The Broadway Mega-Musicals

Jay94
Featured Actor
joined:4/10/11
The Broadway Mega-Musicals
Posted: 8/18/14 at 04:52am
Could someone help me list the main Broadway mega-musicals? By mega-musicals, I mean large scale corporatised products that toured the world. So far I've got:

Evita
Cats
Les Miserables
Starlight Express
The Phantom of the Opera
Miss Saigon
Beauty and the Beast
Show Boat (1994)
Sunset Boulevard
The Lion King
Ragtime
The Producers
Wicked
Mary Poppins
Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark

What am I missing? What shouldn't be there? etc.
Nickhutson
Broadway Star
joined:7/6/06
The Broadway Mega-Musicals
Posted: 8/18/14 at 04:58am
Some of these aren't Broadway Musicals - as they didn't originate there.

So

West End Mega Musicals
Evita
Cats
Les Miserables
Starlight Express
The Phantom of the Opera
Miss Saigon
Sunset Boulevard
Mary Poppins
Matilda

Broadway Mega Musicals
Wicked
The Lion King
The Producers

Spider-Man is not a mega musical - as it's only played one place.. and flopped.
Nick Hutson Co-Presenter/Producer MusicalTalk - The UK's Musical Theatre Podcast http://www.musicaltalk.co.uk
ggersten
Broadway Legend
joined:5/11/06
The Broadway Mega-Musicals
Posted: 8/18/14 at 07:58am
Add in Mamma Mia to West End.
But, I"m confused by the "tour the world"?
For example, Fiddler on the Roof has played in tens of countries. Does that fit your list?
StageManager2
Broadway Legend
joined:10/21/05
The Broadway Mega-Musicals
Posted: 8/18/14 at 08:32am
Nickhutson, they're still categorized as "Broadway musicals" by commonfolk, even outside the US, except for the UK, understandably. When people think musicals they think "Broadway." "West End" is not really an oft-used term.

Plus, it's only after the Brodway productions that the so-called megamusicals took the world by storm. The West End is just a stepping stone for these musicals: the main prize is Broadway and the Tony award.

.

Salve, Regina, Mater misericordiae
Vita, dulcedo, et spes nostra
Salve, Salve Regina
Ad te clamamus exsules filii Eva
Ad te suspiramus, gementes et flentes
O clemens O pia
Updated On: 8/18/14 at 08:32 AM
mjohnson2
Broadway Star
joined:11/2/13
The Broadway Mega-Musicals
Posted: 8/18/14 at 10:21am
Jay94, I would say that your list is pretty accurate, but I would add SHREK if only for its colossal budget.
Anything regarding shows stated by this account is an attempt to convey opinion and not fact.
Eurotrash
Understudy
joined:8/28/13
The Broadway Mega-Musicals
Posted: 8/18/14 at 11:36am
There's nothing inherently 'mega' about say, Mamma Mia!. Your definition seems to cover shows that simply go on to be a global success.

And yes, the number of Broadway-originated mega-hits is, ahem, quite short...
Why don't you go? Why don't you leave Manderley? He doesn't need you... he's got his memories. He doesn't love you, he wants to be alone again with her. You've nothing to stay for. You've nothing to live for really, have you?
Tag
Broadway Legend
joined:11/19/05
The Broadway Mega-Musicals
Posted: 8/18/14 at 12:50pm
Definition of mega-musical from the late (all knowing) MargoChanning:

A rough definition of a "mega-musical" would typically describe a fully or an almost entirely sung-through musical drama, produced on a very large scale in which the staging, spectacle and specific special effects are equally important as (if not more so than) the plot, characters, book and score. Most megamusicals have at least one singular effect that defines it to the public: Phantom (the chandelier), Cats (the tire that rises to kitty heaven), Les Mis (the moving battlements), and Miss Saigon (the helicopter). They are also notable for their lack of humor and the fact that they aren't reliant on specific "star" casting for their success -- no role in any mega-musical requires any special star quality for the show to work, which is why they were all able to run for a decade or more with unknown actors interchangeably going in and out of the shows. Most were based on classic works of literature (novels, T.S. Elliot). While there are other shows from Disney and other American producers that have been produced on a large scale in recent years (the tradition of spectacle on stage after all goes back to the Ziegfeld Follies in the early part of the 20th century), the term "mega-musical" specifically applies only really to those shows of European origin (Webber and Boubil-Schonberg were the main creators) from the 80s and early 90s.

Bottom line, "mega-musical" is a specific subgenre of spectacle applying to the kind of European, musical dramas named above that had their heyday in the 80s and 90s and nothing else.
broadwayworldreader
Stand-by
joined:7/6/09
The Broadway Mega-Musicals
Posted: 8/18/14 at 03:43pm
Agree w Tag...

You might be able to say Pirate Queen was a mega musical, though it found a commercial life once the mega musical was already out of style. As you may have noticed, its creators are wan to create that kind of material.
Brave Sir Robin2
Broadway Legend
joined:5/20/07
The Broadway Mega-Musicals
Posted: 8/18/14 at 04:58pm
I would say Wicked is a megamusical, if they aren't required to have a British background. Wicked is a large-scale musical with an epic score, dazzling effects (I'd compare the flight in Defying Gravity to Cat's kitty heaven tire), and is not reliant on star casting.
Eurotrash
Understudy
joined:8/28/13
The Broadway Mega-Musicals
Posted: 8/18/14 at 05:52pm
So called mega musicals are no more out of style than blockbuster movies...
Why don't you go? Why don't you leave Manderley? He doesn't need you... he's got his memories. He doesn't love you, he wants to be alone again with her. You've nothing to stay for. You've nothing to live for really, have you?
Someone in a Tree2
Broadway Star
joined:10/9/12
The Broadway Mega-Musicals
Posted: 8/19/14 at 12:54am
Why must we limit mega-musicals to shows that started since the 1980's? That seems like a cliched but unhelpful way to separate classic mega-shows from the ones the OP is talking about.

I'm thinking of:
THE KING AND I
MY FAIR LADY
CAMELOT
HELLO DOLLY
42ND STREET

All huge hits with countless tours, that depended on over-the-top sets and costumes to sell the show. They're just written by Americans rather than the Brits or French, and have American sensibilities (that include humor and joy).

Also I'd suggest that EVITA was very far from a mega-musical in form -- in the original Hal Prince staging it was basically a black-box stage with a few minor set pieces and lighting effects.

Updated On: 8/19/14 at 12:54 AM
CATSNYrevival
Broadway Legend
joined:3/1/04
The Broadway Mega-Musicals
Posted: 8/19/14 at 01:35am
Evita was not at all far from the mega musical formula. It was a sung through drama that spawned productions all over the world and while it may not have had a chandelier or a helicopter it did have "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" and the scene on the Casa Rosada (which rotated in the original production) and that was the scene that everyone came to see.
That's right! Underscore mother-fu@#ers!
ErinDillyFan
Broadway Star
joined:7/14/06
The Broadway Mega-Musicals
Posted: 8/19/14 at 10:16am
Jersey Boys
Chicago
Rent

Probably also fit in the mega hit and world tour phenomenon.
RippedMan
Broadway Legend
joined:8/14/05
The Broadway Mega-Musicals
Posted: 8/19/14 at 11:47am
I'd love to see the rotating in Evita.
Musical Master
Broadway Star
joined:4/28/13
The Broadway Mega-Musicals
Posted: 8/19/14 at 12:00pm
Could the original 1971 production of FOLLIES count?
Someone in a Tree2
Broadway Star
joined:10/9/12
The Broadway Mega-Musicals
Posted: 8/19/14 at 01:31pm
^ Apparently "spawning productions all over the world" is one of the requirements to be a mega-musical, according to posters above. Also being "sung through", which may leave you as surprised as I was to learn that most of grand opera qualifies for megamusical status!

As for EVITA having the balcony scene that everyone was waiting to see, well how different is that from "Hello Dolly" or "Rose's Turn" for that matter? I think mega means BIG, not Euro-based or sung through-- and Lord knows shows from the 40's, 50's and 60's that have been seen all over the world get to be included, even if they aren't on the wavelength of some millenials posting here.
Elfuhbuh
Stand-by
joined:3/23/14
The Broadway Mega-Musicals
Posted: 8/19/14 at 02:33pm
Not Broadway, but foreign shows such as Tanz der Vampire, Elisabeth, and Rebecca could count under the mega musical category given the size and "grandeur" of the production values.
Timmer
Broadway Star
joined:2/21/06
The Broadway Mega-Musicals
Posted: 8/19/14 at 05:48pm
Say, what's the difference between a "sung-through musical" in which everything (or virtually everything) is sung by the characters, and an opera?
CATSNYrevival
Broadway Legend
joined:3/1/04
The Broadway Mega-Musicals
Posted: 8/19/14 at 06:59pm
One is written for opera audiences and the other is written for Broadway audiences. It's a completely different sensibility.
That's right! Underscore mother-fu@#ers!
darquegk
Broadway Legend
joined:2/5/09
The Broadway Mega-Musicals
Posted: 8/19/14 at 08:03pm
The line is blurry- some sung-through or music-heavy musicals cross over into opera territory from time to time, most notably Sweeney Todd.

And if we assume that "megamusical" is a textual genre, and not just production history, there are American musicals written in the style of the genre, even though they do not belong to it in production. Stephen Schwartz, for instance, wrote the American version of "Children of Eden" pretty firmly in the mega-musical style, then refined his work in the style and mixed it with a more contemporary musical theatre style to make "Wicked" a decade later. Similarly, "Jekyll and Hyde" is written in the mega-musical style, but tends to be performed on the cheap rather than with an enormous and grandiose set and effects.
CATSNYrevival
Broadway Legend
joined:3/1/04
The Broadway Mega-Musicals
Posted: 8/19/14 at 08:27pm
I don't remember the exact quote but I remember something Sondheim said about Sweeney Todd not being an opera because it wasn't written for opera houses. It was written for a Broadway house and Broadway audiences. There have been times where he referred to as a dark operetta too though so I think even he can't decide what it is.
That's right! Underscore mother-fu@#ers!
mjohnson2
Broadway Star
joined:11/2/13
The Broadway Mega-Musicals
Posted: 8/19/14 at 08:44pm
CHILDREN OF EDEN in its London incarnation I think was much more in the style of a mega-musical. It's slogan was "The musical of the 90's" and it was supposed to be the further progression of the mega-musical into the 90's. Little did they know that the mega-musical was pretty much dying by then and that there was already enough bombast on the West End for another to be successful.
Anything regarding shows stated by this account is an attempt to convey opinion and not fact.
GavestonPS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/10/12
The Broadway Mega-Musicals
Posted: 8/19/14 at 08:52pm
I've never been convinced that SWEENEY, PORGY AND BESS, CANDIDE, STREET SCENE and MOST HAPPY FELLA are not operas because they were written for Broadway houses. With the possible exception of the latter, all of the above are more likely to be seen in opera houses these days.

And what of something like PASSION? It's very nearly through-composed (unlike CARMEN) and its heroine dies for love just as Traviata and Butterfly do.

Nobody argues that FOUR SAINTS IN THREE ACTS is not an opera, and yet it, too, was written for a Broadway house, where it was the hit of its season (1934). It even played in Hartford before coming into town.

And what difference does it make in the final analysis? Yet it's hard to think of an issue that has inspired more verbiage to less avail.

The term "mega-musical" is even less precise. What could be more "mega" in their days than OKLAHOMA! and MY FAIR LADY?
Updated On: 8/19/14 at 08:52 PM
Timmer
Broadway Star
joined:2/21/06
The Broadway Mega-Musicals
Posted: 8/19/14 at 11:15pm
Perhaps, but they are structurally similar, even to being arguably the same thing.
vassey
Stand-by
joined:2/26/08
The Broadway Mega-Musicals
Posted: 8/20/14 at 10:43am
I think a megamusical is where the PHYSICAL PRODUCTION and STAGING become integral to the show.

Oklahoma, My Fair Lady, Gypsy etc - are songs dance and story combined...
but
The Phantom of the Opera - has a falling chandelier. You go for the chandelier.
Miss Saigon - has a helicopter. Likewise.
Les Mis - has a turntable and a barricade
Starlight - people on roller-skates
Cats - dancing cats in lycra
musicaltheatreman2
Stand-by
joined:3/3/08
The Broadway Mega-Musicals
Posted: 8/20/14 at 11:05am
Rocky the musical

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