If you’re a Broadway enthusiast, chances are your iTunes is chalked full of Sondheim, Webber, Lerner and Loewe. While the classics of the Great White Way remain the heart of musical theatre, Broadway has evolved into a diverse hodgepodge of songful storytelling.
While we could listen to “Oklahoma!” on loop, here are eight cast albums you need to try when you are craving something different.
It can be a gamble when composers flock to the stage from other genres. In the case of “Waitress”, the Sara Bareilles-coined musical, it was match made (or should we say “mixed”) in heaven! Nominated for four Tony Awards this season, “Waitress” is a cast recording that’s perfect for both sob sessions and car jamming. Bareilles’ “pop soul” style lends itself to the stage in a deliciously artful way. You need to add this one to your playlist, like, now.
2) “In the Heights”
While we’re totally advocates for listening to “Hamilton” 4,000 times a day, we’re going to supply you with another great rap musical: “In the Heights” (Yes, it’s also by our king, Lin-Manuel Miranda). Though it shares notes of rap in common, the show is radically different than Miranda’s latest hit. This musical also combines hip hop and Latin-inspired song. It’s perfect for when you need a good beat.
3) “The Last 5 Years”
Triple-threat (composer/lyricist/playwright) Jason Robert Brown is no stranger to shattering traditional Broadway stereotypes. His critically-acclaimed show, “The Last 5 Years”, dives into the relationship between an average husband and wife. The twist? One is telling their story from beginning-to-end while the other tells their story from end-to-beginning. The music is jam-packed with witty, modern, all-too-relatable duets that are so good you won’t know how to stop listening.
4) “American Idiot”
Fans of punk rock will have a field day with this one. Set to the music of Green Day, “American Idiot” includes familiar tunes such as “Wake Me Up When September Ends”, “Holiday” and “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”. Whether you’re a feeling a little angsty or simply in the mood to ditch Rodgers and Hammerstein for something a little more… hardcore, “American Idiot” is always a great choice.
5) “Bright Star”
This season’s Tony-nominated “Bright Star” brings bluegrass to Broadway. Is there anything better? Created by Steve Martin (yes, that Steve Martin!) and Edie Brickell, this show covers themes of love, loss, regret and hope. These Country-inspired, banjo-clad tunes are your next obsession if you’re into bands like “Mumford and Sons”.
6) Bridges of Madison County
Everyone needs a good cry. At least do it to some Jason Robert Brown music. Brown’s adaptation of the film our moms love to watch is strikingly beautiful. It’s full of slow, soulful ballads that are unlike any other show to take the stage. Add the vocals of Kelli O’Hara and Steven Pasquale and what more could you need? You’ll certainly dig this one if you’re in a melancholy mood.
7) “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”
This show combines rock and roll with power ballads that you’ll be singing to for days. Looking for music to dance around you house to while you belt at the top of your lungs? Let Neil Patrick Harris help you channel your inner Hedwig!
With a simple love story at its core, “Once” proves that less is often more. Its small-scale orchestra mirrors live music that you might find in a cozy Irish pub. It’s folk-y style, encompassing the perfect amount of guitar and violin, makes this the perfect soundtrack to studying, strolling or spending time with someone you love.