Top 10 Broadway Shows of 2023
Lists, Theater

Top 10 Broadway Shows of 2023

Before there was TV and film, there was the theater. People were allowed to don a costume and take on a completely different personality, all in the name of entertaining others.

For many decades now, Broadway has captivated the hearts and souls of people the world over. Taking in a show at the heart of New York City is an experience like no other.

In 2023, Broadway saw Sondheim revisited, new jukebox musicals, some fun originals, and a few captivating plays. The music, sets, characters, performances, and staging took us all to worlds beyond our imaginations and helped us forget the world outside the theater doors for a while.

Without further ado, in no particular order, here are our picks for the Top 10 Broadway Shows of 2023.

1. Parade
Micaela Diamond and Ben Platt in Parade
Miceala Diamond and Ben Platt Parade (Photo Credit: Joan Marcus)

In a year when antisemitism was on the rise, the premise of Parade felt extremely timely. Covering the tragic story of Leo Frank, who, in 1913 Atlanta, was falsely accused of murdering one of his young workers, and how he was later lynched by a mob. All of which led to a resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan.

The music is hauntingly beautiful and forces audience members to consider their own thoughts, emotions, and viewpoints on such topics as bigotry. With a book by Alfred Uhry and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown, the show turned heads during its original run in 1998 and then again this year — garnering multiple Tony Awards.

The immensely talented Ben Platt, Dear Evan Hansen and The Politician, took on the heartbreaking role of Leo Frank, giving further emotional layers to an already emotionally driven character. Joined onstage by Micaela Diamond as Leo’s wife, Lucille, the duo kept our hearts aching for them from start to finish.

2. Shucked
Alex Newell Shucked
Alex Newell Shucked (Photo Credit: Sara Krulwich)

If you love corn then this musical is the one for you. A show that doesn’t take itself too seriously as it winds its way through the story of a town trying to save their corn crop.

When Maizy and Beau go to get married their ceremony causes the corn crops to fail. Through a series of ridiculous incidents, the town witnesses the breaking up and reconciliation of the happy couple when they finally make it to the alter.

The story is filled to the brim with comedy, romance, and charming characters. It’s the bright spot of laughter and corn in a seemingly bleak world.

The songs are catchy, silly, and will get your toe tapping. In fact, performances by Grey Henson, Taylor Trensch, Alex Newell (Glee and Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist), Caroline Innerbichler, and Kevin Cahoon are what got this fun filled musical multiple Tony Award nominations with Alex Newell being the first nonbinary actor to win Best Featured Actor in a Musical.

3. Back to the Future
Roger Bart and Casey Likes Back to the Future
Roger Bart and Casey Likes Back to the Future (Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman)

Everyone knows the classic movie series: Back to the Future well now you can experience it on a Broadway stage.

In 2023, the award-winning musical was brought across the pond from London to transport, amaze, and entertain American audiences. Marty McFly (Casey Likes) and Doc Brown (Roger Bart) took audiences by storm within the first few weeks of it opening at the Winter Garden Theatre.

Using a mixture of pop culture references, familiar characters, and catchy 80s style tunes, this musical takes movie adaptations to a whole new dimenision. The staging also gives audiences the feel that they are traveling through time right along with Marty and the Doc.

The musical only received lukewarm reviews from critics, but it’s the average audience members who determine the show’s success — and they are loving it. Who said nostalgia can’t sell tickets?

4. Merrily We Roll Along
Lindsay Mendez, Jonathan Groff, and Daniel Radcliffe in Merrily We Roll Along 2023
Lindsay Mendez, Jonathan Groff, and Daniel Radcliffe Merrily We Roll Along (Photo Credit: Joan Marcus)

When you hear the names Jonathan Groff and Daniel Radcliffe, chances are the first thing you think of isn’t going to be a Sondheim musical on Broadway. In fact, most likely you will think of their numerous TV and film acting credits.

However, the magic of Sondheim’s revived Merrily We Roll Along would be nothing without the shining talents of Groff and Radcliffe along with their stage and scene partner, Lindsay Mendez.

Considering it is a story told in reverse, the plot should be difficult to follow, or even care about. And yet, the charm of these three actors pulls you in and makes you believe that there is something worth sticking around for — even if Groff’s Franklin Shepard comes off as egotistical and conceited from the start.

The music is of that classic Sondheim sound, which coincidentally gets stuck in your brain all the while. The production is doing the exact opposite of the original staging (which was a flop) having just extended through July.

We see a possible Tony Award in the cards for Groff or Radcliffe.

5. Good Night, Oscar
Sean Hayes Good Night, Oscar
Sean Hayes Good Night, Oscar (Photo Credit: Joan Marcus)

The indelible Sean Hayes (Will & Grace) starred in the dramatic comedy centered on the comedian, Oscar Levant. This play, Good Night, Oscar was inspired by a The Tonight Show appearance in 1958.

Oscar Levant is a performer many people had never heard of before this play took center stage. However, the man had a career as a character actor, pianist, and all-around wild card, most famous for his witty one-liners.

This play explores a particular moment in Levant’s life, but touches upon his career overall with an astounding performance by Hayes as the slightly dysfunctional man. In fact, Hayes won the Tony Award for his performance.

6. How to Dance in Ohio
The Cast of How to Dance in Ohio
The Cast of How to Dance in Ohio (Photo Credit: Curtis Brown)

In a time of acceptance, inclusion, and diversity, How to Dance in Ohio is breaking down barriers and creating real change on performance at a time. Starring seven autistic actors, the show dives into the complexities of growing up and creating a future for yourself in Columbus, Ohio when the world around you is betting against you.

One of the few original scores on this list, the show tells the true story of a group of teens and their parents as they navigate the ins and outs of life in preparation for a spring formal dance. This musical gives audiences hope, love, and acceptance one fun family number after another.

Based on a documentary of the same name, these teens show the world that they can find happiness and themselves through the act of putting on a dance at their school. This musical might be one of the newer releases of 2023, but it is already turning heads and bound to garner a few Tony Award Nominations.

7. Sweeney Todd
Josh Groban Annaleigh Ashford Sweeney Todd
Josh Groban Annaleigh Ashford Sweeney Todd (Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman)

Another Sondheim classic to make a triumphant return to Broadway in 2023, Sweeney Todd with Josh Groban (Sweeney Todd) and Annaleigh Ashford (Mrs. Lovett) at the helm took us all by surprise. At first glance the casting choices for these two iconic characters seemed to be entirely out of left field, especially considering Ashford’s preponderance for roles of a more cheery nature.

However, their take on roles that have already been cemented in history by a multitude of familiar faces, was fresh and new. Which is something this classic tale needed after years of the same nuances time and time again.

Everyone knows the tale of a man who returns to London only to find out his daughter is being treated poorly and so he goes on a path of revenge with the help of the chaotic Mrs. Lovett. What makes this production stand out is the chemistry between Groban and Ashford as well as Ashford and Gaten Matarazzo (Stranger Things) who played Tobias.

With a new set of leading roles coming into the show in February this production is set to continue turning heads for a little while longer.

8. Once Upon a One More Time
Briga Heelan, Emily Skinner, Tess Soltau, and Mimi Scardulla Once Upon a One More Time
Briga Heelan, Emily Skinner, Tess Soltau, and Mimi Scardulla Once Upon a One More Time (Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy)

Everyone knows the music made iconic by Pop Princess: Britney Spears. Now, imagine these catchy tunes put to a plot about princesses becoming feminists and taking back their narrative. Behold, you have the story of Once Upon a One More Time.

What starts off as a princess reading group turns into a tale of magic, self-actualization, self-discovery, and feminism as this group of princesses learn they have the power to determine their path in life. After all, this might be a man’s world, but women can do just as much if not more than the men next to them.

By repurposing the lyrics of some of Spears’ greatest hits, this jukebox musical hits all the right notes and gives audiences that fun, sassy escape we all deserve. Just because you are a princess doesn’t mean you have to rely on a prince to save the day.

9. Grey House
Cast of Grey House
Cast of Grey House (Photo Credit: Sara Krulwich)

In 2023, Broadway tried something new — a horror play that pushed the boundaries of our imaginations (and psyches). Grey House both astounded and terrified us with its sinister plot and breathtaking set and lighting design.

With the star studded cast Laurie Metcalf (The Conners), Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black), Paul Sparks, and Sophia Anne Caruso this show took us on a journey toward some of the most unthinkably frightening experiences to ever grace a Broadway stage. Following a car accident, a couple takes shelter in an isolated cabin that breaks them down and makes them question what they know to be real as the hours turn into days.

While true horror is hard to accomplish using the magic of theater, this play did its best to accomplish that. Despite the mixed reviews from critics, there was one thing no one could deny, the performances were out of this world making the show a true hit.

10. Here Lies Love
Conrad Ricamora Here Lies Love
Conrad Ricamora Here Lies Love (Photo Credit: Sara Crulwich)

While the actual story of Here Lies Love is extremely questionable, it’s about the life of Imelda Marcos, a Filipino politician (read dictator); what puts this show on the map is the music and set.

In fact, for this show to open at the Broadway Theatre, there had to be a complete renovation and overhaul of the theatre itself. Seats were taken out of the orchestra to make room for a dance floor and a few dozen standing audience members.

This show also boasted an all-Filipino cast, which added to the authenticity of the story being told. With music that gives off a disco-pop vibe, audiences are drawn into a club scene that allows them to be part of the show.

With a cast that includes Conrad Ricamora (How to Get Away With Murder), Arielle Jacobs, and Jose Llana audiences were easily transported to another time and place.

 

What Broadway shows did you see this year? Which ones were your favorite? Let us know in the comments below.

 

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Mads is a part-time entertainment journalist and full-time marketing content creator. They love reading the latest in Queer novels -- especially romance ones and watching the latest dramas, sci-fi/fantasy, Star Wars, and romcom films/TV shows. You can join the conversation by following them on Twitter: @dorothynyc89.

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