Tony season is over but these TV musicals are here to get us through the winter months.
When news broke that Hamilton was coming to Disney+, Theatre kids and newbies around the world rejoiced with the pure excitement of finally being able to be in the room where it happens. Now, that more people have experienced the pure joys of musical theatre through the high-quality capture of Broadway, the fun does not have to end there. Hamilton is only the tip of the iceberg, there’s so much more for you to discover. There are plenty of other plays and musicals that you can stream or even, hopefully, one day, watch live as performed by your local theatre, touring company, The West End, or even on Broadway.
Here are 17 musicals to keep fueling the fire and passion of your inner theatre kid. These plays have killer soundtracks for you to get obsessed with and/or impeccable storylines that will keep you wanting more even after the virtual, or perhaps even the actual, curtains close.
Newsies is based on the 1992 film of the same name and inspired by the real-life Newsboys Strike of 1899 in New York City.
It follows the story of Jack Kelly, a newspaper boy, and leader of the ragged band of “newsies” (fellow newspaper boys). The story highlights the power and significance of the so-called “little man”. Besides the riveting storyline, the Musical has outstanding choreography and a great musical score. The high-quality capture of the broadway magic of Newsies is available to watch on Disney+
2. In the Heights
Lin Manuel Miranda’s masterpiece, In The Heights, is set in Washington Heights – a New York City neighborhood that is on the brink of change. The play deals with the themes of racism, identity, love, passion and lust, and community. This musical is truly revolutionary combining hip hop with Latin rhythms, which means that the choreography is insane.
3. Rock of Ages
Rock of Ages is a jukebox musical that is energetic, big, loud, brash, and a tribute to the 80s. It contains strong and powerful ballads, fierce guitar solos, and features classic rock hits from Bon Jovi, Journey, and Twisted Sister, just to name a few.
The story follows the whirlwind romance of aspiring rock star, Drew Bowie, and small-town girl and aspiring actor, Sherrie Christian, as they desperately attempt to pursue their dreams whilst also being part of the movement to save The Bourban Room.
4. Kinky Boots
Kinky Boots is based on the 2005 film of the same name; it tells the story of Charles Price, a shoe factory owner, who forms an unlikely partnership with Lola, a cabaret performer, and Drag Queen, to save his failing business by creating a line of sturdy stiletto boots that the world has never seen. The storyline, the choreography, the music and lyrics, this musical will leave you feeling inspired and whole.
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical, Evita truly is a masterpiece that concentrates on the Life of Eva Peron, an Argentinian political leader, and wife of President Juan Peron. A poor girl when she was younger, she later grows up to be admired by her people for her compassion for the less fortunate and the Argentine people. The musical shows both the ruthless power and righteous determination of the 20th Century matriarch.
6. An American in Paris
Set in Paris, at the end of the Second World War, An American in Paris is a musical about finding love, happiness, following your dreams and celebrating life, the joys of being alive, and finding a new purpose in life. Featuring a complicated love triangle that is set to the timeless music by Ira and George Gershwin; the musical embraces the complexity and joy of life.
7. Phantom of The Opera
The Phantom of the Opera is a gripping and romantic story that follows the Phantom, a musical genius who resides deep beneath the Paris Opera House; he takes the promising and talented young opera singer, Christine Dais, and trains her for fame whilst falling madly in love with her. One of the most successful musicals of all time, it contains a range of Webber’s musical masterpieces including “The Phantom of the Opera”.
8. Dear Evan Hansen
Dear Evan Hansen follows a young boy in high school who struggles with a social anxiety disorder and longs sp badly for a connection that he fakes a relationship with a deceased student to become closer to the student’s family. Evan is dragged deeper and deeper into his lies and is forced to decide to continue living in his lies or tell the truth and risk losing everything. Dear Evan Hansen’s fast-paced music score and lyrics will have you playing the cast album on repeat. And the m movie has just come out!
Pop, Six, Squish, Uh uh, Cicero, Lipschitz. And now, the six merry murderesses of the Cook County Jail In their rendition of the Cell Block Tango!
Set in Chicago during the roaring ’20s and the hotbed of Jazz, this musical is a satirical take on the corruption of the administration of the criminal justice system. The music, lyrics, and choreography are catchy and sexy and the plotline itself is pure genius.
10. West Side Story
All I can say is to bring the tissues. A modern take on Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story is set in the mid-’50s in a multiracial working-class neighborhood in the Upper West Sider.
It follows the star-crossed lovers from two rival gangs, the Sharks and the Jets, who are of different ethnic backgrounds. The dark themes, energetic choreography, music, and lyrics help to create a focus on the social issues in their neighborhood. The musical was turned into a movie in the ’60s and the remake (directed by Steven Spielberg) will be released this Christmas!
Rent follows the ups and downs of a group of young and impoverished, artistic group of friends as they struggle living in Alphabet City in Manhattan’s East Village. Consisting of an ensemble class, each character’s story of their love, losses, and dream interweave through the narrative to portray the reality of living in the late ’80s in the bohemian world of New York City under the shadows of the HIV/AID.
The music, lyrics, themes, and overall plot of the story emphasize the raw and emotional truth of being a struggling artist.
This musical well and truly is an emotional rollercoaster where you experience both the highs of high and the lows of low alongside the final class on New York’s most esteemed Performing Arts School starting from their first year all the way to graduation. The musical explores complex social issues such as drug abuse, racism, and sexual exploitation as it tells the stories of several students as they strive for a career in showbusiness.
13. Heathers: The Musical
Based on the cult film of the same name, Heathers follows the story of high school senior, Veronica Sawyer, at the fictional school Westberg High. A rock musical, the songs are edgy and catchy and will not leave you disappointed, and the plot twists will keep you at the edge of your seat.
14. Little Shop of Horrors
A horror comedy musical, Little Shop of Horrors is a musical unlike any other with its unique plotline and characters. In its essence, it follows a florist shop worker who raises a plant who happens to feed on human flesh and blood. The musical consists of a musical score with early 60’s influence including early Motown, rock and roll, early doo-wop amongst many others.
15. Billy Elliot
Billy Elliot is based on the movie of the same name. Set against the backdrop of the 1984-85 Miners Strike, the musical tells the tale of Billy who begins taking ballet against the wishes of his father and brother, it explores his own personal struggles for fulfillment as he sees himself drawn to ballet whilst also exploring family and community strife as a result of the Miners Strike.
16. Miss Saigon
Set in the background of the Vietnam war and a retelling of the classic opera Madama Buttlefly, Miss Saigon tells the story of a doomed romance between an American Marine and a young Vietnamese girl who is orphaned and forced to work in a brothel. The story is heart-wrenching and will stick on your mind for years. The recorded live version of Miss Saigon is available to stream on BroadwayHD.
A modern retelling of the lives of Henry VII’s six wives that is presented as a pop concert. So, you best believe that they are catchy and brilliantly crafted songs that hold a feminist message and give prominence to the wives of Henry VII in a modern light.
With COVID-19 lockdowns and curfews still in places in most countries, what better way to spend those hours. These musicals will keep the passion for musical theatre burning, for now you will have more casts to obsessed with, choreography to learn, and songs to play on repeat which is perfect given that all of the musicals mentioned above have cast albums that are available on both Spotify and Apple Music as well as most other music streaming platforms.
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