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    10 Underrated Musicals You Really Need To Listen To Before Broadway Is Back

    Nature is healing!

    1. In the Light

    Broadway Records

    In the Light is a musical based on Faustian legend. Written by Michael Mott, it tells the story of Dr. Johann Faustus, an astronomer convicted of blasphemy by the Holy Inquisition. After fleeing to the small town of Hertz, he meets a fellow free-thinker, Gretchen, and they plot to overthrow the Inquisition. This musical takes an old story and makes it captivating with a new twist. The cast recording stars familiar musical theatre favorites such as Jeremy Jordan (Dr. Johann Faustus), Ciara Renée (Ana Faustus), Solea Pfeiffer (Gretchen Wagner), and Antonio Cipriano (Valentine Engel).

    2. Songs for a New World

    Masterworks Broadway

    Songs for a New World toes the line between song cycle and musical, but whatever you call it, the songs will make you laugh and cry. SFANW doesn’t have a linear plot but rather follows four people, simply called Woman 1, Woman 2, Man 1, and Man 2, as they sing a series of songs connected by one common theme: the moment of decision. The cast recording features a mix of laugh out loud songs like "Surabaya Santa" and heart-breaking ones like "Flying Home." I’m partial to the 2018 New York City Center recording, but the original off-Broadway recording is great too!

    3. Starry

    Broadway Records

    Starry is a musical based on letters exchanged between Vincent van Gogh and his brother Theo. It tells the story of the brothers in 1800s France as they navigate art, love, and happiness. In my opinion, no one captures the essence of the musical better than a reviewer who wrote, “this whole album feels like a dying golden hour… heavy and red just before the sun goes down." The songs are beautiful and a wonderful testament to the emotions that the Starry Night evoke.

    4. 36 Questions

    Two-Up Productions

    36 Questions is a podcast musical that tells the story of Jase and Natalie as they attempt to save their marriage using the 36 questions that lead to love. Told in three parts, the musical is equal parts hilarious and heart breaking and has you laughing and crying right alongside Jase and Natalie. While the songs are enjoyable alone, I highly recommend listening to the whole podcast as it makes the story feel much more immersive and real. The podcast format and pop song sound also make 36 Questions a great first foray into musical theatre for anyone who doesn't typically like musicals.

    5. Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812

    Reprise Records

    The Great Comet is a pop opera based on a 70-page excerpt from Leo Tolstoy's classic Russian novel War and Peace. While there are many characters and storylines in the musical, the main story centers young, already engaged socialite Natasha as the wealthy suitor Anatole purses her. The unconventional musical opened on Broadway in 2017, but it had a short stint due to low ticket sales and a bit of controversy surrounding casting decisions. The songs are a nice blend between pop and opera and the sung-through, narrative style make it almost like listening to a modern, revamped version of a War and Peace audiobook.

    6. Everybody's Talking About Jamie

    Wilton Way Records

    With the movie set to come out later this year and a U.S. production date set for 2022, now is the perfect time for everybody to be talking about Everybody's Talking About Jamie. This musical centers Jamie, an ambitious and spirited teen determined to escape his small town and become a drag queen. Jamie navigates bullies and doubters as he delves into the world of drag queens with his best friend Pritti, ever-supportive mom, and mentor Hugo by his side. The upbeat songs and John McCrea's skillful performance are sure to have you rooting for Jamie the entire musical.

    7. Gun & Powder

    Signature Theatre

    While Gun and Powder has yet to release a cast recording, there are many great videos on YouTube showcasing the beautiful songs this show has to offer. Set in Texas in the late 1800s, Gun and Powder is the story of Black twins Mary and Martha as they travel through the South passing as white in order to settle their mother's debt. The book and lyrics are written by Angelica Cheri and based off her own family history and her research into the true story of Mary and Martha Clarke. The musical features songs with themes such as trauma, sisterhood, race, and hope. Though there hasn't been any news yet, I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a Broadway run.

    8. The Mad Ones

    Stony Plain Records

    The Mad Ones, formerly known as The Unauthorized Autobiography of Samantha Brown, centers grief-stricken teen Samantha Brown as she mourns the death of her best friend Kelly and grapples with what to do with her life. Told in a single moment as Sam sits in Kelly's car and remembers her friend, The Mad Ones is about grief, growing up, and what it means to be "mad to live." Krystina Alabado and Emma Hunton's dynamic as Sam and Kelly, respectively, is perfectly embodied in songs such as "Go Tonight" and the cast recording as a whole.

    9. Between the Lines

    Samsel/Anderson

    Between the Lines was set to open off-Broadway before the COVID-19 pandemic, but unfortunately was postponed. While there isn't a cast recording yet, the good news is you can still watch performances of some of the songs on YouTube. Between the Lines is based off the book of the same name by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer and follows Delilah, an avid reader, who escapes her problems at home and school by reading her favorite story. One night, as Delilah is reading and wishing her life resembled a fairytale, the prince from her book jumps out and joins her world. The songs are fun and a bit over the top at times, but still include deeper themes of family and finding your place in the world.

    10. Write Out Loud

    Write Out Loud Project / Via writeoutloudcontest.com

    Okay, this is not technically a musical, but since it includes songs from various musical theatre writers, I'm including it. Write Out Loud is a musical theatre song-writing competition started by Broadway actress Taylor Louderman. Writers have the chance to have their songs recorded in a studio and performed live by a Broadway actor at Feinstein's/54 Below. While some songs like Joriah Kwame's "Little Miss Perfect" were TikTok hits with millions of views, songs like "Regardless" and "Samson" deserve just as much love.

    Did we miss one of your favorites? Let us know some of your favorite underrated musicals in the comments below!

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