Are you a fan of musicals? Have you been missing the ability to go out and watch these incredible stories which are told through song and dance? While there are many popular movie musical adaptations to enjoy, in this list we will be discussing recorded versions of actual stage show performances. So throw on a nice outfit, grab a snack, dim the lights, and enjoy one of these recorded stage musicals from the comfort of your own home!
Shrek The Musical
I am not kidding when I say that “Shrek The Musical” is one of the best musicals you’ve never seen! This version of the Broadway production is currently available on Netflix. There is such an inventive use of costuming, props, and scenery in this show that odds are you’ll feel like you’re in a Broadway theatre while watching it! The songs are catchy, funny, and parody a wide range of song styles from musical theatre. This version stars Brian d'Arcy James as Shrek (who later went on to be one of the original King George actors in “Hamilton”) and Sutton Foster as Princess Fiona (who has also starred as Reno Sweeney in a Broadway revival of “Anything Goes”). There is something for everyone in this show regardless of age. Nobody ever asked for a “Shrek”-themed musical, but somehow this show fully captures the tone and spirit of the original movie while adding only welcome and beneficial changes to the story. Cuddle up with your kids and enjoy this musical with the whole family!
Legally Blonde: The Musical
Looking for something to entertain high school and college-aged musical theatre lovers? Then check out “Legally Blonde: The Musical” on YouTube. In 2007, MTV aired a stage version of the Broadway production and it is currently available on the YouTube channel “Gilmar Estevam”. A year later, MTV even created a show called “Legally Blonde: The Musical - The Search for Elle Woods” which was a musical theater reality competition show to find someone to replace Laura Bell Bundy in the leading role of Elle Woods. This pop musical is extremely funny, has catchy music, and will really make you care about the characters even if you’ve never seen the movie! The creators of this show have also written other beloved young adult pop musicals such as “Heathers” and “Mean Girls”. This version also stars Christian Borle as Emmett Forrest. Borle went on to star in multiple musicals including “Falsettos”, “Something Rotten”, and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”. So get ready to learn how to bend and snap with this version of “Legally Blonde: The Musical”!
Into the Woods
Looking for something more mature? Then Stephen Sondheim is your man! The 1989 version of his musical “Into the Woods” is currently available on the YouTube channel “Special_Effect”. While the Disney movie adaptation of this beloved musical did a decent job at condensing the story to its core components, the original is worth seeing to view the show in its entirety and to catch a few excluded elements from the movie. It’s also fun to watch how such an epic fantasy musical can be told with the restraints of musical theater (aka Milky White the plastic cow). Although this show is about fairy tales, it leans into the darker aspects and themes of these stories. This particular performance reunited almost the entire original Broadway cast, including Bernadette Peters as the Witch, at the Martin Beck Theatre. If you want to experience seeing your favorite childhood fairy tale characters grapple with the existential reality of growing up and getting what they thought would bring them happiness, then watch this incredible show!
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Looking for a musical even darker than that? Then it’s time to look at another Stephen Sondheim masterpiece called “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”. While this one isn’t a stage version in a traditional sense, it is rather a live concert and New York Philharmonic production which was recorded in 2000 at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall. You can find it on the YouTube channel “Fitz •”. George Hearn stars as Sweeney Todd in this version with Patti LuPone as Mrs. Lovett and even Neil Patrick Harris as Toby. Tim Burton actually made a movie adaptation of this musical that actually worked out really well considering he excels at storytelling with darker visuals and subject matter. However, in that version he hired his go-to actors Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter who aren’t professionally trained singers. Therefore, this version offers better vocalists and an emphasis on the orchestra which is just as visible as the cast. It also requires the audience to use their imaginations when it comes to the setting and vast majority of props. This version also has the part of the chorus which the movie axed entirely. While this may not have all the blood and gore that you can get in the movie, it is worth checking out for the beautiful music in the form it was originally intended to be experienced in.
The Shows Must Go On - A Collection of Andrew Lloyd Webber Musicals
Finally on this list we will be focusing on a particular musical playwright rather than one specific show. Every Friday for the next few weeks on a YouTube channel called “The Shows Must Go On!”, a different Andrew Lloyd Webber musical will be available to watch for free starting at 2 PM for 48 hours. This series is being hosted with encouragement to donate to The Actors Fund during this challenging time. So far, millions of people have been tuning in to catch the shows. They have already done “Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat”, “Jesus Christ Superstar”, and “The Phantom of the Opera”. Other famous shows that Webber has worked on include “Cats”, “School of Rock”, “Evita”, and more, so these shows may potentially air as well. If you’re a fan of the king of pop and rock opera musicals, then go subscribe to this YouTube channel right now and consider donating if you can!