Playbill Poll: Our Readers Share Their Favorite Musicals on Screen

By Playbill Staff
September 29, 2013

In recent weeks Playbill.com shared Top Ten Lists for Movie Musicals and Musicals Captured Live on Stage. Our readers had a lot to say on the matter. Playbill.com wondered: What were some of your favorite movie musicals, or musicals filmed live on stage?



Playbill.com polled our readers via Facebook and Twitter asking them to share their choices for their favorite musicals on screen.

Check out The Top Ten Musicals Captured Live on Stage and From Stage to Silver Screen: Top 15 Movie Musicals of the Last 50 Years.

Here's a selection of our readers' responses.

theatre_nerd_18: Les Misérables.

Tom Hooper's film adaptation of the international hit Les Misérables, turned into a worldwide phenomenon after its release in December 2012. It stars Tony Award winner Hugh Jackman as Valjean; Russell Crowe as Javert; Academy Award winner Anne Hathaway as Fantine; Aaron Tveit as Enjolras; Helena Bonham Carter as Madame Thenardier; Amanda Seyfried as Cosette; Eddie Redmayne as Marius; Samantha Barks as Eponine; George Blagden as student Grantaire; Sacha Baron Cohen as Thenardier; Daniel Huttlestone as child-hero Gavroche and original stage star Colm Wilkinson as the Bishop.

Les Misérables was penned by Alain Boublil, Claude-Michel Schonberg and Herbert Kretzmer for the stage, and adapted by screenwriter William Nicholson.

aroga26: Victor Victoria !!!!

The 1982 movie musical stars Julie Andrews as a soprano who saves her struggling career by masquerading as a male female impersonator. Andrews Husband, Blake Edwards directed and penned the screenplay for the film that features a score by Henry Mancini and Leslie Bricusse. It was later adapted into the 1995 Broadway musical, with Andrews repeating her performance. That production was also filmed live on stage.

Ela Winnett: Love Never Dies
georgedleigh: Love Never Dies

The Australian production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera sequel, Love Never Dies, was filmed in September 2011. Directed by Simon Phillips (Priscilla Queen of the Desert), the Australian production of Love Never Dies differs from the now-closed London world-premiere staging. A completely new Australian creative team, including scenic-costume designer Gabriela Tylesova, gave the production a darker, more brooding approach. It also incorporates revisions to the script and score first implemented in London last fall.

Ben Lewis, who appeared in the original Australian casts of Priscilla Queen of the Desert and Spamalot, stars as the Phantom, opposite Anna O'Byrne as soprano Christine Daaé. O'Byrne previously played the role in an Australian tour of The Phantom of the Opera.

Love Never Dies has a score by Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tony nominee Glenn Slater (Sister Act, The Little Mermaid). The book is by Lloyd Webber, Ben Elton and Slater. Phantom lyricist Charles Hart is also credited with additional lyrics for the latest incarnation of the sequel.

NYWicks: Sound of Music

The musical premiered on Broadway in 1959, where it broke box-office records and won the Tony Award for Best Musical. The beloved 1965 film version won the Best Picture Academy Award and stars Julie Andrews as Maria and Christopher Plummer as Captain Von Trapp. The Sound of Music features a libretto by Howard Lindsay & Russel Crouse and a score by Richard Rodgers (music) and Oscar Hammerstein II (lyrics) that includes "My Favorite Things," "Do-Re-Mi," "Edelweiss," and "So Long, Farewell." Ernest Lehman penned the screenplay for the film.

Michael J Grabauskas: Passing Strange
HollywoodH0lmes: Passing Strange

Academy Award-nominated director Spike Lee's documentary film of the Broadway musical Passing Strange captures the Broadway production in its final days of performance at the Belasco Theatre in July 2008. Lee also offers backstage glimpses of the musical during the 135-minute film.

Passing Strange features a Tony Award-winning book by Stew, lyrics by Stew, and music by Stew and his longtime musical partner Heidi Rodewald of The Negro Problem.

Included in the film are original cast members Stew, Rodewald, de'Adre Aziza, Daniel Breaker, Eisa Davis, Colman Domingo, Chad Goodridge and Rebecca Naomi Jones. The onstage band includes Jon Spurney, Christian Cassan and Christian Gibbs.

Sam Coats: Candide

First aired on PBS' "Great Performances" series, the May 2004 Candide concerts with the New York Philharmonic starred Tony winners Chenoweth and LuPone as, respectively, Cunegonde and The Old Lady. They were joined by tenor Paul Groves in the title role, tenor Stanford Olsen as Governor/Vanderdendur/Ragotski, and baritone Sir Thomas Allen as Pangloss/Martin. The concerts, helmed by Lonny Price, also featured the Westminster Symphonic Choir under the direction of Joseph Flummerfelt. Marin Alsop conducted the Philharmonic.

Raúl Esparza
Photo by Paul Kolnik

mariah_bryn: favorite filmed live is Company with Raul Esparza
kqv: Company with Raul Esparza is my favorite filmed musical. They filmed it when I saw it for my 7th & final time that year. #SoHappy

The acclaimed actor-musician Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim and George Furth's Company — directed by Tony Award winner John Doyle — also aired on PBS' "Great Performances." This Company won the Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Drama League Awards for Best Revival of a Musical.

Company starred the Tony-nominated Raul Esparza as the confused bachelor Bobby; Barbara Walsh as Joanne; Keith Buterbaugh as Harry; Matt Castle as Peter; Robert Cunningham as Paul; Angel Desai as Marta; Kelly Jeanne Grant as Kathy; Kristin Huffman as Sarah; Amy Justman as Susan; Heather Laws as Amy; Leenya Rideout as Jenny; Fred Rose as David; Bruce Sabath as Larry; and Elizabeth Stanley as April.

Nathan Bottorff: Into The Woods!
prestonpage: Into the Woods

The American Playhouse 1991 live taping of the original production of Into the Woods was captured late in the Broadway run of the Tony Award-winning musical by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine. Many cast members who had already departed the production returned to preserve their roles for the live taping at the Martin Beck Theatre (now the Al Hirschfeld). The original cast features Bernadette Peters, Chip Zien, Joanna Gleason, Kim Crosby and Robert Westenberg.


Nathan Hinds: Evita

Madonna starred in the title role of the 1996 film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's Tony Award-winning rock opera about the life and political rise of Argentinian leader Eva Peron. The film also introduced a new song, "You Must Love Me," which won the Academy Award for Best Song. The ballad was incorporated into the recent London and Broadway revivals of the musical.

Kim Elizabeth: Memphis

The high-def film of the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical Memphis was captured at the Shubert Theatre in 2011 in front of a live audience. The musical about an interracial love affair in the 1950s segregated South starred Tony Award nominees Chad Kimball and Montego Glover, who also appear on screen. Bon Jovi songwriter and band member David Bryan and DiPietro penned the score to Memphis, which is flavored with gospel, R&B, rock and soul sounds.


Clay Christopher: Sunday in the Park with George!
Swarley Obert: Sunday in the Park with George!

Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's Tony Award-nominated 1984 musical about the life of maverick French impressionist Georges Seurat was also filmed for broadcast on American Playhouse. Original stars Bernadette Peters and Mandy Patinkin preserved their work on screen.

Blake Sherman: I really enjoyed Oklahoma! with Hugh Jackman when it was filmed live on stage.
CampoMusical: Oklahoma w Hugh Jackman is our favorite filmed stage musical.

The 1998 Royal National Theatre revival starred Tony winners Hugh Jackman as Curly and Shuler Hensley as Judd Fry. Trevor Nunn staged the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, which featured several new dances by Tony Award winner Susan Stroman. It later transferred to Broadway with Patrick Wilson as Curly.

Jeffery Wines: Hello, Dolly!

Barbra Streisand stars as matchmaker Dolly Levi in the 1969 film adaptation of Jerry Herman's Tony Award-winning musical. The film features Walter Matthau, Michael Crawford, Tommy Tune and a cameo by Louis Armstrong. Added for the film are "Just Leave Everything To Me" and "Love Is Only Love."

Adrienne Leonard McDonald: Sweeney Todd with Angela Lansbury! She is amazing!
Garrett Canna: If we're talking about filmed stage shows, it's the Lansbury/Hearn Sweeney Todd hands down.

Captured live during the national tour of the Tony Award-winning Broadway production, the taping of Sweeney Todd features three of the original Broadway stars, including Angela Lansbury reprising her Tony-winning performance as Mrs. Lovett, Ken Jennings as Tobias and Edmund Lyndeck as Judge Turpin. Also featured are Tony Award winner George Hearn in the title role, Cris Groenendaal as Antony and Betsy Joslyn as Johanna.


R. Scott Reedy: Lucille Ball's 1974 big screen "Mame" was universally panned, but just this week - out of respect for the recently passed ("Agnes Gooch") - let's add it to list. Sometimes things are so bad they're good. Jane Connell was a great Broadway musical character performer.

"I Love Lucy" star Lucille Ball starred as the eccentric auntie in the 1974 film adaptation of Jerry Herman's 1966 musical that originally starred Angela Lansbury. Connell, who died Sept. 22 at the age of 87, was the original "Gooch" on Broadway and repeated her work in the film.

Lea Passione: I really enjoyed Rent when it was filmed on Broadway
JayBirdGriebler: Rent filmed live on Broadway. By far.
jannelandet: Rent filmed live. No contest.

The landmark, Pulitzer Prize-winning musical Rent was filmed Aug. 20, 2009, and on its final Sept. 7, 2009, Broadway performance. The final cast included Tracie Thoms as Joanne, Will Chase as Roger, Renee Goldsberry as Mimi, Eden Espinosa as Maureen, Michael McElroy as Collins, Adam Kantor as Mark, Justin Johnston as Angel and Rodney Hicks as Benny with Shaun Earl, Andrea Goss, Marcus Paul James, Telly Leung, Tracy McDowell, Jay Wilkison, Gwen Stewart and Destan Owens. Hicks and Stewart were both in the original company of Rent and rejoined the cast to close the show.

Directed by Michael Greif, Rent has book, music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson.

Rhonda Yeager-Hutchinson: Pippin, Pippin, Pippin - never has a better musical been there! Oh, my goodness - the tributes that should be awarded Stephen Schwartz and Ben Vereen, and any and all of the original cast members. awesome, AWESOME musical!!!!

Bob Fosse's original, Tony Award-winning 1972 staging of the dark pop musical by Stephen Schwartz and Roger O. Hirson was captured in 1981 with cast members Ben Vereen, Chita Rivera, William Katt, Leslie Denniston, Benjamin Rayson and Martha Raye.