5 Underrated Musicals

Try these out if you’re tired of cycling through the same old chorus lines

Tired of hearing all about Alexander Hamilton’s life, a haunted opera house and the French Revolution? Got titles from fellow musical enthusiasts only to find yourself memorizing every single line in the album and YouTube bootleg all over again? Keep looking for the next new musical to be hyped up about and put on the recommendations within the music app of your choice? Well, maybe the spotlights are just blinding you from finding some hidden gems.

Of course there are the classic theater kid musicals of “Les Miserables,” “Phantom of the Opera,” “Chicago” and “Rent” taking up plenty of space on Broadway playlists⁠—and for good reasons. However, in the last few years, newer musicals have seen a spike in interest with theater kids and artists alike hooking on to inspiration from modern stage hits such as “Hamilton,” “Dear Evan Hansen” and “Heathers.” Recently, even TikTokers have been latching onto the “Beetlejuice” Broadway album. However, with these hits taking center stage, a lot of smaller musicals get drowned out.

So, if you’re looking for a fresh vocal palate cleanser or new musical obsession, here are five soundtracks to add to your playlist.

1. “Twenty-One Chump Street”

“Twenty-One Chump Street” is a one-act musical that puts Lin-Manuel Miranda’s famous beats and lyricism in a neat, little 14-minute package. Based on a true story, the show follows a lovestruck honor student as he pursues a new transfer student with the use of a prom proposal, a cousin and … weed?

Somehow, within the span of what’s pretty much a tenth of the length of “Hamilton” and a cast of two people⁠—not including the narrator or ensemble⁠—Miranda still finds a way to get the audience attached to the main character, before going straight for the heart. This little musical is enough proof that it really doesn’t take a big, flashy production to capture people. All it takes is a good story and a bit of inspiration.

2. “The Count of Monte Cristo”

This musical is a pretty good fit to those who have been listening to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Phantom of the Opera” for the last 30 years. Based on the novel, “The Count of Monte Cristo” is another play with the fun formula of romance, drama and a whole lot of betrayal. However, the winding plot and corrupt characters are enough to keep musical fans leaning in to find out what happens next when love is shattered by a traitor’s lust.

If a story where love rises and dies before being reborn from the pyre of death, secrets and lies, sounds appealing to you, this is the play for it.

3. “Be More Chill”

High school struggles have been a trend in recent musicals. Then again, with theater kids making up a fair amount of the listening population, can you really be surprised to find out that this show is known for having a song that provides listeners a peek at what an anxiety attack feels like?

Not to fear, though⁠—this show also reveals the solution to all your awkward, anxious social outcast problems, the SQUIP. It’s a supercomputer that teaches you to, well…be more chill. All it takes is following a few simple instructions here and there, and, with the SQUIP’s help, you can go from the bottom of the food chain to being king of the school and man of your crush’s dreams in a matter of weeks. Though, this wouldn’t be a very good story if it didn’t come with some risky side effects, of course.

4. “The Lightning Thief”

If you’re not into musicals based on novels from the 1800s to early 1900s, maybe this blast from the more recent past will appeal to you a bit more. If the title sounds familiar, it might be because it’s based on the first book in Rick Riordan’s book series, “Percy Jackson and the Olympians.”

As many Riordan fans would agree, the movie did not live up to the fandom’s expectations. This musical, however, does not disappoint. With humorous numbers and the same quirky characters you know and love, this show stays loyal to its source material. Plus, if you think your family life is crazy, these demigods get it and at least you can sing along to your angsty struggles of trying to be a good kid, but it not going quite right.

5. “Hadestown”

For other mythology fans looking to get a taste of a more mature and modern retelling of an ancient myth, there’s always this rendition of the tale of Orpheus’ journey through the underworld. For anyone familiar with the original tale, it will come to no surprise that this story ends with heartbreak.

Set in a post-apocalyptic world based off of the Great Depression, Hermes narrates a tale of love and sorrow, and every emotional cry for help or hope sung by everyone else along the way will send you on a one-way ticket to the heart of the story in a way that no other rendition has.