100+ Popular Musicals That You Should Know

Are you living in fear of being shamed for not having seen or listened to a particular musical or cast album? Well, in order to keep up with the super fans, you can always go through this list and make sure you are familiar with the most popular musicals out there from every decade!

Disclaimer: This is not a list of what I personally believe to be the best musicals, but rather the famous musicals that tend to come up most in the dreaded statement, “WHAT!? You haven’t seen/listened to [THIS MUSICAL]?” These are the popular musicals everyone should know.


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Popular Jazz Age Musicals

Anything Goes  (1934)

Music/Lyrics: Cole Porter  Book: Guy Bolton, P.G. Wodehouse

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Girl Crazy  (1930)

Music: George Gershwin  Lyrics: Ira Gershwin  Book: Guy Bolton, John McGowan

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Lady, Be Good!  (1924)

Music: George Gershwin  Lyrics: Ira Gershwin  Book: Guy Bolton, Fred Thompson

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Oh, Kay!  (1926)

Music: George Gershwin  Lyrics: Ira Gershwin  Book: Guy Bolton, P.G. Wodehouse

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Porgy and Bess  (1935)

Music: George Gershwin  Lyrics: Ira Gershwin  LibrettoDuBose Heyward

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Show Boat  (1927)

Music: Jerome Kern  Lyrics/Book: Oscar Hammerstein II

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Popular Golden Age Musicals

Annie Get Your Gun  (1946)

Music/Lyrics: Irving Berlin  Book: Dorothy Fields, Herbert Fields

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Allegro  (1947)

Music: Richard Rodgers  Book/Lyrics: Oscar Hammerstein II

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Carousel  (1945)

Music: Richard Rodgers  Book/Lyrics: Oscar Hammerstein II

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Cinderella  (1957/2013)

Music: Rodgers  Book/Lyrics: Hammerstein  Book: Douglas Carter Beane

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Damn Yankees  (1955)

Music: Richard Adler  Lyrics: Jerry Ross  Book: George Abbott, Douglass Wallop

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Flower Drum Song  (1958)

Music: Rodgers  Book/Lyrics: Hammerstein  Book: Joseph Fields, David Henry Hwang

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Gentlemen Prefer Blondes  (1949)

Music: Jule Styne  Lyrics: Leo Robin  Book: Joseph Fields, Anita Loos

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Guys and Dolls  (1950)

Music/Lyrics: Frank Loesser  Book: Jo Swerling, Abe Burrows

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Gypsy  (1959)

Music: Jule Styne  Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim  Book: Arthur Laurents

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Kismet  (1953)

Music/Lyrics: Alexander Borodin, Robert Wright, George Forrest  Book: Lederer, Davis

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Kiss Me, Kate  (1948)

Music/Lyrics: Cole Porter  Book: Bella & Samuel Spewack

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My Fair Lady  (1956)

Music: Frederick Loewe  Lyrics/Book: Alan Jay Lerner

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Oklahoma!  (1943)

Music: Richard Rodgers  Book/Lyrics: Oscar Hammerstein II

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On the Town  (1944)

Music: Leonard Bernstein  Lyrics/Book: Betty Comden, Adolph Green

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Once Upon a Mattress  (1959)

Music: Mary Rodgers  Lyrics: Marshall Barer  Book: Thompson, Barer, Fuller

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Peter Pan  (1954)

Music: Styne, Charlap, Rittman  Lyrics: Comden, Green, Leigh  Book: Barrie

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South Pacific  (1949)

Music: Richard Rodgers  Lyrics/Book: Oscar Hammerstein II  Book: Joshua Logan

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The King and I  (1951)

Music: Richard Rodgers  Book/Lyrics: Oscar Hammerstein II

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The Music Man  (1957)

Music/Lyrics: Meredith Willson  Book: Franklin Lacey, Wilson

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The Sound of Music  (1959)

Music: Richard Rodgers  Lyrics: Oscar Hammerstein II  Book: Howard Lindsay, Russel Crouse

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West Side Story  (1957)

Music: Leonard Bernstein  Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim  Book: Arthur Laurents

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Wonderful Town  (1953)

Music: Leonard Bernstein  Lyrics: Betty Comden, Adolph Green  Book: Fields, Chodorov

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Popular Post-Golden Age Musicals

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum  (1962)

Music/Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim  Book: Burt Shevelove, Larry Gelbart

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Bye Bye Birdie  (1960)

Music: Charles Strouse  Lyrics: Lee Adams  Book: Michael Stewart

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Cabaret  (1966)

Music: John Kander  Lyrics: Fred Ebb  Book: Joe Masteroff

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Camelot  (1960)

Music: Frederick Loewe  Lyrics/Book: Alan Jay Lerner

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Fiddler on the Roof  (1964)

Music: Jerry Bock Lyrics: Sheldon Harnick Book: Joseph Stein

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Funny Girl  (1964)

Music: Jule Styne  Lyrics: Bob Merrill  Book: Isobel Lennart

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Hair  (1967)

Music: Galt MacDermot  Lyrics/Book: Gerome Ragni, James Rado

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Hello, Dolly!  (1964)

Music/Lyrics: Jerry Herman  Book: Michael Stewart

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Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat  (1968)

Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber  Lyrics: Tim Rice

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Oliver!  (1960)

Music/Lyrics/Book: Lionel Bart

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Sweet Charity  (1966)

Music: Cy Coleman  Lyrics: Dorothy Fields  Book: Neil Simon

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Popular 1970s Musicals

A Chorus Line  (1975)

Music: Marvin Hamlisch  Lyrics: Edward Kleban  Book: James Kirkwood Jr., Nicholas Dante

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Annie  (1976)

Music: Charles Strouse  Lyrics: Martin Charnin  Book:  Thomas Meehan

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Chicago  (1975)

Music: John Kander  Lyrics: Fred Ebb  Book: Fred Ebb, Bob Fosse

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Company  (1970)

Music/Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim  Book: George Furth

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Evita  (1976)

Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber  Lyrics: Tim Rice

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Follies  (1971)

Music/Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim  Book: James Goldman

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Grease  (1971)

Music/Lyrics/Book: Jim Jacobs, Warren Casey

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Godspell  (1971)

Music/Lyrics: Stephen Schwartz  Book: John-Michael Tebelak

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Jesus Christ Superstar  (1970)

Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber  Lyrics: Tim Rice

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Pippin  (1972)

Music/Lyrics: Stephen Schwartz  Book: Roger O. Hirson, Bob Fosse

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Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street  (1979)

Music/Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim  Book: Hugh Wheeler

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The Rocky Horror Show  (1973)

Music/Lyrics/Book: Richard O’Brien

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The Wiz  (1974)

Music/Lyrics: Smalls, Graphenreed, Wheeler, Faison, Vandross, Walzer  Book: William Brown

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Popular 1980s Musicals

42nd Street  (1980)

Music: Harry Warren  Lyrics: Al Dubin, Johnny Mercer  Book: Michael Stewart, Mark Bramble

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Cats  (1981)

Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber  Lyrics: T.S. Eliot, Trevor Nunn, Richard Stilgoe

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Dreamgirls  (1981)

Music: Henry Krieger  Lyrics/Book: Tom Eyen

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Fame  (1988)

Music: Steve Margoshes  Lyrics: Jacques Levy

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Into the Woods  (1986)

Music/Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim  Book: James Lapine

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Les Misérables  (1980)

Music: Claude-Michel Schönberg  Lyrics: Alan Boublil, Jean-Marc Natel  Book: Schönberg, Boublil

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Little Shop of Horrors  (1982)

Music: Alan Menken  Lyrics/Book: Howard Ashman

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Miss Saigon  (1989)

Music: Claude-Michel Schönberg Lyrics: Alain Boublil, Richard Maltby Jr. Book: Boublil, Schönberg

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Singin’ in the Rain  (1983)

Music: Nacio Herb Brown  Lyrics: Arthur Freed  Book: Adolph Green, Betty Comden

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Sunday in the Park with George  (1984)

Music/Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim  Book: James Lapine

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The Phantom of the Opera  (1986)

Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber  Lyrics: Charles Hart, Richard Stilgoe  Book: Stilgoe, Webber

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The Wizard of Oz  (1987)

Music: Harold Arlen, Herbert Stothart  Lyrics:  E.Y. Harburg  Book: John Kane

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Popular 1990s Musicals

Aida  (1998)

Music: Elton John  Lyrics: Tim Rice  Book: Woolverton, Falls, Hwang

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Beauty and the Beast  (1994)

Music: Alan Menken  Lyrics: Howard Ashman, Tim Rice  Book: Linda Woolverton

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Falsettos  (1992)

Music/Lyrics/Book: William Finn  Book: James Lapine

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Footloose  (1998)

Music: Tom Snow  Lyrics: Dean Pitchford  Book: Dean Pitchford, Walter Bobbie

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Mamma Mia!  (1999)

Music/Lyrics: Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus  Book:  Catherine Johnson

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Ragtime  (1996)

Music: Stephen Flaherty  Lyrics: Lynn Ahrens  Book: Terrence McNally

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Rent  (1996)

Music/Lyrics/Book: Jonathan Larson

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The Lion King  (1997)

Music: Elton John  Lyrics: Tim Rice  Book: Rodger Allers, Irene Mecchi

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The Who’s Tommy  (1992)

Music/Lyrics/Book: Pete Townshend  Book: Des McAnuff

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Popular Musicals from the 2000s

Avenue Q  (2003)

Music/Lyrics: Robert Lopez, Jeff Marx  Book: Jeff Whitty

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Billy Elliot  (2005)

Music: Elton John  Lyrics: Lee Hall  Book: Lee Hall

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Hadestown  (2006)

Music/Lyrics/Book: Anaïs Mitchell

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Hairspray  (2002)

Music: Marc Shaiman  Lyrics: Scott Wittman, Shaiman  Book: Mark O’Donnell, Thomas Meehan

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High School Musical  (2007)

Music/Lyrics: Various  Book: David Simpatico

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In the Heights  (2005)

Music/Lyrics: Lin-Manuel Miranda  Book: Quiara Alegría Hudes

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Jersey Boys  (2004)

Music: Bob Gaudio  Lyrics: Bob Crewe  Book: Marshall Brickman, Rick Elice

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Mary Poppins  (2004)

Music/Lyrics: The Sherman Brothers, George StilesAnthony Drewe Book: Julian Fellowes

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Next to Normal  (2008)

Music: Tom Kitt  Lyrics/Book: Brian Yorkey

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Rock of Ages  (2005)

Music/Lyrics: Various  Book: Chris D’Arienzo

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Seussical  (2000)

Music/Book: Stephen Flaherty  Lyrics/Book: Lynn Ahrens

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Spamalot  (2004)

Music: John Du Prez, Eric Idle  Lyrics/Book: Eric Idle

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Spring Awakening  (2006)

Music: Duncan Sheik  Lyrics/Book: Steven Sater

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The Addams Family  (2009)

Music/Lyrics: Andrew Lippa  Book: Marshall Brickman, Rick Elice

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The Last Five Years  (2001)

Music/Lyrics/Book: Jason Robert Brown

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The Little Mermaid  (2007)

Music: Alan Menken  Lyrics: Howard Ashman, Glenn Slater  Book: Doug Wright

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The Producers  (2001)

Music/Lyrics: Mel Brooks  Book: Mel Brooks, Thomas Meehan

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Thoroughly Modern Millie  (2002)

Music:  Jeanine Tesori  Lyrics: Dick Scanlan  Book: Richard Morris, Scanlan

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Tick, Tick… Boom!   (2001)

Music/Lyrics/Book: Jonathan Larson

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Wicked  (2003)

Music/Lyrics: Stephen Schwartz  Book: Winnie Holzman

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Popular Musicals from the 2010s

& Juliet  (2019)

Music/Lyrics: Max Martin, Various  Book: David West Read

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Ain’t Too Proud  (2017)

Music/Lyrics: The Temptations  Book: Dominique Morisseau

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Aladdin  (2011)

Music: Alan Menken  Lyrics/Book: Chad Beguelin  Lyrics: Tim Rice, Howard Ashman

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Anastasia  (2016)

Music: Stephen Flaherty  Lyrics: Lynn Ahrens  Book: Terrence McNally

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Be More Chill  (2015)

Music/Lyrics: Joe Iconis  Book: Joe Tracz

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Beetlejuice  (2018)

Music/Lyrics: Eddie Perfect  Book: Scott Brown, Anthony King

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Come From Away  (2013)

Music/Lyrics/Book: Irene Sankoff, David Hein

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Dear Evan Hansen  (2015)

Music: Justin Paul  Lyrics: Benj Pasek  Book: Steven Levenson

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Everybody’s Talking About Jamie  (2017)

Music: Dan Gillespie Sells  Lyrics/Book: Tom MacRae

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Frozen  (2017)

Music/Lyrics: Robert Lopez, Kristen Anderson-Lopez  Book: Jennifer Lee

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Fun Home  (2013)

Music: Jeanine Tesori  Lyrics/Book: Lisa Kron

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Hamilton  (2015)

Music/Lyrics/Book: Lin-Manuel Miranda

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Heathers  (2010)

Music/Lyrics/Book: Laurence O’Keefe, Kevin Murphy

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Kinky Boots  (2012)

Music/Lyrics: Cyndi Lauper  Book: Harvey Fierstein

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Matilda  (2010)

Music/Lyrics: Tim Minchin  Book: Dennis Kelly

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Motown: The Musical  (2013)

Music/Lyrics: Various  Book: Berry Gordy

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Moulin Rouge!  (2018)

Music/Lyrics: Various  Book: John Logan

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Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812  (2012)

Music/Lyrics/Book: Dave Malloy

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Newsies  (2011)

Music: Alan Menken  Lyrics: Jack Feldman  Book: Harvey Fierstein

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Six  (2017)

Music/Lyrics/Book: Toby Marlow, Lucy Moss

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Something Rotten!  (2015)

Music/Lyrics: Karey & Wayne Kirkpatrick  Book: K. Kirkpatrick, J. O’Farrell

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The Book of Mormon  (2011)

Music/Lyrics/Book: Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, Matt Stone

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The Greatest Showman  (2017)

Music/Lyrics: Benj Pasek, Justin Paul, John Debney, Joseph Trapanese

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The Guy Who Didn’t Like Musicals  (2018)

Music/Lyrics: Jeff Blim  Book: Nick Lang, Matt Lang

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The Prom  (2016)

Music: Matthew Sklar  Lyrics: Chad Beguelin  Book: Bob Martin, Beguelin

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Waitress  (2015)

Music/Lyrics: Sara Bareilles  Book: Jessie Nelson

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All Musicals:

 Musicals of the 1920s

• Musicals of the 1930s

 Golden Age Musicals (1940 – 1959)

• Post-Golden Age Musicals (1960 – 1969)

• Musicals of the 1970s

• Musicals of the 1980s

• Musicals of the 1990s 

• Musicals of the 2000s

Musicals of the 2010s

Musicals of the 2020s


You Might Also Like:


Current Broadway Shows

Musicals About New York City

Musicals Based on Movies

Musicals Set in London

Rock Musicals


Looking for more? Check out these DIY Rep Books for EVERY vocal type!

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Which of these popular musicals is your favorite?

Have you seen or performed in any of these popular musicals? Make sure to share in the comments below! And if you like these types of lists, check out the musical database. That’s where you’ll find musicals sorted by composer, theme, setting, and more!


Stacy Karyn, author of Popular Musicals.
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.


 

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