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The Best Movie Musicals that Bring Broadway to Your Home

The COVID-19 pandemic has theater lovers like myself feeling down, especially after the recent announcement that Broadway will remain closed through May 2021. As a native New Yorker, I could always count on a Broadway show to lift my spirits and teach me something new. The flashing lights of Broadway might be off for now, but there are many movie musicals you can watch at home to add some jazz to your quarantine. Here are some of my favorites that make me feel like I’m back home.

The Sound of Music

We’re starting off with a classic. The Sound of Music tells the story of Maria, a nun who becomes the governess for the Von Trapp family in the pre-World War II era. The film stars icon Julie Andrews and features songs such as “My Favorite Things” and “Do-Re-Mi.” The acting is amazing, the music is incredible and the Von Trapp children are adorable. The Sound of Music blends history with fun and is the perfect movie to watch with family or friends. You can find it on Disney+.


I realize that I might be a little biased towards this movie musical, but Annie has been one of my favorites since I can remember. Annie takes place during the Great Depression in New York City and follows little orphan Annie as she searches for her parents, deals with mean Miss Hannigan and lives with billionaire Oliver Warbucks. My favorite version is from 1999 (available on Disney+) and features Broadway legend Audra McDonald as Grace, Mr. Warbucks’ assistant, but you can’t go wrong with any version. Annie reminds us that we might be living a hard knock life, but “Tomorrow” will always come.

Fiddler on the Roof

Another classic film, Fiddler on the Roof takes place during the early 20th century in the small town of Anatevka in Eastern Europe. It tells the story of Tevye, his wife Golde and his three daughters on their quest for marriage. They encounter struggles with tradition, money and anti-Semitism. The music is so catchy; you can’t help but sing along to hits such as “Matchmaker” and “Sunrise, Sunset.” Fiddler on the Roof is available on Netflix.


You’ll be feeling like the “King of New York” after the newsies teach you to “Seize the Day” in this upbeat musical. Inspired by the newsboys’ strike of 1899, Newsies tells the story of newspaper boys trying to make a living in New York City. When the price of papers begins to rise, the newsies decide to fight back. This movie musical is a recording of the stage performance and stars Jeremy Jordan as Jack. My favorite part about Newsies is definitely the dancing; the cast is so talented and the performance is truly spectacular. You can watch Newsies on Disney+.

West Side Story

West Side Story puts a modern musical spin on Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet and follows the Jets and the Sharks, two opposing gangs living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in the 1950s. But what happens when the co-founder of the Jets, Tony, falls in love with Maria, whose brother is the leader of the Sharks? Not only does West Side Story provide a great commentary on immigration and race relations, but it also showcases amazing singing and dancing. Starring Natalie Wood and Rita Moreno, you don’t want to miss out on West Side Story, available on Netflix.


I think we all knew this one was coming. Lin Manuel Miranda’s genius musical Hamilton tells the story of America’s first Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, through hip-hop and rap songs. The star-studded cast includes Miranda himself as Hamilton as well as Jonathan Groff as King George and Tony winner Renée Elise Goldsberry as Angelica Schuyler, to name a few. The soundtrack is probably one of my favorites ever. Every time I watch Hamilton, I find another hidden message in the lyrics and acting. Hamilton is truly one of the most creative musicals I’ve ever seen, and I highly recommend watching on Disney+. And here’s a pro tip: for first-time Hamilton viewers, turn on closed captions! The musical is very fast-paced, so captions will help you better understand what is going on.


Technically this is not a movie musical, but Firebringer is a musical comedy worth watching. Produced by Team StarKid, a theater company founded at the University of Michigan by Darren Criss, Brian Holden, Matt Lang and Nick Lang, Firebringer features an original script and score. The musical tells the story of Jemilla, Zazzalil and their tribe in the Stone Age as they grapple with learning truths about the world and making new discoveries. Firebringer is sure to put a smile on your face and is available for free on Team StarKid’s YouTube channel

Annie Epstein

Northwestern '23

Annie is from New York City and is studying Journalism, Psychology and Jewish Studies at Northwestern University. In her free time, she loves to bake and listen to Broadway soundtracks.
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