Aside from Oscar nominee Elvis, last year was a bit of a desert in the movie and TV musicals department. Sure, Spirited was fun, but after a big 2021 full of the Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist finale, Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story remake, Encanto’s “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” torturing parents everywhere, and the unbridled joy of every Broadway star in Schmigadoon!, 2022 left a lot to be desired in the sing-along department.
While 2023 won’t exactly be the next musical renaissance year — these things take time — it does offer a few titles to get excited about. We’ll have to wait until 2024 or later for some other marquee releases like the Wicked two-parter, starring Cynthia Erivo and Ariana Grande, and Joker: Folie à Deux, starring Lady Gaga and Joaquin Phoenix. And then there are a few that we can cross our fingers for, as no release dates have been announced, but it’s unlikely we’ll see the Beautiful adaptation, Paramount+’s Mean Girls musical, Ryan Murphy’s A Chorus Line Netflix adaptation, the Barry Jenkins–helmed Mufasa: The Lion King, or an RRR sequel in early development before next year.
This year’s musical and music-themed bright spots include Lady Gaga teaming up with Joaquin Phoenix for the Joker sequel, a trip back to Rydell High, a live-action Little Mermaid, and the adaptation of bestseller Daisy Jones and the Six. Here’s a rundown of the musical films and series we know are heading to the big and small screens this year and a few others that will probably take a bit longer — but none quite so long as Richard Linklater’s 20-year plan for Merrily We Roll Along!
And if these aren’t enough for you, there’s always the BroadwayHD streaming service.
Premiere Date: May 26 in theaters
Description: Rising star Halle Bailey stars as Ariel, the mermaid princess daughter of King Triton (Javier Bardem) who makes a deal with Ursula the sea witch (Melissa McCarthy) to be with her land-lubber Prince Eric (Jonah Hauer-King).
Why we’re looking forward to it: Daveed Diggs is playing Sebastian. This is not a drill. I repeat, Daveed Diggs is playing Sebastian. And with support on the revamped music from Lin-Manuel Miranda, an all-star cast, and direction from musical king Rob Marshall (Chicago), what more could you ask for in a new version of an old favorite?
(Photo by Patrick Harbron/Hulu)
Premiere Date: Spring 2023
Description: A romantic comedy musical set in the twilight of the millennium in New York City, the series follows Lindsay (Mae Whitman) and Miguel (Carlos Valdes) “an ordinary couple with an extraordinary love story.”
Why we’re looking forward to it: The powerhouse team behind this show includes Frozen and Coco songwriting duo Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, Dear Evan Hanson and Tick Tick.. BOOM! writer Steven Levenson, and Hamilton director Thomas Kail. And with so much ’90s New York nostalgia lately, it seems the perfect formula for a charming musical series.
(Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images for NYFW: The Shows)
Premiere Date: December 20 in theaters
Description: The musical adaptation of Alice Walker’s 1982 Pulitzer Prize–winning novel follows Celie (Fantasia Barrino), an African-American woman in the 1900s South, through her friendships, trials, and tribulations. Other bold-faced names in the cast include Taraji P. Henson, H.E.R., Danielle Brooks, David Alan Grier, and Jon Batiste.
Why we’re looking forward to it: This is a novel with an excellent track record for adaptations — Steven Spielberg’s 1985 film version earned Oscar nominations for Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey (in her first acting role), and the 2015 Broadway musical adaptation earned Cynthia Erivo a Tony for her portrayal of Celie. American Idol’s 2004 winner Fantasia Barrino took over from LaChanze in the same role on Broadway and will play Celie in the upcoming film. Spielberg and Oprah are both involved in the latest film adaptation, alongside Quincy Jones.
(Photo by Courtesy of Apple)
Premiere Date: April 7
Description: Or should we say Schmicago!? Season 2 of the fun Apple TV+ musical sendup with Cecily Strong and Keegan-Michael Key will have our lovebirds traveling to Schmicago, a land filled with ’60s and ’70s-era musical characters and themes. Jazzhands, Fosse numbers, and maybe even a naked scene à la Hair are in our future. But have no fear, Alan Cumming and Kristin Chenoweth’s wacky mayor and preacher’s wife are back, along with Ariana DeBose and Aaron Tveit and newcomers to the show including Tituss Burgess and Patrick Page.
Why we’re looking forward to it: Season 1’s redux of classic Rodgers and Hammerstein shows was fun, but we’re excited to see what they do with musicals that start to hit on more contemporary themes.
Premiere Date: Thursday, Apr. 6
Description: There were Pink Ladies before Rizzo ruled the roost. The new series coming to Paramount+ takes us back to 1954 and gives us the origin story of the baddest misfit girls’ clique at Rydell High. Based on Grease and Grease 2, but written as a prequel, the show is helmed by Annabel Oakes (Edge of Seventeen, Minx). New music is being written for the series, produced by Justin Tranter, a music producer and songwriter for the likes of Dua Lipa and Lady Gaga.
Why we’re looking forward to it: You can never have too much Grease. The original 1972 Broadway musical broke boundaries, putting sex, politics, and peer pressure on stage in new ways. The iconic 1978 movie inspired a generation and skyrocketed the fame of John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. And the sequel introduced Michelle Pfeiffer to the world in her first starring role. Pink Ladies has a lot to live up to given its pedigree, but bobby socks and a Pink Lady jacket will always be an excellent Halloween costume choice, now with new names embroidered on the breast.
Premiere Date: March 3
Description: Adapted from Taylor Jenkins Reid’s rock history bestseller about a band in 1970s Los Angeles, the musical drama follows Daisy Jones (Riley Keough), Billy Dunne (Sam Claflin) and their bandmates as they examine their journey to and fall from stardom. Inspired by Fleetwood Mac’s story, the show also stars Suki Waterhouse, who released her debut album in 2022.
Why we’re looking forward to it: As Elvis Presley’s granddaughter, star Riley Keough is sure to have learned a thing or two about being a rock icon. The show includes original songs, so fans of the book who could only imagine what Midnight sounds like will get to see those come to life. Reese Witherspoon named the book to her popular book club and is producing the show under her Hello Sunshine banner. And author Reid is already a fan: “It allowed me an opportunity to sort of be like, ‘Oh, OK, maybe this is why people like this book,’ because I love this show that it’s becoming,” she told Ellen Pompeo on her podcast.
Premiere Date: TBD 2023
Description: While perhaps not a full-on musical — but definitely heavy on the music and musical influence — The Idol is the story of a rising pop star Jocelyn (Lily-Rose Depp) who finds herself in a complicated relationship with self-help guru/cult leader Tedros (Abel Tesfaye aka The Wknd).
Why we’re looking forward to it: Unlike more traditional musical fare, The Idol looks darker, more plot-driven, and more music industry-heavy than the others on ourlist. With The Wknd in his first acting role since Uncut Gems and appearances from Australian singer/songwriter Troye Sivan and K-Pop star BlackPink’s Jennie Ruby Jane, The Idol promises to step in where Euphoria leaves off in the Gen-Z decadence department.
(Photo by Peacock)
Premiere Date: TBD
Description: A ’90s girl group gets a chance at redemption when a big-time rapper samples their song. Now in their 40s and missing one member, Girls5eva (starring Sara Bareilles, Busy Philips, Paula Pell, and Renee Elise Goldsberry) hilariously grapples with fame a second time around.
Why we’re looking forward to it: Will Girls5eva leave New York and go on tour? Will Bareilles’ Dawn balance home life, a new baby, and fame? What will Kev and Summer do about Stevia? So many questions were left at the end of season 2, thank goodness Netflix picked up the series after Peacock passed on a third season. The show’s theme song is stuck in our heads foreva.