Since 2013, NBC has been treating viewers to annual live productions of some of Broadway’s most successful shows, including The Sound of Music, Peter Pan, and The Wiz, each of which drew in phenomenal ratings. It seems the trend of bringing Broadway’s biggest hits to the small screen is not going away any time soon, as Fox aired their successful live production of Grease in January and NBC is set to broadcast Hairspray Live! next month and Bye Bye Birdie Live! in 2017. There are countless musicals in Broadway’s rich history to choose to adapt to TV, but we’ve compiled a wish list of ones that would have our eyes glued to the screen.
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s record-breaking, Tony-winning smash hit would dominate ratings if it were to be broadcast live. Hamilton is the hottest sensation on Broadway today, with tickets for the show hard to come by, therefore making it available to millions of viewers at home would draw in staggeringly impressive ratings. Famed for its unique fusion of hip-hop and rap music while telling the story of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, this show has become a cultural phenomenon and would be among the most popular of live productions.
Since it premiered on Broadway in 2003, Wicked has been a staple of the Gershwin Theatre and a fan-favorite musical. Smart casting for this production will be the key to success, as original leading ladies Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth left some very big shoes to fill as the witches of Oz, Elphaba and Glinda. If they were to reprise their roles, Wicked Live! has the potential to be one of the network’s most-watched programs and could surely defy gravity.
The Lion King
Broadway’s highest-grossing production is known for its incredible costume design and makeup work that transforms human performers into animals of the African savanna. Adapted from the 1994 animated Disney movie, The Lion King could draw in viewers of all ages who either fell in love with the story growing up or by watching it with kids of their own. The story, costumes, and music would be the backbone of the show, which could allow the casting choices to be less mainstream Hollywood. That said, however, Broadway veteran Nathan Lane should be first choice to play the funny, fast-talking meerkat Timon, whom he voiced in the film.
The Music Man
The Music Man would bring an old-fashioned flair to live productions, as the musical originally premiered on Broadway in 1957 to much success. The story focuses on con man Harold, who winds up getting more than he bargains for while posing as a sales man of band instruments and uniforms in a small Iowa town. It’s a feel-good show complete with romance and famed songs like “Gary, Indiana,” “Til There Was You,” and “Seventy-Six Trombones.”
The Phantom of the Opera
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s iconic musical has been an international phenomenon since it premiered in London 30 years ago. While the plot is much darker and mature than the other shows on this list, it remains beloved and wildly popular around the world, making it an obvious contender for a live broadcast. The Phantom of the Opera has already been adapted into a feature film, but watching it on TV live would feel more authentic to the stage production than watching as a movie.