In 2016, Hamilton made history by receiving an astounding 16 nominations for the Tony Awards and took home a total of 11 including Best Musical. The phenomenon of Hamilton forms part of a long line of musicals which delighted the public while reflecting the surrounding culture. When done with care, the combination of live music and captivating storytelling in musical theatre can lead to something transformational. As such, here are the 6 best musicals of all time.
West Side Story
The urge and uprising so prevalent in West Side Story still lingers today, long after its Broadway debut in 1957. Staged as an interpretation of Romeo & Juliet from the perspective of warring teenage gangs, West Side Story still remains fresh today thanks to its ground breaking storytelling and choreography which shifted the way musicals were staged. With lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, West Side Story is a timeless classic.
Based on the novel of the same name by Victor Hugo which is considered to be one of the greatest novels of the 19th century, Les Misérables is an often-revived Broadway classic which reimagines the story of the French Revolution. We are introduced to characters such as Javert, Fantine, and Éponine as their stories as told with an intimate delicacy set to the backdrop of some of musical theatre’s most explosive ballads.
Upon its debut in 1996, Rent ushered in a new type of musical theatre experience which reflected both the health and financial crises of the late 1980s and early 1990s – before the rise of Canadian slots online. Set in New York City’s East Village, Rent is based on the opera La Bohème and tells the story of a group of friends and artists struggling with inspiration, HIV/AIDS, and paying the rent.
The Rocky Horror Show
While the film adaptation of The Rocky Horror Show may have been an instant success, it took a little longer for the musical theatre production to gain fame after its premier in 1973. The production has since become a cult favourite and since its Broadway revival in 2000 has featured a bevy of celebrities from Sebastian Bach and Joan Jett to Luke Perry and Dick Cavett.
Guys and Dolls
Set in the gambling underworld, Guys and Dolls succeeds in both an incredible sense of humour and charming the audience. Originally premiering on Broadway in 1950, Guys and Dolls has returned to the stage almost every decade since and has starred everyone from Vivian Blaine in the original production and Nathan Lane and Peter Gallagher in the 1992 revival to Oliver Platt and Lauren Graham in 2009 revival.
Since its premier in 2015, Hamilton has gained an almost global following which is particularly rare for a Broadway musical. This powerful retelling of one of the United States’ lesser-known Founding Fathers told through the eyes of an immigrant narrative starred a cast of largely non-white performers – another major breakthrough for musical theatre as a whole – has won a host of awards including Tony, Pulitzer, and Grammy Awards.