Hamilton and beyond

Musicals to watch after Hamilton

Towards the end of quarantine, Disney + gave viewers a peek into the theater world through the two hour long musical, “Hamilton.” The story tells the tale of an historical figure in American history, one of the founding fathers, Alexander Hamilton. It demonstrates his entire life story through a series of songs and raps that draw the viewers in and leave them hooked. While there were some people who already were deep within their musical theater journey when it came out, for many of the viewers, besides the Disney Princess movies, they had not experienced this world. Now that they have though, they want more, alas it is kind of hard to find good musicals when you do not know what to look for. 

Thus, an easy way to look at things is to start with something you already know, for example, “Mean Girls.” The movie about a group of high school girls named ‘the Plastics’ that rule the school and a new girl, who in an attempt to end the leader’s reign of terror, becomes a plastic herself. Now, what the general public may not know is that there is also a “Mean Girls” musical, written by Tina Fey. The story is mainly the same with a few tweaks to fit into theater format, but this is a musical that can be a great addition to one’s musical journey. 

If we travel down the line, one can discover the movie that “Mean Girls” is based off of, “Heathers.” A movie which is about three girls named Heather who, similar to the Plastics, have supreme authority over the student body. One student, Veronica Sawyer, becomes tired of her placement in the school caste system and seeks to befriend them. Afterwards, things go downhill very quickly as Veronica’s new boyfriend goes on a murder spree to protect her. The movie was then adapted into, “Heathers: The Musical,” by Kevin Murphy and Laurence O’Keefe. With this, we have placed ourselves on the school/popular musical track. 

This can go in multiple directions. The first is continuing on the normal schooling path that deals with relationships and popularity during high school, which breeds musicals such as “Be More Chill,” by Joe Tracz. The drama showcases a high school boy who seeks to become more popular to impress his crush, in the process, he neglects his best friend and loses his sense of self. Another title is the heart wrenching tale of, “Dear Evan Hansen,” by Steven Levenson. Following senior in high school, Evan Hansen, the anxiety ridden loner longs to be understood by his peers amidst the cruel age of social media. As he embarks on a journey of self discovery, a letter he wrote falls into the hands of a grieving couple whose son took his own life; as recorded by time.com/6101420/dear-evan-hansen-review/. 

An alternate path the category can lead is magical school, which also deals with relationships/popularity. This can bring one to the infamous performance, “Wicked,” by Winnie Holzman. This revered adventure announces the untold story of the witches of Oz, namely Galinda (Glinda the Good Witch) and Elphaba (the Wicked Witch of the West). As their relationship struggles through their opposing natures, popularity, same love interest, reactions to the corrupt government, and Elphaba’s private fall from grace. 

If one would like to continue on the Lin-Manuel Miranda train, then one musical that features many of the songs he has written is “In The Heights,” by Quiara Alegria Hudes. While it did not do too well in the box office, the story itself is lovable and the songs are addicting. A story shadowing the life of a bodega owner in a tight-knit Dominican American community that lives in the Washington Heights in Upper Manhattan. 

Nevertheless, this is not the only musical Miranda’s work can be spotted. For instance, one can find Miranda in many Disney movies such as “Moana” and “Encanto.” Other musicals consist of “Mary Poppins Returns” and “tick, tick…Boom!” This still is only a measly amount of work Miranda has done. 

However, with “In The Heights” in play, we continue down the adult relationships path with musical theater. One extremely well-received story is, “West Side Story,” by Aurthur Laurents. Recently adapted in 2021, the romantic drama demonstrates the forbidden love of rival gang members. The parody of this musical made up for the popular Disney movie “Teen Beach Movie,” in the form of “Wet Side Story.” 

Now within the musical genre, there are a plethora of musicals that have not been listed here. Needless to say, these musicals can start one’s musical journey as they are some of the most popular. Although tickets can be expensive, one way to prepare to watch these is by listening to the soundtracks before watching the play. Then you will be able to sing all of your favorite songs during the performance.