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Decider Lists

The Top 10 Musicals On Netflix

Do you ever just feel like life would be so much better with a soundtrack? I’m not talking about a great accompanying track. I’m talking about what it would be like if we could break out in dance and burst out into song whenever we were overcome with unbridled emotion.

That’s the allure of the musical. Why tell a story just with boring old dialogue when you can sing it out loud, proud, and with a massive orchestra behind you? Since the old days of vaudeville, musicals have evolved on stage and made the leap to the silver screen. And today you can find some of the most ground-breaking work in the genre on the small screen. The good news is you don’t need to trek to the Great White Way to see some great song-and-dance numbers. You can get carried away by a musical anywhere thanks to Netflix.

Here are the 10 best musicals currently streaming on Netflix.

1

‘Rent’

RENT, Rosario Dawson, 2005. ©Columbia/courtesy Everett Collection
Everett Collection

Decades before Hamilton became a cross-cultural obsession, Rent was a phenomenon. The rock musical take on Puccini’s La Boheme celebrated the artists and outcasts of New York City’s Lower East Side and launched a generation of musical theater stars. Years later, most of the original cast (and Rosario Dawson?) reunited for this by-the-numbers film adaptation of the raucous stage production. [Watch Rent on Netflix]

2

‘Grease’

GREASE, Olivia Newton-John, John Travolta, 1978. © Paramount Pictures/ Courtesy: Everett Collection
Everett Collection

Grease is a classic. The kitschy ‘70s film about a passionate teen romance in the 1950s is full of earworms and snappy one-liners. Needless to say, it’s a perennial favorite of musical theater nerds and middle American tweens alike. Catch the original on Netflix. (Note: Netflix is also streaming Grease 2 and Grease Live!, so you can make a whole triple feature of it.) [Watch Grease on Netflix]

3

'Across The Universe’

ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, Evan Rachel Wood, Jim Sturgess, 2007. ©Sony Pictures/courtesy Everett Collectio
Everett Collection

Broadway fans know director Julie Taymor for her ground-breaking work on The Lion King, but film nerds know her as the auteur who made an avant garde Beatles musical. Tom Sturgess and Evan Rachel Wood star as Jude and Lucy, star-crossed lovers who cling to each other in the tumult of the 1960s, and who communicate their feelings through the Beatles’ greatest hits. [Watch Across The Universe on Netflix]

4

'The Last Five Years’

THE LAST FIVE YEARS, (aka THE LAST 5 YEARS), from left: Anna Kendrick, Jeremy Jordan, 2014.
Everett Collection

This indie film take on a beloved off-Broadway gem tells the story of a love gone sour. The original musical only featured two characters, Cathy and Jamie, and their songs ran in opposite chronological order. Her songs began with their divorce and cycled backwards to when they met, while his started at the beginning and ended at the very end. Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan star in the film version. [Watch The Last Five Years on Netflix]

5

‘Carousel’

CAROUSEL, Gordon MacRae, Shirley Jones, 1956. TM & ©20th Century Fox. All rights reserved/courtesy E
Everett Collection

Sometimes you just need a little bit of Rodgers and Hammerstein in your life. Right now, the only musical by that legendary duo available on Netflix is the gorgeous Carousel. Its an undeniably human story about love, heartache, death, abuse, and danger. It skips around from pure adulation to absolute despair. Still, everything is lifted by the spirit of music and the promise of eternal love. [Watch Carousel on Netflix]

6

'Hello Dolly!’

HELLO DOLLY, Louis Armstrong, Barbra Streisand, 1969, TM & Copyright (c) 20th Century Fox Film Corp.
Everett Collection

Let Babs sing your blues away! The inimitable Barbra Streisand plays ball-busting matchmaker Dolly Levi in this delightful musical comedy. Dolly must use her skills to find a wife for the curmudgeonly Horace (Walter Matthau) and winds up stirring up trouble with his niece. [Watch Hello Dolly! on Netflix]

7

'Carmen Jones’

CARMEN JONES, from left: Harry Belafonte, Dorothy Dandridge, 1954. ©20th Century-Fox Film Corporatio
Everett Collection

Carmen Jones is part musical, part opera, and part revolution. Oscar Hammerstein took Bizet’s famous opera Carmen and rewrote it as a steamy story set in post-World War II America. The production was doubly revolutionary because of its all black cast. The film version gave actors Dorothy Dandridge and Harry Belafonte a rare opportunity in 1950s Hollywood to play nuanced lead parts. [Watch Carmen Jones on Netflix]

8

‘Hairspray’ (1988)

HAIRSPRAY, Ricki Lake (right), 1988. ©New Line Cinema/courtesy Everett Collection
Everett Collection

So technically, this is not a musical. I know what you’re thinking: Of course, Hairspray is a musical. It’s been on Broadway, you know all the songs, you saw the movie with John Travolta, blah, blah, blah… However, this original version does not see its characters break out into song. (Do they dance? Oh, yes.) Still John Waters original cult masterpiece deserves to be on this list because it is a bawdy, blustery, beautiful look at the power of music. [Watch Hairspray (1988) on Netflix]

9

'High School Musical’

HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL, Zac Efron, Vanessa Anne Hudgens, 2005, photo: Fred Hayes / © Disney Channel / C
Everett Collection

You might be wrinkling your nose, but hear us out: High School Musical predicted a new wave of musical storytelling. It preceded Glee, Flight of the Conchords, and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. It introduced future stars like Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens. Most of all, it helped a generation of kids fall in love with musical theater. [Watch High School Musical on Netflix]

10

'Crazy Ex-Girlfriend'

Crazy-Ex-Girlfriend
Photo: The CW

We’re sneaking one TV show onto the list and believe it or not, it’s not Glee. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend debuted last year to massive critical acclaim and tepid ratings. Now, as it enters its second season (and a possible avalanche of Emmy nominations), it stands as a sterling testament to the power of musical storytelling. Star and creator Rachel Bloom used musical numbers to poke fun at upsetting issues and to create some much-needed cultural conversation. [Watch Crazy Ex-Girlfriend on Netflix]