I've Heard Hamilton, Now What?

After debuting Off-Broadway in January of 2015, Hamilton has quickly become a cultural phenomenon.  The hip-hop musical about Alexander Hamilton has promoted diversity in the theatre industry and introduced musical theatre to an entirely new group of people. Some of those people are probably eager to listen to more musical theatre, but are intimidated by the decades of cast albums out there. Here are some modern and classic cast album recommendations to listen to when you are tired of Hamilton (Like that could ever happen!).  

Les Miserables

Summary: After stealing a loaf of bread, Jean Valjean attempts to elude Inspector Javert and spends his life doing good works to atone for his sins.

Why this show? One of the cool things about Hamilton is that it is a “sung-through” show, which means you get the entire show on the cast album, rather than just the musical numbers that come in between bits of dialogue. Even though this results in hours of songs, it can be easier to understand the story of the show. If you like that you can get an entire show without going to the theatre, Les Mis is perfect for you. It’s long like Hamilton, so you will get many hours of enjoyment, and it tells a great story of a man trying to do good works in the world. Also, there are so many versions of the cast album from the OBC (Original Broadway Cast) to the 2012 movie, so you can find the perfect version for you! 

Key Songs: “One Day More” and “Do You Hear the People Sing” are personal favorites, but “Bring Him Home,” “On My Own,” and “Master of the House” are also crowd pleasers.

 

In the Heights

Summary: A look at life in a Dominican-American neighborhood in New York City.

Why this show? This was Lin-Manuel Miranda’s first show!! Like Hamilton, it combines musical theatre with other genres including, rap and salsa. Additionally, it has an incredibly diverse cast. If you like the style of music in Hamilton, you will definitely like the songs of In the Heights! Bonus: Lin-Manuel Miranda won his first Tony for this show.

Key Songs: “96,000” and “Carnaval del Barrio” are great numbers.

 

School of Rock: The Musical

Summary: Based off of the popular movie, Dewey Finn takes on the role of substitute teacher and teaches kids how to rock in the process!

Why this show? This show is similar to Hamilton, simply because it is a new and inventive musical. School of Rock has a cast of mostly kids; all of who sing and play their instruments live onstage and on the cast album. Additionally, the great Andrew Lloyd Webber, known for mega-hit musicals like Cats and The Phantom of the Opera, composed this show. The show is hilarious, the songs rock, and there is actually a heartwarming story underneath all of the fun.

Key Songs: “You’re in the Band” and “When I Climb to the Top of Mount Rock” are my personal favorites, as well as the Act I finale, “Stick it to the Man!”

 

Waitress

Summary: Jenna, a waitress with a talent for baking pies, must gain the confidence to make a new life for herself and her daughter.

Why this show? If you are still on the fence about liking show tunes, this pop-based musical is for you. Sara Bareilles wrote the music and lyrics for the show, perfectly balancing her soulful pop style with classic musical theatre. This show has a wide range of songs - some up-tempo, some ballads - but all of them are beautiful to listen to.

Key Songs: My personal favorite is “It Only Takes A Taste,” but other fantastic ones include, “Bad Idea,” “You Matter to Me,” and the incredibly moving “She Used To Be Mine.”

 

This is only a smattering of the thousands of musicals out there and not representative of the entire theatre industry. I truly believe that there is no such thing as a bad musical!

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