Classicalite's Five Best: Musical Videos on YouTube You’ve Never Heard Of

By James Inverne on Jul 30, 2013 05:48 AM EDT

YouTube is full of surprises and treats for musical theater fans.

Some of them are simply pirated commercial DVDs, and Classicalite won't include any of those here as we, officially, do not approve.

But there are some real finds waiting to be uncovered--in fact, some of them have been, by us.

Here, then, are Classicalite's five best little-seen YouTube gems for musical aficionados...

A Chorus Line, original Broadway cast

All the excitement of what became Broadway's longest-running musical is palpable in this Tony Awards clip of the first cast strutting their stuff in the thrilling opening audition sequence. You can hear the excitement of the audience at the Tonys in 1976, only the year after the opening. The picture quality is barely watchable, but if you can get over that, it's absolutely sensational.

Zero Mostel in Fiddler on the Roof

The original, best Tevye (just check out the original cast album) in Harnick and Bock's iconic shtetl musical was caught at the Tonys in his signature number, "If I Were a Rich Man." OK, by this stage he was a bit mannered--he was the kind of performer who needed a strong director to keep his interpretations on the straight and narrow--but still, there's no mistaking the charisma.

Adam Pascal rehearsing "Pity The Child"

"Pity the Singer" is what this killer song from the musical Chess is nicknamed in the business. Hardly anyone can sing it, it goes so high, and such is its strafing emotional range, it would shard all but the hardiest voices. Adam Pascal joins Colm Wilkinson in the all-time greats in this song, with this video from a rehearsal for a benefit at the Royal Albert Hall. He's only half-acting, but listen to the vocals! This guy has lungs of steel and expressive style to spare (and he's better here than in the final performance, also on YouTube).

Jim Dale, the original Barnum 

As the U.K.'s Chichester Festival Theatre previews Cameron Mackintosh's new production of Cy Coleman's best-known show, it's great to find this excerpt of the first P.T., the great Jim Dale, still best-known for the Carry On films but wonderful here on the subject of suckers born every minute.

Stephen Sondheim's Merrily We Roll Along 

For real musical theater anoraks, this may be the crown jewel--the original production of his long-ignored masterpiece Merrily We Roll Along. To understand the importance of this document, you have to realize that the show, which Sondheim fans nowadays credit as one his very finest and most innovative, only ran for 12 performances back in 1982. That's what we call an unequivocal flop. Warning: The film is almost unspeakably dreadful in terms of technical quality and really will sort the nerds (guilty!) from the merely-quite-interested. But for those of us who love the album that resulted, it's fascinating to see why and how Hal Prince's staging didn't work.

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TagsJames Inverne, Classicalite's Five Best, A Chorus Line, Zero Mostel, Fiddler on the Roof, Adam Pascal, Chess, Pity The Child, Jim Dale, Barnum, Stephen Sondheim, Merrily We Roll Along

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