The Top 10 Best Jukebox Musicals of All Time

Hair Musical | Cult Musical Hair
Google Images

A jukebox musical is a show that features a collection of pre-existing pop-songs and tosses them into a storyline. Instead of gambling on new melodies and lyrics, the producers go with name recognition. During the past decades, there have been a handful of jukebox musicals that have had a good amount of energy and enthusiasm. The following jukebox musicals may be considered the best of all time.

10: American Idiot

Green Day fans may be wondering why this show is not at the number one spot. This musical examines the restless passions of three young men who experience the burdens of warfare, addiction, and parental responsibility. It's a mesh of various coming-of-age narratives set to rock songs. Green Day's lead singer, Billy Joe Armstrong, was not only the creative force behind the musical, but he also performed in the show occasionally, playing St. Jimmy, the drug-infused alter ego of the protagonist.

9: Return to the Forbidden Planet

Blending campy science-fiction, Shakespeare, and rock n' roll oldies like "Great Balls of Fire" and "Wipe Out," this British creation adapted a classic 1950s movie. Loosely based on The Tempest, the plot revolves around a mysterious planet, a stranded scientist, and a crew of space explorers who break into song every chance they get.

There's a zany contrast between the outer space setting on the late 50s and early 60s Top 40 hits. Additionally, the cast members play their own instruments. The Return to the Forbidden Planet won an Olivier Award for Best New Musical in 1990, vanquishing Miss Saigon.

8: The Marvelous Wondrettes

In some ways, this peppy charmer of a musical feels like a female knock-off of Forever Plaid! The quartet that makes up The Marvelous Wondrettes hold their own. What makes this show unique is that the Act One takes place on prom night in 1958, followed by an Act Two set 10 years later at a class reunion. That dynamic keeps the show and its soundtrack nicely paced.

In Act One, each girl vies for the prom queen crown, sometimes supporting one another, sometimes teasing, and sometimes swiping a boyfriend. When Act Two arrives, the show transitions from 1950s music to Motown tunes of the 1960s. With the latter, the girls are now women in their late 20s, and their teenage dreams of a bright future have been tempered with everyday reality.

7: Million Dollar Quartet

This musical is a recreation of the world's greatest jam session. On December 4th, 1956, Carl Perkins' career was soaring from his hit "Blue Suede Shoes." New comer Jerry Lee Lewis is brought in to work on a new song with Perkins. Then, super star Elvis Presley and country music legend Johnny Cash stops by the studio for a visit. The songs they sang that epic day became the concept for a fun and inventive retelling of their impromptu recording session.

6: Rock of Ages

This movie flipped and some critics said that the audience was forced to sit and watch movie stars sing karaoke. Despite this, the live musical production of is worthy of being on this list. Playfulness rules the night in this jukebox musical about young dreamers hoping to make it big on Hollywood's Sunset Strip.

The characters include an ambitious young rock n' roller who must shift to a hip-hop boy band image in order to succeed, a star-struck aspiring actress who turns to a life of stripping to make ends meet, and a burnt-out rock star whose career is about to do a tailspin.

It also involves a bar owner who wants to keep Hollywood gritty and a hysterical narrator/bus boy who constantly breaks the fourth wall to interact with the audience. Throw in a score of catchy power ballads and silly rock songs from MTV's glory days and it's "almost paradise" for 80s fans.

Discover more shows like this in the top five jukebox musicals.