OpinionStage

Top Ten Original Broadway Musical Soundtracks

Nora Dominick ‘17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

The 68th Annual Tony Awards are this Sunday at 8pm on CBS. In preparation for Broadway’s biggest night, Emertainment Monthly has decided to countdown the top ten original Broadway musical soundtracks. Keep reading to see if your favorites made the cut!

10. Ragtime

The cover art of the original Broadway cast recording of Ragtime.
The cover art of the original Broadway cast recording of Ragtime.

With music by Stephen Flaherty and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, Ragtime has found its place amongst classic Broadway shows. The original Broadway cast recording features Audra McDonald as Sarah, Brian Stokes Mitchell as Coalhouse Walker Jr., Peter Friedman as Tateh, Lea Michele as Little Girl and numerous others. The 2-Disc original cast album features 38 original songs.  With a cast of 59 people, the cast album is dominated by ensemble numbers. The booming ensemble numbers have landed the show amongst Broadway royalty. Its 9 minute opening number entitled “Prologue: Ragtime” is an iconic opening number. The musical was nominated for several 1998 Tony Awards and walked away with the award for Best Original Score.

Favorite Songs: “Prologue: Ragtime”, “Your Daddy’s Son”, “Wheels of a Dream” and “Make Them Hear You”

9. Wicked

Idina Menzel in Wicked.
Idina Menzel in Wicked.

With music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, Wicked helped usher in the age of the “musical spectacle” on Broadway. The original Broadway cast album features Idina Menzel as Elphaba, Kristin Chenoweth, Norbert Leo Butz as Fiyero, Joel Grey as the Wizard, Carole Shelley as Madame Morrible, John Horton as Doctor Dillamond, Michelle Federer as Nessarose and Kirk McDonald as Boq. The original cast album features 19 original songs. The music showcases Menzel and Chenoweth’s incredible vocal ranges in several key songs. The songs have become iconic and the show continues to run to this day (recently celebrating its 10th anniversary). The musical was nominated for several 2004 Tony Awards including Best Original Score and Best Musical.

Favorite Songs: “As Long As You’re Mine”, “No Good Deed”, “Popular”, “For Good”, “Defying Gravity” and “What Is This Feeling?”

8. South Pacific

The cover art of the original Broadway cast recording of South Pacific.
The cover art of the original Broadway cast recording of South Pacific.

With music by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, South Pacific is a classic and showcase the incredible talent of the Rodgers and Hammerstein duo. The original Broadway cast album features Mary Martin as Nellie Forbush, Ezio Pinza as Emile de Becque, William Tabbert as Lt. Joseph Cable, Betta St. John as Liat, Juanita Hall as Bloody Mary and many others. The original cast recording features 20 original songs. The musicals music has become a staple in the Broadway community and continues to be rediscovered by new generations of musical lovers. The musical has been revived most recently at Lincoln Center in 2008 starring Kelli O’Hara as Nellie Forbush and Matthew Morrison as Lt. Joseph Cable. The musical has won several Tony Awards over the years including the 1950 Tony Awards for Best Original Score and Best Musical and the 2008 Tony Award for Best Musical Revival.

Favorite Songs: “There is Nothin’ Like a Dame”, “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair”, “Wonderful Guy”, “Happy Talk” and “You’ve Got To Be Happily Taught”

7. In the Heights

The cover art of the original Broadway cast recording of In The Heights.
The cover art of the original Broadway cast recording of In The Heights.

With music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, In the Heights brought Washington Heights, NYC to the 2008 Broadway season. The original Broadway cast album features Lin-Manuel Miranda as Usnavi, Seth Stewart as Graffiti Pete, Olga Merediz as Abuela Claudia, Janet Dacal as Carla, Christopher Jackson as Benny, Andrea Burns as Daniela and numerous others. This musical is driven by the ensemble cast as their musical numbers that dominate the cast album. The original cast album features 23 original songs from the genius Miranda. The energy the songs radiate comes through when you listen to this cast recording. the ensembles love for the music shows. The musical was nominated for several 2008 Tony Awards and took home the award for Best Original Score, Best Orchestrations and Best Musical.

Favorite Songs: “Breathe”, “When You’re Home”, “Everything I Know” and “Champagne”

6. Spring Awakening

The cover art of the original Broadway cast recording of Spring Awakening.
The cover art of the original Broadway cast recording of Spring Awakening.

With music by Duncan Sheik and lyrics by Steven Sater, this rock musical took the 2006 Broadway season by storm. The original Broadway cast album features Lea Michele as Wendla, Jonathan Groff as Melchior, John Gallagher Jr. as Moritz, Skylar Astin as Georg and many more. The ensemble numbers in this show coupled with Sheik’s rock music have landed it amongst Broadway elite. The original cast recording features 20 original songs. The controversial lyrics rocked Off-Broadway and eventually Broadway in 2006. The music helped propel Groff, Michele and Gallagher to Broadway stardom. The musical was nominated for several 2007 Tony Awards and won awards for Best Original Score and Best Musical.

Favorite Songs: “Mama Who Bore Me”, “Totally F**ked”, “Whispering”, “Those You’ve Known” and “Bitch of Living”

5. Into the Woods

The cover art of the original Broadway cast recording of Into The Woods.
The cover art of the original Broadway cast recording of Into The Woods.

With music and lyrics by the talented Stephen Sondheim, Into the Woods became an instant classic. The original Broadway cast album features Bernadette Peters as the Witch, Kim Crosby as Cinderella, Ben Wright as Jack, Chip Zien as the Baker, Joanna Gleason as the Baker’s Wife, Kay McClelland as Florinda, Robert Westenberg as the Wolf and many others. The Original Cast recording features 22 songs that help bring the fairy tales we think we know to life. These songs showcase the talent of the cast effortlessly and Sondheim’s incredible musicality. The show has been revived once on Broadway in 2002 with Vanessa Williams, Laura Benanti and John McMartin. The musical was nominated for several 1988 Tony Awards and took home the award for Best Original Score.

Favorite Songs: “I Know Things Now”, “Last Midnight”, “Agony”, “On the Steps of the Palace” and “Giants in the Sky”

4. Les Miserables

The cover art of the original Broadway cast recording of Les Miserables.
The cover art of the original Broadway cast recording of Les Miserables.

With music by Claude-Michel Schönberg, Les Miserables has secured its place amongst Broadway elite. The original Broadway cast album features Colm Wilkinson as Valjean, Terrence Mann as Javert, Randy Gaff as Fantine, Frances Ruffelle as Eponine, Leo Burmester as Thenardier, Jennifer Butt as Madame Thenardier, David Bryant as Marius, Judy Kuhn as Cosette and Michael Maguire as Enjolras. The 2-Disc Original Cast recording from 1987 consists of 33 songs that bring the French revolutionary period to life. These songs are iconic to Broadway because of this original cast. The huge ensemble numbers are a classic and come through perfectly on the cast recording. The show has been revived twice on Broadway, once in 2006 and now in 2014. The songs have been sung by numerous Broadway stars and continue to be popular today. It was nominated for several 1987 Tony Awards and won an award for Best Original Score and Best Musical.

Favorite Songs: “One Day More”, “On My Own”, “I Dreamed a Dream” “Empty Chairs At Empty Tables” and “Bring Him Home”

3. The Bridges of Madison County

Kelli O'Hara and Steven Pasquale in The Bridges of Madison County. Photo Credit: Broadway.com.
Kelli O’Hara and Steven Pasquale in The Bridges of Madison County. Photo Credit: Broadway.com.

With music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown, The Bridges of Madison County became a throwback to the “Broadway Golden Age” during the 2013-2014 Broadway season. The original Broadway cast album features Kelli O’Hara as Francesca, Steven Pasquale as Robert, Hunter Foster as Bud, Derek Klena as Michael, Caitlin Kinnunen as Carolyn, Cass Morgan as Marge, Michael X. Martin as Charlie and Whitney Bashor as Marian. The original cast recording features 20 songs that combine Midwestern folk with Italian opera. The cats shines on this cast recording as their voices perfectly blend together. The soundtrack debuted at #86 on the Billboard soundtrack charts and climbed its way to the top. It regained that spot for a week after the musical closed on May 18, 2014. The Bridges of Madison County is currently nominated for several 2014 Tony Awards including Best Original Score and Orchestration.

Favorite Songs: “One Second and A Million Miles”, “It All Fades Away”, “To Build a Home” and “Another Life”

2. Rent

The original Broadway cast of Rent.
The original Broadway cast of Rent.

With music and lyrics by the incredibly talented Jonathan Larson, Rent swept across the Great White Way and has become a classic. The original Broadway cast featured on this 2 Disc Album includes Anthony Rapp as Mark, Adam Pascal as Roger, Daphne Rubin-Vega as Mimi, Jesse L. Martin as Tom, Wilson Jermaine Heredia as Angel, Fredi Walker as Joanne, Idina Menzel as Maureen and Taye Diggs as Benjamin. This 2-Disc Original Cast Recording features 43 songs that exemplify the HIV/AIDS epidemic and poverty in NYC during the late 1980s. The passion in the voices of the casts comes to life in this cast recording. Sadly, Larson never had the chance to see his masterpiece as he died unexpectedly the morning of Rent’s first preview Off-Broadway in 1996. His legacy lives on and will live on through this cast recording as a new generation discovers the music. Rent took home several 1996 Tony Awards including Best Original Score for Larson and Best Musical.

Favorite Songs: “Seasons of Love”, “One Song Glory”, “La Vie Boheme”, “Take Me or Leave Me”, “Light My Candle” and “I’ll Cover You”

1. Next to Normal

Kyle Dean Massey, Alice Ripley and J. Robert Spencer in Next to Normal. Photo Credit: Broadway.com.
Kyle Dean Massey, Alice Ripley and J. Robert Spencer in Next to Normal. Photo Credit: Broadway.com.

With book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey and music by Tom Kitt, this rock musical took Broadway by storm in 2009. The original Broadway cast featured on this 2 Disc Cast Album consists of Alice Ripley as Diana, J. Robert Spencer as Dan, Jennifer Damiano as Natalie, Adam Chanler-Berat as Henry and Aaron Tveit as Gabe. This 37 song 2-Disc Album climbed to the top of the Billboard Soundtrack Charts after its release. The songs effortlessly blend together and tell a complete and moving story. Next to Normal took home the 2009 Tony Award for Best Original Score and Best Orchestration.

Favorite Songs: “I’m Alive”, “Light”, “Superboy and the Invisible Girl” and “Just Another Day”

Remember to watch the 68th Annual Tony Award on Sunday June 8th at 8pm on CBS to see which new musical will take home Best Original Score.

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4 Comments

  1. Seriously?!?!?? 3, 5, and 7???? How could ANY list of top original Broadway cast albums NOT include “Funny Girl,” “Annie Get Your Gun,” “La Cage aux Folles,” OR “My Fair Lady”???? Leaving ANY of these four from the list erases any credibility of the author and the list! I can’t argue that all ten of the listed were good cast albums (they were!); but, “In the Heights,” “Into the Woods,” and “The Bridges of Madison County” have no place in the TOP TEN whatsoever! I could also question “Spring Awakening” and “Next to Normal” being in the Top 10. I might include them in the Top 20, but top 10 is stretching it…. ESPECIALLY when NONE of the four I listed can be found on the list!

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