Musicals are very special to some people. They hold dreams and inspiration. A story told through the form of music and dance, who could ask for more? That being said Broadways has been problematic throughout its history. There are creators who are working hard to give fans more diverse stories and opportunities for actors who deserve some extra kudos. Here are ten of my favorite musicals.
- Six– Have you ever wanted to hear the Queens tell their side of the story of the Tudor court? Well this musical gives you that chance. The music is modern and catchy. The costumes and choreography are amazing. This musical gives audiences a refreshing way of looking at these amazing ladies. The casts are diverse and do a phenomenal job being on stage for the entire show.
- Allegiance– A framed story that is about the dark and downplayed chapter in American history, the Internment Camps for Japanese Americans. The attack on Pearl Harbor turns the cast of characters on their heads. Some want to enlist while others caution them to wait. All are quickly sent away to be treated like criminals at the camps. The score is amazing, transitioning from one part of the story to next. The customs and choreography transport the audience out of their seats and into the action.
- Spring Awakening– There is nothing better than a musical based on a story that was banned in the past. Why was it banned? Well like most coming of age stories there are some raunchy and difficult themes, including those that might be triggering for some in the audience. The teens in Spring Awakening sing through their troubles with an amazing soundtrack. The modern music is a direct contrast to the dated costumes, but it helps remind the audience that it doesn’t matter what year it is growing up is difficult and not all adults are able to help.
- The Lightning Thief– A demigod in modern New York gets sucked into a crazy journey to save the world. Yes this musical is based on The Lighting Thief, in the Percy Jackson series. Percy’s story comes to life with a great soundtrack in this musical. The small ensemble is a nice switch from big Broadway productions. This is a great musical for someone who hasn’t seen a musical before.
- Matilda-This musical is honestly just so inspiring. The soundtrack will have your toes tapping as you root for Matilda. The story is adapted from the book, though some of you might know this title by the movie instead. The choreography is fantastic. Also the cast is full of talented kids!
- Hadestown-This musical has a story behind it that is equal to the epic it is based off of. Anais Mitchell was running late for a gig and she started to think of lyrics that would inspire her to write a folk based album that retold a story of Greek mythology and tragedy. Two lovers face the odds with catchy music and amazing choreography. The lighting and costumes move the story along right down to the Underworld. Hermes tells the story of love, loss and the struggle of poverty to those who will listen.
- Wicked– What if the Wicked Witch of the West’s side of the story was told? That is what the musical based on a best selling novel ponders. Elphaba wants to learn how to use her magic and work beside the Wizard as she enters her school, Shiz. The story flows with songs that will be stuck in your head. I can speak from experience as my friends and I used to annoy everyone with them in high school. The costumes and lighting for the musical are simply amazing.
- Hamilton– To say that this musical has changed the way many people think about Broadway is an understatement. From the basics of the score to the casting Hamilton is a musical that opens doors for new talent. It tells the story of the founding father of the same name who helped build America and was then swept under the rug. The music is a mix just like the country whose story it tells. The costumes are traditional and the choreography is modern. This musical helped to pave the way for musicals like Hadestown and the need for a diversification of Broadway.
- RENT-Taking a classical opera and turning into a contemporary musical about class struggle during the AIDS crisis in New York was a gamble. The creator saw the struggles of those around him, the lives that were being lost and turned that pain into art. A group of friends and poor artists sung their way into popularity. There is even a movie with most of the original cast in it. This is a musical you will never forget and it launched the careers of many in it’s cast.
- Cinderella– This is just a classic musical. There are two movie versions of this, including the beautiful version with the singer Brandy. Cinderella is a mistreated girl who just wants to go to a ball for one night, but this musical has evolved with every revival. There are costume tricks and gorgeous dancing. The music is truly magic.
Musicals mean different things to different people. I choose to spotlight these because they have all helped me through something or hold some really special memory, above are just a few examples. My mom loved Broadway and she kindly rewatched Cinderella with me dressed up as a princess. Rent, Wicked and Spring Awakening are a huge part of my transition into adulthood with my oldest friends. I remember saving up to see Wicked and just sitting there open mouthed after all that hard work, it was totally worth it. Hadestown helped me get through losing a family member to suicide.
These have been part of the soundtrack of my life. I hear a song and am back in the kitchen with my mom, in the car screaming lyrics with friends or crawling my way out of a dark place. I am lucky to have had music play such a big part of my life. The experience is indescribable, the energy just runs through you. Broadway is constantly evolving and I hope you will give one of these a try. If I didn’t have your favorite on the list then leave it in the comments below.
ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!!!