The 8 Manliest Musicals

You're a man. Not just any man, but a manly man. When you're not engaging in threesomes with Swedish twins, you're fixing cars, or beating the shit out of bigger guys (just for kicks). Also, you drink beer. Often.

Occasionally, though, in the course of appeasing the woman (or women) in your life, you will be called upon to suck it up and do things she wants to do. In extreme cases, this may involve watching (or even attending) a musical. We know, we know, even considering viewing a musical would be grounds for the permanent destruction of your man card, ideally through feeding it to a lion riding a shark. But, if you get to help pick which musical, here's some ones you'll escape with your manhood intact:

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Les Miserables

The Story:
Jean Valjean is a former-prisoner-gone-right, caught up in the hardships of 19th century France.

Why Guys Fear It:
Besides the inherent loss of cool points that comes with being a musical, Les Miserables goes one step further by being a musical based on a story about Frenchmen. It' unlikely there' anything in this world that your average man finds less manly than singing, dancing Frenchmen in puffy 1800' shirts. Also, there' something disconcerting to a man about a lead character with such a ludicrously repetitive name. Men aren't supposed to have names like Jean Valjean. Men should have names like Jim Strong or Staff Sgt. Max Fightmaster.

Why You'll Survive It:
The actual plot is swimming with manly staples. Our lead character is an ex-con who spends his time cavorting with a prostitute. Then, he moves on up to the big-league fun of a bloody revolutionary battle.

Sure, they're still up there pirouetting, but they're pirouetting with a rifle. Yes, they're singing, but they're singing about popping caps in fools' proverbial asses.

When you get right down to it, Les Mis (and surely your manliness can withstand even the most mincing of colloquialisms) is really just a war movie that can carry a tune.


The Story:
A troupe of political-activist hippies attempt to change the world through song.

Why Guys Fear It:
It can be argued that the play consists primarily of a troupe of political-activist hippies attempting to change the world through song.

Why You'll Survive It:
If this play were a dude, it would be the troubled loner who can't seem to stay out of harms way: Purveyors of the show' early runs dealt with bomb threats, legal hassling and suspicious fatal arson, all of which earn Hair a fair share of street cred. Also:

Live, on-stage nudity.

West Side Story

The Story:
Two star-crossed lovers caught on opposing sides of a gang war try to find love.

Why Guys Fear It:
West Side Story is a modernization of Romeo and Juliet, which in the average guy's eyes might as well be about feminine cramps and how cute dimples are. Entering with that preconceived notion, it can only be more off-putting to note the high number of dance numbers the Jets partake in with virtually no female accompaniment to offset the copious leaps and spins.

Why You'll Survive It:
Romeo and Juliet is actually a damn bloody play, and West Side Story really ups the ante. The whole production is rife with resisting authority, knife fights, and even an old-fashioned shooting.

At the end of the day, West Side Story has a higher body count than your average Sopranos episode (and we're talking the first two seasons here).


The Story:
A 1960s greaser Danny Zuko has a summer fling with Australian Sandy Olsson, only to find his summer lady will be hanging around for a whole school year. Hilarity ensues.

Why Guys Fear It:
Grease unfortunately suffers from a bit of era-related wardrobe handcuffing, as the '60s style dictates that all the T-Birds' jeans be as tight as possible without inhibiting their ability to strike that uncomfortable "old naked guy standing on a locker-room bench" pose 15 to 20 times apiece.

Yeah, that' the one.

Why You'll Survive It:
First of all, Olivia Newton John is just plain hot. There' not a man among us who lived through the '80s who wouldn't have given up his Adonis-like physique in order to be the man-boobed gentleman in the "Physical" video.

As for the male characters, sure, their jeans are tight enough to see what' in their pockets, but those pockets probably contain switchblades and a monkey wrench. In the course of two short hours they belittle women, get a high schooler pregnant, turn a junker into a drag champion and moon the nation. Shy of wrestling the school' live bear mascot into submission, they could not run through the real-man checklist with more efficiency.


The Story:
A bunch of lovable scamps unite to take on the evil Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst and their mistreatment of their respective newsies.

Why Guys Fear It:
There are few less manly brands that can be associated with a movie than Disney, and so the prospect of a Disney musical that does not have James Earl Jones playing a lion is a giant tally on the "Cons" side of the paper. Unfortunately, the writers compounded this little issue with the complete disregarding of any character with a vagina, to the extent that the highest female billing is 24th, and that belongs to a by-then, well-over-the-hill Ann-Margret. This utter disdain for eye candy is rarely tolerated outside of war movies, where the roles of females are taken instead by sub-machineguns.

Why You'll Survive It:
Look closely. That' right. That' Christian Fucking "Batman" Bale.

While it' true that men are not prone to cheering for lead characters who insist on long dance numbers while wearing a cowboy costume, nor to lead characters who often reminisce emotionally about the hardships their life, or their dreams and aspirations, Jack Kelly has something extra on his side that allows some leeway. He grew up to be Batman. If you're trying to tell us that there' something manly enough for Batman, but not manly enough for you, then we're not even speaking the same language.


The Story:
The classic tale of how the Americans used melody to unite in the face of their British oppressors.

Why Guys Fear It:
1776 is over two hours of men wearing wigs, singing and dancing about revolution. As any man who grew up in the 80s will tell you, musical revolutions are for small hypersexual nymphs in purple leather, not founding fathers. The musical is credited for its attention to historical detail, but if the manliness of the wildly inaccurate The Patriot is any indication, modern audiences care less about how their American Revolutionary heroes really acted, as long as they drop-kick some British children after shooting their fathers dead.

Why You'll Survive It:
First of all, it holds the record for being the musical that goes the longest without playing a single note of music. It' like the William Munny of musicals, only playing its hand when absolutely necessary. Beyond that though, the play is manly because these are our founding fathers, who cobbled this nation together using tar from their lungs and the limbs of dismembered Englishmen.

If you listened to the music, you'd realize that they're singing about gunpowder, rum, and how hard they want to plow their wives. Replace their wives with your wife, and that' a pretty apt description of a Lynyrd Skynyrd show. Hell, at one point, the Declaration of Independence is put on hold while Thomas Jefferson decides to nail his wife in the middle of the afternoon.

You might pick up a violin and sing too if you'd just taken a break from creating a nation for some afternoon delight.

Sweeney Todd

The Story:
A barber returning from a 15-year exile sets out to exact his revenge on those who wronged him.

Why Guys Fear It:
The story has a multitude of sordid love triangles, jilted lovers and a character that proves to be far less dead than rumored. Throw in an evil twin wearing an eye-patch and you have all the makings of a daytime soap opera. This problem is only compounded by the main character plying his trade as a barber, a job that requires the removal of beards despite all the scientific evidence of the correlation between beards and manliness.

And pay attention, gents, because there is a Sweeney Todd movie coming soon, starring Johnny Depp. There is an excellent chance you won't be able to avoid this one and stay in your woman's good graces.

Why You'll Survive It:
Todd has a tendency to deliver a particularly close shave when removing the aforementioned beards, often continuing until he hits spine.

Following these shaves, he disposes of the bodies down a chute, where they go on to become delicious meat pies for the general population. With that level of gore and brutality, it' not hard to reason that Eli Roth would get a half-chub 15 minutes into this bloodbath.

The play comes to its climax (stop giggling) in The Departed-esque murder fest which leaves nearly the entire cast dead and bloody. In fact, the only thing preventing the ending of Sweeney Todd from surpassing The Departed as the most viscerally and masculinely enjoyable story ever told is the absence of that Dropkick Murphy' song that makes you want to go get in a fist fight with a panther.


The Story:
The all-singing, all-dancing cats of the world sing about who they are, until eventually one of them dies.

Why Guys Fear It:
With the entire cast being clad in spandex and body makeup that will haunt even the manliest of men' dreams, this is visually the least heterosexual thing mankind has ever created. Simply put, we challenge anyone to meow and not have it come off as the least-hetero act of their life.

Unfortunately, the play also is severely lacking in a plot, opting instead to more or less introduce us to a bunch of cats, one of whom creates magic by spinning on one foot, for the duration of the play. While we men are willing to let a lack of plot slide, we expect it to be replaced with senseless explosions and topless women, not furry, '80s exercise outfits and fake cat ears.

Why You'll Survive It:
There are all sorts of reasons. Almost too many to name here. Where do we start? Cats have claws, which are ... dangerous, in some cases. Though the cats in Cats don't seem to have claws, so ...

Oh, you know who also loves cats? James Bond villains. Also, male cats have ... balls. We think. And ...

OK, maybe you should avoid this one.

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