Broadway is synonymous with the rich history of musical theatre in America. If you’re visiting NYC from abroad, what better way to learn about America than seeing a quintessentially “American” Broadway musical? And if you’re coming here from somewhere else in the United States, why not celebrate your own culture by seeing one of these shows? Each has been selected by New York Online as an “All-American” musical, either because it portrays a key aspect of American culture or has a unique place in American theatre history.
Follow The Temptations on their rise from the streets of Detroit to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. This high energy, fast-paced jukebox musical garnered 12 Tony nominations—the second-highest total of any show this year.
Why it’s All-American: Motown holds a key place in American music history. It brought soul music to the masses, integrated black and white pop music, and was the soundtrack of the 60’s. No group embodied the Motown sound more than the Temptations, and their story is a true rags-to-riches story of the American Dream. This show and its talented cast delivers pure American entertainment, with a string of songs from the Temptations’ expansive catalog of Top Ten Hits, including “My Girl,” “Just My Imagination,” and “Papa Was a Rolling Stone,” as well as other Motown hits of the era.
Rogers & Hammerstein’s beloved classic frontier musical finds new depth in this production, which Time Magazine called “the #1 theatrical event of 2018.”
Why it’s All-American: If “The Great Gatsby” is the Great American Novel, then surely “Oklahoma!” is the Great American Musical. But heads-up: this production is not your grandparents' or your parents' “Oklahoma!” — it’s a stripped-down, provocative exploration of the darker subtexts of the show and frontier life. Americans have never been very sentimental – our country is too young for that – and we tend to tear things down just so we can build them right back up again, only taller. That’s this production in a nutshell. Everything about this show screams America: from the 7-piece country band, to the Bud Lights being popped on stage, to the barn dance-style set with gun racks lining the walls, and then the clincher: the audience is fed free chili and cornbread onstage at intermission. Top to bottom, this show is America in all its big-hearted, worrisome glory.
Tickets: Oklahoma!, from $62
A musical crime-drama / comedy satire. Two vaudevillian murderesses awaiting trial in Jazz-age Chicago compete for the public’s attention as their lawyer corrupts the judicial process.
1) With one show-stopping Kander & Ebb song after another and super-stylish Bob Fosse choreography, “Chicago” is the epitome of American cool.
2) Vaudeville ruled American theatre from the 1880’s into the 1920’s and has been called “the heart of American show business.” “Chicago” plants its heroines Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart (could there be two more American names?) firmly in the glamorous and seedy vaudeville tradition.
3) “Chicago” holds the title of “Longest-running American musical in Broadway History.” It’s a winner, and America loves a winner (or a loser pretending to be a winner).
Tickets: Chicago, from $62