Our Top 20 Amazon Prime Picks for Broadway Fans
Check out our guide to 20 musical highlights on the popular streaming service...
During Broadway's downtime due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, it has become crucial for us all to stay at home in an effort to contain the spread of the virus. It's also important to keep ourselves entertained at home and remain in good mental health. For Broadway fans, there's nothing that uplifts the spirit more than a musical and so, for the purpose of this feature, we're concentrating solely on the movie musical genre. There is, of course, other fantastic Broadway-related content on Amazon Prime, such as the "Hamilton: One Shot to Broadway" documentary.
There is a wealth of musicals on offer at Amazon Prime ranging from the 1930s to as recently as 2019, therefore, for our top 20 picks, we've endeavoured to include a healthy mix of both classic and modern movie musicals to suit every taste. Please note that some titles are available for free with a membership and others are available to buy or rent. Here are our top 20 recommendations in alphabetical order.
42nd Street (1933)
Come and meet those dancing feet... from the comfort of your own living room. Released in 1933, 42nd Street is a backstage musical that stars Ruby Keeler, Dick Powell, Warner Baxter, Bebe Daniels, George Brent, and Ginger Rogers. It follows small-town girl Peggy Sawyer, fresh off the bus from Middle America and dreaming of a career on Broadway. After landing a place in the chorus line of the hottest new show in town and following an injury sustained by the show's star, Peggy finds herself thrust into the spotlight. But can the Broadway newcomer save the day and become an overnight Broadway star?
An American in Paris (1951)
An American in Paris didn't make its Broadway debut until the spring of 2015, but the original MGM movie musical took the world by storm back in 1951, going on to win six Academy Awards. Featuring such timeless George & Ira Gershwin standards as "I Got Rhythm," "Embraceable You," and "Nice Work If You Can Get It" and starring the incomparable Gene Kelly, An American in Paris is set in 1945 at the end of the Second World War. The story follows American soldier Jerry Mulligan as he looks to create a new life for himself as a painter in a newly-liberated Paris.
Well, we're all certainly longing for "Tomorrow" right now, so why not revisit the 1982 classic Annie? And if you've never seen this beloved musical before, then you've been living the "Hard Knock Life" for sure. Based on the 1977 Broadway musical, Annie follows the trials and tribulations of a little orphan girl, who melts the frosty heart of the billionaire Oliver Warbucks. Look out for Broadway favorites including Carol Burnett, Ann Reinking, Tim Curry, and Bernadette Peters.
Universally panned by film critics and vehemently defended by musical theater fans across the globe, why not find out what the furry fuss is about for yourselves? Based on the 1981 West End musical and boasting that timeless score by Andrew Lloyd Webber, join the eclectic clowder of felines at the Jellicle Ball where it will be decided which cat will ascend to the Heaviside Layer to come back to a new life. The cast of Cats reads like a who's who, from stage veterans the likes of Dame Judi Dench and Sir Ian McKellen to shiny popstars such as Taylor Swift and Jason Derulo. Even Idris Elba gets in on the prowl. But the "Memory" honors go to Broadway alum Jennifer Hudson as Grizabella.
Murder, greed, corruption, exploitation, adultery and treachery... all those things we hold near and dear to our hearts... oh, yeah... and all that jazz. The movie adaptation of the popular Broadway musical, still at the Ambassador Theatre, was an instant hit upon its release in December 2002, going on to win the Academy Award for 'Best Picture.' Set in the 1920s, Chicago delves into a corrupt, jazz-and-liquor-fueled world, where crime and celebrity are interchangeable. Our two leading murderesses are stunningly portrayed by Renée Zellweger (as Roxie Hart) and Catherine Zeta-Jones (as Velma Kelly), alongside Richard Gere as the silver-tongued lawyer, Billy Flynn.
A Chorus Line (1985)
How about a singular sensation? You can't go wrong with the 1985 film adaptation of A Chorus Line. Based on the 1975 ground-breaking Broadway musical, A Chorus Line follows a group of auditionees hoping for a spot in... yep, you guessed it... a chorus line. Proving themselves worthy to the domineering director/choreographer Zach (played by Michael Douglas), we get glimpses into the lives of each of the auditionees through song, discovering what it was that made them choose a career in dance. Look out for three-time Tony Award nominee Terrence Mann as Zach's assistant choreographer, Larry.
And I Am Telling You... that an evening in with the Dreamgirls should keep those quarantine blues at bay. The 2006 film adaptation, based on the 1981 Broadway musical, is set in the 1960s and 1970s and loosely inspired by The Supremes and their tenure at Motown Records. The cast is led by the triumphant trio of Jennifer Hudson, Beyoncé Knowles and Anika Noni Rose, alongside strong male support from Jamie Foxx, Eddie Murphy and Danny Glover. Relive Hudson's Oscar-winning glory in "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" or revel in the three original Oscar-nominated songs penned especially for the movie: "Patience," "Love You I Do," and, of course, Beyoncé's "Listen."
Fiddler on the Roof (1971)
The 1964 Broadway musical about Tevye the milkman and his five daughters was a critical and commercial smash hit, running for almost eight years on the Great White Way (and has since been revived five times) It was immortalized in this 1971 film adaptation, starring Chaim Topol as Tevye, which preserves the Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick classics, including "Matchmaker, Matchmaker," "If I Were a Rich Man," and "Tradition." So, why not relive Tevye's constant dilemmas, as his daughters' choices test and defy his Jewish customs and cultural traditions, in this movie musical that's as charming as it is heart-wrenching?
Funny Girl (1968)
The 1968 film adaptation of Funny Girl saw Ms. Streisand reprising her performance from the 1964 Broadway musical and making her feature film debut (oh, and winning an Oscar in the process). She plays the legendary Fanny Brice, who works her way from a nobody to a superstar, but has a hapless weakness for entrepreneur and infamous gambler Nick Arnstein (played by Omar Sharif). "People" and "Don't Rain on My Parade" are musical numbers that just don't go out of fashion... just like the funny girl that is this film's star.
Into the Woods (2014)
"Children Will Listen," watch and love Disney's 2014 film adaptation of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's dark fairytale... and so will adults, for that matter. The 1986 Broadway musical is one of the most cherished in the Sondheim canon, weaving together characters from the likes of Rapunzel, Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood into a story that centers on a baker and his wife, childless thanks to a witch's curse, and their quest to reverse it. Starring as the witch in an Oscar-nominated performance is the one and only Meryl Streep, supported by a stellar cast that includes James Corden, Emily Blunt, Anna Kendrick, and Johnny Depp. Ready for your Happily Ever After?
The King and I (1956)
If you're in need of "Something Wonderful" from the legendary pairing of Rodgers & Hammerstein, then how about rewatching the 1956 classic The King and I, or even getting to know it for the very first time? The cherished Broadway musical officially opened in 1951 and went on to bag five Tony Awards, including Best Musical. The movie features Deborah Kerr and Yul Brynner in the starring roles of Anna Leonowens and The King of Siam, respectively, who develop a respect, admiration and even a love for one another that neither seems willing to admit. "Shall We Dance?" Yes, please.
Les Misérables (2012)
"Do You Hear the People Sing" in your own living room? Nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, the 2012 film adaptation of Les Misérables, directed by Tom Hooper, was a critical and commercial success and garnered much praise for the live vocal performances of its stars. The musical, which debuted in London in 1985 and on Broadway in 1987, is set during the 19th century revolution in France and follows Jean Valjean on an epic quest for redemption and justice. Hugh Jackman earned his first Oscar nomination as Jean Valjean, and he is joined by a star-studded cast that includes Russell Crowe, Eddie Redmayne, Amanda Seyfried and an Oscar-winning performance by Anne Hathaway as Fantine. We're all dreaming a dream of times gone by at the moment, but you can always bring this majestic movie musical home...
Mamma Mia! (2008)
Attention, Super Troopers and Dancing Queens. Mamma Mia! broke the mould when it premiered in London's West End in 1999, ushering in a new era of jukebox musicals. As we find ourselves back in hard times, why not let Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried, Julie Walters, Christine Baranski and co. put a smile back on your faces with this Greek island-based romp set to those eternally catchy tunes of ABBA?
Why not "Seize the Day" and check out Disney's 1992 movie musical Newsies? Although it was considered a box office flop at the time, Newsies would gain a large cult following that ultimately served as a catalyst for the much-loved 2012 Broadway musical. That production would also earn composer Alan Menken his first Tony Award. Inspired by the Newsboys' strike of 1899 in New York City, the film stars a young Christian Bale as Jack Kelly, the poster boy and leader of the strike.
On the Town (1949)
"New York, New York, a helluva town. The Bronx is up but The Battery's down..." Nothing captures the spirit of the Big Apple perhaps more than that iconic number from the 1944 Broadway musical by Leonard Bernstein, Betty Comden, and Adolph Green. Thankfully, "New York, New York" was preserved and immortalized in the 1949 film adaptation. Headlined by Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra, the musical follows three sailors, who are given a 24-hour shore leave in New York City during wartime 1944, and their respective romantic encounters along the way. The tuner was last seen on the Great White Way in its latest Broadway revival in 2014.
One Night in Miami (2021)
Blending real events with fictional meetings, One Night in Miami is a powerful dramatization of Civil Rights America. Set in 1964, Cassius Clay celebrates the world heavyweight title with Malcolm X, Sam Cooke and Jim Brown. Even though they're cheering one another, the quartet reflect on a society they live in, rife with riots and hostility. Between them, they aim to define a new world, supporting future generations. Kemp Power's One Night in Miami made its world premiere in London, but after this Amazon Prime flick, we're hoping the play will find its feet on the Great White Way.
Calling all, "Rentheads" The 2005 film adaptation of the Jonathan Larson musical that defined a generation is also available to rent on Amazon Prime. Based on the 1996 Tony Award-winning 'Best Musical' that follows a group of impoverished young artists and bohemians struggling to survive in the midst of the AIDS epidemic in NYC's East Village, the Rent movie version also features six of the original Broadway stars, including Idina Menzel, Anthony Rapp, Adam Pascal, Jesse L. Martin, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, and Taye Diggs.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
We're already smiling at the thought of you all doing "The Time Warp" in your living rooms. The 1973 West End musical The Rocky Horror Show finally landed on Broadway in 1975... and enjoyed an infamously short-lived run. What happened next nobody could have predicted... The musical, largely thanks to this zany 1975 film adaptation starring Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, creator Richard O'Brien and even Meat Loaf, sparked a cult phenomenon like no other, that lives on to this day. Anyone in the mood for a "Sweet Transvestite"?
The Sound of Music (1965)
Arguably the most iconic musical in the Rodgers & Hammerstein canon, The Sound of Music certainly remains one of our favorite things. The Broadway musical officially opened in November 1959 and took home the Tony Award for 'Best Musical' in 1960. The glorious 1965 film adaptation stars Dame Julie Andrews, just one year after becoming a global superstar thanks to her performance in Mary Poppins. Ms. Andrews plays Maria Rainer, a postulant in Salzburg, Austria in 1938, who is sent to serve as governess for the seven children of Captain von Trapp (played by Christopher Plummer) as the country is about to fall prey to the Nazi takeover. And her renditions of "Do-Re-Mi," "My Favorite Things," and, of course, the titular track have become slices of movie musical heaven.
West Side Story (1961)
Our final Amazon Prime pick is none other than the classic 1961 film adaptation of the 1957 Broadway musical, West Side Story. As things stand, we are still set for Steven Spielberg's remake to hit movie theaters, but in the meantime, why not revisit the historic original? Inspired by Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, our star-crossed lovers are Tony and Maria, separated by their respective associations with two rival gangs in the Upper West Side of New York City. Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim's immortal score includes the likes of "Maria," "Tonight," and "I Feel Pretty," and reminds us, now more than ever, that there will be a time for us... somehow... someday... somewhere.