Sometimes it just feels good to watch or listen to a musical that’s emitting those NYC vibes. So we’ve put together a list of our favorites! And sure there are many other musicals that are set in New York. But the following are musicals about New York. These are ones that fully capture the vibe of the city’s past and present, sorted alphabetically.
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If you’re looking for a show that takes place smack dab in the heart of Broadway, 42nd Street is your best bet. This musical follows the story of an aspiring chorus girl (Peggy Sawyer) who comes to the city to follow her dreams.
A Bronx Tale
Set on the streets of the Bronx in the 1960s, A Bronx Tale follows the story of a young man who is torn between family relations and his life as a mob boss. With a modern doo-wop soundtrack and a gripping story, this musical is definitely worth experiencing.
Guys and Dolls
Guys and Dolls is one of the most popular and award-winning musical comedies of all time. This New York City classic follows the story of a gambler who tries to round up some money for a craps tournament, while meeting a sweet and conservative missionary girl along the way.
This energetic musical follows the story of Dolly Levi, a matchmaker who caters to expensive clients. Set in New York in the 1890s, Hello, Dolly! was one of the biggest Broadway hits of its time.
In the Heights
In the Heights is one of my favorite musicals! Set in New York City’s vibrant Washington Heights, this musical follows the inspiring Usnavi as he dreams for a brighter future.
Mayor is a musical comedy following a day in the life of an NYC mayor. The show blends dance, comedy, and satire to bring New York living and politics to life.
Based on the 1992 film, Newsies tells the story of the NYC Newsboy strike of 1989. This musical follows the journey of Jack Kelly, a motivated newsboy who has big dreams of life as an artist.
On The Town
On The Town is a classic war-time musical that follows the stories of three sailors who have 24-hours to spend in NYC. Many legendary musical numbers have come out of this show, and it’s a great one for catching a glimpse into classic New York City.
Set in the New York City at the turn of the century, Ragtime highlights the relationships between African Americans, Eastern European Immigrants, and the upper-class suburbanites of the time. We’ve also included Ragtime on our list of the greatest musicals about America!
Rent is a musical about a group of New Yorkers who are dealing with issues related to health, relationships, career, and finances. Set in the heat of the New York City AIDS epidemic, this rock musical shines a light on the struggles of New York in the late 80s/early 90s.
West Side Story
West Side Story is set in New York City’s Upper West Side in the 1950s. It follows the clashing of two street gangs (the Jets and the Sharks), and the story of Tony (a former Jets member) who falls in love with the sister of one of the Sharks.
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Do you know of any other great musicals about New York City?
We would be excited to hear about them in the comments below! And if you’re now craving some extra New York City feelings, you should check out our new “Broadway New York City Vibes Spotify playlist”! It’s filled with amazing musical numbers that capture those big city vibes.
Author: Stacy Karyn
Stacy Karyn is the founder of Theatre Trip, author of The Thespian’s Bucket List, and creator of The Cast Album List. She has a TESOL drama certificate, a BA in theatre, and has worked and interned with Broadway and Off-Broadway theaters.