An Insider’s Guide to the Best Movie Musicals

Struggling to find something to watch with your relatives while they’re in town for the holidays?

We asked local director and actress Kelly Doherty (who brought down the house as Miss Trunchbull in Firstm Stage’s production of Matilda last year) which Hollywood adaptations of Broadway musicals really sing, and which ones strike a discordant note.

The Best

The Wiz

1978

“This one has only gotten better with every subsequent viewing. It will make you laugh. It will make you cry. It will make you want to get up and dance.”

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Hedwig and the Angry Inch

2001

“Compelling story with beautiful music and beautiful performances. I never get tired of watching this one.”

The Sound of Music

1965

“In this instance, I wholeheartedly believe the film adaptation outshines the stage production by leaps and bounds. Filled with songs you’ll be humming for days and so much heart you can’t help but fall in love with these characters.”

The Worst

The Phantom of the Opera

2004

“While there were some redeeming qualities (I’m looking at you, Minnie Driver and Patrick Wilson), it wasn’t enough to save us from having to listen to poor Gerard Butler sing ‘Music of the Night.’”

Cats

2019

“Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”


This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s November issue.

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Lindsey Anderson covers culture for Milwaukee Magazine. Before joining the MilMag team she worked as an editor at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and wrote freelance articles for ArtSlant and Eater.