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Step aside, West Side Story: 3 hit musicals on Netflix and Disney+ to watch this weekend

West Side Story
(Image credit: 2020 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation)

Spielberg's eponymous film adaptation of West Side Story might be in the running for the most-streamed movie this weekend (it hit Disney+ on Wednesday), but if you've already got in there early or can't possibly fathom the idea it will come close to the iconic stage play (or the 1961 movie), your weekend's TV viewing doesn't have to be without song and dance. Oh no.

Below are three marvellous musicals on Netflix or Disney+ that should appeal to the thespian in you this weekend. Or next.

 Tick, Tick... Boom! 

A musical about the process of writing a musical: if the thought of Broadway legends suddenly breaking into song about the futility of eating Sunday brunch in a New York diner fills you with dread, then you might assume that Tick, Tick... Boom! is not for you. 

But while Lin-Manuel Miranda's film about composer Jonathan Larson (Andrew Garfield), before he achieved the mega success of Rent, might appear all showbiz jazz hands and heavy vibrato, it's actually an engaging reflection of a musician desperately seeking inspiration while struggling against the brutality of failure and the creative slog.

The narrative examines Larson's life as he works on Superbia (a failed futuristic rock opera reimagining of George Orwell's 1984) and it's interspersed with songs, both staged and interpolated, from what would be his next project, a one-man show called – you guessed it – Tick, Tick… Boom!

Watch on Netflix

Hamilton 

"America then, as told by America now," is how Lin-Manuel Miranda has described his bonafide Broadway and West End hit. It's a fitting description of a story about one of the most influential American Founding Fathers and the first Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, told by a singing-and-rapping cast that draws heavily on hip-hop, R&B, rap and soul genres.

Inspired by the 2004 biography of Hamilton by Ron Chernow, the stage show traverses the life of the orphan from the West Indies, beginning during his days as a young and ambitious immigrant in New York, through to his heroic revolutionary efforts and journey towards becoming George Washington's right-hand man.

And while we assure you it's worth the trip to the theatre to see it first-hand, the filmed version of the Broadway staging can now be experienced on Disney+.

Watch on Disney+

Bo Burnham: Inside 

The new normal of COVID-19 has been a major adjustment but seeing how others are adjusting can be a serious comfort, so there’s huge demand out there for art inspired by the pandemic. Luckily, one of the first great works of this kind is already here: Bo Burnham’s hybrid musical/stand-up comedy special.

Inside will make you think, make you laugh, and even make you cry, but for fans of Bo Burnham’s earlier specials, don’t expect a straight comedy. Shot over the course of a year 'inside', this introspective series of monologues and sequences tells the very personal story of Bo Burnham’s journey through quarantine. It’s not all sunshine and roses, and it's all the better for that.

Watch on Netflix

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Becky Roberts
Becky Roberts

Becky is the managing editor of What Hi-Fi? and, since her recent move to Melbourne, also the editor of Australian Hi-Fi magazine. During her eight years in the hi-fi industry, she has been fortunate enough to travel the world to report on the biggest and most exciting brands in hi-fi and consumer tech (and has had the jetlag and hangovers to remember them by). In her spare time, Becky can often be found running, watching Liverpool FC and horror movies, and hunting for gluten-free cake.

With contributions from