So you like your musicals to have a bit of bite to them — who doesn’t? Put on your Doc Martens, bust out your black eyeliner, and get ready to shake things up!
Concord Theatricals is proud to license escapist classics and underground, edgy gems alike. Below, explore these cutting-edge musicals that will put a fresh spin on your worldview.
21 Chump Street by Lin-Manuel Miranda (US/UK)
(Dramatic Comedy / 1f, 5m)
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s 21 Chump Street is a 14-minute musical based on a true story as reported in the series This American Life. 21 Chump Street is a cautionary tale of Justin, a high school honors student who falls for a cute transfer girl. Justin goes to great lengths to oblige Naomi’s request for marijuana in the hopes of winning her affection – only to find out that his crush is actually an undercover cop planted in the school to find drug dealers. 21 Chump Street discusses the ramifications of peer pressure, conformity and drug use in our schools with a message that will stay with teenagers long after they leave the theater.
Adding Machine: A Musical by Joshua Schmidt and Jason Loewith (US/UK)
(Drama / 4f, 5m)
Darkly comic and heartbreakingly beautiful, Adding Machine, a musical adaptation of Elmer Rice’s incendiary 1923 play, tells the story of Mr. Zero, who after 25 years of service to his company, is replaced by a mechanical adding machine. In a vengeful rage, he murders his boss. An eclectic score gives passionate and memorable voice to this stylish and stylized show, which follows Zero’s journey to the afterlife in the Elysian Fields, where he is met with one last chance for romance and redemption.
American Psycho by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Duncan Sheik (US/UK)
(Dark Comedy / 8f, 8m)
Based on the electrifying novel by Bret Easton Ellis, the musical tells the story of Patrick Bateman, a young and handsome Wall Street banker with impeccable taste and unquenchable desires. Patrick and his elite group of friends spend their days in chic restaurants, exclusive clubs, and designer labels. But at night, Patrick takes part in a darker indulgence, and his mask of sanity is starting to slip…
Cabaret by Joe Masteroff, John Kander and Fred Ebb (US/UK)
(Drama / 8f, 8m)
In a Berlin nightclub, as the 1920’s draw to a close, a garish Master of Ceremonies welcomes the audience and assures them they will forget all their troubles at the Cabaret. With the Emcee’s bawdy songs as wry commentary, Cabaret explores the dark, heady, and tumultuous life of Berlin’s natives and expatriates as Germany slowly yields to the emerging Third Reich. Cliff, a young American writer newly arrived in Berlin, is immediately taken with English singer Sally Bowles. Meanwhile, Fräulein Schneider, proprietor of Cliff and Sally’s boarding house, tentatively begins a romance with Herr Schultz, a mild-mannered fruit seller who happens to be Jewish.
Cannibal: The Musical by Trey Parker (US/UK)
(Comedy / 2f, 10m)
Cannibal! The Musical is the true story of the only person convicted of cannibalism in America – Alfred Packer. The sole survivor of an ill-fated trip to the Colorado Territory, he tells his side of the harrowing tale to news reporter Polly Pry as he awaits his execution. And his story goes like this: While searching for gold and love in the Colorado Territory, he and his companions lost their way and resorted to unthinkable horrors, including toe-tapping songs!
Carrie: The Musical by Michael Gore, Dean Pitchford and Lawrence D. Cohen (US/UK)
(Drama / 8f, 6m)
Carrie White is a teenage outcast who longs to fit in. At school, she’s bullied by the popular crowd, and virtually invisible to everyone else. At home, she’s dominated by her loving but cruelly controlling mother. What none of them know is that Carrie has just discovered she’s got a special power, and if pushed too far, she’s not afraid to use it.
Chess by Richard Nelson, Tim Rice, Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson (US/UK)
(Drama / 2f, 9m, 1boy or girl +Ensemble)
In this groundbreaking rock musical, the ancient game becomes a metaphor for romantic rivalries, competitive gamesmanship, super-power politics, and international intrigue. From Bangkok to Budapest, the players, lovers, politicians and spies manipulate and are manipulated to the pulse of a monumental score that includes “One Night in Bangkok” and “Heaven Help My Heart.”
Chicago by Fred Ebb, Bob Fosse and John Kander (US/UK)
(Comedy / 10f, 9m)
In 1920s Chicago, chorine Roxie Hart murders a faithless lover and convinces her hapless husband, Amos, to take the rap…until he finds out he’s been duped and turns on Roxie. Convicted and sent to death row, Roxie and another “Merry Murderess,” Velma Kelly, vie for the spotlight and the headlines, ultimately joining forces in search of the “American Dream”: fame, fortune, and acquittal. This sharp-edged satire features a dazzling score that sparked immortal staging by Bob Fosse.
City of Angels by Larry Gelbart, Cy Coleman and David Zippel (US/UK)
(Dramatic Comedy / 8f, 8m)
In the late 1940s, Stine, a bookish writer of detective stories, struggles to adapt his crime novel into a workable screenplay. As Stine tries to maintain some integrity in the backstabbing world of Hollywood, his protagonist, a hardboiled private eye named Stone, fights for survival in a city full of cr
iminals and opportunists. In a clever design choice, the stories are told on a split stage: Stine’s world is in full color, while Stone’s appears in black and white.
Hadestown by Anaïs Mitchell (US/UK)
(Drama / 5f, 3m +Ensemble)
This intriguing and beautiful folk opera delivers a deeply resonant and defiantly hopeful theatrical experience. Following two intertwining love stories — that of young dreamers Orpheus and Eurydice, and that of immortal King Hades and Lady Persephone — Hadestown invites audiences on a hell-raising journey to the underworld and back. Inspired by traditions of classic American folk music and vintage New Orleans jazz, Mitchell’s beguiling sung-through musical pits industry against nature, doubt against faith, and fear against love.
Hair by Gerome Ragni, James Rado and Galt MacDermot (US/UK)
(Dramatic Comedy / 4f, 5m +Ensemble)
The American tribal love rock musical Hair celebrates the sixties counterculture in all its barefoot, long-haired, bell-bottomed, beaded and fringed glory. To an infectiously energetic rock beat, the show wows audiences with songs like “Aquarius,” “Good Morning, Starshine,” “Hair,” “I Got Life,” and “Let The Sun Shine.” Exploring ideas of identity, community, global responsibility and peace, Hair remains relevant as ever as it examines what it means to be a young person in a changing world.
Heathers the Musical by Laurence O’Keefe and Kevin Murphy (US/UK)
(Dark Comedy / 9f, 8m)
Heathers The Musical is the darkly delicious story of Veronica Sawyer, a brainy, beautiful teenage misfit who hustles her way into the most powerful and ruthless clique at Westerberg High: the Heathers. But before she can get comfortable atop the high school food chain, Veronica falls for the dangerously sexy new kid, J.D. When Heather Chandler, the Almighty, kicks her out of the group, Veronica decides to bite the bullet and kiss Heather’s aerobicized ass… but J.D. has another plan for that bullet.
Jesus Christ Superstar by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber (US)
(Drama / 1f, 8m +Ensemble)
What’s the buzz? The first musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice to be produced for the professional stage, Jesus Christ Superstar has wowed audiences for nearly 50 years. A timeless work, the rock opera is set against the backdrop of an extraordinary and universally-known series of events but seen, unusually, through the eyes of Judas Iscariot. Loosely based on the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, Superstar follows the last week of Jesus Christ’s life. The story, told entirely through song, explores the personal relationships and struggles among Jesus, Judas, Mary Magdalene, his disciples, his followers and the Roman Empire.
La Cage aux Folles by Harvey Fierstein and Jerry Herman (US/UK)
(Comedy / 3f, 7m)
After twenty years of un-wedded bliss, Georges and Albin, two men partnered for better or worse, get a bit of both when Georges’ son (fathered during a one-night fling) announces his impending marriage to the daughter of a bigoted, right-wing politician. Further complicating the situation is the “family business”: Albin and Georges run a drag nightclub in St. Tropez, where Albin is the “star” performer, “Zaza.” Georges reluctantly agrees to masquerade as “normal” when he meets the family of the bride-to-be. But Albin has other plans, with hilarious results.
Monstersongs by Rob Rokicki (US/UK)
(Drama / 5f, 5m, 4 any gender)
Something wicked this way rocks! Monstersongs puts audiences in a synthesized world of graphic novels, rock musicals, live performance and new technology. Following the journey of a child who opens a portal into the psyches of often misunderstood creatures, Monstersongs flips the switch on the monster narrative, inviting audiences to explore the humanity that binds us all.
Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 by Dave Malloy (US/UK)
(Drama / 5f, 5m, 6 any gender)
From the celebrated and award-winning composer Dave Malloy comes Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812, an electro-pop opera based on a scandalous slice of Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace. Young and impulsive, Natasha Rostova arrives in Moscow to await the return of her fiancé from the front lines. When she falls under the spell of the roguish Anatole, it is up to Pierre, a family friend in the middle of an existential crisis, to pick up the pieces of her shattered reputation. Following a critically exalted premiere at Ars Nova in New York City, a subsequent Off-Broadway transfer, and an acclaimed run on Broadway, this award-winning musical expands the possibilities for the genre with its daring score and bold storytelling.
Reefer Madness by Kevin Murphy and Dan Studney (US/UK)
(Satire / 4f, 4m)
Inspired by the original 1936 film of the same name, this raucous musical comedy takes a tongue-in-cheek look at the hysteria caused when clean-cut kids fall prey to marijuana, leading them on a hysterical downward spiral filled with evil jazz music, sex and violence. You won’t be able to resist the spoofy fun of Reefer Madness. The addictive, clever musical numbers range from big Broadway-style showstoppers to swing tunes like “Down at the Ol’ Five and Dime” and the Vegas-style “Listen to Jesus, Jimmy,” featuring J.C. Himself leading a chorus of showgirl angels. Reefer Madness is a highly stylized and political satire that will leave you wanting more.
The Rocky Horror Show by Richard O’Brien (US/UK)
(Dark Comedy / 3f, 7m)
In this cult classic, sweethearts Brad and Janet, stuck with a flat tire during a storm, discover the eerie mansion of Dr. Frank-N-Furter, a charismatic and in
domitable trans scientist. As their innocence is lost, Brad and Janet meet a houseful of wild characters, including a rocking biker and a creepy butler. Through elaborate dances and rock songs, Frank-N-Furter unveils his latest creation: a muscular man named “Rocky.”
Ruthless! by Marvin Laird and Joel Paley (US/UK)
(Comedy / 6f, 1m)
Eight-year-old Tina Denmark knows she was born to play Pippi Longstocking, and she will do anything to win the part in her school musical. “Anything” includes murdering the leading lady! With nods to classics like The Bad Seed and Gypsy, this aggressively outrageous musical hit garnered rave reviews during its long Off-Broadway run.
[title of show] by Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell (US/UK)
(Comedy / 2f, 2m, 1 any gender)
Jeff and Hunter, two struggling writers, hear about a new musical theatre festival. However, the deadline for submissions is a mere three weeks away. With nothing to lose, they decide to create something new with the help of their friends Susan, Heidi and Larry on the eighty-eights. With the cast in place, Jeff and Hunter discuss what to write about. Eventually, Jeff suggests they write about what to write about. The resulting show follows Hunter, Jeff and their friends on their journey through the gauntlet of creative self-expression. In the span of 90 minutes, they write and perform their show at the festival and learn lessons about themselves as people, friends and artists.
Victor/Victoria by Blake Edwards, Henry Mancini, Leslie Bricusse and Frank Wildhorn (US/UK)
(Comedy / 2f, 3m +Ensemble)
In jazz-age Paris, singer Victoria Grant struggles to make ends meet. With some help from her flamboyant friend Toddy, Victoria ultimately achieves stardom by masquerading as a man, “Count Victor Grazinski,” who performs as a female impersonator. When macho businessman King Marchan develops feelings for “Victor” and Victoria reciprocates, comic hijinks ensue. Musical numbers include “Le Jazz Hot,” “You and Me,” “Living in the Shadows,” “Paris By Night” and “Crazy World.”
The Wild Party by Michael John La Chiusa (US/UK)
(Drama / 7f, 8m)
Manhattan decadence in the 1920’s provides the backdrop for this tough musical fable. Queenie, a vaudeville chorine, hosts the blowout of the title with her vicious lover, Burrs. The guests are a vivid collection of the unruly and the undone, including Queenie’s conniving rival; a cocaine-sniffing bisexual playboy; a washed-up boxer; a fresh-off-the-farm ingénue whose naïveté quickly evaporates; a lesbian actress and her comatose girlfriend; and the bargain basement Valentino who catches Queenie’s roving eye. The jazz- and gin-soaked party rages to a mounting sense of threat as artifice and illusion are stripped away. When midnight debauchery leads to tragedy at dawn, the high-flying characters land with a sobering thud, reminding us that no party lasts forever.
Header Image: 2014 Broadway production of Cabaret (Joan Marcus)