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27 Modern Movie Musicals to Watch While Quarantined

11 min read
27-modern-movie-musicals-to-watch-while-quarantined

From Beyoncé and Jennifer Hudson in Dreamgirls to Catherine Zeta-Jones in Chicago to Meryl Streep in Mamma Mia! and Into the Woods, here is how to stream, rent, and buy these movie musicals of the past 45 years.

You may be working your way through our list of 47 Classic Movie Musicals, but musical films are not just a staple of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Today’s directors, choreographers, and songwriters have continued the tradition of onscreen musicals through adaptations of Broadway favorites as well as originals.

Millennials grew up on movies like Annie (raise your hand if this was your introduction to Carol Burnett!) and Newsies. And although there was a near-decade drought of musicals on the silver screen, Broadway’s Rob Ashford changed all of that when he helmed Chicago, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture. Ever since, big studios have released about one big box office musical each year.

Here, we tell you where you can stream these musicals from the comfort of your own home.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

Starring: Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon

The Broadway production and the movie adaptation nearly collided in 1975, though The Rocky Horror Show first hit stages in 1973. Written by Richard O’Brien, the story follows newly engaged couple Janet and Brad who, after breaking down in an isolated area, seek shelter at the bizarre residence of Dr. Frank-n-Furter. The definition of a cult classic, the score features songs like “Sweet Transvestite” and “Time Warp.”

Available on: Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu

Fame (1980)

Starring: Eddie Barth, Irene Cara, Lee Curreri

A teen movie meets musical, Fame chronicled the lives of students at New York City’s High School of the Performing Arts (now known as La Guardia High) from auditions to their freshman, sophomore, junior, and seniors years.

Available on: Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu

Pennies From Heaven (1981)

Starring: Bernadette Peters, Steve Martin, Christopher Walken

Inspired by the music of the 1930s, Pennies From Heaven, Arthur (Martin) is a sheet-music salesman looking for more in life when he meets schoolteacher Eileen (Peters) and the woman who can make his dreams a reality.

Available on: Amazon Prime

The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982)

Starring: Dolly Parton, Burt Reynolds

Adapted from the 1978 Broadway musical, Parton earned a Golden Globe nod for her portrayal of brothel owner Miss Mona. The Chicken Ranch, as it’s called, has always run smoothly (thanks to Mona’s past with the sheriff) but when a reporter exposes them, the whorehouse could be shut down. Tune in for Parton’s renditions of “Sneakin Around” and “Hard Candy Christmas.”

Available on: Google Play, YouTube, Vudu, iTunes, Amazon Prime

Annie (1982)

Starring: Carol Burnett, Aileen Quinn, Albert Finney,

Based on the Little Orphan Annie comic strips, the musical by Charles Strouse, Thomas Meehan, and Martin Charnin became a hit after debuting on Broadway in 1977. Annie (Quinn) is an orphan dreaming of the day when her parents will find her and save her from the grasps of Miss Hannigan (Burnett), who runs the orphanage. When millionaire Oliver Warbucks (Finney) decides to have a photo op hosting an orphan for the day, his assistant Grace (Ann Reinking) brings Annie. The film also stars Tim Curry as Rooster—Miss Hannigan’s trouble-making brother—and Bernadette Peters as his girlfriend Lily St. Regis.

Available on: Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu

Yentl (1983)

Starring: Barbra Streisand and Mandy Patinkin

After her father dies, a young Jewish girl disguises herself as a boy to get into yeshiva, religious study school. Things get murky when she develops feelings for her classmate—who then asks her to do him a massive favor that could jeopardize everything. With unforgettable songs like “Papa Can You Hear Me” and “A Piece of the Sky.”

Available on: Google Play, YouTube, Vudu, Amazon Prime, iTunes

WATCH: Cynthia Erivo Sings ‘Piece of the Sky’ at Miscast 2016

A Chorus Line (1985)

Starring: Michael Douglas, Alyson Reed, Terrence Mann, Nicole Fosse

Let us be clear, the film version from director Richard Attenborough is not a substitute for the stage production or even the documentary Every Little Step. But it is part of the Chorus Line canon. Whether you watch it to see Mann as Larry and Fosse as Kristine, or to compare it to Michael Bennett’s 1975 masterpiece (or with a cocktail), we won’t judge.

Available on: Amazon Prime, iTunes, YouTube, Google Play

Newsies (1992)

Starring: Christian Bale, Bill Pullman

Broadway’s Newsies was adapted from this Disney film, directed and choreographed by Kenny Ortega about the actual New York City Newsboys’ Strike of 1899. Yes, a young Christian Bale sings “Sante Fe” and yes “Seize the Day” is still epic.

Available on: Disney , Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu

Chicago (2002)

Starring: Renée Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere

Widely considered the film that revived the modern movie musical, the masterful adaptation of Fosse’s musical came from director-choreographer Rob Marshall (who has since gone on to helm Nine, Into the Woods, and Mary Poppins Returns). The screenplay by Bill Condon preserves the cynicism and sensuality of the stage show and supports Marshall’s polished vision. The movie earned 13 Oscar nominations and won six trophies, including Best Picture, marking the first time a musical won Best Picture since Oliver! In 1968.

Available on: Hulu, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu

The Phantom of the Opera (2004)

Starring: Gerard Butler, Emmy Rossum, Patrick Wilson

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s high romance swept across the silver screen, and reinvigorated the Broadway box office for the long-running musical at the same time. Nominated for three Oscars, the opulence of the film mesmerized audiences and reminded us of the power of the music of the night.

Available on: Hulu, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu

Rent (2005)

Starring: Anthony Rapp, Adam Pascal, Idina Menzel, Jesse L. Martin, Rosario Dawson, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, Tracie Thomas, Taye Diggs

Reuniting nearly the entire original cast, Rent hit movie theatres to the clamor of Rentheads round the globe. Yes, the actors were no longer as young as their characters were originally intended. Yes, there are script changes. But when you watch Menzel sing “Over the Moon” or jam to “La Vie Boheme,” that’s the last thing you’ll be thinking about.

Available on: Netflix, Starz, Amazon Prime, Hulu

Dreamgirls (2006)

Starring: Beyoncé, Jennifer Hudson, Anika Noni Rose, Jamie Foxx, Eddie Murphy

After writing Chicago, Bill Condon wrote and directed this adaptation of the 1981 Tony-nominated Best Musical. Beyoncé, Hudson, and Rose play ’60s girls group The Dreamettes, but as they rise to stardom, compromises must be made and achieving success in a music industry run by white executives is harder than they ever bargained for. Featuring songs from the original like “And I Am Telling You,” “Steppin to the Bad Side,” and “One Night Only,” the movie also includes new songs “Listen,” “Love You I Do,” and “Patience.” This also marked Hudson’s Oscar win.

Available on: Hulu, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu

READ: What to Expect From Disney High School Musical: The Musical: The Series

Hairspray (2007)

Starring: John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, Queen Latifah, Zac Efron, Amanda Bynes, Nikki Blonsky, Brittany Snow

Based on the 2002 Marc Shaiman-Scott Wittman musical, which was based on the 1988 John Waters film, Hairspray takes us to Baltimore where teen Tracy Turnblad dreams of becoming a dancer on The Corny Collins Show. After unceremoniously being thrown out of the dance audition because of her size and watching the dismissal of a young black girl from the tryout, Tracy decides to fight for civil rights and representation on TV. The brassy score with song like “Mamma I’m a Big Girl Now,” “Welcome to the ’60s,” and “You Can’t Stop the Beat” is arguably Shaiman and Wittman’s strongest.

Available on: Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu

Sweeney Todd (2007)

Starring: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman

Villainous Judge Turpin wants the beautiful wife of a London barber and has him shipped away on false charges. When the barber returns to London 15 years later, he is thirsty for revenge and begins executing customers as his sidekick Mrs. Lovett bakes them into meat pies. But don’t worry, there’s also a beautiful love story in this adaptation of the Hugh Wheeler-Stephen Sondheim classic.

Available on: Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play, Vudu

Across the Universe (2007)

Starring: Jim Sturgess, Joe Anderson, Evan Rachel Wood

Director Julie Taymor (The Lion King) brings her daring aesthetic to the Beatles catalog. A modern-day jukebox movie musical, Sturgess plays Jude (as in Hey), Wood place Lucy (as in with diamonds). It’s a love story set against the Vietnam War as a protest movie and a coming-of-age film, with a dash of psychedelic adventure. While critics were mixed, the movie possesses a strong cult following that has been asking for a stage adaptation for years—and Taymor is open to it.

Available on: Hulu, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu

READ: Julie Taymor Shares 6 Secrets of Across the Universe

Mamma Mia! (2008)

Starring: Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried, Christine Baranski, Julie Walters, Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Skarsgård, Colin Firth

It was only a matter of time before the smash Broadway hit became a movie. Featuring a score entirely of ABBA tunes, the story follows Sophie, who is about to get married and desperately wants her father to walk her down the aisle—only she doesn’t know who her father is. Based on her mother Donna’s diary entries, Sophie sends invitations to the three possible dads. When each of them arrives in Greece at Donna’s hotel, emotions run high and things get a little wild with the help of Donna’s two dearest friends. With songs like “Honey, Honey,” “Voulez Vous,” and “Dancing Queen,” this is the feel-good musical you want.

Available on: Hulu, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu

Nine (2009)

Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Nicole Kidman, Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz, Judi Dench, Sophia Loren, Kate Hudson, Fergie

Maury Yeston and Arthur Kopit adapted their 1982 musical Nine from the non-musical Federico Fellini film 8 1/2. Guido Contini, a film director about to turn 40, faces a midlife crisis: He cannot find the inspiration for his next script and his marriage is falling apart. Plunged into memories of the women throughout his life, his past may be the key to his future.

Available on: Hulu, Sling, Showtime

Burlesque (2010)

Starring: Cher, Christina Aguilera, Stanley Tucci

The birthplace of Cher’s “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me” (which won the Golden Globe for Best Original Song), Burlesque is what happens if Chicago and 42nd Street had a baby. In this original movie musical, Ali (Aguilera) fails at every audition in L.A. until she stumbles upon a burlesque club run by Tess (Cher), where she will stop at nothing to revolutionize the club, save it from ruin, and become a star.

Available on: Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu

Les Misérables (2012)

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, Samantha Barks, Aaron Tveit

The 1987 Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil musical based on Victor Hugo’s French revolution novel came to the big screen courtesy of director Tom Hooper. The story of Jean Valjean, the escaped convict chased across France by Inspector Javert intertwines with the struggle of Fantine to provide for her child, his rescue of Cosette, a love triangle for the ages, and a battle for freedom. Les Miz won three Oscars, including one by Anne Hathaway for her performance as Fantine. Not long after the movie, the musical returned to Broadway in 2014 starring Ramin Karimloo.

Available on: Hulu, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play, Vudu

Jersey Boys (2014)

Starring: John Lloyd Young, Erich Bergen, Michael Lomenda, Vincent Piazza

The story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, the 2005 Tony-winning Best Musical was written by Rick Elice and Marshall Brickman. Lloyd Young won a Tony for his performance as Valli, which he reprises in the movie version. The musical ran just over 11 years, closing in 2017. The film adaptation directed by Clint Eastwood features songs like “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like a Man,” “Sherry,” and “Who Loves You?”

Available on: Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu

Into the Woods (2014)

Starring: Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, James Corden, Anna Kendrick

This quartet is only the beginning of the mega-watt cast for Stephen Sondheim-James Lapine’s 1987 musical. The film also starred Christine Baranski, Tammy Blanchard, Tracey Ullman, Daniel Huttlstone, Lilla Crawford, Johnny Depp, Billy Magnussen, and Chris Pine. A take on the darker classic fairy tales of Cinderella, Little Red Riding, Jack and the Beanstalk and more, the musical spills over with beautiful melodies and poignant lessons. Pine and Magnussen’s rendition of “Agony” is as funny as ever; Blunt proved her musical theatre chops with “Moments in the Woods,” Streep shows off her belt in “Stay With Me,” and the lullaby “Children Will Listen” rings with sensitivity.

Available on: Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play, Vudu

Lucky Stiff (2015)

Starring: Jason Alexander, Nikki M. James, Dominic Marsh

The Lynn Ahrens-Stephen Flaherty musical premiered Off-Broadway in 1988 and made it to the big screen in 2015. The musical was the duo’s first collaboration, about a man who travels to Monte Carlo to claim his late uncle’s fortune.

Available on: YouTube, Vudu, Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes

La La Land (2016)

Starring: Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling

Conceived, written, and directed by Damien Chazelle, the original musical presents a contemporary take on old Hollywood musicals and Fred and Ginger films. Struggling actor meets struggling jazz pianist—but can their fledgling relationship weather the ups and downs of becoming an artist and making a living doing it? Justin Hurwitz and Dear Evan Hansen duo Justin Paul and Benj Pasek won the Oscar for Best Original Song for “City of Stars.”

Available on: Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu

The Greatest Showman (2017)

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams, Keala Settle

With a score by Pasek and Paul, The Greatest Showman captured the story of P.T. Barnum and the beginning of the circus that would become “The Greatest Show on Earth.” The movie became an ode to individuality, celebrating the differences of circus performers like Lettie Lutz (Settle). The movie is also a heartwarming film about family, the promises we make to one another, and how we come back from our mistakes. The songs—from “This Is Me” to “The Greatest Show”—sparked a re-mix album The Greatest Showman—Reimagined where pop stars sang their own renditions of the score.

Available on: Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play, Vudu

READ: 6 Other Broadway Actors to Spot in The Greatest Showman

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018)

Starring: Lily James, Amanda Seyfried, Christine Baranski, Julie Walters, Pierce Brosnan, Cher

The box office success of Mamma Mia! sparked the idea for a sequel—which is also a prequel. After Donna’s death, Sophie wants to honor her mother by re-opening the hotel, which also leads to flashbacks of a young Donna first discovering the property on Kalokairi and meeting the three men who wind up being Sophie’s three “fathers.” This time around, we hear ABBA favorites like “One of Us,” “Angel Eyes,” and Cher’s rendition of “Fernando.”

Available on: Hulu, Amazon Prime, Vudu

Mary Poppins Returns (2018)

Starring: Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer, Meryl Streep

Jane and Michael Banks are all grown up and Michael has three children of his own. But when his wife passes away, there’s only one flying nanny who can set their world right-side up. The original movie musical from director Rob Ashford features new songs by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman like “Can You Imagine That?,” combinations of 2D animation and live action in “The Cover Is Not the Book,” showstopping production numbers like“Trip a Little Light Fantastic,” and all the charm of the original.

Available on: Disney , Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play, Vudu

Cats (2019)

Starring: James Corden, Judi Dench, Taylor Swift, Rebel Wilson, Idris Elba, Robert Fairchild, Jennifer Hudson, Ian McKellen

It’s about cats. The 1982 musical from Andrew Lloyd Webber never had a plot; it was the musicalization of T.S. Eliot poems from Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. Gillian Lynne’s feline choreography, John Napier’s sets and costumes, and Candace Carell’s make-up transported audiences to another world—an unprecedented one on Broadway in that it was non-human. Tom Hooper (Les Misérables) attempted to bring that magic to the screen with questionable results. But whether you watch to witness the spectacle, the musicals, or the history-making moment, there is nothing like Cats.

Available on: Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play, Vudu

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