Musical theater has undergone a resurgence of popularity in the last decade, with several shows rocketing their cast into stardom. Lin-Manuel Miranda and Idina Menzel are now household names. Big Broadway musicals like Wicked and Hamilton are the perfect addition to the shows that came before them, like Phantom of the Opera and Les Misérables. The best Broadway musicals are the ones that, when done just right, create a kind of magic onstage.
With so many incredible shows, it’s tough to choose the best Broadway musicals. This article will look at five of the most popular shows and how you can experience their magic for yourself without a trip to NYC.
Into the Woods
First written by Stephen Sondheim in 1987, this musical would later play on Broadway and on the West End in London. Later adapted into a movie in 2014, its success led to a Broadway revival of the show in 2022.
This charming production is a reimagining of classic fairy tales, following the story of a baker who must remove a witch’s curse so he can start a family with his wife. His journey to remove the curse sees him interacting with many beloved characters such as Little Red Riding Hood, Jack from Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella, and others.
The show includes many memorable musical numbers, including “Into the Woods” and “Children Will Listen”.
Lovers of Sondheim’s music should reserve tickets to the Tribute to Stephen Sondheim with Mary-Mitchell Campbell, a part of the Colorado Symphony’s Imagination Artist Series.
Hamilton is the creation of Lin-Manuel Miranda, who first staged the show at Vassar College in 2013 after seven years of composing the unique combination of singing and rapping. It wouldn’t reach Broadway until 2015, when it became a global sensation. It’s had three tours through North America and has been on London’s West End since 2017.
The show follows the life of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, as he flees poverty, rises to power, and helps shape the United States Constitution. It ends with the famous duel between Hamilton and long-time associate Alexander Burr.
The musical takes what could be a dry bit of American history and makes it engaging and memorable. With numerous awards, it’s cemented itself as one of the best Broadway musicals. Audiences love numbers such as “Non-Stop” and “Wait For It”.
Comedian Mel Brooks wrote this musical in 1967, then produced it as a film. It wouldn’t hit Broadway stages until Nathan Lane, and Matthew Broderick starred in the 2001 production, winning a record-breaking 12 Tony awards.
The story follows two Broadway producers who scheme to raise money for a show they want to flop, called Springtime for Hitler. They work hard to ensure it’s a failure but are surprised that when the show opens, it is so bad that the audiences love it as a piece of satire.
This show has many memorable, catchy hits, including “Springtime for Hitler” and “I Wanna Be a Producer”.
West Side Story
West Side Story is one of the many musicals to first emerge in the 1950s and 1960s. Written by famous Broadway musicals duo, Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim, it first premiered on Broadway in 1957. It’s since had five Broadway revivals and two film adaptations.
The show follows two rival gangs, the Jets and the Sharks, as they fight over territory on the Upper West Side. In a twist straight out of Romeo and Juliet, members of the rival gangs fall in love. The two attempt to stop the fighting, but efforts end with fatal results.
This show produced some of Sondheim’s most well-known songs, including “I Feel Pretty”, “America”, and “Maria”.
The Phantom of the Opera
No list of the best Broadway musicals would be complete without mentioning The Phantom of the Opera. Originally a book by Gaston Leroux in 1910, the Andrew Lloyd Weber musical debuted on the West End in 1986 before coming to Broadway in 1988. The show is the longest-running Broadway musical of all time, with over 13,000 performances.
The show follows the rise of Christine Daae, who yearns to be an opera star, and the mysterious Phantom who lives below the opera house and guides Christine’s career. Weber had wanted to write a romantic musical, and the love triangle between Christine, the Phantom, and Christine’s childhood friend Raoul was precisely the inspiration he needed. Audiences will surely recognize numbers such as “The Music of the Night”, “The Phantom of the Opera”, and “All I Ask Of You”.
Experience the Magical Music of Broadway in Denver
The Colorado Symphony is hosting a series of shows featuring the magical music of Broadway, including the Tribute to Stephen Sondheim with Mary-Mitchell Campbell. You can also get tickets for An Evening with Bernadette Peters, who has starred in Broadway shows such as Hello, Dolly! and Into the Woods Buy tickets to individual events or keep the music going all year long by becoming a subscriber.
Get your musical fix and experience all the magic of Broadway right here in the Mile High City by booking your tickets today!
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