Musicals, both in film and the theater, are still going strong. Between the years 2000 – 2009 for example, there were a number of breakout hits that appeared in movie theaters and on stage.
Here are the best musicals from the 2000s. We’ll start with musical movies, then showcase musical theater after.
Top Musical Movies Of The 2000s
Here are the top musical movies from the 2000s that stuck with us:
Dream Girls is a musical that tells the story of backup singers discovered by an ambitious manager Curtis Taylor Jr (Jamie Foxx), who'd eventually get pushed into the national spotlight.
Effie is the standout in the musical, and she delivered one of the most outstanding performances of all time in “And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going.” Jennifer Hudson shines in the role that landed her an Oscar for best supporting actress.
High School Musical
High School Musical is about the unlikely love between a jock, Troy Bolton (Zac Efron), and the gorgeous nerd, Gabriella Montez (Vanessa Anne Hudgens). Along their journey, jealous Sharpay Evans (Ashley Tisdale) conspires to upend their chance at love.
The film went on to be a sensation giving way to a proliferating franchise that remains to date. It would rejuvenate the teen musical, becoming the most successful entry in the genre since Grease with hits such as “Breaking Free.”
Corpse Bride tells the story of an arranged marriage between Victor (Johnny Depp) and Victoria, in which the two actually like each other. But before they can tie the knot, Victor is dragged to the land of the dead, and he has to figure out how to get back to his bride before she marries another.
Songs such as “Remains of the Day” display the whim of the director, and it demonstrates how to make something eerie and fun at the same time.
Mamma Mia chronicles a wedding day involving Sophie, the bride who wants to know her biological father. She devises a plan to secretly invite three men from Donna's past—her mother in the hope of meeting her real dad and having him walk her down the aisle.
This is a fun romance musical that is endlessly silly. Moreover, audiences get to see Meryl Streep sing at the top of her lungs to Pierce Brosnan in “The Winner Takes It All.”
Hannah Montana: The Movie
Miley Stewart's plight of dealing with her popularity as “Hannah Montana” begins to envelop her life. Her father persuades her to visit her hometown to get some much-needed perspective on what's genuinely important.
After being stuck between fame and spending time with her family, Hannah Montana: The Movie speaks to the difficulty many child stars and tv actors/actresses face when balancing life and stardom. “The Best of Both Worlds” is one of Hannah Montana's most popular songs.
This musical picks up in the 90s with a group of New Yorkers struggling with their love lives, careers, and the impact of the AIDS epidemic on their community. Roger, an HIV-positive musician, and Mark, an aspiring filmmaker, struggle to scrounge up rent money that they owe their landlord, Benny.
Simultaneously, their friend Tom, who's a professor, falls for someone who is slowly dying of AIDS. The most popular song in the movie is “Seasons of Love.”
Chicago starts with Catherine Zeta-Jones, a rising star singing in nightclubs, murdering her unfaithful husband. She hires a savvy lawyer, Billy Flynn (Richard Gere), for her defense. Billy also takes on another woman's (Renée Zellweger) case at the same time. The two women try to outduel one another for fame.
Chicago impacted the genre immensely by demonstrating to the industry how critically adored and financially successful musicals could be. “Cell Block Tango” would become a number for the ages.
A singer at the Moulin Rouge and a young Englishman from Paris in 1899 forge a forbidden love affair. Satine (Nicole Kidman) has been promised to a Duke by the manager of Moulin Rouge in exchange for funding his next production.
However, Satine hides a dangerous secret that neither man knows about. Perhaps the most intense scene in the film comes from the number “El Tango de Roxanne”; it became an instant classic
In Baltimore during the 60s, a lover of dance auditions for a part on The Corny Collins Show and gets the role. She becomes an overnight sensation, trendsetter, and famous in areas of dance, fashion, and fun.
She may be successful enough to bring racial integration to the show and supplant Corny's reigning dance queen. The cast is refreshingly charismatic and upbeat, which seems to work seamlessly for the film, especially for songs like “You Can't Stop the Beat.”
Phantom of the Opera
The conniving Phantom (Gerard Butler) schemes to get closer to a vocalist. Phantom has a hideout beneath a 19th-century Paris opera house, and he wears a make to hide his birth deformity.
He goes on to force management into giving his interest key roles, but she begins to fall for Raoul. The 2004 film adaptation of Phantom of the Opera received three Oscar nominations, including Best Original Song for “Learn To Be Lonely.”
Giselle lives in the fantasy land of Andalasia, and she falls in love with Prince Edward. However, in a turn of events, just before Giselle arrives at the castle to marry her prince, Edward's evil stepmother sends her to a place where there are “no happy ever Afters. Giselle has to find a way back to her love.
This is an upbeat musical with movie-star big names like Amy Adams, James Marsden, and Susan Sarandon. “So Close” is the most notable song in the film.
8-Mile follows the life of an aspiring battle rapper who goes by the name of B-Rabbit (Eminem). Unfortunately, he can't seem to get over his stage fright, and he chokes in front of a huge crowd, unable to utter a single word.
B-Rabbit embarks on a redemption arc where he finds it within himself to do what he feels he's born to do. 8-mile is regarded as a classic; the song “Lose Yourself” won an academy award for best original song.
Princess and the Frog
Tiana dreams about owning the best restaurant in New Orleans. Her dream is temporarily derailed when she runs into Prince Naveen, who tries to break the curse of being a frog; he mistakenly kisses Tiana thinking that she's a princess, and she turns into a frog as well. They must figure out how to break the spell.
“Friends On the Other Side” and “Almost There” are the two most notable songs in the film, and they did a great job of blending the culture with the storyline.
Violet Sanford has a gift for singing, so she heads to New York to make her dream of becoming a songwriter a reality. However, she'd eventually put her aspirations on the back burner in exchange for the popularity and accolades she receives as a barmaid at Coyote Ugly.
The “Coyotes” put on a great show, and they become fodder for the media. The best song on the soundtrack has to be “Can't Find the Moonlight” by LeAnn Rimes.
Across the Universe
Young British worker Jude embarks on an adventure to the United States to find his father, and in the course of doing that, he meets Lucy and her brother Max.
He falls in love with Lucy and their relationship is affected by the social ramifications of the Vietnam War. The most well-received musical number in the movie was undoubtedly “Let it Be.” The choreography in the film also received high praise from critics.
Best Musicals In Theater During The 2000s
Here are some of the best and most memorable musicals from the 2000s that were performed on Broadway:
Everyone is familiar with the Wizard of Oz, but Wicked takes you on a journey to give you the backstory of the witches. Two young witches, Glinda, the blonde and beautiful witch, and Elphaba, the wicked witch with green skin, form an unlikely friendship.
This popular musical won multiple awards for an outstanding Broadway musical. Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth nailed it with beautiful singing and excellent performance. “Defying Gravity” is one of the most iconic songs from Wicked.
Steven Sater brings us a coming-of-age adventure that gives you all the head-swaying goodness you'd expect from a rock musical. The performance takes you on a journey with teenagers that are learning the ups and downs that come with adolescent sexuality.
Spring Awakening won multiple Tony awards and a Grammy for the Best Musical Theater Album, with “Mame Who Bore Me” topping the list. The choreography was sensational, and the show inspired multiple adaptations afterward.
Next to Normal
Viewers beware, Next to Normal gives you passion, and pain and provokes deep thought, all in one! Brian Yorkey touches on the stigmatized topic of mental health. The musical follows a mother that battles bipolar disorder and the adverse effects it has on her family.
The emotional integrity is intact with this piece, and it's no surprise that Diana Goodman and the cast won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama with this intriguing yet sad performance. “Just Another Day” is a fan favorite from the show.
Mary Poppins needs no introduction. Not only did many of us learn the word “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” from the books, but the musical was nothing short of upbeat and spectacular.
Many community theaters and schools choose to replicate their production. It has garnered plenty of notations and awards from best actress in a musical to best scenic design, and more. The songs are catchy, the story is delightful, and it continues to be the story of the perfect nanny.
Looking for something to tug at your heartstrings? Billy Elliot does the trick! Follow the story of a young British boy that doesn't have a mother. He starts taking ballet lessons after trading in his boxing gloves.
You get passion, humor, and theatrical genius with this masterpiece. It also won TIME Magazine's “Best Musical of the Decade.” You could literally listen to the soundtrack without skipping a song, but “Born To Boogie” is a classic. Thank you, Lee Hall, for an excellent production!
Light in the Piazza
Set in Florence, Italy, in 1953, a young girl (Clara) on vacation with her mother finds herself in a spontaneous love affair when an Italian gentleman sweeps her off her feet. Clara's mom has to decide whether to tell her daughter's devastating secret to her new lover.
“The Beauty Is” is one of the more popular songs from the show. Distinct from other contemporary musicals, Light in the Piazza mostly has an operatic feel to it. This performance won multiple awards for costume design, lighting, and best actress in a musical that year.
If you're a fan of The Four Seasons rock-‘n'-roll group, you'll appreciate Jersey Boys, which gives viewers insight into how the group eventually broke up after so many years together. This jukebox musical is almost presented to the audience like a dramatized documentary.
It tells you how the group was formed, the many successes they enjoyed, and the following tumult. “Cry for Me” is a hit from the performance many still listen to today.
With lovely lyrics and music from Mel Brooks, such as “The King of Broadway,” The Producers, a musical comedy that won an astounding 12 Tony awards. The musical is a story of two theater producers that create a get-rich-quick scheme by intending to oversell a Broadway show that they're making awful on purpose.
The story takes a turn when the show is actually pretty good. Now there's chaos all around about how to proceed, and the producers have big decisions to make. The jokes are in your face, a little cringy, and very funny!
The Color Purple
The Color Purple is an iconic musical that earned eleven Tony award nominations the year after its release. This inspiring musical talks about triumph amid adversity as the main character, Celie, is an African American woman in the south struggling to find her voice in a life full of pain.
“Somebody Gonna Love You” is a profoundly emotional and captivating song from the musical. If you ever get to see this show again, bring your tissues!
Hadestown is a tragic musical that combines ancient Greek myths—the story of Hades and Persephone, and the story Orpheus and Eurydice. Orpheus dares to welcome Eurydice who works in Hadestown, a version of the underworld talked about in Greek mythology.
Both impoverished and seeking love, they find refuge in one another, but it is short-lived. With this daring ensemble of songs like “Wait for Me,” and excellent dancing, singing, and choreography, Hadestown is a Tony-award winning theatrical experience that's not to be missed.
The Producers is a musical comedy that tells the story of two producers that come up with a scheme to create an awful Broadway show and then oversell the production to get rich quickly from ticket purchases.
Their plans change when the show is a hit and makes everything complicated from that point forward. The humor is in your face and a little cringy, but definitely worth watching! Songs such as “King of Broadway” have become a classic, and The Producers won 12 Tony awards.
In the Heights
In the Heights is a captivating musical that talks about the struggles of working-class Latinx residents in Washington Heights, New York. The show covers major concepts like family, ambition, love, loss, and overcoming adversity frame this excellent production.
Critics praised the musical for diverse characters, a moving story, and upbeat songs that the audience loved, like “It Won't Be Long Now.” In the Heights won multiple Tony awards and a Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album.
Legally Blonde: The Musical
Legally Blonde is an immensely popular movie, and the musical was equally delightful. The audience follows Elle Woods, a popular sorority girl who wants to get her ex-boyfriend's attention by enrolling at Harvard Law School.
Though many people write the bubbly girly girl off as a “dumb blonde,” Elle stays true to herself and surprises many with her knowledge and capabilities. The show was funny, featuring catchy songs like “So Much Better.” Legally Blonde: The Musical received over a dozen award nominations.
A Class Act
A Class Act is a thought-provoking musical that discusses the professional and personal struggles in the life of Edward Kleban. Kleban was a composer and lyricist who passed away at the young age of 48 in 1987.
In the musical, Ed's friends retell the story of his life, using all of his original music pieces to give him recognition that he deserved but didn't receive when he was alive. “Self-Portrait” is a beautiful and impactful song from the musical.
The Last Five Years
The Last Five Years talks about the complicated relationship between a struggling actress and an aspiring novelist. Jamie, the author, tells his version of the story from the beginning, whereas Cathy, the actress tells her story in reverse.
Interestingly, during the musical, the characters never interact except at one point during the middle of the story, as their timelines cross paths. The show has been performed nearly every year for almost two decades, in has won multiple awards, and “I Could Never Rescue You” is one of the most notable songs.
Top Musicals From the 2000s, Final Thoughts
Hopefully, we've done these musicals from the 2000s some justice and piqued your interest to check a few of them out. We selected the classics that received critical acclaim, some more than others, and some unsuspecting performances that you may have forgotten about.
Though they don't seem as popular nowadays as they once were, musicals are beautiful art that brings together music, dance, and acting harmoniously and memorably.