One of the surest signs a Broadway musical has entered the pop culture zeitgeist is a movie adaptation. From Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey in Cabaret to the showstopping tunes of '60s Baltimore in Hairspray, check out our list of movie musicals currently streaming that capture the magic of the stage with its own Hollywood twist.
As stage lovers and movie buffs continue to practice social distancing, it’s the perfect summer to catch up on any of these hits, whether you're watching them for the first time or tenth. All of the titles below are available to watch via subscriptions to Amazon Prime, Netflix, or HBOMax.
Available on Amazon
Guys and Dolls
Starring: Frank Sinatra, Vivian Blaine, Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons
Nathan and Adelaide have been engaged for 14 years—put off over and over because of the floating crap game he hosts. Sky Masterson has no intention of settling down. But when Nathan needs money to hold his crap game, he makes a bet with Sky that sends the bachelor towards an unexpected romance. An unrivaled musical comedy, you’ll be singing along to songs like “Luck Be a Lady,” “Sit Down You’re Rockin’ the Boat,” and more.
Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical
Starring: Kristen Bell, Neve Campbell, Alan Cumming, Steven Webber
The screen adaptation of this campy musical comedy about the dangers of marijuana reunited the Off-Broadway hit’s creative team, including composer Kevin Murphy, lyricist Dan Studney, and director Andy Fickman. Based on a 1936 film drama that was meant as a cautionary tale to keep young people away from the drug, the movie's exaggerated acting, ham-fisted dialogue, one-sided viewpoint and medically questionable storyline turned it into a decades-long cult favorite.
Flower Drum Song
Starring: Nancy Kwan, James Shigeta, Benson Fong
Nominated for five Oscars, the adaptation of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s 1958 musical finds a young woman arriving in San Francisco's Chinatown from Hong Kong with the intention of marrying a nightclub owner, unaware he is involved with one of his singers.
Starring: Audra McDonald, Martha Plimpton, Cheyenne Jackson, T.R. Knight
10 interlocking scenes capture a pair of lovers just prior to, or immediately following, intense, but all-too-brief sexual intimacy. Set in New York City and spanning decades, five-time Tony nominee Michael John LaChiusa’s score follows each relationship as it rises and falls.
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.
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
Starring: Zero Mostel, Phil Silvers, Jack Gilford, Buster Keaton
This musical comedy set in Ancient Rome follows the story of the slave Pseudolus, who schemes to win his freedom by helping his young master Hero win the affections of beautiful courtesan Philia. Featuring a score by Stephen Sondheim, the musical includes hits like “Comedy Tonight” and “Lovely.”
Available on Netflix
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 directed by Clint Eastwood and featuring songs like “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like a Man,” “Sherry,” and “Who Loves You?”
West Side Story
Starring: Natalie Wood, George Chakiris, Richard Beymer, Russ Tamblyn, Rita Moreno
A cinematic masterpiece, Jerome Robbins directed and choreographed the then-modern day Romeo & Juliet story of rival gangs the Jets and the Sharks and the timeless love story of Tony and Maria. The movie won 10 Oscars, including Best Picture and statuettes for Robbins, Moreno, and Chakiris.
Fiddler on the Roof
Starring: Chaim Topol
The 1964 musical by Joseph Stein, Jerry Bock, and Sheldon Harnick made it to the silver screen before any of the five subsequent Broadway revivals hit the stage. With songs like “If I Were a Rich Man,” “Matchmaker, Matchmaker,” “Sunrise Sunset,” and more, the story of Tevye the Jewish dairyman and his five daughters became a classic of the canon.
Available on HBOMax
Starring: Renée Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere
Widely considered the film that revived the modern movie musical, the 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.
Starring: Liza Minnelli, Joel Grey, Michael York, Helmut Griem, Fritz Wepper
There’s nothing better than sitting alone in your room watching the story of Sally Bowles, her fellow expat friend, and the dancers and patrons of the Kit Kat Club unfold in Berlin amid the background of the free-spirited Weimar Republic. The film won eight 1973 Academy Awards, including best director for Bob Fosse, best actress for Liza Minnelli, and best supporting actor for Joel Grey as the Emcee, making him one of only eight actors to win the Tony and the Oscar for playing the same role. The score from Kander and Ebb includes “Mein Herr,” “Willkommen,” and the title number.
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 songs 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.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Starring: John Cameron Mitchell, Andrea Martin, Michael Pitt, Miriam Shor
The adaptation of John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask’s Off-Broadway hit musical follows the trials and tribulations of a touring rock and roll band fronted by Hedwig, an East German transgender singer. Mitchell directs, writes, and stars in the film (alongside a few Broadway favorites), which keeps fan favorite songs like “Wig in a Box,” “Wicked Little Box,” and “Sugar Daddy.”
Little Shop of Horrors
Starring: Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene, Steve Martin
A down-on-his-luck plant-shop worker on Skid Row gains fame after finding a man-eating plant while pursuing a troubled romance with his lovable co-worker Audrey, who can’t seem to catch a break. Directed by Frank Oz, the movie preserves Howard Ashman and Alan Menken’s score with the hummable “Somewhere That’s Green” and “Suddenly Seymour”, although Ashman lightened his script from the stage production's bleak ending.