Best of the Decade: Musicals

The 10 years between 2010 and 2019 have been very innovative on Broadway and produced many unique new musicals. I have made a list of the eight best musicals of this decade. 

Hamilton (2015)

Hamilton seems like the obvious choice for the best musical of the decade, because it is. Not only did a musical about a founding father, Alexander Hamilton, bring a lot of new audiences to Broadway, but it also changed how Broadway is seen by most people. By incorporating rap and hip hop into a hit musical, Lin Manuel Miranda broke all the rules of traditional musicals and made Hamilton a big part of pop culture. Beyond that, Hamilton features a cast composed almost exclusively of people of color, which shows the diversity of the theatre community. Click here to read The Sabre’s review of Hamilton

Dear Evan Hansen (2016)

Dear Evan Hansen premiered on Broadway the year after Hamilton and went on to win best musical. This show is more like other modern musicals, but it featured an amazing cast and wonderful music. Dear Evan Hansen also deals with serious topics, including suicide and mental illness, but some have even said the way the show portrays these things is problematic. Despite these issues, Dear Evan Hansen is a great show and very popular, even among those outside the typical theatre community. 

Newsies (2012)

Newsies is an earlier show from this decade, but it is  an amazing show for all ages. It is a fictional representation of the newsboys’ strike of 1899, following Jack Kelley and other “newsies.” This musical has many iconic songs, like “Seize the Day” and “Santa Fe.” The original Broadway cast starred Jeremy Jordan and Kara Lindsey as the leads. Beyond fantastic music and a heartwarming story, Newsies is a dance-heavy show that is incredibly fun to watch. 

Waitress (2015)

Waitress is a spectacular musical that was overshadowed by Hamilton when it first came out. Soon, people began to see how great a show it is. The music, written by Grammy-award-winner Sara Bareilles, is incredible. Waitress is about a waitress and amazing pie maker named Jenna stuck in a loveless marriage who gets pregnant. It follows her journey of love, friendship, and self discovery through the course of her pregnancy. The musical is filled with baking references and themes that really pull the show together. 

The Book of Mormon (2011)

The Book of Mormon is one of the funniest modern Broadway musicals. It follows Mormons Elder Price and Elder Cunningham on their mission to Uganda to spread the Mormon religion. This musical is great for a laugh, but not suitable for young audiences, as most of the humor can be crude and possibly even offensive. Overall, it has great musical numbers and great jokes. 

Hadestown (2019)

Hadestown is the last best musical Tony Award winner of this decade, and it is well deserved. Hadestown is a modern adaptation of the greek myth of Orpheus. The musical is set in an ambiguous industrial town, and the set and lighting reflect the industrial revolution. The ensemble really helps to paint a picture of the town and later when Orpheus heads into the underworld to save the love of his life. Dancing is not a big part of the show, but the movement of the ensemble is more effective. Lastly, the music is American folk-style and a great way to present the classic myth. 

The Band’s Visit (2017)

The Band’s Visit is a musical based on a movie about an Egyptian band that travels to Israel to perform, but ends up in the small town of Bet Hatikva instead because of a mix-up with bus tickets. There they meet a friendly woman named Dina and many other town residents. This musical is characterized by its beautiful music, which really sets the tone for the show. Another positive aspect of the show is the accurate portrayal of Middle-Eastern characters by Middle-Eastern actors. It shows audiences a different perspective on the Middle East to contrast most news stories. 

Something Rotten (2015)

Something Rotten is also among the funniest musicals of the decade. It features two brothers, Nick and Nigel Bottom. Together they run a theatre troupe in the Renaissance era at the height of Shakespeare’s fame. Nick has a strong hatred for Shakespeare and goes to a fortune teller to get ahead of Shakespeare and write his next play before him. This show is fun to watch and filled with great music. There are many references to other musicals throughout that serve as a fun scavenger hunt to name them all. 

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