My favorite musical in existence, Newsies, holds a special place in my heart. This film, directed by Kenny Ortega, paved the way for the future Broadway musical of the same name and went on to win multiple awards like the Tony Award for Best Original Score and Best Choreography. The musical highlights the real events of the newsboys’ strike and union in the late 1800s. Every single cast member, both on-screen and on the stage, is a triple threat, and they’re celebrating the 10th anniversary of Newsies this year!
Hairspray is so good. If you haven’t watched it, what are you doing? The film has a star-studded cast and so many iconic songs like “The New Girl in Town” and “Good Morning Baltimore.” The colors and costumes are so bright and fun, and while the movie has a lighthearted theme overall, the movie touches on important issues like segregation and racial injustices in the 50s.
Mamma Mia! (2008)
Mamma Mia! is every ABBA fan’s dream movie musical. Starring so many of the greats, this musical and romcom also has a star-studded cast. You’re transported to the Greek Mediterranean islands, and you can’t help but dance along to hits like “Dancing Queen,” “Mamma Mia,” and “Waterloo.” The soundtrack is so catchy and perfect for the upcoming summer. The only question: who is Sophie’s father?
Les Miserables (2012)
Oh, Les Mis, how you cause me so much pain. Who would have thought a nearly three-hour movie about 19th-century France would be so beautiful? The messages of love, compassion, selflessness, and more are shown in the movie by characters played by the likes of Hugh Jackman, Aaron Tveit, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Eddie Redmayne and so many more. Looking for a pump-up song or a song to overthrow the government? Try “Do You Hear The People Sing?”
Okay, I know what you’re thinking. So why is a silly animated movie about singing animals on this list? Well, first off we have to point out that UT’s very own Matthew McConaughey stars in this. The movie has great songs and an overall message about dreaming big and going after what you want no matter how hard! While many of the songs are covers of popular songs that are already well-known, Sing also has originals like “Faith” sung by Stevie Wonder and Ariana Grande and “Set It All Free” by Scarlett Johansson.
La La Land (2016)
When I tell you I am obsessed with this movie… La La Land is a great look into the behind-the-scenes of Hollywood and the hard process it takes to get there as an artist. Starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, we see dazzling dance numbers and colors. I can’t say enough good things about this musical romance.
The Greatest Showman (2017)
Me adding another movie to the list where Hugh Jackman sings? It’s more likely than you think. Showing the story of how PT Barnum started his circus legacy, we’re able to see the birth of show business in the 1800s. Of couse, the music was done by the same people who did Dear Evan Hansen’s music too! Songs like “A Million Dreams,” “This Is Me,” and my personal favorite, “Never Enough,” are such good songs; no wonder the film won big that year.
Would this movie-musical list be complete without mentioning the musical that took the world by storm and made people history lovers? Lin-Manuel Miranda is the genius behind the story, showcasing Alexander Hamilton with hip-hop, jazz, and R&B twist. Every single cast member is so talented and created one of the best show-going experiences in a long time.
Tick, tick… BOOM! (2021)
Rounding out the list is Andrew Garfield’s hit movie tick, tick… BOOM! While we’re crying because he didn’t win at the Oscars, he is #1 in our hearts. Based on the life of Jonathan Larson, creator of the musical Rent, we see the ups and downs of a struggling composer wanting to get his work on Broadway. Lin Manuel Miranda directs this song, and this song has so many bops like “90/30” and “Boho Days” that I have definitely heard students humming around campus.