Critic's Picks: 5 Must-See Musicals (That Are Not 'Hamilton')

6:00 AM 4/14/2016

by David Rooney

THR's lead theater critic names a quintet Broadway standouts — from a ravishing 'Fiddler' revival to Jennifer Hudson's stellar N.Y. stage debut to a foot-stomping chronicle of Gloria Estefan's life and career.

Courtesy of Matthew Murphy
  • The Color Purple

    Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre

    Courtesy of Matthew Murphy

    Transcendent newcomer Cynthia Erivo stars alongside a vocally sensational Jennifer Hudson and a terrific Danielle Brooks (Orange Is the New Black) in John Doyle's glorious reappraisal of the 2005 musical based on Alice Walker's novel. The new production is characterized by its grace, restraint and soaring spirituality.

  • Fiddler on the Roof

    Broadway Theatre

    Courtesy of Joan Marcus

    The theme of forced emigration acquires powerful cumulative pathos in Bartlett Sher's beautiful revival. Led by a performance of aching humanity from Danny Burstein as dairyman Tevye as well as Jessica Hecht's sober take on Tevye's careworn wife, Golde, the production is infused with freshness, intelligence and emotional vitality.

  • On Your Feet!

    Marquis Theatre

    Courtesy of Matthew Murphy

    Charting the rise to superstardom of Gloria Estefan and her triumphant re-emergence after near-tragedy struck, this musical is an infectious account of the lives and careers of the Latin music crossover sensation and her producer-musician husband. Radiant newcomer Ana Villafane gives a star-making lead performance.

  • School of Rock

    Winter Garden Theatre

    Courtesy of Matthew Murphy

    Andrew Lloyd Webber and Julian Fellowes retooled the popular Jack Black/Richard Linklater movie as a stage musical, enlisting a troupe of gifted preteens. The result is dis­arming and often joyous, and lead Alex Brightman delivers a hilarious turn — but the delightful and diverse cast of kid performers is the main draw.

  • She Loves Me

    Studio 54

    Courtesy of Joan Marcus

    Laura Benanti and Zachary Levi play quarreling co-workers unaware that they're amorous pen pals in this enchanting staging of the 1963 musical, which also features Jane Krakowski in top form. Designed as a pastel-colored, art nouveau jewel box, the show has been directed by Scott Ellis with great buoyancy and sophistication.

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