14 Musicals That Would Make Great Live TV Musicals

14 Musicals That Would Make Great Live TV Musicals (And not be ruined by Network tV)

*cough Rent cough Hair cough*


Live TV musicals have become a popular treat as of late. With recent productions like "Hairspray," "Grease," and "Jesus Christ Superstart: Live in Concert," it's clear that there's an interest -- and maybe even a demand -- for this form of live entertainment. Not all live productions do as well as others, but more often than not they are well-received.

Fox has a live production of "Rent" lined up for January 27, 2019, and NBC is airing "Hair Live" in May 2019. Audiences, particularly the theater crowd, are concerned that censorship will be the ruin of these two iconic musicals when they hit the small screen. There's been much talk about what other shows could be done instead of these two, and here's my list of what I think would make great live TV musicals.

1. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street


Okay, I'll admit that this one would probably require some censorship since we all know what Sweeney Todd actually does for a living. But this dark comedy is gripping and entertaining, certain to capture your attention as you watch with trepidation as Sweeney goes after his victims. "Sweeney Todd" is an ensemble-based show as the background actors serving as a Greek chorus, which would allow the production scale to be bigger as well. I'd love to see Angela Lansbury make a cameo in this, or even return as Mrs. Lovett! Although I wouldn't object to seeing Helena Bonham Carter reprise that role.

2. Rock of Ages

The Hollywood Reporter

After the atrocity that was the 2012 film adaptation of an awesome jukebox musical, we deserve a better live version of the show!

3. In the Heights


Ah, the show that kicked off Lin-Manuel Miranda's Broadway career. Warner Brothers recently announced that they will be making a film adaptation of "In the Heights," which has a 2020 release date. So why not have a live broadcast musical in the meantime? "In the Heights" has an amazing musical score and book with great opportunities for some creative sets. Hell, it could even be filmed on location in Washington Heights to add a gritty realness to the production. "In the Heights" is also a wonderful representation of Latinx community and culture, which doesn't always get a lot of screen time (let alone accurately). Bringing this show to TV would highlight the talent of both current and new Latino and Latina performers, and maybe even introduce new Latinx names to the acting scene. And of course, we all want a Lin cameo!

4. American Idiot


Okay, so it may just be me who wants a TV musical of this show, but why not? "American Idiot" is just as politically relevant as it was 14 years ago. There's potential for some creative set design for this show, especially since the musical was originally performed with one set inlaid with multiple TVs and covered in newspapers. Plus, wouldn't it be cool if Billie Joe Armstrong came in to play St. Jimmy??

5. Legally Blonde

London Town

Now I'm not a huge fan of "Legally Blonde." But many people love both the original film and the musical, which means a TV musical would draw in a large viewing audience. And just imagine if Reese Witherspoon, THE Elle Woods forever and always, made a cameo!

6. Into the Woods


Like with "Rock of Ages," this musical got a terrible movie treatment. (Although it wasn't quite as bad as "Rock of Ages." At least "Into the Woods" got some actors with musical backgrounds.) The movie cut out important parts of the show that would have made the storyline more comprehensive to audiences that weren't familiar with the musical and came more for Meryl Streep, James Corden, and Emily Blunt. The set design for this show could be amazingly dark and beautiful, truly making you believe that you've traveled with the cast "into the woods."

7. The Addams Family


Who wouldn't want to watch a live adaptation of everyone's favorite kooky and creepy family? This would be a perfect live musical to broadcast around Halloween. Addams Family would be a lively and entertaining break from the traditional and, dare I say, over-broadcast Halloween movies (lookin' at you, "Hocus Pocus"). The music is fun and upbeat, with lots of Spanish flavor in its more modern-sounding songs.

8. Godspell

Jeremy Daniel Photography

After "Jesus Christ Superstar" was a big hit for Easter-time, why not do another Jesus-themed musical? "Godspell" has an amazing variety of songs from different genres which would allow casting directors to pull on different kinds of singers. While the set doesn't really change, Godspell is very music reliant and an entertaining show. It could perhaps even be done concert style like JCS was done, since the

9. Spamalot

Jesse Ashton Photography, Haines His Way

If you haven't heard of or seen "Spamalot," then you are seriously missing out, my friend. Spamalot is a musical "lovingly ripped off" from the films "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" and "Life of Bryan." This show is wonderfully light-hearted and hilarious, and you can pull off a lot of cheesy jokes with Spamalot. Better yet, John Cleese could appear as King Arthur this time around, instead of Sir Lancelot as he was in the 1975 film.

10. Catch Me If You Can


The show's book is written like Frank Abagnale, Jr., the star of this show, is putting on a performance for an audience, so this would perfectly transition to a TV performance. "Catch Me If You Can" could even be staged like an old '60s live show in keeping with the kitchy made-for-TV feel of the show -- think "I Love Lucy" or "Bewitched." As long as Aaron Tveit isn't pulled on to reprise his role as Frank (because let's be real, the man certainly isn't passing as under 20 anymore now that his face shows age lines), this could be great!

11. Hedwig and the Angry Inch


Hedwig has some awesome angst-filled rock music, an interesting and important plotline regarding LGBTQ, and did I mention it won a Tony for Best Revival in 2014? Bonus if Neil Patrick Harris or Darren Criss returned to play Hedwig.

12. Les Miserables

Theo Wargo, CBS New York

It's a beautiful (albeit long) show with lots of big set pieces. It would be amazing to see what could be built and how the actors transition from each stage and scene. Also, petition to get Hugh Jackman and Eddie Redmayne to reprise their roles??

13. Sister Act

New Plymouth Operatic

This musical is based on Whoopi Goldberg's 1992 film and it's HILARIOUS. I saw a production of "Sister Act" last year and it's one of my favorites now. "Sister Act" is a beautiful show about sisterhood, love, and God. The music is modern yet appropriate to the '80s time period and will get you up and dance to some funky beats. There's also so much potential to highlight black musical talent in the theater world since several of the leads are black.

14. Beauty and the Beast


Tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme, why not adopt this beloved Disney classic? The show has beautiful music, and an actress who can actually sing the appropriate keys to Belle's songs could be cast as the Disney princess. (Sorry Emma, you were a great acting choice but not the best singing choice.) We saw how exquisite and beautiful the sets for "Beauty and the Beast" can be in the 2017 film, and just imagine how amazing the costumes for the castle's enchanted residents would look!

Popular Right Now

Top 10 Most Overrated Musicals

Do you agree?

What makes something overrated? If you google "Overrated" it will spit out "have a higher opinion of (someone or something) than is deserved." This is 100% true, in the theatre world it means something that's so well liked and talked about nonstop that doesn't need to be talked about as much as it is. This was taken as a survey on the All Things Broadway Facebook page and when stated a musical was asked to give an answer. This is my personal list with a mix of my responses and theirs. To be clear just because it is overrated doesn't mean it is bad or that I dislike the musical. Now here we go with what I think are the Top 10 Most Overrated Musicals

10. A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder

The 2014 Tony Award Musical that lasted for 905 performances on Broadway. This musical made the list simply because it won the Tony award over what I believe was better, even thought this show was very original, Aladdin or Beautiful. The story of the whole thing was decent, the musical wasn't catchy, didn't walk out of the theatre singing the songs.

9. Grease

The 1972 Tony Award Nominee has been done multiple times whether it be on Broadway, Regional theatre, tours, High Schools, and even on TV. This show made the list not just for how often it is done because of how the story ends and the message it leaves behind. The story falls short, a rushed end as the character arcs fall short and the message that you should change for the person you love.

8. Lion King

The 1998 Tony Award winning musical has been open on Broadway for around 19 years, and has played 7,849 performances as of September 4th 2016. This show was been open since forever and it is okay, yet is very unique with the puppets but it is an okay show. But it still has a ton of hype of this musical and it has been open for 19 years, and still brings in the big bucks for Broadway.

7. Les Miserables

The 1987 Tony Award winning musical has been done numerous amounts of time just like Grease. Besides it being done reivial after revival it is a great piece of musical theatre but the hype that the show gets is what makes it keep coming back. The show it's self doesn't need any hype because it is truly great, rather give lesser shows some hype.


The ground breaking Tony Award winning musical was something else when it first came out. Yet it is very overrated, for instance have you seen there rush lines and lotto lines it was basically the Hamilton of 1996. It has not many catchy songs that people leave singing and it is about multiple story lines which for a not so smart audience member won't be able to focus and will end up being not an engaging piece.

5. Chicago

You defiantly had this Tony Award Winning revival of a musical on the list. As when asked people to say why they thought Chicago was overrated someone said "If you want to dance sexy and 'naked' go find a pole. It's time to bring that one back to period dress". Which is interesting because that's what makes Chicago what it is yet that is why it is the Longest Running Musical and it has been open since forever.

4. Wicked

This is one of those shows that was hard to put on the list because of all the conservatory this one had. But at the end of the day Wicked has a good story but it is not the spectacular musical everyone thought it was. It gets so much hype and it has been open since 2003.

3. Phantom of the Opera

This is one of those shows that is full of reprises for most of the show, same consent theme of music if that makes any sense. This show as been open since 1988 and is declared the longest running show on Broadway which gives it a ton of hype. Phantom is "old" but not really fresh with the music type and effects and the show in general. But to me it is one of my guilty pleasures to see.

2. Cats

Cats is very hard to write about because of family connection to the show but it is very overrated. It is people in leotards pretending to be cats and they sing and dance. There is not really a great story in the musical. It is a tourist show for fluffy entertainment.


There is nothing to say to this. But it's Hamilton ..... but I am not paying almost 1,000 dollars to 10,000 dollars to see theater, sorry Lin!

Yours Truly,

David Heguy

Cover Image Credit: Nashville Parent

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

'The Jonathan Larson Project': A Tribute For An Artist Gone Too Soon

No day but today.


I first listened to Jonathan Larson's magnum opus piece, "Rent," when I was fourteen years old. I was a mini-Broadway fan at the time, slowly discovering musicals that I knew meant a lot to other fans. As someone who had only previously listened to strictly rock musicals or the standard musical theatre style, "Rent" was a show that had blended both genres. When I finally finished listening to the show, I was hungry for more. I turned to the internet looking for more shows from this composer, Jonathan Larson.

I knew that "Rent" was Larson's first major show, written in 1996, so I expected to fall through a rabbit hole of eighteen years worth of musicals, each one better than the one before it. I expected to find interviews of Larson on YouTube, talking of his early days as a struggling composer but now having countless Tony Awards, a modern-day Sondheim. But when I typed in his name, I only found two musicals listed, "Rent" and "tick...tick...BOOM!" the latter being a posthumous, off-broadway release.

The morning of "Rent"'s first off-broadway preview performance on January 25th, 1996, Larson died of an aortic aneurysm at 35-years-old. He never got to see his show go onto a successful Broadway run (12 years to be exact, and the eleventh longest-running Broadway show of all time), win four Tony awards (including best musical), and receive the Pulitzer Prize for Drama (one of only nine musicals to ever receive the honor in the Pulitzer Prize's almost one hundred year history). His previously written one-man show "tick...tick...BOOM!" was rewritten and was given an off-broadway run in 2001.

As a young teenager, this was shocking to me, as it had just dawned on me that you could work your whole life toward a certain goal, and never see it come to fruition. In "Rent," the character Roger sings of his "One Song Glory," and unbeknownst to Larson, he was writing his own. "Rent" remains one of my favorite musicals, even after spending almost six years listening to, what feels like at this point, a hundred different shows. This show spoke for a whole generation, and with it's genius score paired with Larson's story, it has always stuck with me.

It's now 2019. "Rent" premiered twenty-three years ago. Larson, if he were still alive, would be 59. And this year, he came out with a brand new album.

Theatre historian Jennifer Ashley Tepper produced and directed a concert, and later this album, titled "The Jonathan Larson Project." The songs that are included a range from cut songs from "Rent" to music that was written, but never recorded or performed. As I sit here, currently listening to this album, I wonder if Larson was planning another show, some of these songs to be included.

The songs received new orchestrations, and five young, well-known musical theatre actors bring them to life. Krysta Rodriguez, one whose voice I can only describe as a force of nature, shines in her solo pieces, most notably "Out of My Dreams." Andy Mientus' contemporary alternative voice fits so well in "Valentine's Day" (a song that was in a few early versions of "Rent") and "SOS." Three newer actors on my radar, George Salazar, Nick Blaemire, and Lauren Marcus have all blown me away with their performances as well, most notably Salazar's powerful "Iron Mike," Blaemire's bittersweet "One of These Days," and Marcus' hilarious "Hosing the Furniture."

I have to give it to Tepper to putting this all together, and I am so happy that this album can open the floodgates to young theatre fans like I was, discovering Larson's genius.

In the final track, "Piano," you can hear Larson performing a demo of the song before it fades into the modern-day, as if Larson was there, performing with them. Through his artistry, he lives on and will continue to live on years after his death, having left a mark on the world.

Related Content

Facebook Comments