The world of theatre is dominated by renowned works such as ‘Hamilton’, ‘Les Misérables‘, and ‘Dear Evan Hansen’. This results in other deserving products often being overshadowed. There is, however, a world of lesser-known musicals that rival these titans in plot, composition, and emotional depth. They may not have the same public recognition, but their excellence is clear. I want to showcase these hidden treasures in the hopes of bringing them the attention they deserve.
Billy Elliot: The Musical
Fans of the film will absolutely love this musical. Even if you’ve never seen the film before, you will still definitely love this musical. With music by Elton John, the musical revolves around Billy, an 11-year-old boy who gives up boxing to start ballet lessons. Set against the 1980s miner’s strike in North East England, the musical follows Billy’s struggles to just be
Possibly ranked #1 in my favourite musicals of all time (though this does change daily), Billy Elliot’s The Musical cleverly utilizes comedy to challenge restrictive gender norms. With songs such as ‘Shine’ and ‘Express Yourself,’ the musical promotes the discovery of individual identity and celebrates expressing your true self.
This musical will have you both laughing and crying at the same time
The impressive dance numbers in this musical, which I have personally seen, completely blew me away. Having to lead the entire show, Billy was utterly outstanding and, for an 11-year-old boy, was truly professional. This musical will have you both laughing and crying at the same time, and I could not recommend it more.
A Bronx Tale
You may have heard of the film, but did you know that there was a musical adaptation too? Though it is no longer running on Broadway, I still think it deserves more appreciation than it gets.
Exploring themes of romance, family and coming-of-age this makes you think about the choices you make
The original Broadway production was actually co-directed by Robert De Niro (the director of the film), and the musical opened at the Longacre Theatre in New York City towards the end of 2016. The lead role, Calogero, is followed through his childhood years up until he becomes a teenager. Neighbourhood mobster Sonny takes him under his wing and teaches him about the ‘gang’ lifestyle of the Bronx. Exploring themes of romance, family, and coming-of-age, this musical truly makes you think about the choices you make in your life. With a flawed lead role, this musical teaches you a lot about growing up and I wish more people knew of its existence.
Bonnie & Clyde
I saw this musical quite recently, and I already want to go and watch it again! Based on the true story of lovers and outlaws Bonnie and Clyde, the musical adapts their story to become one of a dramatic romance amid the Great Depression of the 1900s. The two actors I saw perform these lead roles (Jordan Luke Gage & Frances Mayli McCann) truly carried the show. The effort and emotion they put into making these characters come alive was outstanding, and their solos and duets were flawless.
[Watching this] will definitely be a hell-raising experience
Following a sell-out run at the Arts Theatre, this musical has returned for a new West End season at the Garrick Theatre. I implore you to watch this magnificent musical, whether that be at a theatre or just some clips on YouTube. However you do it, I can assure you that it will definitely be a hell-raising experience.
I feel like appreciation for this musical is growing and growing, but it’s still not enough! I have yet to watch this one (but will soon), however, I am very much aware of how sensational of a musical it is. It tells the version of the well-known Greek myths Orpheus and Eurydice and Hades and Persephone (just in a musical format). Performed by a talented ensemble of actors, the musical tells the story of two star-crossed lovers who must fight against Hades and his oppressive rules of the underworld to be reunited.
I cannot wait for this show to come to the West End in 2024
What I love so much about this musical is its message. Anais Mitchell, the woman behind the music, book, and lyrics of ‘Hadestown,’ sums it up perfectly: “One of the main themes in ‘Hadestown’ is that there’s value in trying, even if we fail. Orpheus is a hero not because he succeeds, but because he tries.” I cannot wait for this show to come to the West End in 2024.
So, while there are many musicals out there that have won endless awards, gained massive popularity, and are generally known by everyone, remember that there’s more out there than you think. There are so many musicals just waiting for the appreciation and recognition that they deserve and the list that I have given you today is just the start.