny out of going into show-business, due to her not being considered a typical beauty, but Fanny pushes on. When her career finally takes off, Fanny’s mother and friends discuss how she’ll forget them, once she hits Broadway. Fanny eventually gets married on Long Island, and Fanny has become a major star, especially with the Follies. The show is considered to have boosted Barbra Streisand into stardom. The show-stopping number Don’t Rain on My Parade has become majorly popular, including being featured on Glee. The film itself is a tender tale of love, fame and pride and also starred Omar Sheriff.
This film is legendary. The music and lyrics were supplied by legends Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim. The setting takes place in the Upper West Side area (in particular, the Lincoln Square neighborhood) of NYC, in mid-1950s. It tells of a rivalry between two teen street gangs, the Jets and the Sharks. The Jets are from America, with the Sharks being from Puerto Rico. Race, of course, is a main factor that contributes to the rivalry between the two gangs. Tony, a member of the Jets, falls in love with Maria, the sister of the leader of the Sharks. The movie comes to an upsetting end, when Tony is shot by Chino, a member of the Sharks. West Side Story won more Academy Awards than any other musical film in history, with 11 nominations and 10 wins. The film has set high standards for musical films, and has become almost impossible to duplicate.
Based on the Newsboys Strike of 1899, Newsies tells the story of “Cowboy” Kelly and several other young men, who must sell newspapers in order to make ends meet. The “Newsies” make their way on the streets of New York City. Soon, it is announced that the paper prices of the newsies’ will inflate, to avoid having to make other cutbacks in the world of newspapers. The newsies are angered by this and begin to strike. There are several struggles along the way, but in the end, the Newsies are triumphant. The film was initially a flop, but gained a cult following overtime and also stars Batman himself Christian Bale. Several of the locations in the film include Manhattan and Brooklyn. The film became so popular, that it was turned into a Broadway musical, which won several Tony Awards.
The film is an adaptation of the off-Broadway musical of the same name. Funnily enough, Alan Menken also wrote the music for Newsies, another musical film based in New York. Seymour Krelborn works at a flower shop in NYC. The flower shop is struggling from a lack of customer service, and Seymour is strongly considering shutting the store down, until his co-worker, Audrey, suggests that he display an unusual plant. It attracts business, and soon, strange things start to happen. The plant, named Audrey II, begins to grow. Seymour also tries attempts to ask Audrey (the human) out, but is turned down, due to her going with her sadistic and violent dentist boyfriend. Eventually, Audrey II turns out to be an alien, after a series of bizarre events, and is eventually killed. The film was nominated for two Oscars and has been adapted numerous times on the stage.
New York is one of the best places to host a musical, and to also be the setting of a musical. Of course, it is the city that never sleeps. Go see Jersey Boys, an honorary NYC musical. You won’t be disappointed.