Musicals to Take Your Cynical Boyfriend to

Thurs. May 2nd 2013

In the first of our Top 5 Musicals series, Emily considers the best musicals for a modern macho man... 

I’m worried this is all going to sound like a horribly sexist piece of propaganda: Musical Theatre enthusiast (female) preaches to world about how to convert Mankind to a fun and fluffy lifestyle. But really it is an extension of our belief that theatre isn’t all sparkle and rhinestones, and can breach every and any topic, as Anna described in her Musicals Matter More piece last week.

Really, this post is a response to a question I get asked all the time: “What musical can I take my ‘macho’ boyfriend to?”

I know that lots of men don’t need very much persuasion to try, like or engage in musical theatre; I myself am blessed to live with a man who loves (certain) musicals. This list isn’t necessarily going to work for everyone, but is based on real life experiences of macho men who don’t naturally see themselves as musical theatre fans, but can get a whole lot more than they imagine out of shows. 

Macho man, here are some suggestions that might tempt you to swap Match of the Day for a musical... 

1. The Book of Mormon

My boyfriend says he likes The Book of Mormon because of the swearing.

Written by South Park duo Trey Parker and Matt Stone with the expert collaboration of Robert Lopez (co-creator of Avenue Q), it’s not hard to see how this musical has captured the hearts of macho men (and lots of other people too, so their social media based marketing campaigns would have us believe).

Rude enough to impress a cynic?

In the musical, two Mormons from Salt Lake City travel to Uganda: hilarity ensues. Probably not one to take your grandma to, but there are some pretty deep messages about faith and humanity underscoring this show. The mixed crowd of friends I went with all loved it. The Book of Mormon also features some of the wittiest dance routines I’ve seen in the West End – if you’re cynical, the number ‘Turn it Off’ will surprise and entertain you.

Perhaps its ability to say ‘unsayable’ things through song and dance makes it a hit - discussing HIV transmission, religious missionaries and FGM with the humorous wink of Parker and Stone takes you on a satirical, not melodramatic, journey. Even the real-life Mormons like it (embracing the view that there is no such thing as bad publicity – even adorning the walls of central London’s tube stations with poster advertising the faith to jump aboard the buzz generated from the musical).  

The Book of Mormon has best availability from July 2013.

2. Sweeney Todd

Sadly not currently playing in London, but as I wrote of Sweeney Todd in my blog post at the time, this is a stonking show for anyone seeking a grittier musical thrill. Boyfriend friendly, gallons of fake blood, a villain or two and… pies. What’s not to love?

Watch the film of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street featuring my favourite film actor Johnny Depp

Or, check out the Poole and Parkstone Player’s production in Poole next week or this Curve Community Production in Leicester in July/August.

Hugh Jackman - the ultimate macho man in musical theatre?

3. American Psycho

This is one to book now ahead of its London premier later this year that might work for those who love the 'thriller' genre. With direction by Rupert Goold, this new production comes to the Almedia in December 2013. Set in 1980s Manhattan, the controversial novel turned film turned musical features ‘macho man’ Patrick Bateman, a trader by day and serial killer by night. The book is often sold sealed, to over 18s only… so expect some graphic violence. Duncan Sheik, composer of Spring Awakening, writes a new score for the piece.

See American Psycho at the Almeida Theatre from December 2013

4. Chicago

I first witnessed the ‘transformative’ power of Chicago on a trip to London to see family friend Michael Simkins, who was at the time playing Billy Flynn to Denise Van Outen’s Roxie Hart. Something miraculous happened when even my brother, the biggest musical theatre cynic of the lot, started to enjoy himself. There seemed to me several reasons for this, and funnily enough, he couldn’t wait to tell Denise backstage just how much he had loved the show…

Find your own musical theatre muse

Chicago finished its 15 year run in the West End last year, but check out the Hollywood film version, featuring impressive performances from Catherine Zeta-Jones and Renée Zellweger.

5. Jersey Boys

True, Frankie Valli has the vocal range of a girl, but Jersey Boys is a pretty macho musical. It’s rare that a ‘jukebox’ show is supported by such a strong plot line, but this is not surprising considering the show is a musical biography of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Gambling, sexual awakenings and the very real challenges of the music industry are exposed through a back catalogue that will leave you saying ‘I didn’t realise that was a Frankie Valli!’ and humming the tunes for the rest of the week.

Jersey Boys is playing at the Prince Edward Theatre in London’s West End

Our choir The Starling Singers took on the Jersey Boys' classic 'Who Loves You' last year

We’d love to hear your tales of theatre trips with your other half, good or bad. Leave us a comment below or tweet us @starlingarts


If you just want to ease a macho man into musical theatre, try our bite sized approach at our summer concert, Abracadabra. Mary Poppins sits neatly between Meatloaf and Radiohead. Watch Abracadabra at the John McIntosh Theatre in London on 6th and 7th July 2013. Tickets are available on ourWhat’s On page.