(Not That They Asked Me)
By: Megan McCasland
Over the course of my life, I have seen a lot of musicals, listened to even more cast recordings, and read a good number of plays. I have a running list of shows I want to see that get checked off whenever I get the chance to see them. Since we’re in between shows here, I decided I would pull out that list and share with you five musicals and five plays that I would like to see on Waco Civic Theatre’s main stage.
I love that this show has three strong female characters at the helm; frankly, that’s something that I think professional theatre needs to see more often. Waco Civic Theatre always tries to do at least one show a season with powerful female characters, and once the performance rights get released, I think that they should jump at the chance to do Waitress. The music, written by Sara Bareilles, is beautiful and the story about how someone can find true happiness even in the most unlikely of circumstances is really quite touching.
2. Dear Evan Hansen
This show touches every part of my heart. Oh my goodness. Everyone has felt alone at some point in their lives, especially in the age of social media—I most certainly have. Even introverts like to be included and feel a little less like an outsider. This show is a wonderfully moving reminder that no matter what you’re going through, you are not alone. Everyone needs the chance to see this show. (Okay, I need to take a Ben Platt Appreciation moment, because the role of Evan Hansen is extremely physically and emotionally demanding, and he goes out there and breaks our hearts eight shows a week.)
3. Kinky Boots
This show has such an important message about accepting others as they are and being yourself (a message that Waco Civic Theatre aims to align itself with daily) that everyone should hear, especially in a world that can seem so cruel and uncaring sometimes. This show is a true testament to the idea that if we come together in times of trouble, then wonderful things can come out of it. Kinky Boots encourages individuality not only through the plot of the story, but also through the diversity of the characters and the people who play them.
I learned this week that our audience can be configured for theatre-in-the-round (where audience members sit on all four sides with the stage in the middle), and I think that this show could work quite well in that set up. It doesn’t require a lot of bells and whistles—I’ve seen taken a minimalistic direction, but also in a direction more on-par with the average theatre production. Waco Civic Theatre could get really creative with this show and come up with a really interesting final product.
5. Kiss Me Kate
I remember watching the 1953 film adaptation of this musical (along with the 1954 film adaptation of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, because if I watch one, I usually watch them both… Howard Keel is just great in them) quite frequently when I was younger. It is a classic musical with great music, plus I think shows about people putting on shows (showception, if you will) are really interesting on the stage.
Yeah, I know I said there would only be five musicals on this list, but I just couldn’t resist. Narrowing a list from fifteen down to five is hard, okay? Anyway, this show is absolutely hilarious. It’s a musical adaptation of Monty Python and the Holy Grail that pokes fun at the conventions of musicals with songs like “You Won’t Succeed on Broadway,” “The Diva’s Lament (What Ever Happened to My Part?),” and “The Song That Goes Like This.” Plus the characters break the fourth wall with not only the audience, but with the narrator of the show. Need I say more?
1. Dearly Departed
I was in this play my senior year of high school, and it was honestly one of my favorite shows that I have been in. The premise is that the Turpin family comes together in the wake of the father’s death, but everyone’s personal problems keep getting in the way of organizing the funeral. But don’t worry, the show is actually quite funny, and the family manages to pull themselves together just in time for the funeral.
2. Act One
This play was one of the “Live from Lincoln Center” events on PBS a few years ago. I watched it because Santino Fontana (Cinderella, Frozen) was in it, and I actually really enjoyed the show. It’s an adaptation of playwright Moss Hart’s autobiography narrated by an older Moss Hart as he traces his life from his poor beginnings to his meeting and collaboration with George S. Kaufman, ultimately leading to his success. I, personally, would love to see how Waco Civic Theatre designs the set, since there are a lot of different scene locations and not as much stage space as a Broadway theatre.
3. The Importance of Being Earnest
This play is a classic marriage comedy full of witty one-liners, but it’s satirical at heart. Oscar Wilde continuously criticizes Victorian society by showing how shallow and hypocritical it is. While we at Waco Civic Theatre are certainly not embittered towards the upper classes of Victorian England, we do love to laugh, and the situational comedy and cases of mistaken identity paired with the witty banter back and forth between characters makes for quite an enjoyable show.
4. Twelfth Night
Here is another show full of mistaken identity and disguises that is spurred by Viola dressing up as her brother in order to find shelter in the king’s court after a shipwreck. There’s a lot of situational humor in this play, especially when Viola interacts with other women when disguised as her brother. And any scene with Feste (the fool) is a good one, especially since he seems to be the wisest character in the play. I would really like to see Waco Civic Theatre do a version that maintains Shakespeare’s dialect, but is set in the late 1910s England during the women’s suffrage movement.
I know what you’re probably thinking: “How did a Greek tragedy get mixed in with these other plays that have comedic elements?” Well, Antigone was my middle school’s One Act play when I was in 8th grade. It was good enough… for a middle school. But just thinking about it kind of makes me cringe a little. Therefore, Antigone is on the list so it can redeem itself, because I really don’t want my last memory of this play to be one from middle school. Plus, the show makes a good (though dramatic) point about the importance of family.
Image created by: Megan McCasland