The hardest part of writing a hit musical is the music itself, right? Wrong! These jukebox musicals which take their score from popular artists in music history have been Broadway smash hits and stand out from the rest.
Set to the music of 1970s Swedish pop group ABBA, Mamma Mia! tells the story of a young bride longing for her father to walk her down the aisle. The only problem: she doesn’t know who her father is. Enter three of her mother’s past loves–any one of whom could be the father–and plenty of hi-jinks, self-discovery and everlasting love ensue. The musical, which spawned a 2008 film adaptation, ran on Broadway for 14 years, closing in 2015 after nearly 6,000 performances.
Million Dollar Quartet
This biographical show brings audiences into the Sun Records recording studio on a fateful day in 1956 when music superstars Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins came together for the ultimate jam session. Hits like “I Walk the Line,” “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Hound Dog,” and “Great Balls of Fire” are featured in this Tony Award-winning musical that will have everyone up on their feet and dancing along with the men known as the Million Dollar Quartet.
The music of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons is brought to stage in this musical that depicts the group’s rise and fall during the 1960s. The story is told through the perspective of each of the band’s four members: Frankie Valli, Tommy DeVito, Bob Gaudio and Nick Massi. The musical won four Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and was adapted into a film in 2014. The show’s original cast recording, which featured songs like “Sherry,” “Who Loves You,” “December 1963 (Oh, What a Night),” and “Walk Like a Man,” also earned a Grammy for Best Musical Show Album.
Motown the Musical
Berry Gordy’s legendary Motown record label produced some of the greatest songs in American history, which are plentiful in this tribute musical. A total of 66 songs representative of the label are featured in the show, including hits by The Jackson 5, Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations and more. The show ran on Broadway for two years, even earning four Tony Awards nominations, and continues to play in theaters around the country.
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
Singer-songwriter Carole King’s personal and professional life is the focus of this musical, which is currently on Broadway as well as a national tour. King’s influential music, which she wrote much of with ex-husband Gerry Goffin, is featured in the show. Audiences can sing along to hits like “You’ve Got a Friend,” “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” “Some Kind of Wonderful,” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” in this Tony and Grammy Award-winning production.
Rock of Ages
Rock of Ages is the jukebox musical for fans of 1980s rock, featuring a diverse selection of songs from major bands of the time period, including Poison, REO Speedwagon, Bon Jovi, Whitesnake, Journey and more. The audience is transported back to 1987 for a story that follows young artists trying to make it as rock stars. The show had a successful six year run on Broadway and was turned into a 2012 film.
Influential punk-rock band Green Day saw their 2004 album American Idiot become a critical, commercial and cultural phenomenon, which spawned the 2010 Broadway rock opera of the same name. The production won two Tony Awards, a Grammy Award and featured Green Day’s hit songs “Holiday,” “Wake Me Up When September Ends,” “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life),” and “21 Guns.”
This musical set to the music of hit-maker Billy Joel is less of a traditional musical and more of a rock ballet, with an emphasis on dance numbers. All of Joel’s music is performed by a single character-known as the Piano Man in a nod to Joel’s most famous song-while the rest of the characters play out the story through dance. The show earned two Tony Awards among ten nominations, and ran on Broadway for three years to rave reviews.