Favorites: Musical Theater Albums

I adore musical theater. I’m lucky to have had the chance to see several shows live, and I’ve always loved seeing stories come to life through music and acting and dancing. Whether you’ve never heard a single song from a show or you’ve seen 20 shows on Broadway, I’m a firm believer that there is something for everyone in the world of musical theater. As such, the following are, in no particular order, some of my absolute favorite musical show albums.


“Hamilton: An American Musical”

Book, music, and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda

You probably already know about “Hamilton,” since it burst onto the scene a few years back and was a fast fan-favorite, both in the theater world and outside of it. It’s a revolutionary musical, pun intended, since it combines the worlds of musical theater, hip hop, and rap, and a vast majority of the cast members are people of color, including those portraying the Founding Fathers and their families. Miranda was inspired to create the musical after reading the 2004 biography Alexander Hamilton by author Ron Chernow.


“In The Heights”

Book by Quiara Alegría Hudes, music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda

Another musical with music by Miranda, “In The Heights” tells the story of a community of immigrants living in New York City’s Washington Heights. “In The Heights” was actually the first musical Miranda wrote music for, although it is arguably less well known than “Hamilton.” Perhaps less well known, but no less beautiful and moving.



Book by Winnie Holzman, music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz

This is a classic story- a retelling of “The Wizard of Oz” from the perspective of the Wicked Witch of the West, Elphaba. It begins as she arrives at school and meets Galinda, and the musical details their unlikely friendship and journeys. The musical was adapted from a book of the same name by the author Gregory Maguire.


“Dear Evan Hansen”

Book by Steven Levenson, music and lyrics by Justin Paul and Benj Pasek

One of the newer musicals on this list, “Dear Evan Hansen” tells the story of a high school boy struggling to belong. It grapples with weighty issues like depression and suicide, and the music is absolutely gorgeous.



Book, music, and lyrics by Jonathan Larson

Again, a classic musical appears on the list. Set during the AIDS crisis, “RENT” features a group of friends in New York City during the 90’s dealing with drug addiction, sexuality, disease, poverty, and relationships. The musical is loosely based on Giacomo Puccini’s opera “La Bohème.”


“Mamma Mia!”

Book by Catherine Johnson, music and lyrics by Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson

This is really just a fun musical. Plus, all of the songs are by ABBA, an awesome Swedish band from the 1970’s, so it’s a lot of fun for sing-alongs. A Greek woman named Sophie searches for her father to walk her down the aisle at her wedding and must figure out who of three men her mother had relationships with is her real father.


“Les Misérables”

Book by Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil, music by Claude-Michel Schönberg, and lyrics by Alain Boublil, Herbert Kretzmer, and Jean-Marc Natel

Adapted from a novel of the same name by French author Victor Hugo, this is another tragic musical. It revolves around a French peasant’s journey for redemption after his release from prison, and a prison guard hell-bent on sending him back for violating parole. The peasant becomes involved in the June Rebellion in France with a group of incredibly complex characters, all with their own intricate histories.


“Beauty and the Beast”

Screenplay by Linda Woolverton and music by Alan Menken

Here I’m referring to the 1991 Disney film, rather than the stage musical debuted in 1993 or the 2017 adaptation, although both of those are similarly amazing. The movie is based on a French fairytale from 1740 by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve. It tells the story of a brave French woman who saves her father’s life by agreeing to live in the castle of a prince-turned Beast who must learn to love someone and be loved in return to become human again.


Of course, I love many other musical theater albums, but these are some of the ones I listen to the most regularly. The musicals are incredible, not just because of the performers’ amazing talent, but also because the score, composition, lyrics, and stories are superb. I highly recommend each and every one of these, and as my friends can attest, often cannot stop singing them. I hope you love them all as much as I do. Happy listening!


Main image courtesy of Unsplash.