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Hair is a 1960’s rock musical about the sexual revolution and hippie movement amidst the Vietnam War. The characters in this musical seek to redefine themselves and question authority. Audiences continue to love this classic rock musical for the elements of rebellion, great music, and fun-loving spirit. Some controversial components include drug use, nudity, and sexuality, yet Hair remains a rock musical favorite. Hair was so popular that screenplay writers adapted the musical into a movie, and producers remade the musical in 2009. Showcased internationally in a variety of reputable theaters, the 2010 Hair remake featured several American Idol finalists.
Jesus Christ Superstar is a rock opera based on the Biblical account of the last seven days of Jesus’ life. The story discusses the struggle between Jesus and Judas up to the point of crucifixion. Audiences enjoy the music, costumes, and controversy of Jesus Christ Superstar. Initially met with criticism from religious groups, critics continue to rave about the music and performances of this rock opera. Andrew Lloyd Weber composed the music and Tim Rice wrote the lyrics for Jesus Christ Superstar in the 1970s. Producers have since remade this classic several times, with productions all over the world.
With the most expensive Broadway budget to date, Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark is a musical take on the Marvel comic. When a radioactive spider bites the high school aged lead character, he gains super powers that allow him to fight crime. Mix in a love interest and over-the-top villains, and this story literally sets the stage. U2’s Bono and The Edge wrote the music for Spiderman, and the show features aerial stunts and live action scenes. You can still opt to see this production live, as the musical is currently playing. Great seats at an affordable price are within reach through ScoreBig.com.
Based loosely on Giacomo Puccini’s La Boheme, Rent is a story about young artists trying to make it in New York in the 1980s and 1990s. The story coincides with emerging themes of the AIDS epidemic that impacts the lives of several of the characters. The characters face struggles with money, love, and their life direction. Using minimal costuming and set design, Rent is about character development and personal dynamics. Audiences love Rent for the passionate storyline and beautiful songwriting. Rent remakes feature many notable actors and actresses and production has expanded internationally, making it a favorite among fans of rock musicals.
Rock musicals are all about pushing the envelope when it comes to subject matter. Hedwig & the Angry Inch is a story about a boy who undergoes a botched sex-change operation to flee a communist East Germany. The main character deals with love lost and found and forms a band to deal with her heartbreak. Audiences love Hedwig & the Angry Inch for the character struggle and the themes of glam-rock. Screenwriters adapted this popular rock musical into a film in 2001 and a recent Broadway revival features “How I Met Your Mother” actor Neil Patrick Harris.
Adapted from an 1891 German book, Spring Awakening explores a group of teenagers dealing with their sexuality and transitioning into adulthood. This rock musical contrasts themes of love and sex with darker themes of violence. Rocker Duncan Sheik wrote new music for Spring Awakening. Critics and audiences love both the music in Spring Awakening and the departure from the standard rock musical formula. The production team wrote each song for a character to sing, not moving the plot forward. Spring Awakening remains a favorite rock musical because of the excellent score and character development.
Rocky Horror Picture Show remains a cult classic. This rock musical is a spoof on horror B movies that features cross dressing, singing and dancing, murders, jokes, and love. Producers released the Broadway version in the 1970s with the film adaptation following shortly after. Tim Curry and Susan Sarandon star in the movie that received rave reviews and accolades. Audiences enjoy the film version live, as theaters across the country play the movie regularly at midnight. In a tradition starting back in 1976, the costumed crowd sings along and interacts with the movie to create a unique experience for the movie-goer.
Based on the album by rock-punk band Green Day, American Idiot is the story of three friends struggling with their lives in suburban America. The friends take different paths to find freedom and happiness, each learning about love and growing up. American Idiot made its small start at the Berkeley Repertory Theater before moving to Broadway in the late 2000s. Critics praise American Idiot for its high energy and music. The great rock-driven music against the depressing realities of everyday life make this rock musical a fan favorite. Discussions of a movie adaptation are underway but there is no scheduled date for filming as of yet.
Rock musicals are a unique addition to the genre of musicals. Hair, Jesus Christ Superstar, Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark, Rent, Hedwig & the Angry Inch, Spring Awakening, Rocky Horror Picture Show, and American Idiot all showcase excellent musical styling with rich character and plot development. You can see why these musicals have become a favorite among show-goers in the recent years.
What are some of your favorite rock musicals?