No other genre of film puts a smile on your smile quite the way musicals do. For the duration of the film, you get to participate in a heightened reality where every powerful emotion finds expression through a rousing song and dance number. It’s the type of film spectacle that moves you in a way that regular CGI-laden blockbusters cannot.
Netflix offers a wide variety of musicals for you to choose from. These musicals belong to different regions and eras. They also conform to uniquely different styles of filmmaking. Here are the best musicals on Netflix that you can enjoy for their songs as well as the powerful stories that they have to tell.
1. The Prince of Egypt (1998)
Musical Animation Drama | IMDb: 7.1 | RT: 79%
Part old-fashioned Hollywood biblical epic, part Broadway super musical. The Prince of Egypt adapts the Bible story of Moses and his fight to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt.
This gorgeously mounted musical blends traditional animation with CGI. It provides a breathtakingly expansive and heartbreakingly intimate look at Moses’s journey from leaving his childhood home to fulfilling his destiny.
With multiple directors and a host of celebrity voice actors including Val Kilmer, Ralph Fiennes, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Sandra Bullock, the movie feels like an event film in the same vein as The Ten Commandments, which was the direct inspiration behind The Prince of Egypt.
2. Newsies (1992)
Musical Drama | IMDb: 7 | RT: 39%
Earnest, heartfelt, and innocent. These are rare qualities to find in movies today thanks to modern filmmaking styles that emphasize cynicism over hope.
Which is why Newsies hits you like a breath of fresh air. This 1992 musical tells the story of a group of tween newspaper sellers who are tired of being exploited by their bosses. The children have no choice but to band together to fight their oppressors.
Directed by Kenny Ortega and starring an as-yet-unknown Christian Bale in the leading role, Newsies was Disney’s first live-action musical. The movie was unsuccessful at the box office upon release but later went on to gather a large cult following when it released on home video.
If you want to experience more of that inimitable Disney spirit of filmmaking, check out our list of the best Disney movies to watch on Netflix.
3. George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker (1993)
Christmas Musical | IMDb: 5.8 | RT: 50%
Based on Peter Martin’s stage production of the timeless Christmas classic, The Nutcracker is winter holiday magic at its finest. The film unveils a fairy tale about a young girl’s romantic awakening.
At a Christmas Eve party, little Marie is introduced to her magician godfather and his nephew. The nephew later visits her dream as the Nutcracker Prince and whisks her away to a land of adventure.
The movie stars a young Macaulay Culkin at the height of his fame as the Nutcracker Prince. It makes great use of the original Nutcracker’s score by Tchaikovsky and Balanchine’s breathtaking choreography sensibilities. This is old-fashioned all-singing all-dancing holidays cinema at its finest.
4. Shrek: The Musical (2008)
Stage Musical | IMDb: 7.1
Everyone knows about Shrek, the 2001 animated film by Dreamworks Animation. But fewer people are aware of its 2008 stage adaptation. The play adds deeper layers to the original story, providing more backstory for the main characters, and even more song-and-dance numbers to the narrative.
The stage musical is more risque than even the movie, which had itself gained notoriety upon release for the inclusion of adult humor in a children’s film.
Directed by Michael John Warren and starring Brian d’Arcy James and Sutton Foster as Shrek and Fiona, Shrek: The Musical is a worthy adaptation for those who loved the original.
5. Mulan (1998)
Animated Musical Action Adventure | IMDb: 7.6 | RT: 86%
Based on the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan, this Disney animation takes the action to China during the Han dynasty. Fa Mulan is the young daughter of legendary warrior Fa Zhou.
Fearing for the safety of her aging father, Mulan disguises herself as a man and takes his place in the army. The film stars Ming-Na Wen, Eddie Murphy, and Miguel Ferrer in leading roles. It is directed by Tony Bancroft and Barry Cook.
It received great critical acclaim upon release. Mulan was praised for adding greater diversity to Disney’s characters. The film offers a moving tale about family duty, the horrors of war, and a female heroine who took an active role in breaking out of her confinement.
6. Mamma Mia! (2008)
Jukebox Musical Romantic Comedy | IMDb: 6.4 | RT: 55%
The movie that made the world fall in love with ABBA all over again. Mamma Mia! finds legendary actress Meryl Streep cutting loose like never before as she sings, dances, and riffs her way through the greatest hits from ABBA.
Ably supported by an A-list cast of singers and actors, including Amanda Seyfried, Pierce Brosnan, and Colin Firth, the film balances exuberant comedy and song-and-dance numbers with a strong emotional core.
Audiences follow a young bride-to-be, who on the eve of her wedding invites three strange men to her house. All are ex-lovers of her mother, and one of them is her father. What follows is an uproarious comedy of errors set against the gorgeous background of the Greek Island of Kalokairi.
7. Beauty and the Beast (2017)
Musical Romantic Fantasy | IMDb: 7.2 | RT: 71%
The classic Disney animation finds new life with this 2017 live-action adaptation. Based on the 18th-century fairy tale about a young maiden forced to live with a frightening beast in his castle, the movie faithfully recreates the air of enchantment that made the original Disney cartoon an instant classic.
Directed by Bill Condon, the movie stars Emma Watson and Dan Stevens as the eponymous characters. Along with critical acclaim, Beauty and the Beast received a great response at the box office. It is currently the 14th highest grossing film of all time.
Discover More Interesting Netflix Content
There is a staggering amount of content on Netflix, with more being added each day. If you’re unsure about navigating the labyrinthine website on your own, check out our our ultimate guide to Netflix to make sense of it all.
As well as musicals, Netflix also has a large collection of documentaries. They range far and wide in terms of genres, and have something to offer everyone. If you have a hankering to see what lies beyond your own city, you can travel the whole world with the best travel documentaries to watch on Netflix.