This post was guest-written by Asha Ramakumar, the founder and president of FUSE, an inclusive arts organization at Arizona State University.
Not going to lie–I wish I was more of a thespian in high school. I’ve always loved performing and being on stage, but my inability to sing was my ultimate pitfall in breaking into musical theater. This, however, didn’t stop me from belting out various Broadway musical soundtracks in my car.
These are shows that will absolutely rip your heart out and have you wishing you were on that stage too.
Top Broadway Shows
Yes, yes–obviously Hamilton, obviously Dear Evan Hansen. But barring a ticket miracle, you’re probably not going to actually get tickets to see those anytime soon. Here are some of my favorite Broadway shows where you’re far more likely to get a seat.
My personal favorite is Chicago. This show has everything: powerful women, violence, and saucy musical numbers. It tells the story of chorus girl Roxie Hart who murders her lover and lands herself in prison with the famous Velma Kelly. Picture musical numbers featuring vengeful women, courtroom drama, and all that jazz. Tickets can be found here.
Of all the musicals, Rent challenges me the most. It’s a little more political, and that’s part of what makes it worth watching. It follows the lives of heroin addicts and AIDS victims as they try to make it in New York City. The soundtrack is absolutely fabulous! This musical is currently on tour, so you may be able to catch this one elsewhere! See if it’s coming near you here.
Kinky Boots is an absolute must-see for anyone who loves all things fun. This musical tells the story of Charlie Price who inherited his father’s shoe factory and finds an unlikely friend in a drag queen named Lola. I won’t give too much away because you’ll have to watch it to see just how awesome it is! Get yourself some tickets here!
Okay, I’m super biased because I love The Wizard of Oz, but I am obsessed with this musical…and that may be an understatement. The Wicked Witch of the West was probably the most misunderstood character in The Wizard of Oz, and this musical has come to reclaim her character. Featuring famous songs like “Defying Gravity” and “For Good,” this story takes you through Elphaba’s (the witch) side of the story. You’ll have these songs stuck in your head forever, and you’ll absolutely love it. Don’t miss it here.
Top Off-Broadway Shows
Not super into complex storylines that last hours and heartfelt ballads every couple minutes? STOMP combines acrobatics and pantomime with complex rhythms generated by household objects. This show only runs 90 minutes, so it’s a perfect show to throw into a busy day of other activities. You can currently buy tickets here, and believe me, you’ll want to.
Like I said earlier, Hamilton is impossible to get tickets for, so this really is the next best thing. This show is coined the “hottest spoof musical of the year” and features an Alexander Hamilton and Manuel Miranda hybrid saving Broadway. This show is perfect for musical theater aficionados because it’s chock-full of references to other shows. It opened this year, so make sure to catch it while it’s hot! Tickets can be found here.
Are you one to marvel at the macabre? This show is for you. I saw my high school’s rendition of this show a couple years ago, and man, it still gives me chills. I mean, the name “The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” isn’t necessarily inviting, but in this truly chilling classic, Sweeney Todd has been wronged by a judge and decides to use his razor to slit the throats of every man who helped the judge. Snag some tickets and don’t miss this classic.
Top Off-Off Broadway Shows
Now, if you’re a fan of Wicked and all things Oz, you’ll have to see The Wiz Jr; an off-off Broadway spinoff that mixes rock, gospel, and soul on an urban backdrop. A true reinvention of a classic. Tickets.
Black Panther Women
The human rights activist inside of me absolutely adores this show because of its willingness to show one woman’s experience in the original Black Panther Party for Self-Defense during a time of pervasive racism. Heavier than the other shows, this one is sure to be a challenge and is something I really want to see. Tickets.
Ribbon Around a Bomb
I’m a sucker for socially provocative media, and this combines all my favorite things: humanity, womanhood, and art. This crafts intersection between Frida Kahlo, Remedios Varo, and Leonora Carrington. This hauntingly beautiful show about working with oppression is added to my bucket list. Tickets.
The truth is, there are way too many shows to see and not enough time to really absorb the awesomeness that is each and every one of these shows. These are just some of my favorites that I think are really worth watching.
Which ones are you excited to see? Let me know in the comments!