Best stage production musicals available on DVD?
January 27, 2008 2:30 PM   Subscribe

Please point me to some of the best-produced stage production musicals available on DVD.

I want to familiarize myself with musicals, but want to view live-recorded stage productions as opposed to feature film versions. What are, in your view(s), the wittiest musicals and the best stage productions of them that are available on DVD?

Thanks in advance.
posted by cog_nate to Media & Arts (17 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
I don't know what you mean by witty, but Patty Lupone's voice on Evita will give you chills.
posted by 45moore45 at 2:36 PM on January 27, 2008


It's going to be a bit of both, but the film version of " Hedwig and the angry inch " is about as close as you can get to the spirit of the stage show (I am reliably informed by a Hed-Head)
posted by Wilder at 2:37 PM on January 27, 2008


i highly recommend the DVD of sondheim's into the woods. it's delightful. the stories of cinderella, red riding hood, rapunzel, and beanstock jack all collide when a childless couple makes a deal with an evil witch. the cast is fantastic.
posted by twistofrhyme at 2:38 PM on January 27, 2008


I would second Into the Woods. And Sunday in the Park with George.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:48 PM on January 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Sweeney Todd - The Demon Barber of Fleet Street filmed in 1982 and starring Angela Lansbury and George Hearn.
posted by geekyguy at 3:01 PM on January 27, 2008


PBS will be broadcasting a live taping of the Tony-award winning revival of Sondheim's "Company" starting February 20th. It was recorded during its last week on Broadway back in the Summer of '07. Raul Esparza's performance as Bobby = perfection (I'm *so* glad this was recorded!)

See the preview for it here. It will be released on dvd shortly after airing or you can just PVR it.

It's a John Doyle musical where the actors play all their own instruments as opposed to using a separate orchestra. It's definitely a unique production!

Funny how Sondheim shows seem to be the ones that get recorded in their stage forms versus movie-fied versions (Sweeney notwithstanding...)
posted by elkerette at 3:40 PM on January 27, 2008


Oh and as for wit...

The ultimate modern, terrified bride.
posted by elkerette at 3:41 PM on January 27, 2008


It isn't quite the same (no famous revolving stage or anything), but the concert recording of "Les Miserables" features most of the original Broadway and London cast, in costume, and gives quite a good feel for what the original might have been like. It's a fantastic DVD.
posted by Melismata at 3:48 PM on January 27, 2008


Seconding Sweeney Todd -- it is far, far better than the recent film.
posted by Bookhouse at 4:18 PM on January 27, 2008


Patti LuPone's Evita, tragically, wasn't videorecorded. Well, it was, but it's never been commercially available and you need a decent set of creds to get into the Lincoln Center library archives. There are a few clips from the Tonys, but that's all you have a hope of finding.

Bernadette Peters in Into the Woods, and Angela Lansbury and George Hearn in Sweeney Todd, are great and exactly what you're looking for. The stage production of Cats was also recorded and sold, IIRC, but it's a good taping of Cats, so, uh, if you like Cats you'll be all set.

There are also concert recordings of many different shows. Technically they're produced onstage, but they're not the same as a full-scale production . . . but there are many more DVDs available of those than of the real thing.

Also, if you're interested in noncommercial avenues, there's a large and active community of people who record shows that cannot be purchased. Quality varies, obviously, but it can be the only way to see a twenty-year-old show.
posted by booksandlibretti at 7:25 PM on January 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


If your willing to try some that are a bit older, you might also want to check out some Gilbert and Sullivan (more operettas than musicals, but the line between the two is pretty thin), such as:

Pirates of Penzance

and

The Mikado
posted by nangua at 8:26 PM on January 27, 2008


oh and I second Into the Woods. Bernadette Peters was great in that and I still find myself humming music from it occasionally (and enjoying it) even though I haven't seen it in five years.
posted by nangua at 8:28 PM on January 27, 2008


Seconding Melismata's recommendation of the 10th Anniversary Edition of Les Mis. It's fantastic.

(The link takes you to Amazon, where it appears to be out of print. I'm pretty sure Netflix has it, though, if you want to go that route.
posted by soonertbone at 1:27 PM on January 28, 2008


Nthing the Hearn/Lansbury Sweeney. The movie can't hold a candle to this production.

True story: Back in the 80's. when my Sondheim-mad college friends and I found out this was going to be broadcast on HBO, we were determined to find a place to watch it.

The only one of us with a connection to anyone who had HBO (back then it was quite a luxury) was one guy whose brother had it at his apartment across town. However, he'd only visited said apartment one time.

We arrived at the apartment complex in question the night of the broadcast, frantically knocking on doors. We never found the brother.

However, a young mother (for some reason known only to God) got our story out of us and took pity. She invited us in, and for the evening, there we sat, on the floor of this strange woman's apartment- four Sweeney freaks in awe over our favorite musical, as she tried to go about her business, getting her little boy off to bed, etc.

Add to the mix that we were all Caucasian and she was not- sometimes I wonder if I dreamed it.

But it really happened. Thus is the power of musical theater, and Sondheim in particular.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 1:34 PM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Thanks for all the answers thus far. Older musicals, particularly comedies, are welcome. And by "wittiest" I meant musicals that are unusually sharp with their word usage in dialogue and lyrics.
posted by cog_nate at 2:25 PM on January 28, 2008


I wouldn't make it my first Sondheim, but Passion is just great. And if you want sharp lyrics, you can't do better than Into the Woods.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 2:36 PM on January 28, 2008


twistofrhyme: i highly recommend the DVD of sondheim's into the woods. it's delightful. the stories of cinderella, red riding hood, rapunzel, and beanstock jack all collide when a childless couple makes a deal with an evil witch. the cast is fantastic.

I was actually there the night that performance was recorded. It was a fortunate coincidence; my high school drama club had bought a block of tickets for that night. It was a fantastic performance, and the recording is very faithful to the actual performance. And it's a great show to boot.
posted by WCityMike at 3:24 PM on January 28, 2008


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