The best Broadway shows for concert fans and music lovers

Lots of Broadway musicals feel like concerts in their own right — such as those that feature songs by beloved bands or actors playing instruments on stage.

Gillian Russo
Gillian Russo

There are so many ways to experience live music in the city. You can take in an outdoor concert in the summer, go to a major arena, or visit an intimate jazz club. And of course, there are Broadway musicals. Some concerts are theatrical in their own right, with elaborate sets and choreography and costume changes, but Broadway musicals take the spectacle to the next level.

Many Broadway shows feature music from popular artists you might want to see — or maybe even have seen – in concert for real, but a show lets you experience their songs in new ways. Some are even about the lives of musicians real and fictional, which means you'll get concert-like scenes of them performing.

If you love concerts and want to experience live music in a new way, check out our recommendations for the best Broadway shows for concertgoers. And if you want to see an actual concert, we've got you covered. Browse our concert listings and get tickets to hear live music in various genres, from pop to jazz to theatre to classical.

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Six is a stadium concert on Broadway. Except instead of a contemporary pop girl group, the performers include the six wives of Henry VIII, who are competing over who had it the worst as his wife — the winner gets to be lead singer.

Each Queen, though, is inspired by a modern pop queen such as Beyonce, Britney Spears, Ariana Grande, and Alicia Keys. Six's energetic pop songs about the Queens' lives won the Tony Award for Best Score, proving that this show — part concert, part musical — is one of a kind, no category.

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Get a live look into the process of recording music. Stereophonic is a play with original rock music by Arcade Fire's Will Butler, and it centers on a fictional classic rock band recording their soon-to-be breakthrough album.

The actors all play their own instruments, performing Butler's groovy, '70s rock-inspired music on stage each night. As sound engineers, two other actors even record and play the songs back in real time on the functional recording-studio set.

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The Heart of Rock and Roll

Miss the heyday of '80s rock? It hasn't truly gone away — The Heart of Rock and Roll is still beating on Broadway. Named after the hit song by Huey Lewis and the News, the show features more than 20 other beloved tunes from that band. Expect "The Power of Love," "Do You Believe in Love?," and more.

The show itself is about a man choosing between touring with his former band or seizing a major advancement opportunity — and a potential romance — at his day job. There are plenty of scenes where the fictional band, the Loop, rocks out, offering the closest thing to a Huey Lewis concert as you can get.

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Hell’s Kitchen

The new musical Hell’s Kitchen packs all the explosive energy of an arena concert into the 1,500-seat Shubert Theatre. And for a show set to the R&B hits of Alicia Keys, we'd expect nothing less. "Empire State of Mind" is practically NYC's theme song, and the show features more hits like "No One," "Fallin'," and "If I Ain't Got You."

The story, loosely inspired by Keys's life, follows a teenage girl named Ali as she comes of age in the title Manhattan neighborhood, finding her passion for music along the way. Alongside the many concert-like moments where Ali (Maleah Joi Moon) and the ensemble perform Keys's hits, there's also a showstopping moment where Shoshana Bean, as Ali's mom Jersey, belts the song "Pawn It All" with all the power of a stadium headliner.

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The Who's Tommy

British rock band The Who is a sensation — and that happened largely in part because of its 1969 album Tommy, which skyrocketed the band to global fame. The album, and the Broadway musical adaptation, tell the story of a young boy who loses his senses after a traumatic incident, discovers his incredible talent for pinball, and becomes a local celebrity — all as a relatively young man looking for healing.

With electrifying lighting, choreography, and energy, The Who's Tommy absolutely rocks out. When the actors take to the stage to sing The Who's classic rock hits like "Pinball Wizard," prepare to be wowed.

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Illinoise lets the music do all the talking. Adapted from Sufjan Stevens's Illinois album, the Broadway musical is a dance piece. Justin Peck's choreography tells a story about a young man and the community that empowers him to share his story of love and loss, leading to healing — but there's no dialogue.

That setup makes Illinoise a great choice for those who want to hear 90 minutes of uninterrupted music, like at a concert. Three singers — including one featured on the original Illinois album — perform Stevens's lush indie rock songs live.

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MJ The Musical

MJ The Musical is set in the days leading up to an actual concert: Michael Jackson's opening performance of the 1992 Dangerous World Tour. Audiences get to see him in the rehearsal room as he runs through all his signature songs and dance moves, and they learn about his creative process along the way. It's like a tribute concert and then some, with all the fan-favorite Michael Jackson songs you'd want to hear.

Three actors play Jackson as a child, young adult, and adult as he looks back on his life, and they all embody his vocals and movement style flawlessly, both as a solo artist and a member of the Jackson 5. If you sit back far enough, you might swear you're actually watching Jackson reincarnated.

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A Beautiful Noise, The Neil Diamond Musical

The audience is discouraged from singing along at most Broadway shows — but most Broadway shows aren't A Beautiful Noise, The Neil Diamond Musical. If you're a fan of Neil Diamond and know all the words to "Sweet Caroline," "Song Sung Blue," and more, this is the musical for you.

A tribute to Diamond's life and career, the show follows an older Diamond as he reminisces on his younger self before he became unable to perform. A Beautiful Noise reminds audiences of his talent and brings a taste of his live concerts to the stage once more.

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& Juliet

You're going to want to do karaoke after this one. & Juliet is set to the pop hits of Max Martin, better known as the songwriter and/or producer for tunes like "...Baby One More Time," "Since U Been Gone," "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)," and many more tunes that define 21st-century pop music.

All those songs and more appear in this unofficial sequel to Romeo & Juliet in which Juliet lives and goes to Paris in search of a fresh start. & Juliet occasionally hosts sing-along performances, so keep an eye out for those if you really want the pop-concert feel, where you can rock out to these fan-favorite songs!

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