I am obsessed with many of the musicals that have come out in the last few years. I grew up loving musicals and Broadway. I spent many hours in my youth at rehearsals and performing in school and church. I fell in love with how the songs and the stories made me feel. My favorite thing is to start at the beginning of an original Broadway cast album and just let it take me on a journey. There are so many new musicals that have songs I wish were around when I was in high school. I did my fair share of Broadway show tunes in choir concerts. Watching young high schoolers cover amazing songs like "You Will Be Found" from Dear Evan Hansen and "Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story" from Hamilton, makes me nostalgic for the time when all I cared about was getting on stage and singing my heart out. Let's talk about some of the recent musicals that have touched me.
Hamilton is by far the best musical that has come out, not just in the last five years, but in the last fifty. It has crossed so many cultural boundaries and is loved by millions of people around the world. You have to look back over a decade to Wicked to find another musical that is so beloved by so many people. With five currently running productions, one in London, one in Chicago, two touring casts, and it's original Broadway production, it doesn't seem to be slowing down anytime soon. Hamilton uses rap and hip-hop musical, along with other styles, to tell the inspiring story of Alexander Hamilton, who was one of America's found fathers as well as the first US Treasury Secretary. Hamilton won eleven Tony Awards including "Best Musical".
When someone asks me what Dear Evan Hansen is about, it's always hard to explain. Evan is a lonely kid who makes up an entire friendship between himself and another student who has taken their own life. The show's star Ben Platt, who plays the tittle character, imbues Evan with so much heart and emotion it's hard not to feel for him. This story is so universal. Everyone has told a white lie to make themselves seem cooler than they are. Evan's lie grows to an unsustainable point and must eventually come clean to the boy's family, singing "Words Fail" in the climax of the show. Platt must deliver a heart wrenching performance while singing a technically difficult song, and nails it every time. Dear Evan Hansen won six Tony Awards including "Best Musical".
Everyone has a story about where they were on 9/11. For 9,000 people in a small town in Newfoudland, they spent this day, and the next six days after, taking care of 7,000 people from around the world when their plans were forced to land on this tiny island off the cost of north east Canada. The creators of Come From Away took the stories of hundreds of these towns people and plane passengers and turned it into one the most moving musicals I have seen years. There are twelve actors who all play multiple characters through out the show.
All of these musicals shouldn't work. A rap musical about the first US Treasury Secretary who most people don't remember because he didn't become President, the story of a young kid who fakes a friendship with a another kid who committed suicide, and the heart wrenching story of one of the worst national tragedies in modern history. They certainly don't scream musical, but these shows have become some of the most popular and impactful shows of the last five years.