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The King and I
Photograph: Paul Kolnik The King and I

The best musicals now on BroadwayHD

Watch these classic musical theater performances from the comfort of your couch

By Adam Feldman
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With Broadway dark until at least 2021, fans of musical theater are hungry for shows they can watch from home. That's where BroadwayHD comes in. A streaming service aimed at theater lovers, BroadwayHD offers some 300 whole, high-quality, professionally filmed live theater performances from Broadway, London's West End and beyond. (Some have been acquired from existing catalogs, while others have been created especially for the channel.) Subscriptions cost just $8.99 a month—and for new subscribers, the first week is free.

But how can you choose among the many shows on offer? That's where we come in.  BroadwayHD is currently streaming 65 different musicals. Here are the ones we think you won't want to miss. One note: BroadwayHD offers several musicals that were made as feature films (including Nine, The Music Man and The Last Five Years) or as made-for-TV movies (such as Bye Bye Birdie or the Bette Midler Gypsy), but we have limited this list to recordings of live stage productions.

RECOMMENDED: A day-by-day guide to the best new theater, dance and opera you can stream this week

Best Musicals Currently on BroadwayHD

Angela Lansbury and George Hearn in Sweeney Todd
Angela Lansbury and George Hearn in Sweeney Todd
Photograph: Courtesy BroadwayHD

1. Sweeney Todd

Pound for bloody pound, Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler's 1979 killer-cannibal horror show may the greatest Broadway musical of all time. No matter how many times you've heard it, the razor-sharp score remains a wonder, and this 1981 recording of the national touring production is far superior to Tim Burton's stylized 2007 film version. Best of all, it preserves Angela Lansbury's devilish turn as meat-pie maker Mrs. Lovett; George Hearn plays the title role, with support from original Broadway cast members Ken Jennings and Edmund Lyndeck. Act fast, though: BroadwayHD is only showing this one through October 31, in honor of Halloween.
Highlight: In the dazzlingly witty comic waltz "A Little Priest" (1:13), which closes Act I, Sweeney and Lovett muse about the many kinds of people they could have for dinner: “The history of the world, my sweet / Is who gets eaten and who gets to eat.” Has wickedness ever been quite so delicious? 

Clare Halse in 42nd Street
Clare Halse in 42nd Street
Photograph: Courtesy Brinkhoff/Moegenburg

2. 42nd Street

If escapism is what you're looking for, look no farther than this 1980 tale of a plucky understudy who becomes as star. A tap-happy paean to musical theater itself, it's the quintessential manifesto of Broadway's show-must-go-on ideology. The 1933 source film is an anti-Depression treatment; the musical supplements the story with extra standards from the Harry Warren–Al Dubin songbook and massive cloudbursts of synchronized dance. This filmed version captures the 2017 West End revival, with choreography by Randy Skinner that draws on Gower Champion's original staging at several key moments. 
Highlight: As belts begin to tighten and wallets begin to thin, the exuberant production number "We're in the Money" (1:05) may be just the thing to take your mind off your troubles.

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The King and I
The King and I
Photograph: Paul Kolnik

3. The King and I

Kelli O'Hara and Ken Watanabe starred in the 2015 Lincoln Center Theater revival of Rodgers & Hammerstein's classic 1951 romantic drama about culture clash between the King of Siam and an English governess in the 1860s. Directed by Bartlett Sher, this opulent production includes gorgeous period costumes and a lush rendition of the score (which includes such standards as "Hello, You Lovers," "Getting to Know You" and "Something Wonderful"); O'Hara gives a measured, beautifully sung performance as the I of the storm, for which she won a Tony Award (as did Ruthie Ann Miles as the King's head wife). This version was filmed during the production's London run in 2018.
Highlight: As Anna and the King traverse the stage in a polka in "Shall We Dance" (2:08), and her enormous lavender dress floats around her like a cloud, we permit ourselves to imagine, if only for a moment, that this kind of thing can happen.

Elaine Stritch at Liberty
Elaine Stritch at Liberty
Photograph: Courtesy BroadwayHD

4. Elaine Stritch at Liberty

Elaine Stritch's Broadway career stretched back to the 1940s, but its apotheosis was this 2001 solo show, cowritten with John Lahr. In a sense, Stritch had always been a grumpy old showbiz lady; she just had to wait for her actual age to catch up. She was her own best character role, amd her curmudgeonly, whiskey-drenched style exploded with honesty, rue and mordant wit. Filmed at the Old Vic in London and first shown by HBO in 2004, this version captures a woman ready, willing and eager to strip show business glamour down to its weary bones.
Highlight: Stritch's lengthy story (0:35) about understudying Ethel Merman on Broadway while simultaneously playing a supporting role in Pal Joey in New Haven—punctuated with verses from that show's wry song "Zip"—is masterful.

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Oklahoma!
Oklahoma!
Photograph: Courtesy BroadwayHD

5. Oklahoma!

Before Hugh Jackman strapped on his Wolverine claws and became an action-movie star, he was a musical-theater leading man in his native Australia. But his international breakout was as Curly in the 1998 West End production of Rodgers & Hammerstein's game-changing 1943 tuner. Trevor Nunn's production is far more traditional than the Oklahoma! we saw on Broadway last season, but it's still a darker show than you may think, and Shuler Hensley makes a strong impression as the villainous Jud Fry (for which he won a Tony when the production moved to Broadway a few years later). But the radiantly charismatic Jackman is the reason to watch: Whenever he's onscreen, everything goes his way. 
Highlight: Jackman's opening song, "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'" (0:03), ropes you right in, but stick around to watch him charm the heck out of a local farmgirl—and the audience—in "The Surrey with the Fringe on Top."

She Loves Me
She Loves Me
Photograph: Joan Marcus

6. She Loves Me

The musical team behind Fiddler on the Roof, Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, also wrote the score for this delightful and beautifully crafted 1963 romantic comedy, adapted from the same Hungarian play that also inspired the films The Shop Around the Corner and You've Got Mail. Laura Benanti and Zachary Levi play squabbling coworkers who don't realize that they're also pen-pal lovers; Jane Krakowski and Gavin Creel are the comic secondary characters. Everything about Scott Ellis's 2016 production—the very first Broadway production to be live-streamed on BroadwayHD—feels like opening prettily wrapped little gift boxes.
Highlight: Benanti serves up a very tasty rendition of the show's most famous song, "Vanilla Ice Cream" (1:41), but stick around to see Levi sail through the musical's title number right afterward.

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Pippin
Pippin
Photograph: Courtesy BroadwayHD

7. Pippin

The legendary director-choreographer Bob Fosse took Stephen Schwartz and Tony O. Hirson's 1972 musical—a parable about a medieval prince on a journey of self-discovery, stuffed with delightful songs—and turned it into mesmerizing exercise in rotting-showbiz style. This version, recorded for Canadian television in 1981, is less than ideal: It truncates several numbers, sometimes at the expense of sense, and cuts "I Guess I'll Miss the Man" entirely. But it's an indispensable record of Fosse's staging and Ben Vereen's deceptively ingratiating performance as the Leading Player. The Greatest American Hero's William Katt has the title role in a mop of blond curls; Chita Rivera has a memorable number that finds her using a crown as a garter.
Highlight: The opening number, "Magic to Do" (0:01), is a vaguely sinister invitation to the entertainments to come. At first we see only an eerie arrangement of glowing hands, and when the ensemble emerges, led by a sinuous Vereen, its members are is oozily eroticized and intent.

Into the Woods at the Regent's Park
Into the Woods at the Regent's Park
Photograph: Catherine Ashmore

8. Into the Woods

In the first act of this 1987 classic, Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine weave the stories of Cinderella, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood and the beanstalk-climbing Jack into a witty farcical basket, held together by the tale of a baker and his wife who seek to end a witch’s curse. In Act II, the characters’ happy endings unravel into a violent mess of retribution and recrimination. Into the Woods doesn’t just rewrite the morals of its stories; it examines the subjective and elective qualities of morality itself, with unsettling conclusions. This recording captures the musical's innovative, Olivier Award–winning 2010 revival at the Regent's Park in London, directed by Timothy Sheader and starring Hannah Waddingham as the Witch, Mark Hadfield as the Baker and Jenna Russell as the Baker's Wife (plus Judi Dench as the recorded voice of the Giant). Though not as definitive as the original production, it puts interesting spins on the material.
Highlight: This production puts greater emphasis than most on the story of the Baker, which reaches its crisis point in a touching rendition of "No More" (2:09).

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Falsettos
Falsettos
Photograph: Joan Marcus

9. Falsettos

William Finn and James Lapine’s intimate, obstinate, heart-shattering 1992 musical returned to Broadway in this 2016 revival. The spiky first half is a nervy, yappy exploration of masculinity and its discontents; the second, written a decade later, rises to the challenge of AIDS with songs that are sparky, funny, wrenching and sweet. Directed by Lapine, the show is about a specific Jewish family in the early 1980s; while its story of a man (Christian Borle) who leaves his wife and child for a male lover (Andrew Rannells) may be less novel today, its larger truths continue to resonate. Seeing it now is like opening a time capsule and finding a mirror. 
Highlight: In the comic-neurosis showcase "I'm Breaking Down" (0:29), abandoned wife Stephanie J. Block—who would go on to win a Tony for The Cher Show—goes hilariously bananas. 

Nathan Funn and Kelli O'Hara in Carousel (2013)
Nathan Funn and Kelli O'Hara in Carousel (2013)
Photograph: Chris Lee

10. Carousel

Like many Rodgers and Hammerstein shows, 1945's Carousel is darker than many people remember. In 19th-century Maine, the moony Julie Jordan is drawn, moth to flame, to the charismatic carnival barker Billy Bigelow; their unhappy marriage is set against a seemingly idyllic seaside world of busting-out-all-over Junes and real nice clambakes. Although Billy's domestic violence is treated as a deep moral failure, the show's treatment of the question understandably raises hackles. But this 2013 New York Philharmonic concert staging, recorded for Live From Lincoln Center, offers a stately and stirring account of the material, flawed though it may be. Top Broadway stars (Kelli O’Hara as Julie, Jessie Mueller and Jason Danieley as the secondary couple, John Cullum as the Starkeeper) share the stage with opera headliners (Nathan Gunn as Billy, Stephanie Blythe as Julie's close cousin Nettie).
Highlight: Carousel's historical importance may be in the "bench scene" (when dialogue slides into song) and Billy's epic "Soliloquy," but the anthemic "You'll Never Walk Alone" (1:37) is the score's crowing jewel, and mezzo Blythe delivers it on a rich, plush pillow of sound.

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David Soul in Jerry Springer: The Opera
David Soul in Jerry Springer: The Opera
Photograph: Courtesy BroadwayHD

11. Jerry Springer: The Opera

In Stewart Lee’s outrageous and exuberant high-low extravaganza, the title character doesn’t sing; everyone around him does, though, in styles ranging from highfalutin baroque compositions (at one point, the f-word is melismatically stretched to sit on some 200 notes) to Busby Berkeley glamour. After splashing in fabulous mud, the show literally goes to Hell in its second half. Beneath its sublime-to-ridiculous jokes, this wild ride is onto something about reality-show culture and the poignancy of its debased participants—which more or less includes all of us now. This recording captures a 2005 English performance; it would be another 13 years before a full production of the show reached new New York.
Highlight: As the audience taunts her, a full-figured guest named Shawntel (the power-voiced Alison Jiear) takes to the stripper pole in the sincere disco anthem "I Just Wanna Dance" (0:46). 

Alfie Boe (Jean Valjean) during the curtain call for the Les Miserables 25th Anniversary Concert at The O2 Arena, London
Alfie Boe (Jean Valjean) during the curtain call for the Les Miserables 25th Anniversary Concert at The O2 Arena, London
Photograph: Dan Wooller

12. Les Misérables in Concert: The 25th Anniversary

This 2010 event marked the 25th anniversary of the London premiere of the international sensation Les Misérables. Although it's a concert and not a full staging, the sweep and impact of Claude-Michel Schönberg, Alain Boublil and Herbert Kretzmer's pop operetta shines through. Alfi Boe leads the cast as escaped convict Jean Valjean; the supporting players include Norm Lewis as Javert, Lea Salonga as Fantine, a terrific Samantha Barks as Éponine and a somewhat overwhelmed Nick Jonas as Marius. Matt Lucas and Jenny Galloway lick every scrap of meat from their roles as the comically horrid Thénardiers. 
Highlight: At the end of the night, original star Colm Wilkinson joins Boe and two other former Valjeans for a moving rendition of the plaintive "Bring Him Home" (2:28), followed by a reprise of the rousing first-act finale, "One Day More" (2:33) with nearly all of the original principal London cast, including Roger Allam, Frances Ruffelle, Michael Ball and Rebecca Caine. (Missing from action: Patti LuPone.)

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Lady Day
Lady Day
Photograph: Courtesy Carol Rosegg

13. Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill

The peerless Audra McDonald won a record-breaking sixth Tony Award for her performance as jazz icon Billie Holiday in Lanie Robertson's cabaret-style solo show, whose 14 songs include such Holiday favorites as "Don't Explain" and "God Bless the Child." Directed with restraint by Lonny Price, the show is a moving glimpse into the final days of a brilliant talent that was, by then, too frequently wasted. McDonald brings the pain as required and delivers Holiday’s broken-horn stylings with rough aplomb.
Highlight: To ease yourself into McDonald's performance as Holiday you may want to start with something light, such as "Crazy He Calls Me" (0:13), but the dramatic highlight of the night is her riveting performance of the anti-lynching song "Strange Fruit" (1:00). 

A scene from the 2012 arena spectacular production of Jesus Christ Superstar
A scene from the 2012 arena spectacular production of Jesus Christ Superstar
Photograph: Courtesy The Really Useful Group Ltd

14. Jesus Christ Superstar

In this 1970 rock opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, an anti-authoritarian Middle Eastern agitator gets arrested after kissing a guy in a park. The show is a motley union of high and low: classical strains and groovy rock riffs, biblical fidelity and savvy post-Warhol spin, timeless tale and of-its-moment storytelling. This 2012 recording captures the touring arena concert production that grew out of the British TV competition show Superstar, and it reflects its Occupy Wall Street moment. Ben Forster plays Jesus, with support from Tim Minchin as Judas and Melanie C (née Sporty Spice) as Mary Magdalene.
Highlight: Forster brings the requisite power falsetto to "Gethsemane" (0:55), but Chris Moyles, done up as sleazy TV talk-show host, brings a note of much-needed levity to the somber proceedings with "King Herod's Song" (1:09). 

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The Phantom of the Opera 25th Anniversary
The Phantom of the Opera 25th Anniversary
Photograph: Courtesy the Really Useful Group

15. The Phantom of the Opera

This is Andrew Lloyd Webber's greatest hit of them all: a timeless tale of candlelit romance between a pretty young singer and the mask-wearing serial killer who has been stalking her from his subterranean lair beneath a 19th-century Parisian opera house. This film records the musical's 25th-anniversary production in 2011 at London's grand Royal Albert Hall. The lovely Ramin Karimloo and Sierra Boggess, who had portrayed the Phantom and Christine in Lloyd Webber's ill-fated POTO sequel Love Never Dies a year earlier (see below), reunite to play the OG (Opera Ghost) versions in this production.
Highlight: Amid all the pomp that the circumstance requires, including an exploding chandelier, Boggess delivers a very pretty rendition of the graveyard lament "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again" (1:03).

Billy Elliot: The Musical
Billy Elliot: The Musical
Photograph: Courtesy BroadwayHD

16. Billy Elliot: The Musical

Based on the wonderful 2000 movie about a boy who dreams of a life in ballet—to the bafflement and alarm of his family of miners in Northern England—Elton John and Lee Hall's 2005 musical was a sensation in the West End and on Broadway (where it won 10 Tony Awards). It's an inspiring underdog story, excitingly staged by Stephen Daldry. This version, recorded for live cinematic broadcast at London's Victoria Palace Theatre in 2014, stars the gifted young Elliott Hanna in the title role and Ruthie Henshall as his dance teacher.
Highlight: Billy's climactic five-minute solo song and dance, "Electricity" (2:07), is this show's version of A Chorus Line's  "The Music and the Mirror": a live-wire combination of joy and nerves that makes the rest of the musical's troubled world fall away. 

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An American in Paris
An American in Paris
Photograph: Courtesy Angela Sterling

17. An American in Paris

The ballet world's Christopher Wheeldon directed and choreographed this elegant 2015 adaptation of Vincente Minnelli’s 1951 movie musical about—guess what?—an American in Paris. On Broadway, a pre-Cats Robbie Fairchild played an American soldier in the wake of World War II, and Leanne Cope was the lovely local dancer who captured his heart; they reprise their roles in this version, filmed in London in 2018. Songs by George and Ira Gershwin and sets by Bob Crowley help transport you to a world of retro romance in the City of Lights.
Highlight: As in the movie, the centerpiece is a long ballet sequence (1:52) set to the George Gershwin orchestral piece that gives the musical its name—and at the heart of that is a ravishing four-minute pas de deux (1:57) between Fairchild and Cope.

Matt Henry in Kinky Boots
Matt Henry in Kinky Boots
Photograph: Courtesy BroadwayHD

18. Kinky Boots

This kicky 2013 crowd-pleaser is the very model of a modern major musical. Adapted from a 2005 English indie film, Harvey Fierstein and Cyndi Lauper’s fizzy pop tuner tells of a struggling English footwear factory saved from collapse by a self-possessed drag queen named Lola. Directed by Jerry Mitchell, the show feels familiar at every step, but the musical holds up for the same reason the factory's products do: solid craftsmanship and care. And since it is set in Northampton, this is a rare example of an American musical that feels more authentic in its West End incarnation—which is what this filmed version captures. 
Highlight: It's hard to compete with the memory of Billy Porter's grand Broadway performance as Lola, but Matt Henry tailors the goods to fit his own strengths in his big second-act number, "Hold Me in Your Heart" (1:44). 

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Putting It Together
Putting It Together
Foto: BroadwayHD

19. Putting It Together

Carol Burnett returned to the Broadway musical stage for the first time in 35 years in this 1999 revue of songs by Stephen Sondheim. There's only a whisper of a plot—an older couple, a younger couple and a fifth man face relationship difficulties at a party of some kind—but it's a good way to hear a collection of tunes by one of Broadway's true masters, culled from shows including CompanyA Little Night Music and Merrily We Roll Along. In addition to Burnett, the talented cast includes George Hearn, Ruthie Henshall, John Barrowman and Bronson Pinchot. 
Highlight: Getting back to her musical-theater roots—she rocketed to stardom in 1959's Once Upon a Mattress—Burnett lays it on the line to her unsatisfactory husband (played by Hearn) in the bitter Follies waltz "Could I Leave You?" (0:44). 

Donny Osmond in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Donny Osmond in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Photograph: Courtesy the Really Useful Group

20. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Begun when Andrew Lloyd Webber was still a teenager, this was the composer first success with librettist Tim Rice: a cheeky pop-rock Bible story about a flashy dresser who gets sold into slavery and then rises to power after a false accusation of sexual assault. This direct-to-video 1999 film version is pure camp and a lot of fun. Donny Osmond has the central role. and is frequently without shirt much less coat. Maria Friedman does most of the vocal lifting as the Narrator; Richard Attenborough and Joan Collins have cameos as, respectively, Jacob and Potiphar's Wife.
Highlight: In "Close Every Door to Me" (0:29), a loincloth-clad Osmond sings a radiantly earnest power ballad in a cage surrounded by a children holding candles. Like we said: Pure camp. 

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Elaine Paige in Cats
Elaine Paige in Cats
Photograph: Courtesy BroadwayHD

21. Cats

Is Cats good or bad? That's a question with no answer. Cats is beyond good and bad. Cats is CatsCats is a show about cats singing light verse by T.S. Eliot in a junkyard. Cats is about Andrew Lloyd Webber having to write a lot more melodies than he usually does, and pulling a lot of catchy ones out of his hat. Cats is about furred-out and heavily made-up human dancers doing weirdly sexy catlike moves. It's all ridiculous and it's all kind of magical. If you've only seen the instant camp classic that was the 2019 film adaptation, you owe it to yourself to check out this 1998 live recording of the stage version, which doesn't make a lot more sense but at least doesn't try to as much. (Bonus: This version doesn't have that terrible new song.)
Highlight: The opening number, "Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats," will stick in your head for weeks whether you want it to or not—hint: you won't—but the real gold comes later when Elaine Paige, London's original Grizabella the Glamour Cat, returns to the role to roar out a searing version of the show's takeaway tune, "Memory" (1:43).

Guilty Pleasure Musicals Currently on BroadwayHD

Christine and the Phantom embrace in 'Love Never Dies'
Christine and the Phantom embrace in 'Love Never Dies'
Photograph: Courtesy Jeff Busby

1. Love Never Dies

Andrew Lloyd Webber's disastrous 2010 sequel to The Phantom of the Opera picks up ten years after the original story (set in the 1880s) but somehow lands in 1907 Coney Island, where the Phantom reunites with his stalking victim, Christine Daaé, and other characters from the first show. The whole thing plays like very misguided Phantom fanfic; after negative reviews in London, the musical never came to New York as had been announced. Happily, an Australian production starring Ben Lewis and Anna O'Byrne was recorded in 2011, providing a record of this fascinating failure.
Highlight: In "The Beauty Underneath" (0:55), the Phantom yells a rock song as he leads a boy (his son with Christine, we soon learn) through an insane subterranean hall of mirrors populated by caged freaks, pinhead children, writhing women, a skeleton monster, a mermaid and a guy on a penny-farthing bicycle. This number must be seen by everyone.

David Hasselhoff in Jekyll & Hyde
David Hasselhoff in Jekyll & Hyde
Photograph: Courtesy BroadwayHD

2. Jekyll & Hyde

Frank Wildhorn and Leslie Bricusse's 1990s musical drags Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1886 mad-scientist tale through a sludge of dreary portentousness. Yet it has accrued a following despite the dunderheaded lyrics and the ceaseless aural aggression of the music, in which most songs end in some form of screaming. There's no denying that Wildhorn has a gift for juicy melodies, but the rest of the show is pure kitsch—and never more so than in this 2001 film of the show, starring David Hasselhoff in the dual title role. 
Highlight: No lover of Broadway camp should miss the climactic “Confrontation” (1:57) between our antihero’s two identities, performed by a sweaty, chest-baring Hasselhoff as a hair-flipping coup de théâtre. “God damn you, Hyde!” Jekyll screams. “You take all your evil deeds and you rot in hell!” Hyde retorts: “I’ll see you there, Jekyll!” The Hoff, God bless him, gives this everything he's got and more.  

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