If you can tell the story of Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr and the Schuyler sisters in your sleep, don’t throw away your shot to learn more about these other musicals that share some of the rebellious, game-changing nature of the Founding Father and everyone’s favorite fighting Frenchman.
1. In the Heights
Before “Hamilton,” there was “Heights,” Lin-Manuel Miranda’s debut Broadway show about a tight-knit community in New York City’s Washington Heights neighborhood. Miranda played bodega owner Usnavi, and Chris Jackson (George Washington in Hamilton) also has a major role in the show.
2. Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk
“Funk” is a groundbreaking musical that debuted in 1996 featuring an all-black creative team. The dance-focused revue traced black history from slavery through the 1990s, and featured Savion Glover as star and choreographer. If you enjoy this one, you should also investigate the 2016 hit “Shuffle Along, or, the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed.”
If your introduction to Broadway was “Hamilton,” you may not yet have discovered the wonders of “Rent,” the musical that took the world by storm in the late 1990s. Miranda credits “Rent” with being a huge influence on his own career, writing in 2014, “‘Rent’ whispered to me, ‘Your stories are just as valid as the ones in the shows you’ve seen.’”
“1776” was the first musical to take on the American Revolution, and its relationship with Hamilton is similar to that of England and the American colonies — “1776” is told in a fun but traditional Broadway style with an all-white cast, while “Hamilton” goes its own way, building an all-new narrative.
5. Kinky Boots
This 2013 musical with music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper is built on a foundation of acceptance. Featuring a cast of drag queens and small-town factory workers, the six-time Tony winning show — which picked up the trophy for Best Musical — is a fun feel-good pop musical.
“Hamilton” wasn’t the only diverse musical to take the stage in 2016. “Allegiance,” featuring George Takei, explored the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. It was the first ever Broadway musical created by, directed by, and starring a mostly Asian-American ensemble.
7. Bring It On
Yes, it’s got the same name as the movie, but this musical tells a new tale of a privileged white high schooler who is redistricted into the inner city (cheerleading does ensue). This musical was also co-written by Miranda.
8. South Pacific
Miranda’s lyrics are a melting pot, and he loves to throw in nods to other shows. When Aaron Burr says, “You’ve got to be carefully taught – if you talk you’re gonna get shot,” he’s referencing “You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught” from “South Pacific,” a Rodgers & Hammerstein examination of racial politics during World War II that is still relevant.
9. Joseph and the Amazing Technical Dreamcoat
“Hamilton” isn’t just hip-hop — it’s got musical influences all over the map, including R&B, boogie-woogie, jazz and power ballads. “Joseph” has a similar mishmash of musical styles from Andrew Lloyd Webber, including rock and roll, country, calypso and French ballads.
Originally a movie starring Nathan Fillion and Keri Russell, “Waitress” was turned into a stage show in 2015, featuring music by pop star Sara Bareilles. Her album of songs from the show hit the top 10, and she is currently starring in the show on Broadway.