The release of the Tom Hooper movie has made us Les Mis junkies go into Jean Valjean overdrive, and for weeks, I’ve been running with an abbreviated playlist of tunes from the West End show. It’s abbreviated, of course, because you can’t keep a sustained pace when Eponine is dying in your earbuds, babbling on weakly about rain and flowers and unrequited passion. Lovely as they may be, songs like that have to go.
But cobble together a Broadway show’s most stirring numbers, and you’ve got the makings of a powerful hour on the road. Getting immersed in a musical’s storyline is a good anecdote for boredom that can occur on a long run when we’re accompanied by only a haphazard collection of unconnected tunes. And shows usually have a comical number or two that can make even a hard workout just plain fun. (In Les Mis, it’s “Master of the House” which makes me laugh out loud no matter how many times I hear it.)
Not every Broadway show is a contender. Avenue Q is one of the greatest shows of all time, but you can’t run to hardly any of it. And I like Cats, but it wouldn’t get me to the end of my driveway.
So, to kick off your weekend long run, here are the FIVE BEST MUSICALS TO RUN TO (grammatically incorrect, yes, but you will agree that that sounds much better than FIVE BEST MUSICALS TO WHICH YOU SHOULD RUN, yes?)
1. Mama Mia. Can’t beat it for upbeat tempo, and just grin-out-loud fun.
2. Les Miserables. Edit heavily (see above), and you’ll be inspired to run through your own personal wretchedness and climb to the light pulsing at the peak of Heartbreak Hill.
3. The Sound of Music. An extraordinary cardio workout awaits anyone who can yodel to “The Lonely Goatherd” while maintaining an eight-minute pace.
4. Evita. Oh, come on, you didn’t think you’d get through this list without the presence of Andrew Lloyd Webber? Cats is too uneven, and Jesus Christ Superstar is starting to get a tiny bit dated. But Evita is fun, even when Madonna is involved, and “A New Argentina” can match any pace.
5. Oliver! This is one of those soundtracks best listened to without too many people around, lest the men in white coats come get you laughing on the road. “Consider yourself” on a long run if you’re listening to this, and put “Oom Pa Pa” on the playlist least twice.
SALTIES, what great Broadway musicals do you listen to on the run? What great ones have we left out?