Top 10 Musicals and Plays on Broadway in 2023: Spotlight on ‘Merrily We Roll Along’

Top 10 Musicals and Plays on Broadway in 2023: Spotlight on ‘Merrily We Roll Along’: “From ‘Jaws’ to Johannes Gutenberg, Britney Spears to a unique Cinderella tale, the Broadway scene in 2023 was diverse and captivating. This year marked a standout achievement for “Kimberly Akimbo,” a poignant musical dramedy centered on a teenager grappling with the challenges of aging. Rising talents such as Amelia Fei from “How to Dance in Ohio,” Kolton Krouse of “Dancin’,” and Casey Likes in “Back to the Future” truly stole the spotlight.

Top 10 Musicals and Plays on Broadway in 2023: Spotlight on 'Merrily We Roll Along

Additionally, the revelation of a hidden gem at Hudson Yards came in the form of Stephen Sondheim’s posthumous production, “Here We Are,” which had its debut Off-Broadway this autumn.
As we eagerly anticipate the upcoming spring, the theater world is buzzing with excitement for revivals featuring acclaimed performers like Eddie Redmayne in “Cabaret” and Steve Carell taking on “Uncle Vanya.”

Furthermore, audiences can look forward to musical renditions of beloved stories such as “The Notebook,” “Water for Elephants,” and “Days of Wine and Roses.” Yet, let’s savor each moment without rushing ahead.”
From the numerous productions we witnessed on Broadway over the past year, here’s our list highlighting the top plays and musicals that made their debut in this period.


During our initial experience with “Shucked,” we were somewhat uncertain about this spirited musical filled with ballads and featuring quirky characters from a quaint corn-centric town. However, with subsequent viewings, we were won over by the production’s genuine charm and clever wit, particularly showcased by Kevin Cahoon’s distinct performance. Additionally, the Tony-award winning talent of Alex Newell, portraying the unique Lulu, stands out as a highlight that truly enhances the theater experience.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

While it might not be the most chilling rendition of “Sweeney,” it undoubtedly stands out for its grandeur. Thomas Kail’s meticulously crafted production captivates audiences, especially with the melodious tones of Josh Groban and the dynamic presence of Annaleigh Ashford. However, the rich orchestrations truly shine in this revival of Stephen Sondheim’s work. Audiences can anticipate a renewed energy with Aaron Tveit and Sutton Foster joining the cast beginning February 9th.

Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch

Leslie Odom Jr., known for his role in “Hamilton,” graces Broadway once more in a vibrant revival of Ossie Davis’ 1961 comedic commentary. The narrative delves into the endeavors of a spirited Black preacher aiming to reclaim both his church and rightful legacy from a deceptive white landowner, portrayed by Jay O. Sanders. While the ensemble delivers stellar performances, Kara Young’s portrayal stands out with her compelling rendition of a spirited character reminiscent of Eliza Doolittle, striving to retrieve Purlie’s funds.

Here Lies Love

While not every aspect of this vibrant, immersive musical about the ascent of Filipino leader Ferdinand Marcos (portrayed by Jose Llana) and his flamboyant first lady, Imelda Marcos (depicted by Arielle Jacobs), resonated perfectly, it exemplifies the daring and innovative content that Broadway could benefit from more often. Leveraging David Byrne’s captivating pop score, the production effectively highlights how individuals can be subtly drawn into acts of compliance.

A Doll’s House

Evidently, a captivating evening of theater can be achieved with just Jessica Chastain and a simple chair. Throughout the uninterrupted 100-minute performance, devoid of elaborate sets, props, or costumes, the Oscar-winning actress spearheaded an impressive ensemble in a revival of Henrik Ibsen’s 1879 masterpiece centered on a woman’s quest for enlightenment and liberation. The climactic moment of Chastain stepping onto the lively streets of New York City left a lasting and thrilling impression on audiences.

Fat Ham

In the Pulitzer Prize-recognized drama by playwright James Ijames, the narrative ingeniously reimagines “Hamlet” within the setting of a Southern family gathering. Here, a young Black man, portrayed by Marcel Spears, encounters his deceased father’s ghost, played by Billy Eugene Jones, urging him to seek vengeance. Ijames masterfully integrates contemporary perspectives into Shakespeare’s classic, addressing topics like queerness, detrimental masculinity, and inherited trauma. Additionally, Spears’ captivating performance of Radiohead’s “Creep” midway through the show remains a standout moment in our theater experiences this year.

Alex Edelman: Just For Us

The premise of a Jewish individual entering a neo-Nazi gathering serves as the audacious yet genuine foundation for this brilliantly crafted solo performance. Addressing antisemitism and the complexities of whiteness, Edelman skillfully intertwines sharp humor with poignant observations. His charismatic presence shines as he navigates from intricate subjects to humorous tales about Christmas, his accomplished brother, and a gorilla proficient in sign language. With finesse comparable to Sully Sullenberger’s precision, Edelman delivers a stand-up act that seamlessly blends humor, introspection, and emotion.

Jaja’s African Hair Braiding

Within a concise 90-minute span, playwright Jocelyn Bioh masterfully crafts a captivating world centered around an immigrant-run hair-braiding salon in Harlem. This comedic narrative introduces a diverse array of characters, offering a glimpse into a day filled with aspirations, humor, challenges, and personal stories. Zenzi Williams, delivering a standout performance as the unforgettable Bea, seemingly sets the stage for potential accolades during Tony season. Yet, it’s crucial to recognize Dominique Thorne’s adept portrayal, particularly in navigating the impactful twist that concludes the production.


Recipient of this year’s Tony Award for Best Musical Revival, Michael Arden’s impactful production delves into the tragic true tale of Leo Frank, portrayed with depth by Ben Platt, a Jewish individual unjustly incarcerated and subjected to a violent mob’s actions. Platt masterfully captures the intricate layers of Leo’s character, displaying resilience amidst turmoil. Micaela Diamond delivers a captivating performance as Lucille, Leo’s determined wife, and their harmonious renditions of Jason Robert Brown’s exquisite score resonate beautifully, creating a heavenly auditory experience.

Merrily We Roll Along

While initially facing challenges, Stephen Sondheim’s renowned 1981 production has transformed into a must-see attraction on Broadway. Much credit goes to Maria Friedman’s astute direction, allowing the cast ample space to navigate the narrative’s deep emotional landscapes. Daniel Radcliffe, Jonathan Groff, and Lindsay Mendez form a compelling ensemble, effortlessly portraying the dynamics of a friendship tested by the complexities of success.

Driven by poignant performances, this musical stands unparalleled in its depiction of the challenges of maturing, drifting away, and witnessing dreams elude grasp. Four decades prior, the production faced skepticism from numerous critics. Yet, echoing Sondheim’s sentiment that “yesterday is done,” this rendition of “Merrily” emerges as a pinnacle of Broadway excellence in its current presentation.

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