Theatre Talk Thursday: Which musical would you most want to live in?

There’s something magical about fictional worlds.  After all, who wouldn’t like to – even just for a little while – dive into a world other than their own?  Certainly plenty of people dream of going to Hogwarts, or of solving crimes with Sherlock Holmes, among any number of other adventures that could take place if only we could dive into the worlds of books and films.  The same, of course, applies to musicals.  Who wouldn’t like to see altogether magical things happen?  Or watch massive historical events take place from the (relative) safety of a musical number?  This week, we prepared to dive into a few fictional worlds when we asked: Which musical would you most want to live in?

The cast of 'Newsies.'

The cast of ‘Newsies.’

Sam, founder and editor-in-chief

Choosing just one world to live in is perhaps the most challenging part because there are the hyper-realistic musicals that would be a suitable choice for my lifestyle and personality (Avenue Q, Rent, In The Heights, etc.) but when I think about the musical that I would most want to escape into the answer becomes infinitely clearer. I would want to live in Newsies, which tells the story of the newsboy strike of 1899. Rioting for equality as part of Jack Kelly’s crusade sounds like a real thrill and it would be incredibly rewarding to play my part in such an important progressive movement. Besides, Katherine Plumber can’t write all the stories on her own, right?

Alan, managing editor

Oklahoma! would be my ideal musical habitat (well, unless there’s a Texas musical). The clothes are practical and stylish, no one would laugh if I wore my cowboy hat and I could drive a horse to work. Work wouldn’t be slaving over a computer, but roping cattle or hoeing rows. It was a time when farmers were farmers, cowboys were cowboys and people broke out into catchy musical tunes whenever they needed to express themselves. I could be a cowboy in a world where only bad guys don’t get showers and where people are ridiculously happy to be doing hard work in an era that pre-dates modern medicine. That said, it was also an era before iPhones, Facebook, Internet and telephones. So you take what you can get.

Liza Minnelli in "Cabaret."

Liza Minnelli in “Cabaret.”

Monte, creative director

The problem that I ran into when picking a musical world that I would want to live in is that pretty much all of my favorites would end up getting me killed.  Little Shop of Horrors?  Eaten by a plant.  Les Miserables?  Shot by National Guardsmen.  Oliver!?  Probably death by tuberculosis or mugging.  Ditto for Sweeney Todd (though I do love Victorian London).  So after some deliberation, I decided to stray from my usual favorites and go for Cabaret and the seedy, darkened alleyways of 1930s Berlin.  It helps that Cabaret is based on a play based on a novel by one of my favorite authors (Christopher Isherwood’s Goodbye to Berlin), which in turn is based on people that he actually knew while living in Berlin during the time period.  Berlin is a city that I’ve always loved, and the time period is one that is of intense interest to me, so if I want to stay alive just a bit longer than my usual favorites would permit, then 1930s Berlin and Cabaret are the choices for  me.

Josh, columnist

I would definitely choose to live in the world of West Side Story. Just for the heck of it, I’ll throw in a second option: I would also be intrigued to live in the jazzy Roarin’ Twenties of Thoroughly Modern Millie. I would definitely be one of Mr. Trevor Graydon’s tap-dancing employees who knows all the best speakeasies and views of New York City. (Clearly I never want to leave the Big Apple).

Wendi, multimedia reporter

Definitely Wicked. Shiz is like Hogwarts for musical theatre nerds, and going to school there would be so much fun. Oz is just a haven of fun and magical activities. In one day, I could fly around in Glinda’s bubble, dance the night away at the Ozdust Ballroom (and doing so with a hot guy like Fiyero wouldn’t hurt), then waltz off to the Emerald City to do some shopping and see some shows…all while belting out classics like “Defying Gravity” and “Popular.” In love yet?

The cast of "Hair."

The cast of “Hair.”

Claire, senior reporter

I had a hard time deciding on this one. So many musicals I love focus on such difficult times in history or in the lives of the characters. Lots of their worlds seem so glamorous on the surface but are also so very depressing. So I finally decided I’d like to live in the world of Hair – but only for a little while. The 1960s were an incredibly difficult and scary time, and I don’t necessarily want to experience that, especially not the fear of losing the people I love to a draft. The 2000s are scary enough! However, I have always wanted to let loose and dance around with the Hair tribe and try to absorb their spirited outlook. What is more inspiring than being surrounded by people who want to change the world and bring love to everyone around them? Okay, I admit that a pretty big percentage of the tribe probably really just wants to smoke all day and avoid getting a real job, but what about Sheila’s motivating optimism about changing the face of the country? And what about Berger’s happy-go-lucky ability to live in the present moment? And Claude’s infectious joy of life is something I’d love to be around. Mostly, I’d just love to be in a world in which there are so many inspired young people who feel they have a duty to at least try to change the times they are living in and make love for everyone their main priority.


My history nerd self has to say that any period/historically based show would be a perfect home for me. I love the fashions of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and Grease, set in the 1950s/1960s. I love the significance of the raging wars during 1776 and Little Women. Meanwhile Les Miserables and A Tale of Two Cities both take place in European cities amidst the air of revolution, which could be exciting. Titanic and Ragtime are set against the seemingly perfect backdrop of pre-WWI America, yet there is a roiling social turmoil rumbling underneath. All of these historical settings are abreast with drastic and important happenings that have shaped the world we live in today.

The cast of "Disney's Beauty and the Beast."

The cast of “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.”

Renee, administrative assistant

If I’m going to live in the world of a musical, I believe it is safest to pick a fantastical world. I would probably like to live in the world of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Though bad things happen in this world, everything works out for the best. Of course it would be nice to have a talking wardrobe to help me pick out my clothes each morning as well. I have always thought it would be nice to live in a small village like Belle does, where everyone knows your name and greets you when you walk down the street. The only downside I could see to living in the world of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is that my French isn’t very good.

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