My Favorite Musicals


13 Apr
13Apr

Each show to be on a Broadway stage holds a beloved place in someones heart. And although every show is unique, some shows just never get old after you've listened to the soundtrack for the 100th time. In this post, I will be sharing some my favorite musicals of all time!


Hamilton


As seen as one of the most famous shows to ever be on Broadway, it's no surprise that this show wouldn't be on my list. In 2016, the show received a recored-setting 16 Tony Award nominations, winning 11 of them, including best musical. This worldwide phenomenon is the show that got me very involved with Broadway. The show tells the story of Alexander Hamilton through its hip-hop, pop, and traditional show tunes, written by Lin-Manuel Miranda. The shows 46 songs progress the story as we see Hamilton's triumphs and defeats over his lifetime. The shows shift of war and revolution to navigating family and politics makes Hamilton to be a roller-coaster of emotions. 

The show is also changing the way Broadway casts their shows as well, with Hamilton, George Washington, and other historical figures being played by black and Hispanic actors. The shows unique plot, a show about the founding fathers, and its use of modern day music with Broadway classics, makes this show one of my absolute favorites. One day I hope to see the show onstage, and with its huge success, I'm certain it will be on Broadway for many years to come.

Favorite Song(s): Non-Stop, Wait For It, My Shot, Yorktown

Favorite Character(s): George Washington and King George III

Favorite Costume: Maria Reynolds


Dear Evan Hansen


Dear Evan Hansen tells the story of a teenager and a lie that could not be undone. This show is bringing a new group of people to Broadway and has started a conversation about mental health.  There have been many shows to be on Broadway to involve suicide and mental health, but none in a way like this. Evan Hansen, a teenager struggling with social anxiety, lies about being friends with a student who committed suicide, and changes his world forever.

This musical has taken mental heath, and made it into a modern day scenario. The shows usage of technology and how it affects our dill lives makes Dear Evan Hansen one of the most modern shows to be on Broadway. The incredible scenic design, created by David Korins, further shows the impact of technology and how everyday people react to death due to being online. Both the character Evan Hansen and the show Dear Evan Hansen have raised awareness for teen suicide and mental health. With a main message of the show being "You are not alone", Dear Evan Hansen has impacted not only Broadway, but todays society as well.

Favorite Song(s): Sincerely, Me, Waving Through a Window, Words Fail

Favorite Character(s): Jared Kleinman, Evan Hansen, Connor Murphy

Favorite Costume: Connor Murphy



Once on This Island


What is stronger: love or death? Well if you wanted to find out, take a trip down to the Caribbean Sea. Once on this Island is a one-act musical that tells the story of the gods, and a peasant girl that uses love to bring together two different worlds. After Agwe, the god of water, unleashes a terrible storm that kills many villagers, the gods save one little girl, Ti Moune. As she grows up, she begins to wonder what her purpose is in life and why she was saved by the gods. The gods hear her prays and laugh at her, although Erzulie, goddess of love, wants to give her what she wants. She makes a bet with Papa Gi, demon of death to prove, once and for all, what is stronger, love or death.

This show is absoutely beautiful, from its sets and costumes, to the plot that will move you to tears. Each song moves the story along in a way that makes you want to dance and cry at the same time. The choreography in the show is so beautiful and becomes almost a symbol of perseverance throughout the show. And with the 2017 revival, which is what made me fall in love with this show, has an immersive scenic design that transports you to the island. The fact that such a breathtaking story can be told in only one act is mind lowing to me, and definitely recommend this show to everyone anting to start getting into Broadway, or is looking for a new show to break your heart. This musical will tell a love story in a way you never saw before, with its stunning costumes and incredible songs, this musical is just overall amazing.

Favorite Song(s): Mama Will Provide, Waiting For Life, Forever Yours

Favorite Character(s): Ti Moune, Asaka

Favorite Costume: Papa Ge


Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812


In all honesty, this has to be one of the craziest ideas for a musical I've ever heard of, and it's incredible. The show is a sung-through musical adaptation of a 70-page segment from War and peace by Leo Tolstoy. The show focuses on Natasha's affair with Anatole and Pierre's search for purpose and meaning in his life. Personally, I do find the show to be a bit confusing the first few times listening to it, but nonetheless it still is a beautiful musical, both in looks and more technical aspects.

Besides from being one of the most original concepts for a musical I have ever seen, I love this show for much more than the plot and catchy songs. The Great Comet has some of the best lighting and scenic design of any show to be on Broadway, which were also the two Tony awards they won. The show was also nominated for its outstanding choreography, but sadly ddi not win. The show added new life to a book that some would argue is very boring. Although this musical had a rough ending, I definitely believe the concept and show as a whole were advanced for its time and recommend this show to anyone who needs a new, original, musical to fall in love with.

Favorite Song(s): Dust and Ashes, Prologue, The Private and Intimate Life of the House, Letters

Favorite Character(s): Pierre Bezukhov, Anatole Kuragin, Natasha Rostova

Favorite Costume: Hélène Kuragina


Wicked


This show holds a special place in my heart, it was the first musical I ever saw on Broadway. Wicked is a show based on the novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. The show begins before Dorothy arrives in Oz and is told from the perspective of the witches. The musical has many references to the film The Wizard of Oz and the novel. The show gives us background to how many things in the movie came to be, such as the tin man, the cowardly lion, the flying monkeys, and more. 

With its incredible sets and amazing costumes, Wicked is a show like no other. The show stopping end of act one song Defying Gravity gave me chills when I saw the show. The show also tackles the issue of racism and the question of Good vs. Evil, by showing the segregation of Elphaba and her green skin;  and whether someone is truly evil if someone had good intentions with a bad outcome. The show recently became the sixth longest running Broadway musical and that is not a surprise. The concept of a twist on a classic while also showing the bond between the two witches has made Wicked one of my favorites and I recommend it to anyone, theater lover or not.

Favorite Song(s): Dancing Through Life, Defying Gravity, Popular

Favorite Character(s): Elphaba, Glinda, Boq

Favorite Costume: Glinda


Newsies


A musical about the Newsboy Strike of 1899? Yes, you heard me right. This musical is hands-down my favorite Broadway musical that Disney has ever made. The show follows the story of Jack Kelly, Irish newspaper delivery boy who is seen as the leader of the "newsies", who are either orphaned or homeless. Jack meets Davey Jacobs and his younger brother and ends up forming the newsies strike, to protest the unfair increase of newspaper prices. The boys then meet Katherine Plumber, a young girl who works for the newspaper, who helps spread the word about their protest. The show then shows the triumphs and defeats of the strike, love, and family. 

This show is absolutely incredible in every way. From the amazing choreography, to its message about who your true family is, this musical musical is a show made for everyone. The choreography, a mix of both ballet and tap, is a spectical to see on stage. Each song comes with a performance like no other, and also brought them their well deserved Tony Award in this category. The show also won for Best Original Score, again, very well deserved. Every song is a classic, from The World Will Know that makes you feel as if you had joined the strike, to Santa Fe, the show stopping act one finale. From the overture, this show sucks you into the story and you feel as if you are on the streets of New York. Each character has their own unique personality and cares the show perfectly. This Disney classic tells a story about finding who you are and knowing your worth in an incredible way you will want to see time and time again.

Favorite Song(s): The World Will Know, Santa Fe, Once and for All

Favorite Character(s): Race, Jack Kelly, Davey Jacobs

Favorite Costume: Katherine Plumber


Pippin


Probably one of my favorite plots to be on a Broadway stage is Pippin. Pippin defies theater "rules" immediately by talking to the audience. The shows tells the story of a young prince Pippin, played by a new actor in the troupe, trying to find significance and meaning in his life. A mysterious theater group, lead by the Leading Player, tell his story. He teaches everywhere for where he belongs, war, the countryside, war, and religion. Suddenly, the actress playing Catherine, talks about her attraction to Pippin, and the Leading Player worries it is no longer acting. Although Catherine was convinced he was the one, he flees, still weathering for his purpose. The Leading Player and the troupe try to convince Pippin to jump into a box of fire, to make the finale incredible. Just as he is about to jump in, his conscience and a woman in the troupe, the actress playing Catherine, defy the script and Pippin realizes the only place he was truly happy was with her. The show ends with Pippin feeling "trapped but happy" because he realized the most ordinary life is where he is the happiest.

The story as a whole is a lot to unpack, and there was a lot of summarizing above for my opinions to make sense. The show is absolute perfection. Each song, written by Stephen Schwartz, tells the comical but extistenial storyline perfectly. The use of costumes convey a message even before the first word is spoken. The costumes of the acting troupe are from different time periods and various elements that establish the shows unconventional mood right from the beginning. In the 2013 revival, they changed the ending, and even Stephen Schwartz said he preferred, and so do I. After everyone leaves after pippin wouldn't go though with the finale, Theo, Catherine's son, is left alone on stage. He sings a verse of "Corner of the Sky" and the Leading player and troupe come back on stage and surround Theo. This ending shows that the existential theme is like a cycle, and they will replace Pippin with Theo. This show is absolutely wild from state to finish. With the fun costumes, amazing score, incredible characters, and one of the best musical villains, this show is stunning in every way. 

Favorite Song(s): Corner of the Sky, Magic to Do, On the Right Track

Favorite Character(s): Pippin, Leading Player

Favorite Costume: Fastrada


Spring Awakening


My favorite show to ever be on a Broadway stage, Spring Awakening. The show can only be described in now word: masterpiece. When watching the show, it doesn't feel like a musical, it feels like artwork coming to life. The shows starts with a confused Wendla asking about where children come from and see she is being told lies. Mortiz is having erotic dreams that are driving him to insanity and asks his best friend, Melchior to give him writings and illustrations about everything. The boys and girls then share their desires for intimacy, especially Wendla and Melchior. The girls then learn of their friends abuse by her father and because she wants to learn how she feels, Wendla asks Melchior to beat her, which he was reluctant at first but then takes his own angers out on her. Mortiz, who has just failed his final exam, starts to contemplate suicide. Act one ends with a confused Wendla and Melchior have sex in a hayloft, both unsure of what they are doing, but knowing it is powerful.

Act two beings with both of them discussing and reflecting on what they had done. Mortiz is then seen with a gun, but runs into a childhood friend Ilse, who tries to get him to walk with her. He refuses, and immediately regrets his choice, seeing her as his last sign of hope. Mortiz then take the pistol and shoots himself. At school, the teachers find what Melchior had written to Mortiz about sex and blames his suicide on Melchior and is then expelled. During this chaos, Wendla is ill and is taken to the doctor and reveals she is pregnant. Melchior is sent to a reform school and he kept contact with Wendla through letters. One letter is taken by the boys at the school and used in a masturbation games and as a boy reads the letter, Melchior finds out she is pregnant, and escapes to try and find her. He tells Ilse to tell Wendla to meet him at the cemetery, and when he arrives he sees Mortiz grave and swears to raise their child right. He then notices a new grave and when he reads the name, it is revealed to be Wendla's, who died after a fall abortion. Melchior is about to commit suicide when the spirits of Wendla and Melchior offer him strength. The beautiful final scene is all the characters on stage, sing about how conservative views will not last forever, and they are the new open minded generation. 

Again, this show holds a special place in my heart because I consider this to be my favorite Broadway musical. The show takes place in 19th century Germany and deals with teenagers discovering their sexuality, accompanied with a folk and rock score. I know, a lot to unpack, but once you see how it is portrayed on stage, you will see how this masterpiece of a show is told. The show centers about Wendla, a naive teenager who normally learns things by experience, the rebellious and intelligent Melchior, and sexually confused and nervous Mortiz,. The show tackles many issues, such as abuse, sexuality, and suicide. Each song is amazing, every character is so complex with multiple layers to who they are as a person, and the themes expressed in this show are moving. This show definitely tackles some tough issues and I consider this to be a show everyone must see in their life. 19th century Germany or 21st century today, the shows message will always remain true, and people will always find something in this show to relate and latch on to. This show is absolute perfection and if I could only recommend one musical for everyone to see, it would be this wonderful show hands down.

Favorite Song(s): The Mirror-Blue Night, All That's Known, Touch Me, Totally F*cked

Favorite Character(s): Melchior Gabor, Moritz Stiefel, Hanchen Rilow

Favorite Costume: Wendla Bergmann


In the Heights


As the entire planet Earth already knows, Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote of the most well-known shows to every be on Broadway. But what  most people don't know is he wrote a Tony award winning musical years before Hamilton.  This show takes place one the span of there days in Washington Heights. We first meet Usnavi, who has an amazing story on how he got his name, and introduces everyone who lives on the block. The show tells a beautiful story about culture and family. In the Heights also changed Broadway forever by being the first musical to introduce hip-hop to the stage. 

Miranda is a story telling genius and pulls you into this world around the Barrio and the people that live there. From the relationships and feelings everyone has for each other, whether they realize it or not, shows romance in a natural way. It also has a huge theme of family. Usnavi's parents with died, and he was mainly raised by Abuela Claudia, who has also raised most of the block as well. Usnavi also has a moment in the show where he flees to the Dominican Republic, but after seeing a mural in memory of Abuela Claudia, he changes his decision. At the end of the show, he reflects on the past few days and realizes the street corner will always be his true home. Every song is amazing, with is rap and hip-hop styles to its incorporation of Spanish in most of the songs. The shows choreography, costumes, scenes design, and overall message is stunning. This show shares the importance of love and family in a new way that changed Broadway forever.


Favorite Song(s): 96,000, Benny's Dispatch, Enough, Blackout, Champagne

Favorite Character(s): Usnavi, Benny, Abuela, Vanessa

Favorite Costume: Carla


Hadestown


This show may be new to the Broadway stage, but has quickly become one of my favorite musicals. Hadestown takes place in a sort of post-apocalyptic and tells the Greek mythology story about Orpheus and Eurydice. The show focuses on the love story of Orpheus and Eurydice, and his journey to Hadestown, Hades factory in the underworld, to save his fiancee.

The show itself has just been nominated for a total of 14 Tony Awards, and deserves every nomination it received. Each actor does a tremendous job of bringing these mythology characters to life in a way you've never seen them before. From Hades, who is all about power and control, to Persephone, who cares about freedom and springtime, this show has a character for everyone. Not only is every song and actor a work of art, the more technical elements of this show really make it stand out. The moving stage incorporated throughout the show immerses you during Orpheus's journey and the unique use of lighting adds a new element to this already incredible show. Whether you are new to Broadway theater or want to know what show is going to be the next Broadway hit, make sure to check out the incredible musical that is Hadestown.

Favorite Song(s): Chant, Chant II, Wait for Me 

Favorite Character(s): Persephone, Hades, Orpheus

Favorite Costume: Persephone


The Hunchback of Notre Dame


Although this show has sadly never been on Broadway, it has to be on my list. This absolutely beautiful show is my favorite musical of all time. This musical based on Victor Hugo's novel in 1831, this show combines music from the 1996 Disney classic film and new songs from composer Alan Menkin and lyricist Stephen Schwartz. There have been multiple productions of this show, first showing in Germany, but my favorite was the 2015 Paper Mill Playhouse production.he musical stays truer to the novel, with its darker elements and themes and that Quasimodo has gone deaf over the years of ringing the bells. From the breathtaking scenes of Notre Dame, detailed costumes, and an overall incredible score, this show is one everyone needs to listen to.

The musical relies on a series of musical leitmotifs, which are reprised either instrumentally or vocally. One, if not the biggest leitmotif in the show is the phrase, "What makes a monster, and what makes a man?" This phrase is first asked at the beginning of the show, and in the finale, after the audience has seen each characters choices and lives. This ending makes the audience thoughtful after the curtain closes, further showing the shows complexity and moral ambiguity. Everything about this show is nothing less than perfection. The way it shows the good and bad of characters and leaves you questioning how you view the world is incredible. This musical will make you laugh, cry, and leave you with a question that cannot be answered, makes this musical my absolute favorite and I recommend it to everyone. 

Favorite Song(s): Made of Stone, Hellfire, Esméralda, In a Place of Miracles 

Favorite Character(s): Quasimodo, Clopin Trouillefou, Esméralda

Favorite Costume: Esméralda 

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