Musicals! A Top Ten List

Posted 15 July, 2014 by Trish in Life / 30 Comments

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top ten musicals


I adore musicals. Love love love them. And yes, I do randomly break into song every once in a while. My girls think this is hilarious. Scott just rolls his eyes. I remind him every time that he picked me. Oh, but musicals.

Growing up we always listened to music. I was young when Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and Beauty and the Beast were released by Disney. My parents obligingly played these soundtracks (much as I do now with Frozen) over and over and I loved the sense of experiencing the movie without actually watching the movie. I could go on and on about the times when I visited my grandma’s house and my sisters and I would watch the musicals she had on video–Sound of Music, The Wizard of OZ, The Music Man, Annie, The King and I. We would dance, we would sing. There is something truly magical about musicals.

I don’t remember the first time that my parents took us to the theater to watch a musical but there were a few summers where we had seasons tickets to the Dallas Summer Musicals. We saw dozens of musicals during those summers and my love for spontaneous singing and dancing was born. My first musical love was Phantom of the Opera; I loved listening to my mom’s soundtrack and soon bought myself the full-length soundtrack and would listen over and over. Next came Evita when the movie with Madonna and Antonio Banderas was released. I can still sing all of the words to all of the songs–mostly from memory. Then Les Miserables–oh Les Miserables! and then RENT while my then boyfriend got me hooked. Unfortunately my love for musicals is not shared with Scott but that doesn’t stop me from discovering new soundtracks and occasionally tricking him into seeing a show with me (he recently contested that Jersey Boys was the best musical he’s seen). I cannot wait, however, until I can hook my girls

For years I’ve been planning to share my favorite musicals with you. I’ve had the list written in my notebook for so long and when I was working I would listen to each of my favorite soundtracks and think about what I wanted to share about each one. Seeing today’s Top Ten Tuesday topic about Top Ten Favorite Non-Books, I knew that this would be the perfect time to finally talk musicals with you.

Musicals! A Top Ten List

Phantom of the Opera – Often I can’t decide if Phantom or Les Miz is my favorite musical, but I can’t possibly watch or listen to Phantom without being moved to sobbing tears. The Point of No Return is one of the most haunting and beautiful songs in a musical. When the Phantom and Christine are singing together at the end of the song, it’s enough to rip my heart out.

Les Miserables – The ultimate epic story told through the absolutely gorgeous soundtrack. There is not a more beautiful musical. If you haven’t seen the stage production, try to get your hands on the 25th Anniversary production at the O2 in London. It presented in concert format rather than traditional musical but tears, y’all. All the tears. I have to share the below video with the different versions of Jean Val Jean. Try to ignore those goosebumps on your arms–I dare you.


Aida – Elton John and Tim Rice. Perhaps this is a lesser known musical? It was my first Broadway experience and Adam Pascal and Heather Headley provide such strong vocals to the soundtrack. If you ever have a chance to watch this musical or listen to the music, I can’t recommend it enough.

Evita – Andrew Lloyd Webber. I’m a fan. And I admit that I really really love the Madonna and Antonio Banderas version (another one I’ve never seen on the stage). And oh, A Waltz for Eva and Che – I may have watched this scene in the movie a trillion times.

Wicked – Based on the book by Gregory Maguire, the play focuses a bit more on the music but with Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel as the lead vocals there is much to love. While the play itself wasn’t one of my favorites, I absolutely adore the music and have been trying to use it as a replacement for the much listened to Frozen soundtrack.


Miss Saigon – Plus that giant helicopter on the stage? But really, I can’t listen to Miss Saigon without breaking into tears by the end. Plus “Why, God, Why?” is one of the most powerful songs in a musical.

The Sound of Music – A throwback to my childhood but I couldn’t make a top ten list that didn’t include The Sound of Music. The stage production is a little different than the movie, but we’re all familiar with the songs, right? One day I will see this in Salzburg at one of those cheesy dinner theaters. I can’t wait.

RENT – If you can believe it, I have never seen the stage version of RENT. One day I will and I’ll be hard pressed to not sing along all of the words that I love so dearly. This was a tricky one because I basically had to work out the plot of the play from the songs and when I realized just what was happening. RENT shares an amazing story of love. I’m sure you’re familiar with Seasons of Love:


Mamma Mia – My favorite was when we watched this in Dallas and a little kid got up in the aisle during Dancing Queen and started shaking his booty. It was the most adorable thing ever. In other words ABBA will rock your socks off. This musical is so much stinkin’ fun. Too bad the movie didn’t live up (really, Pierce?!).

Jersey Boys/Cabaret – Ok, this is a tie because I’m more familiar with Cabaret but I haven’t seen it on the stage, only movie. I’ve seen Jersey Boys on the stage and it was fantastic but I haven’t listened to the soundtrack nearly as much as any of the others. See also Bombay Dreams, which I love the music for but still don’t know very much about it. Sometimes it’s tough piecing together a musical’s plot by just the songs!

Chicago – 5, 6, 7, 8. Jazz, Sass, and Bob Fosse. Sexy, Sultry, Sinfully Delicious. I love Chicago–even the Hollywood version. “Cell Block Tango” is one of my favorite “belt it out in the car as loud as you can” songs. Even listening to it now I can’t help but give my hips a bit of a shake.


Do you love musicals? What would be on your Top Ten Musicals list?



30 Responses to “Musicals! A Top Ten List”

  1. All those and Hairspray and a Chorus Line. And Cats. Actually all of Andrew Lloyd Webber. Jesus Christ Superstar too. I love musicals.

  2. We get an annual subscription to a theatre company near us every year as a Christmas present, so we see a musical there at least once a year. We are going to Les Miserables next week — my first time seeing it! We’ve seen Guys and Dolls, Miss Saigon, Godspell, The Music Man, and others I can’t think of now. I think my favorite oldie is Oklahoma or Brigadoon. I would love to see Avenue Q!

  3. I love this! My mom did the same thing to me, but with movie musicals. I grew up LOVING Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Bye, Bye Birdie, among dozens of others. I’m a little shocked that I JUST heard Les Mis for the first time this year when I watched the new movie.

  4. I love musicals but haven’t see several of these! I loved Chicago and Wicked. I’d love to see Jersey Boys but to be honest I never quite got into Les Miserables. I”m now having the urge to go back and rewatch the Sound of Music! I mostly remember her spinning around on a hill!

  5. Rhonda

    Trish loved the blog love have my absolute favorites Miss Saigon rent jersey boys just saw the movie Miss Saigon saw it in London when it first opened was swept away. Cried &cried.Mama Mia loved how the audience sang&danced a concert&a .musical loved Rent Camelot Le Miz remembering all these shows&where we saw them.

  6. A few things:
    1. I got all the goosebumps just READING your comments on Les Mis. Definitely my lifelong favorite. And just NO to the movie version – what a travesty. London Cast Recording Forever.
    2. Be jealous: I saw RENT in London summer of 1998 – most of the original cast, original UK production. Changed. My. Life.
    3. I am such a geek.

  7. Hmmm, nice list. It’s probably no surprise that I would have Wizard of Oz on my list. Other choices for me would be Avenue Q which was AMAZING and Wicked which would probably be my favorite stage show I’ve seen. EVER. I saw both of those on Broadway back in 2004 during their original runs when I was traveling as an IT consultant. I have the soundtracks on my iPhone.

    I also have the soundtrack to Rent, even though I wasn’t really a fan of the movie. The soundtrack is awesome, especially that main song which gives me shivers and nearly makes me cry every time I hear it. But the movie is a little too depressing and bohemian (EVERYONE HAS AIDS). But I like the underlying message of love.

    Mama Mia the stage show is phenomenal. Mama Mia the movie is essentially unwatchable. UNWATCHABLE.

    I also loved Chicago. I saw the traveling show as well as the movie. I have the movie soundtrack on my iPhone as well. Cellophane Man and All That Jazz are my favs.

    I need to see Jersey Boys. I would like to see the stage show for Rock of Ages, but after that train wreck of a movie, I no longer really want to.

  8. Deb Nance at Readerbuzz

    Isn’t this a great list?! We were lucky enough to see Mamma Mia and Wicked in NYC.

    Thanks for sharing all these great titles. I am adding lots to my queue today. I don’t know much about tv or movies so I settled for making a list of mood-boosting books: Be-Happy Books.

  9. Be more jealous of me….I saw the original Broadway production of Rent. Cried through most of it since it’s loosely based on people I knew in college back in the 1980’s.

    My favorites are largely very old school– anything by Rogers and Hart and a mixed of much more modern stuff–Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

    We used to go to a San Francisco group called 42nd Street Moon who do staged “readings” of old and forgotten musicals. The Grass Harp is one of our favorites.

    But the one I know word for word is West Side Story.

  10. I’m embarrassed I didn’t think of this!! LOVE this list!
    And yep, I definitely love musicals. I’m playing in the pit for Sound of Music right now. :) I think my all-time fave is La Cage aux Folles. My only problem w/musicals is that I don’t tend to get to SEE them, but I can hear the story going on up on stage. It’s like an interactive audio book for me. LOL
    Great post!

  11. Ti

    With my kids in musical theater I have learned to appreciate many musicals. They’ve done, Oliver, Annie, Wizard of Oz, Sound of Music, Beauty and the Beast, Grease, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, The Music Man, Alice and Wonderland (original production), Peter Pan and I am forgetting some others.

    I haven’t seen many outside of this list but I saw Wicked and loved it. I would love Rent, I’m sure as well as Caberet. I would love to see Kinky Boots and we just bought The Teen tickets to see Once which is for his bday this month.

    I am hoping that this children’s theater that we work with does Mary Poppins soon. I really like that one.

  12. I love musicals, and so does my youngest son. The boyfriend can do without them, though. I have a long list of favorites, but Phantom of the Opera and Rent share the #1 spot.

  13. Ahhh!!! I LOVE musicals, and I am SO WITH YOU on Point of No Return being the most stirring song in Phantom. FABULOUS. Les Mis is complete amazingness though I’ve never seen it on stage (sigh.) If I were to add to your list, I’d mention Fiddler on the Roof and Brigadoon (I was in a high school production of it and I’ve got a thing for Scotland.)

  14. I hope my daughter will love musicals as much as I do. :-) Great list, Trish! I often break out in song too (often our own songs), so I can relate. Mouse does too now, which makes her dad smile and me grin from ear to ear. :-)

  15. Musicals! What a most excellent choice for today’s post. I love them! Cats was my first – I saw it on Broadway when I was in middle school – it’ll always have a special place in my heart. After that, most of my favorites are on your list – Phantom, Les Mis, Evita(I loved that movie too – watched it so many times), Rent, Sound of Music. It’s all kind of making me want to break out in song right now. I just loved the Jersey Boys movie too, though I’ve never seen it on stage. I kept wanting to clap after the songs. LOL! Extra hat tips to The Scarlet Pimpernel and 1776, which aren’t among my absolute favorites but definitely have a few *great* songs, themselves. Great post – thanks for the excuse to talk musicals. :-)

  16. I love musicals too. I saw Dream Girls and Rock of Ages recently and had such a great time at both of those! I love love Broadway. The one I actually didn’t enjoy at all was Billy Elliot. I thought for sure I would love that one because I think that is an amazing movie. Also.. Elton John created the show. But it was just a flop to me. Not all that great.

  17. I LOVE MUSICALS SO MUCH, TRISH! I used to like them fine, then I lived with two girls who LOVED them, so I saw a lot and kiiind of got addicted. And now I live with boys who do not help to indulge my musical love AT ALL (stupid boys). Les Mis is absolutely my favourite (I know the singing in the film is bad, but it was my very first introduction to it so I will obviously love it forever) and Wicked is amazing, The Sound of Music is my love, Chicago is fab… THIS IS ALL THE BEST!

  18. I’ve never seen The Sound Of Music all the way through. Something always interrupts me. Someday I hope to get to the end.

    My favorites from your list are Mama Mia and Chicago.

  19. We used to listen to musical soundtracks on long car trips and my sisters and I would each take parts. I’m sure the people in the cars next to us loved being serenaded…

    This is a great list. I love that you included Aida because so few people know about that amazing show. I would also add In the Heights and Ragtime!

  20. I’m not sure I’ve actually ever heard Aida. I’d really like to find a station that plays a better range of musicals on Pandora than what I’ve been able to find so I can learn more of the shows I’m not as familiar with.

  21. Fiza @ I'll Read Till I Drop

    I’ve never been to a musical :3 I’ve heard of Aida and Phantom of the Opera and I liked the songs but nope I don’t think it’s for me…

    My top ten

  22. I love your list! You picked such wonderful musicals. Cabaret is even better live, it focuses more on the change in attitude towards the Jewish people. RENT is so wonderful live too. It gives me goosebumps every time.

    p.s. Also, my husband isn’t a fan of musicals either : )

  23. Great list! I really want to see the Jersey Boys! And Wicked!

    My faves are:

    Les Miserables – First saw it in San Diego (knew all the songs having listened to my mom’s soundtrack – on 8-track! – for weeks before going to the show). Second time here in Lincoln. Loved it both times.

    Cats – First saw it in London (!!) and second time in Omaha.

    Chorus Line – San Diego. First musical I ever saw live.

    Crazy for You – Omaha. Great Gershwin tunes!

    Not sure if this was a favorite, but I saw Grease on Broadway with my daughter. Sally Struthers played Miss Lynch.

    As far as TV productions, I love The Sound of Music, The Wizard of Oz and The Commitments. Time to put some tunes on!