The 48 Most Underrated Musicals of all Time

This is a very personal list compared to most of the other lists I’ve created for Theater Trip. Most of my other blog posts are fact-based and objective. And this one is an absolute opinion piece! This is the list of what I believe to be the most underrated musicals.

The following musicals are ones that I believe deserve more attention from musical thespians. Also, most of these musicals are also on my personal lists of favorite cast albums and top musicals!

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Underrated Jazz Age Age Musicals

Nymph Errant

Music/Lyrics: Cole Porter Book: Romney Brent

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The New Moon

Music: Sigmund Romberg Lyrics/Book: Oscar Hammerstein II, Frank Mandel, Laurence Schwab

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The New Yorkers

Music/Lyrics: Cole Porter Book: Herbert Fields

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Underrated Golden Age Musicals


Music: Richard Rodgers Book/Lyrics: Oscar Hammerstein II

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House of Flowers

Music/Lyrics/Book: Harold Arlen, Truman Capote

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Underrated 1960s Musicals

Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris

Music/Lyrics: Jacques Brel Book: Eric Blau, Mort Shuman

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Robert and Elizabeth

Music: Ron Grainer Lyrics/Book: Ronald Millar

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She Loves Me

Music: Jerry Buck Lyrics: Sheldon Harnick Book: Joe Masteroff

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The Zulu and the Zayda

Music/Lyrics: Harold Rome Book: Howard De Silva, Felix Leon

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Music: John Kander Lyrics: Fred Ebb Book: Joseph Stein

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Underrated 1970s Musicals

The Robber Bridegroom

Music: Robert Waldman Lyrics/Book: Alfred Uhry

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Music/Lyrics/Book: Schwartz, Carnelia, Grant, M. Rodgers, Taylor, Birkenhead, Faso

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Underrated 1980s Musicals


Music: Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus Lyrics: Tim Rice, Ulvaeus Book: Richard Nelson, Rice

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La Cage aux Folles

Music/Lyrics: Jerry Herman Book: Harvey Fierstein

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Merrily We Roll Along

Music/Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim Book: George Furth

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Pump Boys and Dinettes

Music/Lyrics/Book: Foley, Hardwick, Monk, Morgan, Schimmel, Wann

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Underrated 1990s Musicals

A New Brain

Music/Lyrics/Book: William Finn Book: James Labine

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Floyd Collins

Music/Lyrics: Adam Guettel Book: Tina Landau

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Music/Lyrics: Jason Robert Brown Book: Alfred Uhry

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Music: Stephen Flaherty Lyrics: Lynn Ahrens Book: Terrence McNally

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Music: Marvin Laird Lyrics/Book: Joel Paley

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Sunset Boulevard

Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber Lyrics/Book: Don Black, Christopher Hampton

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Music/Lyrics: Maury Yeston Book: Peter Stone

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The Life

Music: Cy Coleman Lyrics: Ira Gasman Book: Coleman, Gasman, David Newman

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Underrated 2000s Musicals

A Year with Frog and Toad

Music: Robert Real Lyrics/Book: Willie Reale

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Music/Book: Damon Intrabartolo Lyrics/Book: Jon Hartmere

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Bernarda Alba

Music/Lyrics/Book: Michael John LaChiusa

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Closer to Heaven

Music/Lyrics: Pet Shop Boys Book: Jonathan Harvey

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Gray Gardens

Music: Scott Frankel Lyrics: Michael Korie Book: Doug Wright

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Passing Strange

Music/Lyrics/Book: Stew, Heidi Rodewald

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Sweet Smell of Success

Music: Marvin Hamlisch Lyrics: Craig Carnelia Book: John Guard

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The Lord of the Rings

Music: Rahman, Nightingale, Värttinä Lyrics/Book: Matthew Warchus, Shaun McKenna

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The Story of My Life

Music/Lyrics: Neil Bartram Book: Brian Hill

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The Wild Party (LaChiusa)

Music/Lyrics/Book: Michael John LaChiusa Book: George C. Wolfe

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Underrated 2010s Musicals

Alice by Heart

Music: Duncan Sheik Lyrics/Book: Steven Sater, Jessie Nelson

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Music/Lyrics: Jay Kuo Book: Marc Acito, Jay Kuo

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American Psycho

Music/Lyrics: Duncan Sheik Book: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa

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An American in Paris

Music: George Gershwin Lyrics: Ira Gershwin Book: Craig Lucas

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Doctor Zhivago

Music: Lucy Simon Lyrics: Michael Korie, Amy Powers

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Music/Lyrics/Book: Yve Blake

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Honeymoon in Vegas

Music/Lyrics: Jason Robert Brown Book: Andrew Bergman

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Hundred Days

Music/Lyrics: The Bengsons Book: The Bengsons, Sarah Gancher

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Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812

Music/Lyrics/Book: Dave Malloy

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Music/Lyrics/Book: Dave Malloy

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Rags Parkland Sings the Songs of the Future

Music/Lyrics/Book: Andrew R. Butler

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Ride the Cyclone

Music/Lyrics/Book: Brooke Maxwell, Jacob Richmond

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The Bridges of Madison County

Music/Lyrics: Jason Robert Brown Book: Marsha Norman

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The Dolls of New Albion

Music/Lyrics/Book: Paul Shapera

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Other blog posts you might like:

Classic Musicals

Obscure Musicals

Popular Musicals

Musicals Based on Books

Musicals Based on Movies

Want a weekly list of stage surprises?!

Which of these underrated musicals is your favorite?

Or have you ever played a role in any of the above underrated musicals? Feel free to share in the comments below! And if you like these types of lists, check out the musical database. That’s where you’ll find musicals sorted by composer, theme, setting, and more!

Stacy Karyn, author of Underrated Musicals.
Author: Stacy Karyn

Stacy Karyn is the founder of Theater Trip, author of The Thespian’s Bucket List, and creator of The Cast Album List. She has a TESOL drama certificate, a BA in theater, and has worked and interned with Broadway and Off-Broadway theaters.

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