25 Musicals From The 1990s [Movies & Theater]

Musicals From The 1990s

Musicals in the 90s were characterized by a wider variety of stories, music, and casts than the more restrictive standards in the early 20th century.

Many of them have big musical numbers and plot lines filled with surprises. Country music, 1800s settings, Disney shows, and pop/rock were a few common themes, among others.

Here are the best musicals from the 1990s. We’ll look at musicals in theater below, but first let’s explore the musical movies.

Musical Movies Of The 1990s

Film musicals in the 90s were more plot-driven than in previous decades. Movies like “The Lion King” (1994) and “Beauty and the Beast” (1991) also popularized Disney's animated musical films.

The Lion King

The Lion King is a 1994 animated Disney musical film directed by Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff, starring Matthew Broderick, Jeremy Irons, James Earl Jones, and Whoopi Goldberg.

It's a story about a lion prince named Simba who is set to be the King but faces trouble from his uncle, who wants to steal the throne. This incredible story has themes of love, betrayal, community, legacy, and leadership.

Hans Zimmer won the Academy Award for best original score, and Elton John and Tim Rice won best original song for “Can You Feel the Love Tonight.” Other popular tunes include “I Just Can't Wait to be King,” “Circle of Life,” and “Hakuna Matata.”

In 1997 The Lion King hit the Broadway stage and has been on national and international tours ever since.

Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast is a 1991 musical fantasy film directed by Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise, starring Paige O'Hara, Robby Benson, Angela Lansbury, and Jerry Orbach.

The film is based on the classic French fairy tale of the same name. It tells the story of Belle, a young woman who is taken prisoner by a Beast in his castle and eventually falls in love with him. It promotes confidence, love, acceptance, and humility.

The movie was nominated for six Academy Awards and won two of them: best original score (Alan Menken) and best original song (Alan Menken and Howard Ashman for “Beauty and the Beast”). Other popular songs include “Be Our Guest,” “Belle,” and “Something There.”

Beauty and the Beast also opened on Broadway in 1994, where it ran until 2007, and in 2017, a live-action film starring Emma Watson was released.


Newsies is a 1992 musical drama directed by Kenny Ortega, starring Christian Bale, David Moscow, Bill Pullman, and Ann-Margret.

The movie is based on the real-life Newsboy Strike of 1899 in New York City, where a group of newsboys attempts to fight back against the unfair newspaper prices.

The movie features a mix of show tunes, ragtime, and jazz music. And in 2012, the musical was adapted to the stage with music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Jack Feldman. Popular songs include “King of New York” and “Seize the Day.”


Cry-Baby is a 1990 musical romantic comedy film directed by John Waters, starring Johnny Depp, Amy Locane, and Susan Tyrrell.

The movie is set in 1950s Baltimore and follows Wade Walker, a young rebel known as “Cry-Baby,” and his relationship with Allison, a good girl from the other side of town. Along with the traditional love story, it also tackles racism and classism.

The movie features classic 50s music performed by the cast, including “Please, Mr. Jailer,” “High School Hellcats,” “Teardrops Are Falling,” and “A Teenage Prayer.”


Cinderella is a 1997 television musical directed by Robert Iscove, starring Brandy Norwood and Whitney Houston.

This movie is a retelling of the classic fairytale, with Houston playing the Fairy Godmother and Norwood playing Cinderella, the admirable underdog. The movie features all the beloved characters, with the themes of humility, love, hope, class, and courage explored throughout.

The movie includes the classic songs from the Disney animated version, as well as original tunes written by Rodgers & Hammerstein. “Impossible,” sung by Whitney Houston and Brandy, is one of the most memorable from the film.

Cannibal! The Musical

Cannibal! The Musical is a 1993 musical comedy directed by Trey Parker, starring himself and Dian Bachar.

The movie is a satire of the real-life events surrounding Alferd Packer, who was accused of cannibalism in 1873. It follows Packer's journey on the Colorado mining trail, where he meets up with a group of weird and wacky characters along the way.

The movie features a mix of folk, bluegrass, ragtime, and ballad songs written by Parker and Marc Shaiman. Popular tunes include “Shpadoinkle,” “Hang the Bastard,” and “Let's Build a Snowman.”

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

In 1996, Disney released The Hunchback of Notre Dame, an animated musical directed by Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise.

The movie is based on the Victor Hugo novel of the same name and follows Quasimodo, a deformed bell-ringer of Notre Dame Cathedral, who longs to be loved after spending his life isolated. The film takes on many serious topics, such as religion and discrimination.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame features music from award-winning composer Alan Menken, with lyrics by Stephen Schwartz. Popular songs include “The Bells of Notre Dame,” “God Help the Outcasts,” and “Hellfire.”

Due to these dynamic, powerful songs, it's no wonder the film was nominated for an Academy Award for best original musical or comedy score.

The Prince of Egypt

The Prince of Egypt is a 1998 animated musical directed by Brenda Chapman, Steve Hickner, and Simon Wells.

It follows the story of Moses, a slave-born prince of Egypt, who is chosen by God to lead the Israelites out of slavery in ancient Egypt. The movie features an all-star voice cast, as well as memorable music by Stephen Schwartz.

Popular songs include “When You Believe,” “Through Heaven's Eyes,” and “Deliver Us.” The movie was nominated for an Academy Award for best original musical or comedy score, and its song “When You Believe' won best original song.

James and the Giant Peach

James and the Giant Peach is a 1996 musical fantasy film. It was directed by Henry Selick, and based on the book of the same name by Roald Dahl.

The movie tells the story of James, an orphaned boy who escapes his cruel aunts to find adventure in a giant peach. Along his journey, he meets some strange and wonderful characters, including an old man made of grasshoppers and a spider that speaks in rhymes.

The music is composed by Randy Newman and includes songs such as “Family,” “That's the Life for Me,” “Eating the Peach,” and “Good News.” The movie was nominated for an Academy Award for best original musical or comedy score.


Evita was originally a 1978 Broadway hit that was adapted into a film version in 1996.

The movie is based on the life of Eva Perón, the first lady of Argentina and a political icon. It follows her rags-to-riches rise from humble beginnings to become one of the most powerful figures of her time.

The film was directed by Alan Parker and stars Madonna in the lead role.

It features music by Andrew Lloyd Webber with lyrics by Tim Rice, including popular songs such as “Don't Cry for Me Argentina” and “Another Suitcase in Another Hall,” as well as “You Must Love Me,” which won an Academy Award for best original song.

Spice World

Spice World is a 1997 musical comedy directed by Bob Spiers, starring the British pop group The Spice Girls.

The movie follows the group as they prepare for their live concert in London's Royal Albert Hall while also dealing with the demands of fame. The movie was released to mixed reviews, but the soundtrack was much more successful and topped the charts in the UK and the US.

The movie features many of The Spice Girls' greatest hits, including “Wannabe,” “2 Become 1,” and “Spice Up Your Life.” It also features Elton John, who plays himself.

Although the musical film won a number of negative “parody” awards like Golden Raspberry's “Worst Actress,” young fans of the Spice Girls undoubtedly loved the film.

The Swan Princess

The Swan Princess is a 1994 animated musical film directed by Richard Rich.

The movie follows the story of Princess Odette, who is transformed into a swan by the evil sorcerer Rothbart. With the help of her friends, she must fight against all odds to break the curse and save her kingdom.

The film features music by Lex de Azevedo, including the hit song “Far Longer than Forever,” which was nominated for an Academy Award for best original song. Other memorable songs include “This is My Idea” and “No Fear.”


Aladdin is a 1992 animated musical film directed by Ron Clements and John Musker.

It's about the story of Aladdin, a street urchin who discovers a magical lamp containing an all-powerful genie. With Genie's help, Aladdin embarks on a quest to win the heart of Princess Jasmine and save the kingdom from the evil Jafar.

It's a fantastic story that pulls in themes like friendship, true love, and family. The music is composed by Alan Menken with lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice.

Memorable songs from this famous film include “Friend Like Me” and “A Whole New World,” which won an Academy Award for best original song.



Hercules is a 1997 animated musical comedy-drama, which, as Aladdin mentioned above, was also directed by Ron Clements and John Musker.

The movie follows the story of Hercules, the son of Zeus and Hera, who is snatched away from Mount Olympus as an infant by the evil Hades and loses his immortality. He must battle the forces of evil and prove himself to be a true hero in order to reclaim his rightful place on Mount Olympus.

The film features music by Alan Menken and lyrics by David Zippel, including hit songs such as “Go the Distance,” “I Won't Say (I'm in Love),” “The Gospel Truth,” and “Zero to Hero.”

This movie was a huge success, both commercially and critically, and remains one of Disney's most beloved films.


Tarzan is a 1999 animated musical adventure film directed by Chris Buck and Kevin Lima. It's based on the fictional character Tarzan from Edgar Rice Burroughs' 1912 story Tarzan of the Apes.

The movie is about the story of Tarzan, a young orphaned boy who is raised by gorillas in the African jungle. When he meets Jane, a curious explorer from England, they embark on a quest to save the jungle and Tarzan's family.

Phil Collins' music is the highlight of this film, which includes memorable tracks such as “Son of Man,” “Strangers Like Me,” and the Academy Award-winning “You'll Be In My Heart.”

The Nightmare Before Christmas

The Nightmare Before Christmas is a 1993 stop-motion musical fantasy film directed by Henry Selick.

It's based on Tim Burton's poem of the same name, which tells the story of Jack Skellington, a resident from “Halloween Town” who stumbles into Christmas Town and decides to celebrate the holiday.

Along his journey, he learns about friendship and the true meaning of Christmas. The film features music by Danny Elfman, who is also the star, and includes popular songs such as “This is Halloween,” “Sally's Song,” and “What's This?”

The movie was a massive success and instantly became a cult classic. It was also nominated for an Academy Award for best visual effects due to its unique stop-motion technique.


Anastasia is a 1997 animated musical fantasy film directed by Don Bluth and Gary Goldman. It's based on the legend of Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia and tells the story of a young woman who is determined to discover the mystery surrounding her past.

There was a live-action film in 1956, but the 1997 version is an excellent adaptation. Like any remaking, this film had some mixed reviews, but the music received high praise. It was composed by David Newman, Lynn Ahrens, and Stephen Flaherty.

“Journey to the Past” was nominated for best original song at the Academy Awards. “Gone Forever,” “Peppermint,” and “Once Upon a December” were also major hits.

Musicals In Theater During The 1990s

The 1990s Broadway scene was marked by a renewed focus on developing new and original musicals instead of relying on revivals from the Golden Age.


Rent is a rock musical written by Jonathan Larson (book, music, and lyrics) and first performed in 1996. It tells the story of a group of impoverished young artists struggling to survive in the East Village of New York City under the shadow of HIV/AIDS.

The musical won a Pulitzer Prize for Drama and four Tony Awards (nominated for ten total), including best musical. It's one of the longest-running Broadway shows (1996 – 2008) and is still one of the most successful and beloved musicals ever produced on Broadway.

And in 2005, it was remade into a motion picture that kept some of the original cast members like Idina Menzel, Anthony Rapp, Taye Diggs, and Adam Pascal.

“Seasons of Love,” “Take Me Or Leave Me,” “La Vie Bohème,” and “Out Tonight” are popular musical numbers from Rent.


Copacabana is a stage musical that first premiered at the West End in 1994, with music and book by Barry Manilow, lyrics, and book by Jack Feldman and Bruce Sussman.

It's based on the 1990 hour-long show in Atlantic City as well as the 1985 TV movie of the same name and a 1978 hit song by Manilow himself. It's about Stephen, an aspiring songwriter, and Lola La Mar, a showgirl he falls in love with who is also trying to be a star.

Some of the memorable musical numbers include “Man Wanted,” “Welcome to Havana,” and “Copacabana.”

Jekyll & Hyde

Jekyll & Hyde is a 1990 musical that takes inspiration from the 1886 novella called The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson.

The musical has music and lyrics by Frank Wildhorn, book and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse, and lyrics by Steve Cuden.

It kicked off in Houston in 1990 and then made it to the Broadway stage by 1997. Jekyll & Hyde, the musical is about the differences between good and evil and explores the idea of duality – how everyone can have a dark side that they are not aware of.

This musical has some memorable songs with catchy choruses, such as “This is the Moment,” “Someone Like You,” “Confrontation,” and “A New Life.”

Nick & Nora

Nick & Nora is a 1991 Broadway show based on the Thin Man films of the 1930s, which starred William Powell and Myrna Loy. It was written by Arthur Laurents (book), Charles Strouse (music), and Richard Maltby Jr. (lyrics).

The musical has a great balance between comedy, romance, and mystery. It follows the adventures of Nick and Nora Charles, a couple who solve murder cases in between their high-society endeavors.

Popular musical numbers include “Is There Anything Better Than Dancing?,” “Look Who's Alone Now,” and “Boom Chica Boom.”

The Secret Garden

The Secret Garden is a musical by composer Lucy Simon and Marsha Norman, based on the 1911 novel of the same name.

It opened on Broadway in 1991 and tells the story of Mary Lennox, a young English girl living in India who is sent away and discovers a hidden garden at her uncle's estate in Yorkshire, and it speaks to the power of hope and dreams.

The musical has been honored with multiple Tony Awards. Some include the best book of a musical (Marsha Norman) and best performance by a featured actress in a musical (Daisy Eagan). Popular musical numbers include “Come To My Garden,” “Lily's Eyes,” and “A Bit of Earth.”


Many people know about the James Cameron film Titanic, but a Titanic Broadway musical was released the same year, in 1997. Both of them are based on the RMS Titanic ship that sank in 1912.

And interestingly enough, that seems to be a coincidence, as the musical and film have no connection.

But the Broadway musical, featuring music and lyrics by Maury Yeston and book by Peter Stone, was not overlooked due to the film adaptation. It won a Tony for best musical as well as many other awards.

Some of the notable musical numbers include “To Be A Captain,” “To Blame,” and “Lady's Maid.”

Sunset Boulevard

Sunset Boulevard is a musical based on the 1950 film of the same name. It was composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber, and the lyrics were written by Don Black and Christopher Hampton.

The musical opened in London's West End in 1993, then made its way to Broadway two years later. The story follows Norma Desmond, a faded silent-screen star determined to make a comeback.

The Broadway production won seven Tony Awards and was one of the most successful Broadway shows of its time. Popular musical numbers include “With One Look,” “The Perfect Year,” “As If We Never Said Goodbye,” and “Sunset Boulevard.”


Last but not least is Fosse, a three-act musical revue that showcased the choreography of Bob Fosse and featured a selection of songs from musicals such as Sweet Charity, Pippin, Dancin', Chicago, Big Deal, and Damn Yankees.

Fosse had a similar feel to the musicals that came before it because it was meant to capture the essence of Bob Fosse's work. It was truly nostalgic and delightful for people who grew up watching his musicals.

It won the Tony for best musical and is still extremely special for Bob Fosse fans and all lovers of dance.

Best Musicals From The 1990s, Final Thoughts

These 1990s musicals have stood the test of time and remain popular to this day.

Of course, there were dozens more fantastic musicals that decade, as both new and reimagined musicals were only growing in popularity.

What were your favorite musicals from the 1990s? Let us know in the comments!

P.S. Remember though, none of what you've learned will matter if you don't know how to get your music out there and earn from it. Want to learn how to do that? Then get our free ‘5 Steps To Profitable Youtube Music Career' ebook emailed directly to you!

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