Musicals have been a great source of entertainment for people for a long time now. Historians say that musicals date back as far as 2,500 years ago when the ancient Greeks had comedies and tragedies performed in their open-air amphitheatres. Today, there are various types of musicals with hundreds of musicals falling in various genres. We have musicals adapted from books, from films, remakes, and even modern musicals!
While watching musicals live are definitely an experience, recorded copies of the play are also available to the public. Even better, some theatre productions made their musicals free to stream during these times! For theatre geeks and newbies out there, we have compiled a list of musicals that you will surely love!
To anyone who loves theatre and musicals, Hamilton is definitely one of the modern musicals on their list. It is an award-winning and critically-acclaimed Broadway musical based on Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton biography. For a musical based on a biography, Hamilton is a joy to watch while still being actually informative on history. The cast is amazing, and the songs are insanely good. Where else can you watch a musical with music that has a mix of hip-hop, rap, R&B and broadway music? Not only the theatre geeks love this show, but those who may not be interested in musicals but are fans of the modern music genre can appreciate Hamilton! With 11 Tony Awards, 7 Olivier Awards, a Grammy Award, and a Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Lin Manuel-Miranda taking six years to write the musical was worth it.
Dear Evan Hansen is another popular name we hear in the musical world. An intensely emotional musical with a very important message. The story is centered on Evan Hansen, a socially awkward boy, who writes letters to himself at the advice of his shrink. One of these letters ends up with Connor Murphy who soon commits suicide. This leads Evan Hansen to lie to Connor’s family that the both of them were best friends, a lie that soon became out of control.
Apparently loosely based on an incident from the writer, Benj Pasek’s during his time in high school, Dear Evan Hansen successfully shows a story about depression, suicide, and self-acceptance. Not only does Dear Evan Hansen have a brilliant cast that is able to act out the story well, but it also has a great line-up of songs that are catchy and impactful.
Waitress is one of those modern musicals that was adapted from a film with the same name. The show is known for being the first Broadway show to have an all-female creative team – including the singer, Sara Bareilles, who was responsible for the music and lyrics of the show. The musical is the story of Jenna Hunterson who gets pregnant by her abusive husband. To escape her reality, she joins a baking contest and starts an affair with her doctor.
While the show generally received mixed reviews, there is no doubt that one of its best features is its score. Moreover, while it depicts a quite realistic abusive relationship, the story is overall about the women of the show. Deadline describes the musical perfectly,
With its perfectly baked music and down-home feel, Waitress is the musical equivalent of a comforting hug — but also a swift kick in the crotch for toxic masculinity.
Another film musical adapted from the films is Heathers: The Musical. The musical was based on the 1989 classic teen comedy Heathers that follows the story of Veronica Sawyer, a nobody, that soon joins her high school’s top clique, the Heathers. The film is now even a cult classic. Unlike its film counterpart, Heathers: The Musical chose to forego the 80s theme and opted for a “timeless” setting that any teenager can relate to. With the costumes being so colorful, and the music being excellent, the musical is actually a good starter show for anyone who wants to get into theatre – especially the young ones!
Book of Mormon is definitely one of the best modern musicals of all time. A nine-time Tony Award winner, the Book of Mormon is a satirical musical of two Latter-day Saints missionaries who try to preach their faith in a remote village in Uganda. However, they soon encounter the challenges the village is experiencing such as poverty and HIV/AIDS. Despite the plot sounding so dark, the writers Robert Lopez; and South Park‘s creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone were actually able to make Book of Mormon a musical comedy.
While there were concerns, the Church of Latter-day Saints responded “that The Book of Mormon might be entertaining for a day, but that the religion itself can change your life.” Furthermore, they have actually taken advantage of the musical and started advertising in the show’s playbills. Other than the commentary on the Mormon church, the musical is also able to comment on colonialism and gender politics with several songs such as We Are Africa and Man Up.
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