Monday, October 6, 2014

The 5 Modern Broadway Albums to Listen to This Week

If you're remotely a theatre fan, I'm going to bet you've memorized most of the Les Miserables, The Phantom of the Opera, and Wicked music. And there are other musicals you're probably fairly familiar with, like Rent, West Side Story, and the Rodgers and Hammerstein suite, then there's the musicals you have heard of but have only heard a couple songs from. Well my goal is to help you finally listen to those shows, and on this first Monday of October, what better time to expand your musical theatre knowledge? Hopefully with all of these, you'll say, "Oh, I've been meaning to listen to that!"

5 Modern* Broadway Albums to Listen to This Week (And Memorize by Next Year)

1. Billy Elliot- 2008

Why you should listen to it: Besides winning the Tony Awards for Best Musical and Best Score, Billy Elliot tied The Producers for the musical with the most Tony Award nominations, with 15. So basically, the songs (composed by Elton John) are awesome.

My favorite tracks: "Grandma's Song," "Solidarity," "The Letter," "Angry Dance."

2. Next to Normal (2009)

Why you should listen to it: While it did not win Best Musical, it won the Pulitzer Prize for drama, which only three musicals have done in the history of the award. It also tied with Billy Elliot for Best Score. Oh, and then there's Aaron Tveit. And J. Robert Spencer. 'Nuff said. This music is ridiculously rockin'! I love it so much.

My favorite tracks: "Just Another Day," "He's Not Here," "You Don't Know," "I am the One," "Superboy and the Invisible Girl," "I'm Alive," "I've Been," "Why Stay?/A Promise," "Light."

3. Spamalot (2005)

Why you should listen to it: This is one of the most hilarious parody musicals ever! It's a musical version of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, so if you liked that, you'll love this.

My favorite tracks: "The Song that Goes Like This," "Find Your Grail," "You Won't Succeed on Broadway," "Diva's Lament," "His Name is Lancelot."

4. Ragtime** (1998)

Why you should listen to it: This is one of the most epic scores I've ever heard. It gives the incessant ballads of Les Miserables a run for their money! But then it features the vocal talents of Brian Stokes Mitchell and Audra McDonald (who won a Tony Award for her role). Need I say more?

My favorite tracks: "Your Daddy's Son," "Wheels of a Dream," "The Night That Goldman Spoke at Union Square," "What a Game," "Sarah Brown Eyes," "He Wanted to Say," "Back to Before," and "Make Them Hear You."

5. Miss Saigon (1991)

Why you should listen to it: Ok, so besides the fact that I post about this show so much that this blog might as well be called Confessions of a Miss Saigon Addict, Miss Saigon is one of the longest-running musicals of all time, It was also nominated for a zillion Tonys and won all but one of the possible acting awards for musicals. If you like Les Miserables, you'll love this, because it was done by the same composer/lyricist team. So lots of soaring ballads, anguished lovers, and obviously tragic death. And lots of songs that run together (not surprisingly, the two musicals sound similar). So if you think the songs keep repeating, just trust me: they're not.

My favorite tracks: "The Heat is on in Saigon," "The Movie in My Mind," "The Last Night of the World," "Bui Doi," "What a Waste," and "The American Dream."

These shows were each nominated for a Tony Award for Best Musical, and they are all favorites of mine. But hopefully to my friends and readers who often ask me how I got to know so many musicals, this will help to increase your expertise in and love for musical theatre!

Sally Henry // Twitter: // Facebook:

*I realize "modern" is a very relative term for theatre, so let's say from the '90s to the present-day.
**Confession time: I don't usually listen to the actual Original Broadway Cast recording, partly because it's so stinkin long, and I listened to the highlights recording first, so I'm used to it. If you want to give it a try, here it is.

Read More:
Last week's post: "Top 10 Broadway Stars Who Need to Voice Disney Characters"
All About Miss Saigon
How to Talk to a Theatre Nerd
104 Best Broadway Songs of All Time


  1. 4 words: Bridges of Madison County. But fo' reals. Good list, though! I like that there are some rock ones on the list and some more musical theatreish ones.

  2. So true! I love me some Jason Robert Brown. And Kelli O'Hara. Yeah, I tried to pull from a mix of genres/years, and luckily my taste is pretty broad. So this means you need to listen to Miss Saigon now...

  3. I actually have not listened to Billy Elliot, thanks for the tip

  4. Dude, it will change your life!! And it was awesome live on stage, of course.