Growing up, I belted out to so many show tunes from some of the greatest musicals I had ever listened to. Musicals have been an integral part of music history and culture, and believe it or not, they're still alive. More and more musicals are getting brought to life, but not enough people are talking about them! Let's start out with the classics and work our way to the more modern and hyped up ones.
1. The Phantom of the Opera
Your classic boy meets girl, boy falls in love with a girl, girl falls in love with another boy, and boy threatens to kill people and burn a building down if she doesn't sing with him in his musical. The usual. Okay, but not really. The Phantom is a creepy, stalkerish man who wears a mask to cover the disfigured side of his face caused by his traumatic childhood. He meets a beautiful operatic singer named Christine, with whom he's in love with, and offers to teach her how to become the greatest singer, but she can't know what he looks like. That is until Christine's childhood sweetheart Raul comes back into Christine's life and the Phantom feels threatened; the drama!
"Rent" was the first Broadway musical I ever listened to and it opened up a world of other Broadway musicals I never knew I needed. "Rent" is an artistically unique story set in the late 1980s about a close-knit group of friends/couples, including some that share AIDS/HIV. There are disease and addiction-related issues that are realistically portrayed in this amazingly weird musical. They're all about expressing their hurt and pain, but also love through meaningful songs and fun-to-watch dance choreography. Nothing beats screaming all of the words to "La Vie Boheme" and getting every single one of them right.
3. In the Heights
Before "Hamilton", Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote a lively musical about the neighborhood struggles of growing up in Washington Heights. The musical is essentially centered around the idea of a $96,000 lottery ticket that many are hoping to use to get out of the heights and be free. "In the Heights" is filled with songs composed of salsa beats and rhythms, as well as other generic Spanish melodies. This is Lin-Manuel's Miranda way of paying homage to his Hispanic (Puerto-Rican) heritage!
4. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
This is a complicated one: Sweeney Todd is a barber-turned-serial killer who is seeking revenge on a judge who wrongfully put him in jail and separated him from his wife just so the judge could have her. He is told that the judge raped his wife and she died by poisoning herself, leaving the judge with their only child. Sweeney Todd kills his clients to fulfill his bloodlust, but the one he's really craving to kill is the judge. The story is definitely…dark, to say the least, and sinister. The music alone gives me goosebumps. However, my favorite thing about this musical is all of the ironies and plot twists in every corner. Who can you really trust?
5. Les Miserables
"Les Mis" is an iconic musical that follows main character Jean Valjean on his journey from the moment he's released from prison to his future authoritative self (I don't want to give any spoilers!), as well as his struggles on understanding how to live life the right way. He struggles with morals, religion, and being open about everything he goes through in the meantime. This Broadway show represents fighting for your freedom and for what you want. The musical focuses on other characters as well, but a lot of the depressing drama tie back to Jean Valjean. You will, however, feel for all of the characters (Oh, Eponine...). As sad as the story is, the songs are just as powerful.
My beloved, most favorite musical ever. Another musical beautifully and intricately created by Lin-Manuel Miranda. The story centers around the life of and (believe it or not) drama surrounding the founding father, Alexander Hamilton. This all-time popular, and ridiculously expensive, Broadway hip-hop musical continuously reminds you of the amazing gifts life can give you and "how lucky you are to be alive right now." If you're wondering why it's so popular, it's because someone literally turned a History book into an insanely amazing, and easy to follow, hip hop album. I mean, this isn't something you see every day. Hamilton is extraordinary and legendary. Whether it's the fun and childish raps of Lafayette, Laurens, and Mulligans that make you want to jump around, or the constantly intense, competitive showdowns between Hamilton and his frenemy Burr, Hamilton has something for everybody.
Musicals have a way of uniting people to tell a story that revolutionizes everything for the audience. If these musicals don't speak to you, there are a ton more Broadway musicals suited quite literally for everyone. Broadway is more diverse now than ever!