Need to kill some time? Here are some theatre-y Netflix picks…

I’m sure most people, like me, are wondering what they can do to keep themselves entertained during a quarantine. With all the venues closed, it makes it hard to get our fill of the wonderful world of live theatre. So, I’ve done the hard yards trawling Netflix and come up with a nifty little list of things you can watch to help pass the time over the next few weeks.

Any suggestions that I may have missed? Comment them below!


Movie Musicals/Broadway Shows

Let’s be real, we all love to indulge in a movie musical now and then. Some of these were written for the screen, others are adaptations of stage show, and some are recorded versions of Broadway productions – something for everyone!

  • Hairspray
    • This movie musical is an adaptation of the 2002 musical, and follows the life of Tracey Turnblad living in 1960s Segregated Baltimore. The film has a star studded cast, including John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken, Queen Latifah, James Marsden, Elijah Kelley, Allison Janney, and Zac Efron.
  • Mamma Mia!
    • Potentially the pinnacle of modern jukebox musicals, Mamma Mia! uses the classic songs of ABBA to tell the story of young Sophie on a journey to find her father out of a potential 3 candidates. With Amanda Seyfried, Meryl Streep, and Christine Baranski, the film is a great way to kill time.
  • Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
    • A sequel to Mamma Mia!. Need I say more?
  • Grease 2
    • Surprisingly, the first movie isn’t on Netflix but the sequel is. Set a few years after the original story, the plot follows an entirely new group of kids at Rydell High. It’s definitely not as good as its predecessor, but it’s the reason Michelle Pfeiffer rose to stardom, and for that I am thankful.
  • Jersey Boys
    • Produced by Clint Eastwood, this film adaptation of the Broadway Musical follows the story of The Four Seasons. Frankie Valli is played by John Lloyd Young, who originated the role in the Broadway production, winning a Tony Award for his performance.
  • Annie (2014)
    • This remake of the 1977 musical reimagines the well-loved story in a much more contemporary setting. It stars Jamie Foxx as Will Stacks (the modern Daddy Warbucks), Cameron Diaz as Miss Hannigan, and Rose Byrne as Grace Farrell.
  • Oh, Hello on Broadway
    • Starring John Mulaney and Nick Kroll, this hilarious comedy special had Broadway audiences in absolute fits during its run.
  • Springsteen on Broadway
    • The great Bruce Springsteen held a concert residency on Broadway for over a year. Now, you can experience his life and music the show from the comfort of your couch.
  • Latin History For Morons
    • John Leguizamo’s one-man history lesson took Broadway by storm, and now it’s on Netflix! Follow him as he traces us back 3,000 years through history, with some jokes thrown in for good measure.

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?

  • Billy Elliot
    • Lee Hall’s dance-drama follows the life of a young Billy Elliot following his dreams of dance amidst the Miner’s Strike of Durham. It was adapted into a stage musical in 2005.
  • School of Rock
    • Jack Black leads a pack of mischievous students out of the classroom and into a battle of the bands!
  • Matilda
    • The Roald Dahl classic was a very successful film before it hit the stage! Set in the United States (rather than the stage show’s England), the film is packed with wit and humour for viewers of all ages.
  • Shrek
    • Do I really need to synopsise this one?
  • Catch Me If You Can
    • This Spielberg produced film is based on the true story of Frank Abagnale, the man who conned his way into millions of dollars through check fraud. His crimes in were so infamous that he went on to assist the FBI in catching other criminals. The story was adapted into a musical in 2009, starring Aaron Tveit and Norbert Leo Butz.

Various Theatre related shows and movies

Feeling like something theatre-adjacent but not ready to fully invest in a musical? Below are my top picks to scratch that itch.

  • Crazy Ex Girlfriend
    • This TV show follows the life of Rebecca Bunch, a woman who imagines parts of her life in full-scale theatrical production numbers. Episodes feature some brilliant homages to musicals, and features Broadway faves including as Santino Fontana, Patti LuPone, Lea Salonga, Josh Groban, and Skylar Astin alongside an outstanding lead cast.
  • Opening Night
    • Set in real time backstage at a Broadway musical’s opening, we watch failed Broadway performer turned prod manager Nick (Topher Grace) trying to save his show’s opening night. A good hour-and-a-bit of entertainment, plus Taye Diggs and Lesli Margherita pop up.
  • The Sapphires
    • Based on the stage play (which is loosely based on a real group from the 1960s), this film follows a group of 4 Indigenous Australian women who form a music group and subsequently sing for troops during the Vietnam War. The film stars Jessica Mauboy, Deborah Mailman, Shari Sebbens, and Miranda Tapsell as the eponymous band.
  • Glee
    • A staple for any tween in the mid 2000s, Glee followed a show choir through their competitive circuit, while showcasing some gloriously stereotyped experiences of high school. Theatre connoisseurs will have a delightful time spotting faces such as Matthew Morrison, Lea Michele, Darren Criss, Jonathan Groff, Idina Menzel, Kristin Chenoweth, Amber Riley, Melissa Benoist, and Alex Newell throughout the 6 seasons.
  • La La Land
    • I’d argue this isn’t a musical despite its genre categorisation, but that’s a discussion for another time. The film stars Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling as Mia and Sebastian, two failing performers trying to make it in their respective industries. The film references many iconic movie musicals including Broadway Melody, Singin’ in the Rain, and An American in Paris.
  • The Politician
    • From the creators of Glee, this series follows Peyton Hobart (Ben Platt, of Dear Evan Hansen) on his run for student body president. Part camp, and part hilarity, the show stars some Broadway names including Laura Dreyfuss, Jessica Lange, Bette Midler, and Judith Light. There’s singing here and there, with the students of the show performing a production of Sondheim’s Assassins. A strong recommendation for any theatre geek.
  • The Music of Silence
    • This biopic is based on the novel of the same name, written by Andrea Bocelli. Anyone interested in the life of the acclaimed tenor will enjoy following his life from its bumpy start to his great successes.

 

Gabi Bergman

Gabi Bergman is a Melbourne-based performer. She holds a Double Arts degree in Theatre Studies and Film/Screen Studies, and is currently completing her Masters of Teaching (Secondary Education). Gabi has always been an avid lover of theatre, specifically musicals, and spends way too much money than she’d like to admit on tickets. Her most prized possession is her crate of theatre programs.

Gabi Bergman

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