Musical Theatre: A Journey Of Love, Values, and Social Commentary

Top 10 Musical Theater List

Musicals are a form of theatre that uses song and dance to tell a story. They can be found in a variety of venues, from professional Broadway and West End productions to amateur and school productions.

Guys and Dolls is a classic musical that explores the power of love, while Fiddler on the Roof delves into family values and Jewish morals. On the other hand, Fun Home is a contemporary musical that tackles heavy-hitting themes, such as sexuality and social anxiety.

Les Miserables

An epic tale of good and evil, revolution and romance, Victor Hugo’s massive moral drama gets a mighty boost from the impressive cast. Anne Hathaway’s raw, trembling performance as factory worker turned prostitute Fantine is a gusher of agony and passion.

Liam Neeson stars as Jean Valjean, a former convict relentlessly hunted by heartless policeman Javert after breaking parole. Russell Crowe delivers an imposing turn as Javert.

The Lion King

Winner of six Tony Awards including Best Musical, this captivating stage adaptation of Disney’s much-loved animated classic tells the story of a young lion prince. Giraffes strut, birds swoop and gazelles leap to life as the audience is drawn into the sweeping spectacle of the African Pride Lands.

The modern classic features beloved characters such as Mufasa and Nala, Simba and Young Simba, Shenzi and Banzai, Ed and Rafiki.

The King and I

Despite the dated plot, the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic still holds up well, thanks to its themes of democratization, cultural miscommunication and gender inequality. And with a prestigious cast led by Broadway veterans Kelli O’Hara and Jose Llana, it’s a must-see.

Gertrude Lawrence was the original Anna, but the King is a role that defined Yul Brynner’s career (he would play it 4,500 times). He looms large over every production—including this Lincoln Center Theater revival.

Sweeney Todd

Josh Groban and Annaleigh Ashford star in this new revival of Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s classic musical. Johnny Depp stars as Sweeney Todd, the vengeful barber who kills his customers and sends them downstairs to his landlady Mrs. Lovett, who adds them to her meat pies.

The cast also includes Tobias Ragg, Johanna Barker, Beadle Bamford and Beggar Woman. Featuring songs from the original Broadway production, this savory Victorian melodrama is not to be missed!

A Christmas Carol

This adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic tale follows miser Ebenezer Scrooge on his journey with the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future. Starring Suranne Jones as Scrooge, this production also includes Taj Atwal, Jo Brand, and Jonty Stephens.

RYAN KNOWLES* as Jacob Marley. LEIGH BARRETT* as the Ghost of Christmas Past.

Big River

The story of Mark Twain’s 1884 novel is ripe for musical adaptation, and this is a very fine one. The score by Roger Miller (a country musician who had never written a musical) contains songs of country, blues, gospel and homespun political statement.

Huck and Jim’s growing friendship despite huge social barriers is what makes Big River special. The cast includes Daniel Jenkins, John Goodman, Ron Richardson, Bob Gunton and Rene Auberjonois.


The one-and-only Cat in the Hat leads Horton the elephant and Jojo, a Who child who thinks many strange and wonderful thinks, into situations that test loyalties and celebrate community. Featuring songs from Horton Hears a Who and Horton Heats an Egg, the musical reminds us of the value of friendship, loyalty and community.

Keegan Theatre’s production is bright and energetic, despite the tiny stage. The cast delivers the Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty music with strong vocal and dance chops.

Thoroughly Modern Millie

It’s the roaring 20s and small town girl Millie Dillmount is on a quest to find herself. Featuring frisky flappers, dashing leading men and a dragon-lady of a villainess audiences will love to hate, Thoroughly Modern Millie is an evening of madcap merriment.

Rob Ashford’s peppy choreography (typing and typing are included) is a standout, as are David Gallo’s elaborate sets and Martin Pakledinaz’s extravagant costumes.

School of Rock

School of Rock isn’t quite as good as it could have been, but it still manages to deliver a satisfying pumping soundtrack and some surprisingly excellent child actors. Jack Black is perfect as the slovenly guitar instructor, and the kids are genuinely talented.

Joey Gaydos plays Zack, a shy student who Dewey coaxes out of his shell. This was his only acting gig.


Modern Western musical theater evolved from operettas that began to appear in the early 20th century (including those by George M. Cohan). These shows were artistic steps forward beyond revues and frothy entertainments like the Princess Theatre shows of 1915.

Musical theater incorporates music, spoken dialogue, and dance. Its emotional content—humor, pathos, love, anger—is communicated through the words, music, and staging of the entire production as an integrated whole.

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