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The best musicals you can stream in Australia

When it comes to feel-good movies, nothing beats a solid musical.

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There’s something comforting about seeing characters break into song at the most unexpected times. Add in the dance numbers, the fantastical elements and the charming sing-a-longs associated with musicals and it’s easy to understand why the genre has such a broad appeal. The best musicals feature songs that become expressions of pure character emotion. As a result, the tunes end up being just as iconic as the movies themselves.

While to the untrained eye musicals may seem like relics from old Hollywood, the genre is coming back in style. Musicals are going through a renaissance, with titles like La La Land, Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again and A Star Is Born killing it at the box office in the last few years. For those new to the genre, we’ve got the goods. Here are the best musicals available on streaming services in Australia.

A Star Is Born


  • Year of release: 2018
  • Cast: Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper, Sam Elliott

This modern version of the classic story was a hit upon release, gathering praise from both fans and critics. The plot revolves around Ally and Jackson, two musicians who fall in love and embark on a rocky relationship. While Ally’s career takes off, Jackson has to battle alcoholism and personal demons.

Thanks to two pitch-perfect performances from Cooper and Lady Gaga and some catchy songs, A Star Is Born became a prime example for a remake done right. The movie tackles important themes like addiction, the pitfalls of fame and love. It’s touching and full of heart, proving that melodrama still works as long as it’s done tastefully.

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Bohemian Rhapsody


  • Year of release: 2018
  • Cast: Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton, Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy, Joe Mazzello

Bohemian Rhapsody tells the story of iconic rock band Queen, which achieves musical superstardom despite humble beginnings. The main focus is on talented lead singer Freddie Mercury, who has to overcome multiple personal struggles as he sets off to become a legend.

What’s most appealing of Bohemian Rhapsody is Rami Malek’s lead performance. He manages to perfectly capture the spirit of Mercury, from his memorable stage moves to his alienation and pain, even at the height of his fame. As for the story itself, is it real life or is it fantasy? Accuracy may not be the movie’s main purpose. But when the music is this good, we’re willing to let that slide.

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La La Land


  • Year of release: 2016
  • Cast: Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling

La La Land centres on Sebastian and Mia, two dreamers living in Los Angeles. He is a jazz musician, she is an aspiring actress. Both are struggling to make ends meet. They fall in love and work well together, but life gets in the way. They’ll soon find their relationship tested as they start to see their biggest aspirations come true.

Bittersweet, colourful and full of heart, La La Land benefits from two powerhouse performances courtesy of Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. A modern-day classic, the movie seamlessly goes from joyful to heartbreaking, ensuring that viewers will experience a whole range of emotions as they follow Mia and Sebastian’s compelling love story. Memorable songs include City of Stars and Audition (The Fools Who Dream).

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Grease


  • Year of release: 1978
  • Cast: John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Stockard Channing, Jeff Conaway

One of the most successful movie musicals of all time, Grease stars John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John as 1950s teens Danny and Sandy. The two fall in love over the summer, but by autumn their relationship is tested as they return to the cliquey world of high school. They split, reconcile, then split again, all amid dances and drag races. Will they end up together? You’ll have to tune in to find out.

Look, there’s no way around it, Grease is a cheesy flick, boasting silly dance numbers and a predictable plot, as you can probably gather from the synopsis. But it’s so joyful and energetic that you can’t help but forgive its flaws. Plus, the movie never takes itself too seriously and the visuals are marvellous. If you’re down, it will instantly make you feel better.

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West Side Story


  • Year of release: 1961
  • Cast: Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Russ Tamblyn, Rita Moreno

This romantic musical is one of the best Shakespeare adaptations to ever grace our screens. West Side Story centres on a turf war between rival teenage gangs in Manhattan, focusing on two lovers eager to cross battle lines. It’s the modern update on Romeo and Juliet you didn’t know you needed, complete with catchy songs and captivating dance numbers.

If you need an extra incentive to tune in, the movie won 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture. As expected, West Side Story dazzles with a wonderful score, with standouts including I Feel Pretty, America and Something's Coming.

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Yesterday


  • Year of release: 2019
  • Cast: Himesh Patel, Lily James, Sophia Di Martino, Ellise Chappell

The premise of Yesterday is so ludicrous it’s difficult not to be at least a little bit intrigued. The movie revolves around a struggling singer-songwriter who wakes up after a mysterious global blackout to discover that’s he’s the only person in the entire world who remembers The Beatles. For everyone else, the band never existed. As a result, he goes on to perform their greatest hits as his own, becoming an overnight sensation.

Does that sound silly? Sure. But the movie pulls off this little fantasy in a beautiful way. At its core, Yesterday is a musical rom-com, with a charming narrative and plenty of funny moments. All the feel-good Beatles tunes are just the icing on the cake.

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Mary Poppins Returns


  • Year of release: 2018
  • Cast: Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer

Michael Banks is now an adult with three children, desperate to pay back a loan. Just when everything seems lost, he and his sister receive the surprise of a lifetime when Mary Poppins, beloved nanny from their childhood, pays them a visit and takes the entire family on a wonderful adventure. Who knows? She might even save the day in the process.

Mary Poppins Returns is a heartwarming film that manages to capture the magic of the original. It boasts a superb performance from Emily Blunt, who shines in the lead role, as well as plenty of catchy songs that audiences of all ages can enjoy. If you were looking for the perfect movie for family night, you can’t go wrong with this one.

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Hairspray


  • Year of release: 2007
  • Cast: Nikki Blonsky, John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, Zac Efron

Energetic and highly entertaining, Hairspray is a musical rom-com which centres on Tracy, a dance-loving teen who joins a local TV show and becomes an overnight celebrity. She uses her new status to rally against racial segregation and hopefully, finally win the affections of her crush.

Hairspray is a big-budget and star-studded production, starring Nikki Blonsky, John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken, Amanda Bynes, Queen Latifah, James Marsden, Zac Efron, Brittany Snow, Elijah Kelley and Allison Janney. Yet, the movie is sweet and campy, infecting viewers with joy from the very first scene. You’ll be compelled to sing along to tunes like You Can't Stop the Beat.

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Mamma Mia!


  • Year of release: 2008
  • Cast: Amanda Seyfried, Meryl Streep, Colin Firth

Mamma Mia! focuses on Sophie, a young bride who invites three men from her mother’s past to her wedding hoping to finally figure out who her father is. Meanwhile, her mother Donna isn’t particularly delighted to see her former flames, especially since she hasn’t talked to any of them since a memorable summer long ago. Starring Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgård, Julie Walters and Christine Baranski.

Mamma Mia! may not be a masterpiece, but it’s sweet, fun and inventive. Plus, despite the wacky premise, the movie packs quite the emotional punch, mainly thanks to the great performances by the three possible fathers. As for the soundtrack, it features all of ABBA’s biggest hits. If you enjoy it, make sure to check out the 2018 sequel as well.

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The Sound of Music


  • Year of release: 1965
  • Cast: Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Richard Haydn, Eleanor Parker

One of the most well-known musicals of all time, The Sound of Music is based on the true story of the Trapp Family Singers. It revolves around a young Austrian woman who is sent to the villa of a retired naval officer and widower to be governess to his seven children. She brings love and music into the house, eventually helping the family find a way to survive the loss of their homeland to the Nazis.

If you’re worried that The Sound of Music will prove too corny for modern viewers, rest assured, the movie has so much heart that it’s easy to forgive its overly sentimental moments. The performances are joyful, the songs became classics and the talent of Julie Andrews is undeniable.

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Chicago


  • Year of release: 2002
  • Cast: Catherine Zeta-Jones, RenĂ©e Zellweger, Richard Gere

Chicago follows nightclub sensation Velma, who murders her husband and gets one of Chicago's best lawyers to defend her. There’s one problem, when another woman winds up in prison, the lawyer takes on her case as well, pitting the two against each other in a fight for fame. After all, there’s no such thing as bad publicity, especially if it might keep them from the gallows. The movie stars Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere and Renée Zellweger.

Winner of six Academy Awards, Chicago is pure spectacle, boasting lavish costumes, a serious dose of wit and plenty of humour. As for the musical numbers, who can resist gems like Razzle Dazzle or Funny Honey?

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Beauty and the Beast


  • Year of release: 2017
  • Cast: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans

Emma Watson and Dan Stevens star in this charming live-action remake of the classic Disney love story aiming to prove once and for all that beauty lies within. An arrogant prince is cursed to live as a beast until he finds someone willing to love him despite his terrifying appearance. Enter Belle, a fierce and beautiful girl who Beast takes prisoner. With a little help from Beast’s enchanted servants, Belle begins to discover the sensitive soul that lies within her captor and soon finds that she’s falling for the fearsome creature.

A faithful, magical retelling, the movie is a pleasure to watch. No one can stay gloomy while singing along to Gaston, Be Our Guest or Beauty and the Beast.

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Les Misérables


  • Year of release: 2012
  • Cast: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway

Taking place in 19th-century France, Les Misérables follows Jean Valjean, an ex-prisoner who has been hunted for decades by a ruthless policeman because he broke parole. When Valjean agrees to care for a factory worker’s young daughter, both their lives change forever. It’s a tale of unrequited love, broken dreams and survival, one that never gets old.

Victor Hugo's epic is beautifully brought to the screen, with the cast including Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway and Amanda Seyfried. As for the tunes, you might already be familiar with I Dreamed a Dream or Do You Hear the People Sing?

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Dreamgirls


  • Year of release: 2006
  • Cast: Jennifer Hudson, BeyoncĂ© Knowles, Jamie Foxx, Eddie Murphy, Anika Noni Rose

Set in the 60s, Dreamgirls follows three singers who are discovered at a local talent show by an ambitious manager. They are offered the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of opening for a popular star and soon find themselves propelled into the spotlight. However, the small-town girls eventually discover that the true cost of fame may be higher than they anticipated.

The movie that propelled Jennifer Hudson to worldwide fame, Dreamgirls is full of energy and glamour. Perfect for when you’re looking for something colourful and dazzling to help you escape from real life, at least for a couple of hours.

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Fiddler on the Roof


  • Year of release: 1971
  • Cast: Topol, Norma Crane, Leonard Frey

This classic musical, released in 1971, depicts life among the Jewish community of a pre-revolutionary Russian village. Fiddler on the Roof centres on a father determined to find suitable husbands for his five daughters. To make sure he will be successful, he enlists the help of a traditional matchmaker and carries on lengthy conversations with God.

Sentimental and romantic, Fiddler on the Roof is a joyous celebration of life, featuring strong performances from the entire cast and some endearing musical numbers. Highlights include Do You Love Me? and If I Were a Rich Man.

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Aladdin


  • Year of release: 2019
  • Cast: Will Smith, Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, Marwan Kenzari

The classic animated story, now in all the live-action glory. Aladdin is a loveable street urchin who stumbles upon a magic oil lamp that unleashes a powerful genie. As the two become friends, they have to embark on a mission to stop an evil sorcerer from overthrowing young Princess Jasmine's kingdom.

Aladdin is fast-moving and entertaining, with great performances from everyone involved. It may not reach the magical heights of the animated original, but it ensures a good time for kids and adults alike. As for the music, it’s just as phenomenal as you remember.

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High School Musical


  • Year of release: 2008
  • Cast: Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, Lucas Grabeel

What were you doing in 2006? That’s when the first High School Musical came out, spanning an entire franchise and more recently, a mockumentary series on Disney+. The movie revolves around two high school students from rival cliques, Troy and Gabriella, who try out for the lead parts in their high school musical. The rest, as they say, is history.

Energetic choreography and crowd-pleasing tunes help High School Musical stand the test of time, with the appealing cast a nice bonus. Whether you’re looking to bask in nostalgia or give the franchise a try for the first time, you’ll be in for a treat.

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