Since people really enjoyed my list of theatre-y Netflix shows, I figured it was only logical to make my way through the rest of the streaming services available in Australia. Next up is Amazon Prime Video!
I was genuinely surprised at how much theatre adjacent content there was on Amazon Prime… however, it really wasn’t easy to find. I had to do some solid digging through the catalog to find these films, and I would suggest the best way to find them is to directly search them. There aren’t specific filters or tags like Netflix have – if you type in “musicals,” you won’t get a lot of these results.
But without further ado…
Film adaptations of Musicals
These are all movie adaptations of the stage shows we know and love. There are some fantastic picks here, so a great place to start to fill the MT-shaped void in your life.
- This is hands down one of my absolute favourite film adaptations of a stage show. It takes a more linear approach to the musical’s true vaudevillian and Brechtian staging, but keeps the fundamentals of the show in tact. Plus, the lead cast are phenomenal.
- Annie (1982)
- The original adaptation of the stage show, this iconic film tells the story the eponymous red-headed orphan.
- Grease is one of those musicals that I think everyone should see. It’s cemented in MT canon, and there is definitely at least one song from it that anyone would know (“Summer Nights” anyone?). John Travolta and our own Olivia Newton-John star as the lead pair, amidst a fabulous cast.
- Les Miserables
- This Tom Hooper adaptation is full of Broadway and West End stars, including Hugh Jackman, Samantha Barks, Helena Bonham Carter, Aaron Tveit, Daniel Huttlestone, Colm Wilkinson, Eddie Redmayne, and Anne Hathaway.
- Little Shop of Horrors
- I love this movie. I love this show. The creative team are a trifecta of perfection – directed by Frank Oz (of The Muppets and Sesame Street), Alan Menken and Howard Ashman (who together went on to write a bunch of music and lyrics for movies in the Disney Renaissance). It follows a dorky flower shop attendant and his discovery of a bizarre, bloodthirsty plant. It’s campy, it’s crazy, it’s worth a watch.
- Repo! The Genetic Opera
- This was a surprising discovery! This sci-fi rock opera has more of a cult-following (like Little Shop and Rocky Horror) but is still a great time. It tells the story of the world in 2056, where an epidemic of organ failures push the government to seek out donations in some not so ethical ways.
- This is on Amazon Prime and Netflix so… there’s no excuse to not watch it now.
- Taking inspirations from the story of The Supremes, Dreamgirls follows the evolution and history of Rhythm and Blues (R&B) music in the 60s and 70s. The film’s cast include Jennifer Hudson, Beyonce, Anika Noni Rose, Danny Glover, and Jamie Foxx.
- The Pajama Game
- An absolute Broadway classic, this show follows fiesty pajama factory worker Babe Williams fighting for fair pay, and finding love along the way . Bob Fosse’s iconic choreography is brought along from the stage show, as well as the principal cast (with the exception of Janis Paige, who is replaced in the film by Doris Day).
These were all written as musical films but aren’t actually stage shows.
- Pitch Perfect
- Ah yes, it’s that acapella movie. The one that revolutionised the acapella movie franchise. You’ve got Anna Kendrick, you’ve got Skylar Astin, you’ve got Ben Platt, and you’ve got some aca-mazing arrangements.
- After being hit by a bus, Jack Malik realises that something’s different – he’s the only person who remembers who The Beatles are. An interesting and heartwarming film filled with brilliant music, this is a must for any Beatles Fan. Also, Ed Sheeran stars as himself. What more could you want?
- Dirty Dancing
- Who hasn’t heard of Dirty Dancing? Jennifer Grey stars as Baby, a young women who falls in love with her dance instructor (Patrick Swayze) on her holiday in the Catskills. You’ll have the time of your life with this one.
- The Big Gay Musical
- I’d say this is more for the adults. TBGM tells the story of two young actors, one of which is openly gay, the other who’s closeted, and the struggles they each encounter. A quirky and campy movie with a lovely moral at the end. (Please note: this film discusses gay conversion therapy/deprogramming).
- This backstage musical film follows Ali Rose (Christina Aguilera) and her pursuit of a career in burlesque. She is joined by Cher, Stanley Tucci, Julianne Hough, Kristen Bell, and countless other stars.
Movies that have been adapted into musicals
Perhaps you’ve seen the stage adaptations of these films, but do you know the source material? Below are a few of my favourite movies that have been turned into full scale shows. How do they weigh up to their stage counterparts?
- Mean Girls
- This fetch 2004 flick spawned an equally as fetch 2017 stage show
- Ladies in Black
- Although the Australian musical isn’t based on this film, both adaptations are based on Madeleine St. John’s novel “The Woman In Black,” following a group of department store workers in late 50s Sydney.
- The Addams Family
- This iconic family have done it all. This is a great starting point for anyone wanting to dive into the dark and dreary world of the Addams Family ahead of watching/listening to the 2010 Broadway Musical.
- This musical drama film stars Kevin Bacon as Ren McCormack, a teen determined to overthrow the dance-ban that his local minister has implemented. The film was adapted into a musical in 1998.
Documentaries, concerts, and dance
I was surprised to find a pretty large collection of other theatre-esque content on Amazon Prime. This seems to be the place to go if you want to see filmed concerts or documentaries. So, I’ve whittled down some picks of this category that may be of interest…
- Hollywood Musicals of the 50s and 60s
- Les Miserables: The History of the World’s Greatest Story
- Hamilton: One Shot To Broadway
- Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles
- Michael Crawford: Music in the Night
- The Nutcracker Ballet
- Tim Minchin: So F***ing Rock
- The Who – Tommy Live At The Royal Albert Hall