5 Musicals to Add to Your Playlist

Brian Gring, Staff Writer

From thespians, to musicians, to ordinary music enjoyers, one cannot deny the impressiveness of musicals. Combining monologues with intense medleys and dance breaks is no small task to perform, and quite the masterpiece to behold. Some musical excel in all of these areas, and some merely have catchy soundtracks. Here are 5 musicals worth watching, or at the very least adding to a playlist.

Newsies – Loosely based off of the Newsboys’ strike of 1899, Newsies tells the tale of a group of paperboys living on the streets of New York as they fight their oppressive employers. Led by the charismatic Jack Kelly, the boys go toe-to-toe with news industry giants Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst. Top songs from the show include ‘Santa Fey’ where Jack sings about his dreams of leaving New York behind for a calmer life, and ‘Seize the Day’ where the boys rally together in a strike against their employers. This David vs Goliath story is a modern classic that is quite worth a watch.

Les Miserables – Based off of Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel by the same name, Les Mis chronicles the life of former convict Jean Val-Jean, who evaded parol after being convicted for stealing a loaf of bread. The story then cuts to the Paris rebellion of 1832, where Val-Jean’s story lands him in the middle of the fray between french schoolboys and the french government. The tragic story features ballads like ‘On my Own’ showcasing a love not reciprocated, and rally cries for the french people such as ‘Do you hear the people sing’.  Les Mis‘s time tested story is one that must be enjoyed by all.

Wicked – Serving as a prequel to the classic film The Wizard of OzWicked tells the story of Elphaba, the ‘wicked witch of the west’ and how she became worthy of that title. Her interactions with other characters from the original movie, including Glenda the ‘good witch’ help to give depth to the infamous villain. The show opens with ‘No One Mourns the Wicked’ serving as the bridge between the show and the movie and act 1 concludes with the masterpiece that is ‘Defying Gravity’, showcasing Elphaba’s power. Fans and haters alike of The Wizard of Oz will enjoy this much needed addition to the original story.

In the Heights – The first creation of award winning playwright Lin Manuel-Miranda, In the Heights tells the story of Washington Heights, the overlooked Manhattan barrio and its residents as they try to keep the community alive. In the Heights is told from the perspective of Usnavi, a young immigrant from the Dominican Republic with high hopes for himself, his family, and his community. Top musical numbers include ‘96,000’ which goes into detail about what each community member would do if they won the lottery, and ‘Paciencia y Fe’ the details of cannot be given as to avoid spoilers. One must watch the show in full to understand how great In the Heights truly is.

Into the Woods – With an unorthodox take on classic fairytales, Into the Woods combines the stories of Cinderella, Rapunzel, Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding-hood, and original characters into one major adventure. The fun yet suspenseful tale includes entertaining songs like ‘Agony’ which shows two princes moping over their romantic circumstances, and ‘Giants in the Sky’ narrating how Jack found the beanstalk. Old stories told in a new light makes for quite the entertaining show.

In the Heights, Into the Woods, Newsies and Les Miserables all have movie-musical versions available to watch, although they do not live up to live performances. The Wicked movie is currently in production, but soundtracks for all of these shows are available to stream, so take a listen and watch them live if you can.