Shining a Spotlight on Memorable Musicals

Timeless Broadway classics that have earned their flowers.

Grace Robinson

Phantom of the Opera

Does a chandelier falling from the ceiling and a boat ride under the catacombs of Paris sound appealing to you? Then “Phantom of the Opera” is the Broadway show for you! The musical is written by Andrew Llyod Webber who got the idea from the 1910 novel “Le Fantôme de l’Opéra” written by Gaston Leroux. Leroux heard rumors about ghosts and unexplainable deaths at the opera house, and this gossip led him to study this intently.

Christine Daae–a young soprano–catches the eye of the phantom–a dark figure broods underneath a 19th century Paris opera house. The phantom lures her in as his protege and falls obsessively in love with her. When Christine’s first love comes back into her life, the phantom’s obsession takes a turn for the worse that leads to jealousy, madness and passion. 

The music is known for the intoxicating, seductive, chromatic chords. The most popular songs are “The Music of the Night,” “All I Ask of You,” “Masquerade” and–the most well known song–“The Phantom of the Opera.”

The musical ran from 1988 to 2023, and—at the time of its closing—it will have just celebrated its 35th anniversary and played a record-setting 14,000 performances, more than any show in Broadway history.

Moulin Rouge!!

Bright red lights and colorful costumes bring attention to the Broadway stage.

“Moulin Rouge!” is based on the 2001 movie starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor which is a jukebox musical romance and drama. The popularity of the movie caused speculation about a stage-based adaptation, and in 2016, it was announced that it was being directed by world renowned Alex Timbers.

“Moulin Rouge!” is set in the Montmartre quarter of Paris, France, at the turn of the 20th century. The musical follows the story of Christian, a young composer who falls in love with cabaret actress Satine who is the star.

However Satine is promised to a duke in return for his funding for another production. As the young lovers meet in secret, Satine’s wedding day to the duke grows closer while she hides a secret from Christian and the duke.

The music from the musical has iconic songs from the 1940s to the 2010s that audiences will recognize in an instant, and the most popular songs include “Your song,” “Roxanne,” and “Material Girl.” The original songs that are well known from the musical are “Shut Up and Raise Your Glass,” and “Come What May.”

At the 74th Tony Awards, “Moulin Rouge!” received a total of 14 nominations and won 10 awards, including best musical. 


Murder and mystery in the roaring jazz clubs of the 20s draws in musical lovers for nearly 10,000 shows and counting. “Chicago” is the second longest running show on Broadway, right behind “Phantom of the Opera.”

Reporter Maurine Dallas Watkins wrote about actual Chicago criminals and crimes in her 1926 book that inspired the 1975 musical. The story is a satire of corruption in the criminal justice system and the concept of the “celebrity criminal.” 

“Chicago” tells the story of two rival vaudevillian murderers locked up in the Cook County Jail: nightclub star Velma—who killed her husband after finding him cheating on her with her sister—and chorus girl Roxie—who bumped off the lover with whom she had been cheating on her husband.

Velma enlists the help of Mama Morton and lawyer Billy Flynn, who turn Velma and Roxie’s incarceration into a murder media frenzy. The girls fight for their popularity and win the hearts of spectators watching their cases unfold.

Music from the musical contains iconic songs like “Cell Block Tango,” “Roxie,” and “Overture/ And all that Jazz.” These songs scream 20’s jazz night club and hold a piece of history while telling a murderous story.

The 2002 film adaptation of “Chicago” won the academy award for Best Picture. 


Hairspray, big hair, drama and bright lights are some of the words to describe “Hairspray.” The play is written by Marc Shaiman, while the story takes place in 1960s Baltimore Maryland during the civil rights movement.

The musical was originally a 1988 movie directed by John Waters, and Shaiman contacted Waters to get his blessing to create a broadway musical. 

The musical follows plus-sized teen Tracy Turnblad who has a dream to dance on the “Corny Collins Show.” When her dreams come true, Tracy is transformed from social outcast to sudden star.

She falls in love with “Corny Collins Show” star Link Larkin while trying to dethrone queen of the show Amber Von Tussle all while Tracy has a goal to integrate the white and black dancers on the show.

The music from the musical is a good mix of 1960s dance music and downtown rhythm and blues. Some of the most popular songs from the musical are “Good Morning Baltimore,” “I Can Hear the Bells,” and “You Can’t Stop the Beat.”

“Hairspray” received 13 Tony nominations and won eight, including Best Musical, Book, Score and Direction.