21 Best Musicals From The 2020s [Movies & Theater]
In this article, we'll list the top musicals from the 2020s in both the theater and the movies. As well as giving video previews, we share why they're the best, considering factors like acting, plots, costumes, and box office gross.
Musical Movies of the 2020s
Let’s start with the movies, these are our favorite musical films of the 2020s.
West Side Story
West Side Story is a classic retelling of Romeo and Juliet. Famed director Steven Spielberg brought it to the silver screen in 2021 as a feature film starring Ansel Elgort and Rachel Zelger.
The story follows young lovers Tony and Maria, children of rival gang members in Manhattan's Upper West Side in the 1950s. Critics acclaimed the film for complex dance choreography, camera work, and period-accurate costumes.
Family-friendly Encanto is an animated musical that came out in 2021. Disney produced the film with Jared Bush and Byron Howard directing, having previous experience with hit Disney musicals like Moana and Tangled.
Encanto depicts Colombian culture, following a family's story over several generations. It deals with heavy topics such as war, trauma, and loss while keeping a lighthearted tone, making it a great film for kids. Besides gaining a huge cultural foothold worldwide, Encanto received three Academy Award nominations and top spots on the UK and US Billboard charts.
In The Heights
In The Heights is a 2021 musical film starring Anthony Ramos and Tory Hawkins. Director and musician Lin Manuel Miranda created the project in 2005 as a stage musical, which famously won four Tony awards. It was high time for the production to get the film treatment, and Miranda delivered to the delight of fans.
The musical is about a community of kids growing up in the Latino district of Washington Heights, New York City. It connected with fans old and new, and the songs quickly became iconic.
Children and adults alike will love the story of book-loving Matilda, a perky young girl who learns to navigate school and bullying.
Welsh author Roald Dahl published the original Matilda book in 1988, and it later became a stage musical appearing on Broadway and London's West End. Now in the 2020s, Matilda has a new life as a Netflix film starring Alisha Weir.
Matilda launched in the United Kingdom on October 5th, 2022, and gained instant popularity. It landed a BAFTA nomination for Best Makeup and Hair the following year.
The historical musical Hamilton first came to Broadway in 2015, and the hit songs and familiar story made it an instant success. In the spring of 2020, Disney launched a film version, making Hamilton accessible to more Americans and musical lovers worldwide.
Lin Manuel Miranda wrote the musical, and he stars in the Disney film. The sung-and-rapped play is a fictional retelling of the founding of the United States and the country's early days as a democracy. It won multiple awards, and the album hit number two on the Billboard charts.
Tick, Tick Boom
Tick, Tick Boom became an instant classic when it premiered on Netflix in 2021. Directed by Lin Manuel Miranda and starring legendary actor Andrew Garfield, the play follows a struggling musician trying to make his mark in the theater industry.
The film pulls from the original stage production from 1990, but it brings a fresh, modern interpretation. It received solid reviews from critics, two Oscar nominations, and a Golden Globe for Garfield's performance.
Everybody's Talking About Jamie
Everybody's Talking About Jamie is a 2021 film launched by 20th Century Fox. It's a coming-of-age tale based on the real-life story of Jamie New, a 16-year-old drag queen from Sheffield, England.
The musical deals with Jamie's struggles with bullying and isolation and his eventual success in his career. It earned a score of 83% on Rotten Tomatoes, a high viewership on Amazon Prime Video, and positive reviews from critics, who praised the film's themes of joyful resilience.
Annette is a musical drama film on Amazon Prime Video. French film director Leos Carax created this rock opera-style musical, which wasn't based on a stage production but created exclusively as a movie.
The 2021 film is about a newlywed couple who give birth to a child, Annette, and it follows their journey as Annette shapes and influences their life. It's experimental, romantic, and delightfully strange. Annette won awards for best visual effects, editing, and cinematography.
Dear Evan Hansen
Fans worldwide love the Broadway hit Dear Evan Hansen, and it was high time the musical got the film treatment. Ben Platt stars in this 2021 coming-of-age movie about a teenager dealing with anxiety and depression.
Dear Evan Hansen received mixed reviews, and critics questioned the casting choice of an older actor to play Evan. However, it performed well at the box office, grossing over $19 million worldwide. In 2022, the Grammy Awards nominated the film for best soundtrack.
Marry Me is a romantic musical starring Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson. Released in 2022, it depicts the story of pop star Kat Valdez and her impulsive marriage to a math teacher, Charlie Gilbert.
The film received good reviews, although some critics accused the movie of being too formulaic. However, it did well with audiences, and, to date, Marry Me is the top-streamed film on the Peacock platform.
Trevor: The Musical
Released in June 2022, Trevor: The Musical is a musical film about a young boy growing up in the 1980s. Dan Collins wrote the story, based on an Academy Award-winning short film from the 1990s, and Disney premiered the movie on its streaming platform.
Trevor: The Musical has an all-teenage cast, and it's youthful, vibrant, and enjoyable to watch while connecting with audiences on heavy topics like identity and belonging.
Musicals in Theater During the 2020s
These productions hit the stage in the 2020s. Check out these original plays and creative revivals below!
The Lovers is a charming revival of Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream. Produced by Bell Shakespeare, Australia's national theater company, it's the company's first musical.
Romantic misadventures, deceptions, and whimsy abound, and pop musical numbers add a modern touch. Audiences loved the play and enjoyed a well-attended run at the Sydney Opera House in the fall of 2022.
A sweeping, dramatic musical, Mandela depicts the life of politician Nelson Mandela. The play details Mandela's life in politics, imprisonment, and the fight to end apartheid in South Africa.
Mandela stars American actor Michael Luwoye as the titular character, and Danielle Fiamanya plays his wife, Winnie. It premiered at The Young Vic, London, in November 2022 and ran until February 2023. Although it received mixed reviews from audiences, many enjoyed the hit songs and top-tier acting.
The Osmonds is a jukebox musical about the life and career of the Osmond family. It premiered in 2022 at the Curve Theater in Leicester.
Set in the 1970s, the musical centers around the real-life story of the five Osmond brothers and their road to success in the music industry. It features songs written by or made famous by the family music group. The musical succeeded in London and embarked on a tour of the UK and Ireland.
Come Rain or Come Shine
Come Rain or Come Shine is an Australian comedy musical. It premiered at the Melbourne Theater Company in June 2022 and received good reviews for its strong casting, classic songs, and funny humor.
The play is about three friends that meet at university in the 1970s and their ensuing relationship over the decades. Its plot comes from Nobel Prize-winning author Kazuo Ishiguro's 2009 short story of the same name.
The Devil Wears Prada
The Devil Wears Prada is an American musical based on the movie and book of the same title. It opened in Chicago in July 2022 at the Nederland Theater.
Sir Elton John wrote the music for the play, and the cast included Tony Award-winning Beth Leavel. The Broadway-style musical gave the classic story a fun twist with elaborate costumes, big dance numbers, and original songs with lyrics by award-winning lyricist Shaina Taub.
New York, New York
New York, New York is a Broadway musical that depicts post-World War II New York City. It follows the relationship between Jimmy Doyle and Francine Evans, two young people looking for success in the music industry. The play, which had its first preview in March 2023, is loosely based on the 1977 film of the same name.
Songs come from the legendary music team John Kander and Fred Ebb, responsible for classics like Cabaret and Chicago. Hamilton's Lin Manuel Miranda helped add a modern twist by writing several new tunes for the musical.
Hex, a fantasy musical, premiered on the Royal National Theater stage in London in December 2021. It draws from Sleeping Beauty, the classic fairy tale, and the play incorporates elements of magic and whimsy with special effects. The production is a bit of a darker take on a well-known story, with themes of vulnerability, depression, and grief.
The National Theater doesn't usually produce musicals, but they stunned audiences with the quality of Hex. The play features strong singing voices, mesmerizing choreography, and quirky and inventive costumes.
Bedknobs and Broomsticks
You might remember this iconic movie musical from your childhood. Did you know it got a facelift on the live theater stage in 2021?
Drawing the plot from the 1971 Disney classic, Bedknobs and Broomsticks features music from the legendary musical songwriters the Sherman brothers. It tells the story of three children evacuated to the Dorset coast during World War II.
Originally planned to open in Chicago, it opened in Newcastle at the Theater Royal in August 2021, and the play drew a large family audience. The premiere launched a successful tour through the UK and Ireland.
Flying Over Sunset
Flying Over Sunset is a speculative fiction play in two acts. It's a musical with songs by Tom Kitt and James Lapine, and it had an unofficial launch back in 2015 on Martha's Vineyard. The play premiered on Broadway in November 2021 and ran until January 2022.
This musical imagines a fictional meeting between the creatives Aldous Huxley, Clare Booth Luce, and Cary Grant, all dealing with personal problems. The characters meet up and experiment with LSD, leading to interesting consequences.
Ada The Country
Ada The Country is a Nigerian musical that premiered in January 2020. It launched at the MUSON Centre in Lagos and played again in Lagos and Abuja in 2022.
Titilope Sonuga, a songwriter and poet with several awards, wrote Ada The Country based on her experiences at university. The play focuses on issues surrounding women in Nigerian society. It deals with grief, trauma, and depression and has a sad and moving story. However, it has a hopeful lens and uplifts audiences with contemplative songs.
Suffs is a musical about the women's voting rights movement of the early 20th century. Shaina Taub wowed crowds by writing the books, lyrics, and music for the entire three-hour play, and Taub also played the character of Alice Paul.
The play is information-heavy but isn't just for history lovers. The songs are engaging, and the staging and costumes are stunning. Suffs was widely popular and sold out audiences, extending the run three times.
Best Musicals From The 2020s, Final Thoughts
You're probably familiar with classic musicals, and maybe you watch them on repeat. But the last few years have featured some fantastic breakthrough musicals worth checking out.
From historical musicals like Hamilton and Suffs to coming-of-age sing-alongs like Dear Evan Hansen and Everybody's Talking About Jamie, the 2020s are getting off to a great start with musical theater.
We hope you enjoyed these musicals from the 2020s and share this article with friends!
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