Oooh I have lots of under-loved favourites.
Chess perhaps counts. It's second only to Les Mis in my affections. Unlike Les Mis on stage, I feel like Chess has never achieved its potential. Always said that if I won the lottery, I'd arrange a new production, probably with the master version of the script I made in the summer holiday aged 17 from 4 of the different versions I got hold of, a cast handpicked by myself, and possibly with me playing the lead
The Lord of the Rings musical was utterly amazing. I went because I figured I'd never get a chance to see it again (it was closing a week later), tickets were cheap and it would be an entertaining story. I was *convinced*, both as a Tolkien fan and as a theatre director, it was impossible to do it on stage. Boy was I shocked.... We went to a matinee, when I finished I bought everything I could get my hands on at the merchandise stand, and then considered trying to get tickets for the evening performance, it was that good. I was truly stunned by it. There were themes and aspects of the story I got watching the musical that had never really occurred to me on reading the book or seeing the movies, which I adore. The directing was really spot on, really engaging. Gollum was amazing! I mean, it's cool in the movies, but imagine it being done live without CGI or extra takes....incredible! And I adore the style of the music. The mixture of traditional orchestral, eastern and nordic folk creates something really otherworldly and I love the way each race has a distinct musical style. Truly one of the best theatrical experiences of my life.
I also love Drowsy Chaperone. It's the epitome of the warm fuzzies in a musical and it feels like a glimpse of my future! It doesn't have consistently strong songs I'll admit, but I love the post-modern style and the unashamed cuteness.
I have a strange fondness for the musical Time, which ran in London in the 80s. I never saw it myself, but my parents did on the same weekend they first saw Les Mis. I remember being fascinated by seeing the programme when I was younger and hearing my mum talk about how cool it was. I managed to get my hands on a copy of the concept album eventually, plus a photocopy of the script thanks to ebay and ....well....it's *really* bad. The script and lyrics are atrocious actually. But there's still something very likeable in there. A couple of songs are nice enough, and a few more are so bad they're good guilty pleasures. I like a lot of the staging ideas they used and I like the ambition to do a big crazy sci-fi musical with the holographic head of Laurence Olivier!
Lestat has the same problem, particularly in the lyrical department. It seems like Bernie Taupin thought musical theatre lyrics had to be grandiose, pretentious and utterly devoid of meaning. But I do like pretty slashy French boys (quel surprise!) and so I kinda like it.
A more obscure one that was well-liked but most people would probably never have heard of is Sunshine on Leith, a jukebox musical of the Proclaimers. I went along expecting a cheesy night of singalong, but it's surprisingly solid as a show. They handle a good selection of songs very well, and the CD contributed several of the most played tracks on my ipod. It's nice to see something Scottish in a musical too (since Brigadoon sure as hell does not count!). It's set in Edinburgh, where I used to live and is marvellously spot on about it. Wish I could have seen it when Billy Boyd of Lord of the Rings fame was in it! I'm delighted that there is a movie of it currently being filmed.
Of the more mainstream ones, I like Rock of Ages, We Will Rock You, Starlight Express and Cats, no matter how much they get slated.