“What to Stream” is a blog series featuring movies you can stream online (with a subscription or for rent).
Whether they are films that inspired Broadway, were inspired by Broadway, or just tug at our musical heartstrings, we’ve got the list of movies every theatre fan should check out.
The final entry in our series, here’s what you can rent from YouTube Movies!
1. Into The Woods
Taking inspiration from fairy tales, this musical intertwines the plots of famous storybook characters into an epic saga with giants, a witch’s curse, and the consequences of one’s actions. Although a lot of the content from the stage musical is toned down to give it a PG rating, the film still contains much of the darker elements of fairy tales that made Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s musical so popular with audiences.
2. High School Musical
Loosely based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Troy and Gabriella are from rival cliques: he’s captain of the basketball team and she excels in math and science. When they try out for the lead parts in a school musical, they soon fall in love, causing the student body to choose sides. If you want to have a HSM marathon, YouTube Movies also has High School Musical 2 and High School Musical 3: Senior Year for $5.99 and $2.99, respectively!
Set in present day Harlem, little Annie lives in foster care with a group of girls under the care of the mean Miss Hannigan. When the wealthy Will Stacks adopts Annie to boost his popularity for his mayoral campaign, the publicity stunt turns into something more personal. This is a modern interpretation of the Broadway musical, featuring notable songs from the show rearranged to fit with the contemporary setting.
When the Continental Congress finally broaches the subject of independence from Great Britain, it’s decided that any vote in favor of it must be unanimous. To ensure the possibility of the nation’s independence, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin urge Thomas Jefferson to write the Declaration. The film is perfect for any history or theatre buff, as it includes every song number from the 1969 musical it’s based on.
5. The Sound of Music
When Maria becomes a governess for a baron’s seven children, who’ve all chased away their previous governesses, she uses music to bring happiness back into their lives. She and the baron soon fall in love, but their familial bliss is threatened by the impending WWII. The film is considered one of the greatest movie musicals of all time, a true classic every theatre fan should see!
Danny, leader of greaser gang T-Birds, and Sandy, member of the popular Pink Ladies, meet during the summer of 1958 and quickly fall in love. When Danny keeps up appearances, saying it’s uncool to be with her, Sandy decides that it’s time for a change. This is another classic movie for theatre fans and was actually the highest-grossing live-action musical film until Les Miserables came out in 2012!
7. Les Miserables
Set against the backdrop of 19th century France during the June Rebellion, the sung-through film follows the story of Jean Valjean, a prisoner who breaks parole and is subsequently hunted for years by the zealous policeman, Javert. The musical is an absolute classic and stars a phenomenal singing cast. Anne Hathaway’s “I Dreamed a Dream” solo still makes us cry to this day.
This Disney film, loosely based on the Newsboys’ Strike of 1899, stars a young Christian Bale as Jack “Cowboy” Kelly, who leads a group of “newsies” in a strike against unfair working conditions when a newspaper tycoon raises distribution prices at the newsies’ expense. Although the film did poorly at the box office, it gained a massive cult following that eventually led to a super successful Broadway stage production…
9. Newsies: The Broadway Musical
…which you can also watch on YouTube! Although there are a few differences between the original film and the stage musical, the musical carries the same energy that made the film a cult success and continues to be a chosen production for schools across the nation.
10. Billy Elliot: The Musical Live
Young Billy trades in his boxing gloves for ballet shoes and soon becomes passionate about dancing, but soon faces the negative stereotypes against male dancers all while his community deals with the 1980s coal miners’ strike in North East England. This is the live recording of the West End production, which was directed by Stephen Daldry, who also directed the original film its based on. On a fun note, our fearless leader and founder, Alexander Libby, was Stephen Daldry’s assistant during the original Broadway production!