Timeless Hits: The Best Classic Musicals to Re-Watch Online For a Trip Down Theatre’s Memory Lane

Perhaps you’ve already exhausted Netflix‘s library and are in need of entertainment to get through the seemingly never-ending quarantine season. Why not travel back to the good ol’ times through the classics? After all, there’s no escape like the alternative reality of musicals where characters break into soul-lifting melodies and upbeat dance numbers. For the days you need a little pick-me-up, revisit these time-honoured musical masterpieces.

Mamma Mia!


Based on the eponymous hit Broadway musical, Mamma Mia! is a musical rom-com that you need to watch for its stellar cast including Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried and Pierce Brosnan and, groovy numbers based on iconic pop group ABBA’s songs.  The plot follows a young bride-to-be (Amanda Seyfried) who invites three men to her upcoming wedding, each one with the possibility of being her father. While the film received mixed reviews from critics, it was a box-office hit becoming the fifth highest-grossing film of 2008 and leading to a sequel titled Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again in 2018.

Watch the Mamma Mia! (2008 film) on Amazon Prime.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street


If there’s a musical that horror fans and musical buffs could revel in equally, that would be Tim Burton’s infamous adaptation of the macabre Tony Award-Winning 1979 musical. If you have yet to watch this period slasher film, be prepared for a fair amount of blood and gore. A wrongfully accused and vengeful Benjamin Barker, alias Sweeney Todd (Johnny Depp) murders his customers under the guise of a barber and then passes them over to his fellow tenant Mrs Lovett to be baked into pies. What else would you expect from a Tim Burton masterpiece?

Watch Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007 film) on Amazon Prime.

Phantom of The Opera


The longest-running show in Broadway, The Phantom of The Opera has been winning hearts and over 70 major theatre awards since it opened to the audience on 1986. The musical, based on Gaston Leroux’s novel, features Andrew Lloyd Webber’s genius in the form of brooding ballads and of course, some good ol’ melodrama that will have you rooting for the mesmerising antagonist – the dark and mysterious Phantom.

If you’re a fan of Webber’s musicals, don’t forget to check out his latest initiative, The Shows Must Go On! – a YouTube channel devoted to streaming his smash-hit musicals every Friday at 7pm BST.

Watch the The Phantom of The Opera (2004 film) on Amazon Prime.

Hairspray


Hairspray has gone through its fair share of adaptations, from a movie to a musical and finally to a musical film. But, its safe to say that 2007 musical film has lost neither the essence of the award-winning Broadway show’s magic nor the original film’s timeless camp value. Set in 1962 Baltimore, Maryland, teenager Tracy Turnblad leads the story as she pursues stardom as a dancer on a local TV show and rallies against racial segregation. Expect 1960s-style show-stopping tunes and a star-studded cast featuring John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, Queen Latifah and Zac Efron amongst others.

Watch Hairspray (2007 film) on Amazon Prime.

Les Miserables

Are you a true theatre junkie if you haven’t watched the cultural touchstone that is Les Mis? Westend’s longest-running production takes you through the reassuring story of Jean Valjean, a French peasant, and his desire for redemption after serving nineteen years in jail for having stolen a meagre loaf of bread through power ballads that will tug at your heartstrings.

Watch Les Miserables’ 25th Anniversary in Concert on Amazon Prime.

Fiddler on The Roof


Winner of nine Tony Awards, the 1964 musical Fiddler on the Roof is a staple of the musical theatre canon that is still performed in schools and local theatres to this day. This timeless classic follows Tevye, a poor milkman, as he struggles to maintain his daughters’ orthodox Jewish upbringing under the encroaching threat of czarist Russian regime. With iconic and beloved songs such as If I Were a Rich Man and Matchmaker, Fiddler on the Roof  is the perfect mix of audience-pleasing humour and soul.

Watch the 1971 film adaptation of Fiddler on The Roof on Amazon Prime.

Cats

One way to get over the scarring experience of watching the CGI-ed nightmare that is Cats (2019), is to rewatch the 1998 direct-to-video musical film directed by David Mallet that is a recreation of the Andrew Lloyd Webber Broadway musical. Unlike typical musicals, Cats is entirely sung-through and tells the story of the Jellicle Cats that takes place over the course of one night through a mish-mash of extravagant dance numbers and catchy songs.

Watch Cats (1998) on Amazon Prime.

The Sound of Music

This list wouldn’t be complete without the ultimate classic that is bound to have a special place in all musical lovers’ hearts. The Sound of Music has captivated audiences around the world as a Broadway musical and a movie starring Julie Andrew and Christopher Plummer. Its success could be attributed to many factors – its feel-good plot, Academy award-winning music and the unforgettable backdrop of Salzburg. Rewatch to be charmed once again by the story of Maria, an aspiring nun, who is sent as a governess to take care of seven motherless children and nostalgia-inducing songs like Do-Re-Mi, Edelweiss and So Long Farewell.

Watch The Sound of Music (1965) on Amazon Prime.

Top Image: The Phantom of The Opera

Niharika Murali


If she isn’t neck-deep in a self-imposed existential crisis, you can find Niharika trying to master a new skill – anything from handicrafts to instruments, or simply browsing the internet’s never-ending collection of dog videos.