The 53 Most Underrated Musicals of All Time

This is a very personal list compared to most of the other lists I’ve created for Theatre Trip. Most of my other blog posts are fact-based and objective. And this one is an absolute opinion piece! This is the list of what I believe to be the most underrated musicals.

The following musicals are ones that I believe deserve more attention from musical thespians. Also, most of these musicals are also on my personal lists of favorite cast albums and top musicals!


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Contents:

Underrated Jazz Age Musicals

Underrated Golden Age Musicals

Underrated 1960s Musicals

Underrated 1970s Musicals

Underrated 1980s Musicals

Underrated 1990s Musicals

Underrated 2000s Musicals

Underrated 2010s Musicals


Underrated Jazz Age Age Musicals

Nymph Errant

Music/Lyrics: Cole Porter  Book: Romney Brent

Musical Type: Jazz Age (1933)


The New Moon

Music: Sigmund Romberg  Lyrics/Book: Oscar Hammerstein II, Frank Mandel, Laurence Schwab

Musical Type: Jazz Age/Operetta (1927)


The New Yorkers

Music/Lyrics: Cole Porter  Book: Herbert Fields

Musical Type: Jazz Age (1930)


Underrated Golden Age Musicals

Allegro

Music: Richard Rodgers  Book/Lyrics: Oscar Hammerstein II

Musical Type: Golden Age (1947)


House of Flowers

Music/Lyrics/Book: Harold Arlen, Truman Capote

Musical Type: Golden Age (1954)


Underrated 1960s Musicals

Golden Boy

Music: Charles Strouse  Lyrics: Lee Adams  Book: Clifford Odets, William Gibson

Musical Type: Post-Golden Age (1964)


Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris

Music/Lyrics: Jacques Brel  Book: Eric Blau, Mort Shuman

Musical Type: Post-Golden Age/Revue (1968)


Kean

Music/Lyrics: Robert Wright, George Forrest  Book: Peter Stone

Musical Type: Post-Golden Age (1961)


Robert and Elizabeth

Music: Ron Grainer  Lyrics/Book: Ronald Millar

Musical Type: Post-Golden Age/Operetta (1964)


She Loves Me

Music: Jerry Bock  Lyrics: Sheldon Harnick  Book: Joe Masteroff

Musical Type: Post-Golden Age (1963)


The Zulu and the Zayda

Music/Lyrics: Harold Rome  Book: Howard De Silva, Felix Leon

Musical Type: Post-Golden Age (1965)


Zorba

Music: John Kander  Lyrics: Fred Ebb  Book: Joseph Stein

Musical Type: Post-Golden Age (1968)


Underrated 1970s Musicals

Cyrano

Music: Michael J. Lewis  Lyrics/Book: Anthony Burgess

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1973)


Selma

Music/Lyrics/Book: Tommy Butler

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1976)


The Robber Bridegroom

Music: Robert Waldman  Lyrics/Book: Alfred Uhry

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1975)


Working

Music/Lyrics/Book: Schwartz, Carnelia, Grant, M. Rodgers, Taylor, Birkenhead, Faso

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1977)


Underrated 1980s Musicals

Chess

Music: Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus  Lyrics: Tim Rice, Ulvaeus  Book: Richard Nelson, Rice

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1984)


La Cage aux Folles

Music/Lyrics: Jerry Herman  Book: Harvey Fierstein

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1983)


Merrily We Roll Along

Music/Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim  Book: George Furth

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1981)


Pump Boys and Dinettes

Music/Lyrics/Book: Foley, Hardwick, Monk, Morgan, Schimmel, Wann

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1981)


Sarafina

Music/Lyrics/Book: Mbongeni Ngema  Music/Lyrics: Hugh Masakela

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1987)


Tomfoolery

Music/Lyrics: Tom Lehrer  Book: Cameron Mackintosh

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary/Revue (1980)


Underrated 1990s Musicals

A New Brain

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

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1998)


Floyd Collins

Music/Lyrics: Adam Guettel  Book: Tina Landau

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1994)


Parade

Music/Lyrics: Jason Robert Brown  Book: Alfred Uhry

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1998)


Ragtime

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

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1996)


Ruthless!

Music: Marvin Laird  Lyrics/Book: Joel Paley

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1992)


Sunset Boulevard

Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber  Lyrics/Book: Don Black, Christopher Hampton

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1991)


Titanic

Music/Lyrics: Maury Yeston  Book: Peter Stone

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1997)


The Capeman

Music/Lyrics: Paul Simon  Lyrics/Book: Derek Walcott

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1998)


The Life

Music/Book: Cy Coleman  Lyrics/Book: Ira Gasman  Book: David Newman

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1990)


Underrated 2000s Musicals

A Year with Frog and Toad

Music: Robert Reale  Lyrics/Book: Willie Reale

Musical Type: Contemporary (2002)


Bernarda Alba

Music/Lyrics/Book: Michael John LaChiusa

Musical Type: Contemporary (2006)


Closer to Heaven

Music/Lyrics: Pet Shop Boys  Book: Jonathan Harvey

Musical Type: Contemporary (2001)


Grey Gardens

Music: Scott Frankel  Lyrics: Michael Korie  Book: Doug Wright

Musical Type: Contemporary (2006)


Passing Strange

Music/Lyrics/Book: Stew, Heidi Rodewald

Musical Type: Contemporary (2006)


Sweet Smell of Success

Music: Marvin Hamlisch  Lyrics: Craig Carnelia  Book: John Guare

Musical Type: Contemporary (2002)


The Lord of the Rings

Music: A.R. Rahman, Christopher Nightingale, Värttinä  Lyrics/Book: Matthew Warchus, Shaun McKenna

Musical Type: Contemporary (2006)


The Story of My Life

Music/Lyrics: Neil Bartram  Book: Brian Hill

Musical Type: Contemporary (2006)


The Wild Party (LaChiusa)

Music/Lyrics/Book: Michael John LaChiusa  Book: George C. Wolfe

Musical Type: Contemporary (2000)


Underrated 2010s Musicals

Alice by Heart

Music: Duncan Sheik  Lyrics/Book: Steven Sater, Jessie Nelson

Musical Type: Contemporary (2019)


Allegiance

Music/Lyrics/Book: Jay Kuo  Book: Marc Acito, Lorenzo Thione

Musical Type: Contemporary (2012)


American Psycho

Music/Lyrics: Duncan Sheik  Book: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa

Musical Type: Contemporary (2013)


An American in Paris

Music: George Gershwin  Lyrics: Ira Gershwin  Book: Craig Lucas

Musical Type: 1951 Film/Contemporary Musical (2014)


Doctor Zhivago

Music: Lucy Simon  Lyrics: Michael Korie, Amy Powers

Musical Type: Contemporary (2011)


Fangirls

Music/Lyrics/Book: Yve Blake

Musical Type: Contemporary (2019)


Honeymoon in Vegas

Music/Lyrics: Jason Robert Brown  Book: Andrew Bergman

Musical Type: Contemporary (2013)


Hundred Days

Music/Lyrics/Book: The Bengsons  Book: Sarah Gancher

Musical Type: Contemporary (2017)


Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812

Music/Lyrics/Book: Dave Malloy

Musical Type: Contemporary (2012)


Preludes

Music/Lyrics/Book: Dave Malloy

Musical Type: Contemporary (2015)


Rags Parkland Sings the Songs of the Future

Music/Lyrics/Book: Andrew R. Butler

Musical Type: Contemporary (2018)


Ride the Cyclone

Music/Lyrics/Book: Brooke Maxwell, Jacob Richmond

Musical Type: Contemporary (2015)


The Bridges of Madison County

Music/Lyrics: Jason Robert Brown  Book: Marsha Norman

Musical Type: Contemporary (2013)


The Dolls of New Albion

Music/Lyrics/Book: Paul Shapera

Musical Type: Contemporary (2012)


Other blog posts you might like:

• Classic Musicals

Obscure Musicals

• Popular Musicals

• Musicals Based on Books

• Musicals Based on Movies


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Which of these underrated musicals is your favorite?

Or have you ever played a role in any of the above underrated musicals? Feel free 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 Underrated 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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