Are you a lifelong musical theatre fan or have you just been introduced to the cherished artform? Well, this guide is for everyone, whether you’re a beginner or an expert. From classic musicals to shows you may have missed, here are musical theatre albums that are required listening.
Iconic Broadway Cast Recordings
Into the Woods (Released 1988, Original Broadway Cast)
Broadway legend Stephen Sondheim passed away in November 2021, leaving us with a myriad of musicals that will continue to have a lasting impact on the arts. One of his many beautiful musicals is Into the Woods, which premiered on Broadway in 1987 with the cast recording being released the next year. Take a trip down memory lane or listen to this monumental score for the first time, featuring Chip Zien and Joanna Gleason’s charming rendition of “It Takes Two,” and the bewitching Bernadette Peters’ “Last Midnight.” Listen here.
Kinky Boots(Released 2013, Original Broadway Cast)
A cast that features Tony Award winner Billy Porter, Annaleigh Ashford, and Lena Hall? Sign us up! On top of that, the score of Kinky Boots is written by music icon Cyndi Lauper, who became the first solo woman to win the Tony Award for Best Original Score for her music and lyrics. Listening to this Grammy Award-winning recording will certainly “raise you up.” Listen here.
Ragtime (Released 1998, Original Broadway Cast)
If you have yet to listen to Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty’s breathtaking Ragtime score, it is time to change that! The Ragtime Original Broadway Cast Recording features Broadway greats such as Brian Stokes Mitchell, the late Marin Mazzie, and six-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald singing some of the most thrilling tunes ever heard on the Broadway stage. Listen here.
Wicked(Released 2003, Original Broadway Cast)
Do you remember the first time you heard “Defying Gravity” or Kristin Chenoweth’s glorious soprano? Open up your favorite streaming app and relive the magic of Wickedthat catapulted Idina Menzel and Chenoweth to household names through this Grammy Award-winning recording. Listen here.
Albums You Might NotKnow
The Bridges of Madison County (Released 2014, Original Broadway Cast)
While short-lived on Broadway, the sweeping score of The Bridges of Madison County lives on through the Original Broadway Cast Recording. Composed by Jason Robert Brown, one listen to “One Second and a Million Miles” sung by Kelli O’Hara and Steven Pasquale and you’ll be hooked. Listen here.
Fun Home(Released 2015, Original Broadway Cast)
While there’s a good chance you have heard of this groundbreaking Tony Award-winning Best Musical, there’s a chance it might have slipped off your radar to give the cast recording a listen. Fun Home features a score by Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron who became the first female writing team to win the Tony Award for Best Original Score with this musical. Listen here.
A New Brain(Released 2016, 2015 New York Cast)
If you love Falsettos, it is time to put A New Brain on rotation. William Finn’s score for this musical is brought to life again by the star-studded cast that put the show on at New York City Center in 2015. From Jonathan Groff to Christian Borle to Ana Gasteyer, get ready for this cast recording to become a favorite. Listen here.
Passing Strange(Released 2008, Original Broadway Cast)
Stew’s electrifying Passing Strange score deserves a spot in your music library. Passing Strange is the thrilling Broadway musical about a young bohemian that earned Stew a Tony Award for Best Book and was preserved on screen by the legendary Spike Lee. Explore this landmark musical that might’ve gone under your radar before. Listen here.
Musicals on Screen
Encanto(Released 2021, Original Motion Picture Cast)
Lin-Manuel Miranda has done it again! “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” has become the stand-out hit from the 2021 animated film Encanto, but the whole score shines on the soundtrack and is a joyful and endearing listen. Tune in to the film on Disney+ and then turn on the soundtrack right after. Listen here.
Annie Live! (Released 2021, Original Television Cast)
Annie is one of the most beloved musicals and it was given another interpretation this past winter when NBC presented Annie Live! With a cast that included Taraji P. Henson, Harry Connick Jr., Nicole Scherzinger, Tituss Burgess, and Megan Hilty along with shining newcomer Celina Smith as the titular character, this new recording will keep a heartfelt place in your library. Listen here.
tick, tick…BOOM!(Released 2021, Andrew Garfield and The Cast of Netflix Film)
The late Jonathan Larson is most known for his groundbreaking musical RENT, and now thanks to the Netflix film adaptation, another of his works, tick, tick…BOOM!is reaching a global audience. Featuring a stunning performance from Tony Award winner Andrew Garfield, joined by theatre alums Joshua Henry, Vanessa Hudgens, and Robin de Jesús, you’ll soon have every tune from this soundtrack stuck in your head. Listen here.
West Side Story(Released 2021, Original Motion Picture Cast)
Surely you’ve heard “Tonight” and “I Feel Pretty” before, but this 2021 recording of the new Steven Spielberg film is a must-listen. The dazzling orchestrations of West Side Storyare showcased beautifully in the new soundtrack and could become your go-to recording for the iconic score. Listen here.
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (2014, Original Broadway Cast)
Carole King is one of the most prolific songwriters of her generation and her story was told in the 2014 Broadway musical Beautiful: The Carole King Musical and was beautifully portrayed by Jessie Mueller. Mueller’s performance as Carole King earned her a Tony Award and you can hear her take on songs such as “So Far Away” and, of course, “Beautiful,” on the Original Broadway Cast Recording. Listen here.
The Cher Show(Released 2019, Original Broadway Cast)
Hear Cher’s greatest hits be brought to life anew in the cast recording of The Cher Show. The biomusical opened on Broadway in 2018 at the Neil Simon Theatre starring Stephanie J. Block, Teal, Wicks, and Micaela Diamond as the popstar in different stages of her life. Block went on to win a Tony for her performance and through this recording, you get a glimpse into her mastering of Cher. Listen here.
Moulin Rouge! The Musical(Released 2019, Original Broadway Cast)
Everybody can-can…go listen to this cast recording! Moulin Rouge! The Musical is the latest Best Musical Tony winner and if you have yet to listen to Tony Award winners Aaron Tveit and Danny Burstein sing songs such as Elton John’s “Your Song” or Sia’s “Chandelier,” now is the time to change that. Listen here.
TINA – The Tina Turner Musical (Released 2019, Original London Cast)
Adrienne Warren won a Tony Award for her towering performance as the Queen of Rock n’ Roll in TINA – The Tina Turner Musical. You can hear her captivating take on iconic songs like “Proud Mary” and “River Deep, Mountain High” in the cast recording that was captured while Warren was originating the role in the London production of the musical. Listen here.
Have a favorite musical theatre album that you think belongs in this guide? Share it with us on Twitter and we might just add it to the list! Need more ways to bring theatre into your music library? Check out one of our many playlists.
Last updated and effective as of January 14, 2019
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