My love for musicals sparked back in elementary school when we did a show on show tunes. My class got “Getting to Know You” from The King and I, I even remember the huge hoop skirt a classmate of mine had to wear because she played Anna. We also sang “It’s the Hard Knock Life” from Annie. But the song that I loved the most was “Season of Love” from Rent, all the classes in my grade sang that together for the show’s finale. My school also put on a musical, and my music teacher used popular songs but changed the lyrics, I can’t remember all of the ones we used but one of them was “Suddenly Seymour” from Little Shop of Horrors. This was the spark, the beginning of my love for musical theatre, and what really ignited it was Broadway thanks to my mom.
I’m a pretty quiet introverted person, and growing up my mom would drag me to Manhattan with her to see shows just to get me out of the house. Then in 2012 the film adaptation of Rent came out and that’s when my love for musicals was sealed. I have seen almost 100 shows, over 100 if you count repeats, and just to be clear, I’m not a musically talented person, haha I just like to watch them.
So now I just want to
gush talk about my top 10 favorite musicals that I’ve seen.
10. The Drowsy Chaperone
The Drowsy Chaperone is a musical with a book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar and music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison. It opened on Broadway in 2006 and closed in 2007.
Never in my life have I ever laughed so hard while watching a musical, oh my GOD I was actually crying because I was laughing so much.
To be honest I don’t really remember what the story was about but I just remember loving the crap out of this show. That’s all I really have to say about it hahaha.
9. The Book of Mormon
The Book of Mormon is a musical with books, lyrics and music by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, and Matt Stone. It opened on Broadway in 2011 and is one of Broadway’s most popular musicals at the moment.
I saw this musical with my mom before it won the Tony for best musical because we knew it was going to be almost impossible to get tickets after the award show, it was already so popular before it won. This is honestly one of the most ridiculous musicals you will ever see, but also one of the funniest. I should also mention that there are a few Lord of the Rings references *nudge nudge*.
I saw the original cast but unfortunately didn’t get to see Josh Gad, instead I saw his understudy who was pretty great but I was still disappointed I didn’t see Josh. I enjoyed this musical soooooo much, the music makes you want to sing along and dance in your seat. There are some pretty (did I mention this already?) ridiculous parts, so be prepared for that, haha.
Once is a musical adapted based on the film, the book is written by Edna Walsh with many original songs by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová. It opened on Broadway in 2012 and is still running.
This is a beautiful musical, really sweet, simple, and it will most definitely tug at your heartstrings. I saw this with my mom, we were in the nosebleeds and I remember her saying “this is will the Tony for Best Musical”, and she was right! It did win. And rightfully so. I totally fell for Steve Kazee as “Guy” especially when he sang “Gold”, ahh love that song so much. He ended up winning the Tony for Best Actor in a Musical and his acceptance speech will bring tears to your eyes.
I felt a wide range of emotions when I saw Once, I felt happiness, hope, sadness, anger, and worry. The story will do that to you. I heard about the show a little before I watched it, and I only heard really good things so I was pretty excited to see it. I never saw the movie so I didn’t know what the story was about, but I did know that song, you know, “Falling Slowly”.
7. Next to Normal
Next to Normal is a musical with book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey and music by Tom Kitt. I debuted on Off-Broadway in 2008 and soon moved to Broadway in 2009. It closed later in 2011.
I saw this show for the first time with my mom and we were in the second row, I hated it. I don’t know why people like to be near the very front, it’s like sitting in the first row at the movie theater. It’s like you can only see one section at a time and you’re right up and close to seeing the actors sweat and spit and I mean it’s fine they do that, they’re natural bodily functions whatever but still, ha. I saw the show for a second time with a couple friends and our seats were much better. Not too close and not too far. I cried both times I saw the show.
This is one of those stories you have to be prepared for, at least for me. It’s really heavy and will most likely make you cry buckets. I was lucky enough to see most of the original cast, the only one I didn’t get to see was Aaron Tveit, really wish I did though! The music in this show is absolutely amazing and so so incredibly moving, whenever I listen to the soundtrack I feel emotionally drained by the last song. The story centers around a woman who is bipolar and her family.
6. In the Heights
In the Heights is a musical created by Lin-Manuel Miranda (he also wrote the lyrics and music). It opened on Off-Broadway in 2007 and then Broadway the following year. It closed in 2011.
In the Heights is probably one of the most enjoyable musicals, and it certainly has some of the best songs in my opinion. This musical doesn’t have the stereotypical show tune sound, there are Latino and Hispanic influences and even some rapping (something not exactly common in musical theatre). Also most, if not all, the characters are POC! A great show for representation. I wish I got to see the original cast! Especially Lin.
There are some sad moments in this show but overall it’s so fun to watch, also it doesn’t hurt that there’s a Lord of the Rings reference in one of the songs, “96,000”! Honestly, I think I learned more Spanish from In the Heights than I did in high school, haha. I’ve never been able to rap, but I think I do a pretty good job when it comes to this musical. Not to toot my own horn or anything. 😉
5. Les Misérables
Les Misérables is a musical based off of the novel by Victor Hugo. Music is by Claude-Michel Schönberg, and lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer. It first opened in France in the 1980s, and opened on Broadway for the first time in 1987.
Oh Les Mis, such a fantastic musical. It’s always been pretty popular, but with the recent film adaptation it seems as if everyone knows what “I Dreamed a Dream” is, and I’m not complaining! The music is timeless, the melodies are superb, and the story is both heartbreaking and heartwarming. I saw the show when it was revived on Broadway in 2006 with a friend, and we had some pretty fantastic seats, it was center orchestra, but not too close to the stage. I don’t know if my friend liked it, but I know I did!
I went into the show not knowing anything about it, and I remember sitting in my seat thinking “Wow these songs are long. Is there no dialogue at all? Does anyone here talk??” but I still really enjoyed it. It also helped that Lea Solonga was in it! I freaked out quite a bit in my seat when I saw her name in my Playbill! 😀 Les Mis came back to Broadway earlier this year and I saw it with my mom. I enjoyed myself much more the second time around because I had time to get to know the music and story. I would have enjoyed myself much more if the person sitting next to me didn’t SOFTLY SING ALL OF THE SONGS THE ENTIRE TIME.
Memphis is a musical by David Bryan who wrote the music and lyrics and Joe DiPietro who wrote the lyrics and book. It opened on Broadway in 2009 and closed in 2012.
There’s always that one scene in every musical where I just zone out, either the dialogue isn’t holding my attention or the song isn’t that interesting for me. But with Memphis, that didn’t happen, I was completely captivated the entire time I was watching this show. I felt attached to the characters straight away, and fell in love with the love story.
The musical is set in the 1950s in Tennessee, and centers around a man named Huey and a woman named Felicia. Because Huey is white and Felicia is black, and because it’s the 1950s in the South, they face many difficulties with their relationship. Memphis draws you in with its story, and the amazing music and dancing, and makes you feel invested in Huey and Felicia. It’s one of my all time favorite shows and in my opinion, it closed too soon. It’s a wonderful musical that shows how harmful racism and discrimination is, shows that you should go after your dream and to trust your heart. Ahhh, I love this show so much!
3. Spring Awakening
Spring Awakening is a musical adapted from the play by Frank Wedekind. The music is by Duncan Sheik and the book and lyrics by Steven Sater. It opened on Broadway in 2006 and closed in 2009.
I didn’t know what to expect when I went to see Spring Awakening, I think it was my mom who really wanted to see it. It’s a pretty intense show, something wasn’t prepared for. When I saw it, little did I know that this musical would soon become one of my favorites. The music is very interesting, it’s hard for me to assign it to any particular genre. The music is also amazing. It’s the kind of music that makes you want to close your eyes so you can fully immerse yourself in the story.
Much of the story involved, um, mature themes, ones that I didn’t know much about at age 13 (ex: masturbation, abortion and suicide). Haha, I’m pretty sure my mom was surprised when we saw it together. What’s great about the musical is that it shows young teenagers dealing with real emotions, emotions that many adults like to pretend don’t exist in the lives of teenagers, such as sexual desire and curiosity. Spring Awakening shows the harm it can cause when teenagers are not taught what they need to know about their own bodies, and when they aren’t supported to do their best. This resulted in people’s deaths. A very heavy show but so very powerful and beautiful.
2. The Phantom of the Opera
The Phantom of the Opera is a musical based off of Gaston Leroux’s novel. It first opened in 1986 in West End and then on Broadway in 1988. The music is composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Charles Hart.
Throughout most of my childhood I was terrified of The Phantom of the Opera. In first grade (I think) a teacher of mine played the opening number from the musical during class and from the first notes I felt SO scared. I did not want to hear the songs or see the musical. I had no idea what I was missing. My dad even someone got me to watch the silent Phantom movie which didn’t help me at all, if anything it made me more scared. And when the film adaptation came out my parents dragged me to see it and I spent the entire time cowering in my seat hiding behind my popcorn and nachos. A few years later I decided to give the movie another try and yes, I was still scared, but the music. The music in this musical is just so beautiful. Then one day I sucked it up and went to see it on Broadway with my mom, I remember hiding behind my sweater when the Phantom first came on stage but wow. The music. Beautiful.
I like the movie, but nothing compares to seeing it on stage, especially the masquerade scene. It’s a heavy show, there’s murder, deceit, violence, kidnap… definitely not something you have in mind when you want to see a happy show. I went from being terrified of the musical to loving it. I’ve seen this show five times, the most times I’ve seen the same show. The songs have the power to tug at your soul, touch your heart, make you cry, feel sad, and feel hopeful. Thank you, Andrew Lloyd Webber!!
Rent is a musical created by Jonathan Larson, he wrote the music and lyrics. Based off of Giacomo Puccini’s opera La bohème. It opened on Off-Broadway in 1996, and soon moved to Broadway. It closed in 2008.
And my number one favorite is Rent, the show that started it all for me. I saw the movie with a friend in fifth grade, and I remember that we were the youngest people in the movie theater. I fell absolutely in love with the music, the characters, everything. I sat in that movie theater crying my eyes out over Angel and wanting to sing along during every song even though I didn’t know the lyrics. Also I need to add that I really enjoyed the fact that the majority of the original cast starred in the movie.
I saw the musical on Broadway for the first time about a year later, and I saw it again another two times. If the show didn’t close, I’m pretty sure I would have seen it MANY more times. And when it gets revived (and I know it will!!) you can be sure that I will get myself a ticket!
Angel and Collins are among my all time favorite couples, I can’t help but get a huge smile on my face whenever I hear “I’ll Cover You”. But then that huge smile goes away when I hear the reprise. 😥 I really admire Angel, you know, expect for the whole…dog murder.
What I love about Rent are the messages it sends: to love the people important in your life, cherish the time you have, live your life to the fullest and to not give up on those you love when they need you to help them.
No day but today. ❤
To be honest my top 10 favorite musicals always change but as of right now I am satisfied with my selections. 🙂