‘Music touches us where words alone can’t’, is a famous quote, an established fact and feeling of many. It reinforces our faith in the power of music. This is perhaps the reason why music has been a part of dramatic presentations since times immemorial. Musical theatre is a form of theatrical performance that blends various forms of expression. Some are singing, dancing, acting, dialogue delivering etc. and technical aspects of entertainment. Myriad of emotions like love, humour, anger, pride,empathy and many others are communicated flawlessly through the medium of Musicals.
Western musical theatre emerged during the 19th century and caught up momentum in the early 20th century. They were then called ‘Broadway Musicals’. Broadway Musicals are presented in about 40 professional theatres with 500 or more seats. These theatres are located in the Theater District and Lincoln Center along Broadway, Midtown Manhattan in New York City. They have enormously influenced American popular culture.
Broadway musicals are all about stunning stage setups, dynamic scene changes, bright lights, exclusive costumes, incredible live singing, dancing and acting. Coupled with these are technology gimmicks. These factors make the Broadway Musicals an absolute favourite with not just theatre and music lovers but also common people.
Here's our list of Broadway musicals in New York City that one just cannot miss:
$50 - $100
Wicked, acclaimed as the ‘Broadway’s Biggest Blockbuster’ by The New York Times, has been one of the longest running shows in the history of Broadway. Into its 15th year now, it has never failed to impress audiences of all ages, gender or stratum. Wicked, an inspirational musical with a powerful message will take you through an emotional journey - one of love, friendship, clashes and trust.
Why Watch Wicked
Wicked is a revolutionary musical changing the viewers’ take on the classic epic, Wizard of Oz. It has stunning visuals, splendid theatrical effects, superb acting and enthralling music. This smashing hit musical, has been an all time favourite. Wicked has been a winner of several prestigious awards including Tony awards and Drama Desk Awards.
$51 - $100
Chicago, winner of 6 Tony Awards, 2 Olivier Awards and a Grammy®, is a musical masterpiece. A racy tale of two rival vaudevillian murderesses locked up in Cook County Jail and perpetually scheming to grab the limelight and attention of the media, Chicago is a Broadway tale unlike any other.
Why Watch Chicago
Exposing sex scandals, murder cover ups, exploitation by rich and famous, Chicago talks of truths that lie behind the scene. It is a story of fame, fortune, seduction and notoriety. What makes Chicago a must-watch? A steamy storyline, glamorous leads, show stopping songs & some of the most astonishing dances.
A Bronx Tale
A Bronx Tale is a phenomenal musical. Directed by two-time Academy Award winner Robert De Niro and four-time Tony Award winner Jerry Zaks. It is a classic story of criminal world taking you back to the dark life at Bronx Circa 1960. Based on true story of Chazz Palminteri it reveals the life of mobsters and mafia.
Why Watch A Bronx Tale
A Bronx Tale sensitively tackles budding love, loyalty to a charismatic mobster, respect and the bonds between family. Caught between conflicting emotions the protagonist strikes a sentimental chord with the audience. Powerful performances, true to life stage settings, captivating music are some of the things exceptionally brilliant about this musical. This musical has graduated to the bucket list of many.
Spongebob Squarepants presents one of the world’s most beloved characters come alive through this musical. The show is a dazzling rush of colour and zest. Enthralling plot rolls out Spongebob Squarepants coming to save Bikini Bottom from total annihilation of their undersea world.
Why Watch SpongeBob SquarePants
The musical has over a dozen songs by some of the biggest names in pop music including Sara Bareilles, John Legend, David Bowie and Brian Eno, Steven Tyler, Plain White T’s, Cyndi Lauper, and more. From hip-hop, soul, disco, and heavy metal to pure Broadway this musical is a foot tapping rhythmic bliss. It is a creative riot of talent. It has clever costumes, sets, festooned with tinsel, neon and bubbles. This is not just a favourite with kids but a complete stress buster for adults as well.
School of Rock
$51 - $100
School of Rock is a marvellous theatrical adaptation of the 2003 hit Hollywood film by the same name. Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tony nominated Glenn Slater make this musical the most exuberant show in years. The musical follows Dewey Finn, an out-of-work rock singer and guitarist substituting as a teacher at a prestigious prep school.
Why Watch School of Rock
Unbelievably delightful live performances by these young kids are sure to leave you awe- inspired. A soundtrack of your dreams and lyrics that will stick in your head long after you’ve left the theatre, this musical has a palpable energy to move you physically as well as emotionally. School of Rock is not just about the empowering force of music but about life lessons as well.
Dear Evan Hansen
Closing Mar 25
$100 - $200
Dear Evan Hansen, the winner of 6 Tony Awards, including Best Musical for 2017 is one of the most remarkable shows in musical theatre history. This startling and intensely beautiful new musical brings us face to face with with life as a 17 year old. It shows the way we live it with changing lifestyles and standards.
Why Watch Dear Evan Hansen
Ben Platt puts forth a true to life performance as the lead protagonist, Evan. Manoeuvring and coping up with anxiety, depression and the set social norms he takes us through a journey so relatable. Dear Evan Hansen has a n emotionally charged theme. Brilliant acting and soul stirring music are sure to leave you welled up. This heart wrenching musical has a contemporary take. Despite being a new Broadway musical it has struck a chord with varied audiences and critics alike.
$50 - $100
Anastasia is a stage adaptation of the 1997 animated quasi-fairytale movie. It is Directed by Darko Tresnjak and has intensely gratifying music by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens. The musical is inspired by the mystery and myth surrounding the life of Grand Duchess Anastasia.
Why Watch Anastasia
Anastasia is deep rooted in Russian history. The musical is a heartwarming rendition of the story of a young woman set on a journey to find her identity, family and love. The political undercurrents, manipulations, human vulnerability, passion and love are some of the elements that keep the audience mesmerised. It has unbelievable set designs, stunning costumes, endearing performances and great soulful music. This makes Anastasia a must watch by all age groups.
The Lion King
$50 - $100
The Lion King is a beautiful stage adaptation of the classic Disney movie by the same name. It takes you along the heartfelt journey of a young lion cub, Simba, discovering various values in his journey to become the king of the jungle. This spectacular musical has been one of the longest running shows and has been captivating audiences with unparalleled vigour.
Why Watch Lion King
The Lion King is directed by Julie Taymor, music by Elton John, lyrics by Tim Rice and musical score created by Hans Zimmer. It has ingenious costumes, skillfully crafted masks, matched by talented performers, unbelievable sets with riot of colours and a beautiful storyline, making it one of the most successful Broadway shows loved by people of all ages.
Once On This Island
$100 - $150
'Once On This Island', is an Olivier Award-winning musical with soulful songs written by Tony Award-winning team of Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty. You witness the remarkable journey of Ti Moune, a fearless peasant girl as she falls in love with someone across islands, culture and class.
Why Watch Once On This Island
'Once On This Island', despite its small band, minimal sets and cast possesses a strong passionate foundation. It stands tall amongst musicals of any scale. It Displays lively energetic performances. It has vibrant Caribbean sets, coordinated choreography and a heartwarming theme. This Musical has a magical effect on its viewers. With eight Tony nominations including those for best musical, book and score, this Musical is impossible to resist.
$50 - $100
Aladdin is a timeless musical based on the classic 1992 Disney animated film by the same name. This exceptional piece of musical excellence has been directed and choreographed by Tony Award winner Casey Nicholaw. The story revolves around a street urchin who finds a magic lamp with a genie in it that fulfills his wishes.
Why Watch Aladdin
The elaborate sets, special effects and splendid costumes weave the theatrical magic of a ‘Genie-us’ show attracting audiences of all ages. The show features fresh additions by Tony and Academy Award winner Alan Menken. Lyrics have been penned by the legendary Howard Ashman, Tony Award winner Tim Rice and famous book writer Chad Beguelin. One of the best stage musicals currently, Aladdin takes you to a fantasy world.
The Phantom Of The Opera
The Phantom of the Opera follows the story of a deformed composer who haunts the grand Paris Opera House. Away from the outside world, the lonely Phantom mentors a budding, gorgeous singer Christine, and develops romantic fondness towards her. When Christine begins seeing a handsome suitor, the Phantom is furious, and torments the opera house.
Why Watch The Phantom of The Opera
The Phantom of the Opera is one of the most loved Broadway productions and a theatrical masterpiece. It is the winner of 7 Tony Awards, including Best Musical. With over 10,000 performances, it is one of the longest running musicals on Broadway. It is Based on the 1910 horror novel by Gaston Leroux and is adapted into countless films. This musical is a highly captivating dark theatrical performance as it wields suspense and romance. A must watch show.
The Book Of Mormon
$50 - $100
Winner of 9 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, The Book of Mormon ingeniously delivers wit and humor. Created by masterminds Matt Stone and Trey Parker (South Park) and Robert Lopez (Avenue Q), this brilliant social and political satire brings black humor to the stage like never before, and is one of the best musicals of all time.
Why Watch The Book Mormon
The Book of Mormon Musical is a work of satire on Mormon beliefs and practices that will leave you thoroughly entertained. It follows the story of two Mormon missionaries as they attempt to share their spiritual ideas with the people of a remote Ugandan village. The nonchalant locals preoccupied with more pressing troubles such as AIDS, famine, and oppression from the local warlord have a cynical take on their preachings. This leaves the packed theatre cackling with delight. With nine Tony awards and enthusiastic reviews worldwide, this musical has been declared as a must see Broadway show by many, rightfully earning it a place on this list of best musicals.
$50 - $100
Kinky Boots is a dazzling and Joyous musical and the winner of 6 Tony awards, including the award for Best Musical. The musical follows the story of a young man, Charlie Price who inherits a bankrupt shoe factory after his father’s death. He then gets into an unlikely partnership with a cabaret performer and drag queen Lola. Together they save the business and discover each other as not being so different.
Why Watch Kinky Boots
Kinky Boots first premiered on Broadway in March of 2013. An all-out musical extravaganza, the show’s heartwarming story brings people together, while shunning stereotypes of gender and affiliations. A gorgeous display of color, music, and dancing, Kinky Boots isn’t just a show, it’s a fun experience that will have you leaving the theatre happy and in an upbeat mood.
Hamilton, with music, lyrics and book by Lin-Manuel Miranda is the story of America’s Founding Father Alexander Hamilton. Originally an immigrant from the West Indies he became George Washington’s right-hand man during the Revolutionary War. The musical embarks on his political and personal journey. Rife with controversies in his story makes this a sensational theatrical marvel.
Why Watch Hamilton
Hamilton is one of the most successful Broadway musicals ever made having won a record-setting 16 Tony nominations, winning 11, including the one for Best Musical. It also has received 2016 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album and the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Featuring a score that blends hip-hop, jazz, blues, rap, R&B, and Broadway, Hamilton is an adrenalin thumping performance. This is one of the most popular Broadway musicals right now, so it's best to get your Broadway show tickets ASAP!
A heartwarming and entertaining story about an outspoken matchmaker, follow Dolly in her attempt to find the perfect match for grumpy "half-a-millionaire" Horace Vandergelder. All seems to be right on track - that is, until Dolly finds herself falling for Vandergelder. What ensues is a whole lot of drama and some serious scheming. Can Dolly pull off winning her dream man? Find out in this charming revival.
Why Watch Hello Dolly
Hello Dolly is a musical masterpiece directed by four-time Tony award winner Jerry Zaks and Michael Stewart. Featuring an outstanding performance from Bette Midler in the lead role, this musical is a charmingly honest comedy. This unparalleled “Broadway legend”, Hello, Dolly! was first produced on Broadway by David Merrick in 1964, winning 10 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, a record held for 37 years! The show has become one of the most enduring musical theatre hits, with four Broadway revivals and international success.
The Band's Visit
After a sold-out run Off-Broadway, the hit musical makes its debut on Broadway! Hailed as the show you should see if “you're looking for signs of new and exciting life in the contemporary American musical" - The Band’s Visit promises to be a one-of-a-kind experience.
Why Watch A Band's Visit
The Band’s Visit is directed by David Cromer and features Tony Nominee lead actor David Yazbek. The heartwarming story follos a group of Egyptian musicians who mistakenly arrive in a small town in Israel's Negev Desert. Left with no choice, they seek help from the locals. The travellers unexpectedly have a beautiful memorable time. Establishing the deep connections of heart, music and laughter this musical reaffirms our faith in humanity and oneness. Its ravishing music and romantic undertones steal your heart away.
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
$50 - $100
Beautiful is the story of Carole King, one of the most successful female songwriters of the 20th century. The musical captures her early career and rise to success while exploring her relationships with her husband Gerry Goffin and their musician friends, duo Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann. The story journeys through King’s transformation from songwriter to singer, as she struggles to find peace and balance with her relationships.
Why Watch Beautiful
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical is a jukebox musical with a book by Douglas McGrath. It was an instant hit since it premiered in 2014 and has won 2 Tony Awards and a Grammy Award for Best Musical Theatre Album. The musical has been directed by Marc Bruni and original music score is by Gerry Goffin and Carole herself. It also includes Carole King’s greatest hits “It’s Too Late,” “So Far Away,” and “I Feel the Earth Move”.
Come From Away
$50 - $100
Come From Away is a musical based on the true story of the tragedy of 9/11. An isolated community played host to thousands of people landing from across the globe when their planes were diverted to Gander, Newfoundland. Putting aside the culture clashes and language barriers, the people of Gander cheered the stranded travellers with music, an open bar and a welcoming heart.
Why Watch Come From Away
Come From Away premiered on Broadway in March, 2017 and has received audience appreciation as well as critical acclaim. Written by husband-wife couple Irene Sankoff and David Hein, the musical is based on a true-story. It succeeds to highlight the collective force of humanity, even in the direst of circumstances such as the tragedy of 9/11. With rousing music and evocative performances Come From Away is one of those New York City musicals that just pulls at the strings of audience member’s hearts.
$50 - $100
An empowering musical, Waitress tells the story of Jenna, a waitress and an expert pie maker who is struggling with a loveless marriage. An unexpected pregnancy draws her close to her gynaecologist. And a baking contest in a nearby county offer her a chance at a new life. Her customers and fellow waitresses offer her conflicting recipes for happiness but Jenna must decide for herself.
Why Watch Waitress
Starring five-time Grammy Award-nominated singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles, Waitress is one of Broadway’s most recent successes. Uplifting and relatable, the musical strikes a personal chord with audiences. Bareille’s score debuted at number ten on the US Billboard 200 chart, and instantly received outstanding critical acclaim.
To discover other shows on Broadway, check out our guide on the Best Broadway shows in New York. There are tons of other On and Off Broadway shows as well that you can consider! The choice is all yours!
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