The influx of Broadway shows introducing diverse and nontraditional casting is at an all-time high, and people of the world are finally seeing themselves reflected on The Great White Way.
However, a trip to New York City and tickets to see "Hamilton" the most popular and diverse show on Broadway, may not be readily accessible for all. These shows, available for digital streaming via BroadwayHD, also celebrate the richness and complexity of diverse casting.
A dazzling 1920s Cotton Club-inspired musical revue, based on the work of Duke Ellington, is the perfect place to start. Starring legendary vocalist Phyllis Hyman and Tony Award-winning Broadway star and tap-dancing machine, Hinton Battle, this journey is one to experience. It’s a toe-tapping good time from beginning to end. “Sophisticated Ladies” not only set the standard for a new musical format in a world of traditional book musicals, but also made history as the first Broadway show to be telecast live during its New York run. It’s magic.
‘Romeo & Juliet’
Everyone knows the classic Shakespearean tale of ‘Romeo & Juliet,’ but you've never seen it done quite like this. The 2013 Broadway revival starring Orlando Bloom (“Pirates of the Caribbean” and “Lord of the Rings”) and Broadway starlet Condola Rashad (Showtime’s “Billions”), daughter of “The Cosby Show” matriarch, Phylicia Rashad. The show ran for 93 performances at the Richard Rodgers Theatre but can now run permanently in your home. The consummate cast tells this story with ease and elegance, basing the classic love story around an interracial couple, bringing new elements to the text that will have you enthralled until the very end. You’ll also see more recognizable faces, including Corey Hawkins (“Straight Outta Compton”) and Justin Guarini of “American Idol” fame.
‘Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill’
There are no words to describe how breathtaking six-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald—one of today's most celebrated American theater artists—is as Billie Holiday in this play, which is set in an intimate Philadelphia nightclub in March 1959 during one of the last performances of the troubled icon. Holiday’s classic songs are featured, and there are plenty of laughs, which you need to keep the tears from fully engulfing you. “Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill” is a piece that will leave you with a greater appreciation for storytelling through music. It may even empower you to take on whatever challenges life throws your way.
‘Disney’s Broadway Hits’
A collective of Broadway stars sing a feel-good shuffle through Disney's top musical hits in concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall. You’ll hear classics from “Beauty and The Beast,” “The Lion King,” “Mary Poppins,” “The Little Mermaid,” “Aladdin” and more. A good watch for the entire family, complete with elaborate costumes, lively choreography and a full orchestra onstage. You may be especially impressed by Merle Dandridge and Alton Fitzgerald White's “Someday” duet from “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” Josh Strickland’s rendition of “My Strongest Suit” from “Aida” and the full company’s take on “Let it Go” from “Frozen” at the end of Act I. It’s worth the trip down memory lane and can be a great way to introduce your family to some less familiar Disney songs..
‘The Gospel at Colonus’ (1985)
The classic Sophocles’ tragedy, “Oedipus at Colonus” is relived in this production. Told through gospel music, this musical was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for drama and for good reason. The captivating retelling of the Greek myth, using a Pentecostal preacher and the choir of his church, brings life to this long-forgotten parable. You’ll also witness the legendary Morgan Freeman, who portrays The Messenger, in one of his few Broadway performance credits. This is a message you’ll want to receive.
This list would not be complete without “Memphis,” the 2010 Tony Award Best Musical winner. The rock’n’roll musical is loosely based on disc jockey Dewey Phillips, the first white DJ to play black music in the 1950s. The compelling love story, centered around racial progression in society and the music business is both heartwarming and entertaining. The jumpin'-jivin' tunes will have you and your family singing along with actors you’ve grown to love, including Tony Award winner James Monroe Iglehart (“Aladdin”), as well as Todrick Hall the YouTube viral sensation and Broadway star.
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