13 Musicals We'd Like to See Performed Live on TV (and Who We'd Cast as the Leads)

The whopping ratings success of NBC’s The Sound of Music Live! last Thursday — 18.6 million total viewers, with an enviable 4.6 demo rating — has, not surprisingly, already yielded plans by network brass to mount another such production next year.

RELATED | TVLine’s Performer of the Week: Audra McDonald

NBC chief Robert Greenblatt told The New York Times that the Peacock Net is “circling a couple” family-friendly shows packed with iconic songs for a 2014 followup (to be overseen by Sound of Music Live‘s Neil Meron and Craig Zadan) – and that he’s been deluged with musicals rights-holders’ requests to choose theirs.

POLL | Was Sound of Music Live! Music to Your Ears?

With that in mind, we thought we’d help Greenblatt (or maybe one of his network rivals) by brainstorming 13 musicals ripe for a live TV treatment — not all of ‘em family friendly, but… — and even went so far as to provide him with casting ideas.

Click through the gallery below to see what we’ve cooked up, then hit the comments with your own ideas!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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177 Comments
  1. Shazay says:

    I would love to see Bombshell, I was thinking that the other day. They’ll do something the whole family would show up for and most of these were poor choices. I could see them doing Cinderella or Once Upon a Mattress first.

  2. TVFan says:

    They are probably looking at doing Annie or, to a lesser extent, Peter Pan.
    .
    .
    I would rather see Phantom of the Opera, or, even better, Wicked.

  3. Penny says:

    Funny Girl starring Leah Michelle!!

    • jane says:

      Anything starring Lea Michele.

      • gdv says:

        I love Lea but if they do My Fair Lady, I’d rather see Emmy Rossum as Eliza instead and Hugh Laurie as Higgins instead of Hugh Jackman.

        • Alia says:

          Yep, that’s better casting.

        • audrey says:

          Laurie would totally slay it as Higgins! He’s British, the perfect age, a good singer, and great as a sarcastic jerk (but not one you hate).

          Not sure if he can sing but Tom Mison would be an excellent Freddy! Cast Judi Dench as Higgins’ mother, and maybe Michael Cane as Colonel Pickering?

        • scooby says:

          Oooh Hugh Laurie’d be perfect. He could speak-sing in key as he’s a musician and would have the rhythm for it too. I am terrified of having to listen to Lea do a cockney accent. Holland Taylor’s just a smidge young to play Higgins’ mother if Hugh plays him but they could fudge it and grey her up a bit. I think she’d nail the tone.

          • Ann says:

            Hugh Laurie can actually sing, so he wouldn’t need to speak-sing like Rex Harrison did. Rex Harrison only spoke-sang because he couldn’t sing. The original is sung…Hugh Laurie would make a great choice playing a grumpy Brit!

  4. Seanti says:

    West Side Story should stick with Naya playing Anita, with Selena Gomez as Maria.

  5. Dr. Bombay says:

    Hello Dolly! starring Ke$ha!

  6. Mandy says:

    the thing i agree with the most is ACTUALLY making bombshell a thing. some of the other casting choices also make sense. i’d actually prefer buzzfeed’s casting for my fair lady :)

  7. Jamie C says:

    Cabaret starring Adam Lambert and Anna Kendrick?…
    Genius!

    • Daya says:

      Anna might be good, but I can’t help thinking it should be someone else.

      I’d go for Adam or even Mario Cantone for Cabaret. If all else fails, ask Good Wife to give Alan Cumming time off, since he did it on Broadway. ;)

    • Cal says:

      I screamed when I saw that. I would be SOOO here for that.

  8. Kris says:

    Why do these wish lists keep putting Katy Perry on them? She’s a bad live singer.

  9. Drewer says:

    Oh I would switch Kelly and Kristen around.

  10. SoozinCA says:

    My faves of yours would be Cabaret and Guys and Dolls, except in G&D I would completely flip who played which role with Bon Jovi as Nathan Detroit, Butler as Sky Masterson, Chenoweth as Miss Adelaide and Clarkson as Sarah. But how about Wicked which I would LOVE to see on TV, with Lea Michele as Elphaba, Chris Colfer as Boq, Julianne Hough as Glinda and Adam Lambert as Fiyero (he already knows the part from understudying). Also, would love to see Beauty and the Beast done on TV – not certain who I would cast though.

  11. Steven says:

    I would kill for a new Chicago.

  12. Et al says:

    Bombshell! Yes! yes! Yes!

  13. Matt says:

    Funny Girl starring Lea!!! …I’d love to see the 1970′s Applause starring jane Krakowski and Ewan Mcgregor!

  14. Stormy says:

    I’d go along with some of your choices. Things I’d change would be: JHud and Xtina in Chicago, Adam Lambert and Allison Iraheta in West Side Story, Kellie Pickler in Annie Get Your Gun and I’d swap the male roles in Guys & Dolls. Jon Bon Jovi as Nathan Detroit and Gerard Butler as Sky Masterson. I’d also suggest a redo of Grease using only American Idol alumni. There’s a lot of talent on that list.

  15. Hanne says:

    Love the idea! Would cast Adam Lambert in every role possible. His background in musical theater and his fantastic voice live would provide such a beautiful experience.

  16. Molly says:

    I want West Side Story, but Naya Rivera would be an awful Maria. The part is written for a soprano and has some very very high notes. She’s also a bit too sexy for the sweet, proper Maria. She would be a kickass Anita though.

  17. Cara says:

    Good suggestions! Of these, I’m most excited about My Fair Lady, West Side Story, and Evita. I’d also like so offer a musical that doesn’t get a ton of attention, but would be perfect for this time of year. That is Meet Me In St. Louis. I can’t think of anyone who could take on the Liza role other than Lea Michele.

    • Stormy says:

      How about Singing In The Rain with Hugh Jackman in the Gene Kelly role, Sean Hayes as Cosmo, and Xtina in the Debbie Reynolds role? Or Music Man with Jon Bon Jovi as Harold Hill and Katherine McPhee as Marion?

      • Stephanie says:

        If they were to do that, I’d cast Matthew Morrison in the Gene Kelly role – Matt has said that Gene is one of his idols, his interpretation of the title song on his Broadway standards album is wonderful

      • Heidi says:

        Oh, all of these suggestions would be outstanding! I’d still like to see Wicked, too.

    • audrey says:

      I think you mean the Judy role, not Liza role. That was a Judy Garland musical. (Liza is Judy’s daughter.)

  18. Esaul says:

    There are some good suggestions here, but the musicals they select are probably gonna stay G rated for the families out there. I would kill to see Seth MacFarlane in a musical though! Tremendous voice!

  19. Kate Garner says:

    That’s some fantastic casting! The only disagreement is West Side Story, I would really prefer Selena Gomez as Maria.

  20. Lisa says:

    Mame would be perfect. It is a fun show with a Christmas theme. I love our casting. I want Adam Lambert and Megan Hilty in anything!

  21. Judy says:

    All great suggestions.I would love to see Jesus Christ Superstar with Adam Lambert as Judas and Jon Bon Jovi as Jesus !

  22. Katt says:

    My Fair Lady, Chicago and Evita…. YES!!!

  23. Tony says:

    Good casting choices all around. Good musicals also. Went for classics rather then modern.

    No Wicked cause obvesley movie is in the works. Better cast Lea

  24. Sarah says:

    I NEED a new Chicago and I NEED a Fantasia-J.Hud-reunion!!

    • Ann says:

      That would be awesome…but I feel Jennifer Hudson would be too young to play Velma, it should be someone a bit older…maybe Beyonce.

  25. Boiler says:

    Like all the choices except Christina as Evita.

  26. Jeff says:

    I think Seth McFarlane is born to play Harold Hill

  27. Anna says:

    Anything as long as they bring back Laura Benanti (who killed it in the SOML) and Audra McDonald (who’s Audra McDonald, need I say more?)

  28. wordsmith says:

    Pretty sure you’ve got the roles the wrong way around in GUYS AND DOLLS – Gerard and Kelly make much more sense as Sky and Sarah, and Kristin Chenoweth is obviously Adelaide to a T.

    • Mallory says:

      THANK YOU – Kristen Chenoweth is the obvious Adelaide!!

    • scooby says:

      Preach. I knew someone would cry foul on this. Kristin’s got the natural speaking voice for Adelaide, she’d totally nail the comedic part and you can go ahead and give her the Emmy for it now–no need to film the thing. She’s too old for Sarah and Adelaide is supposed to be waiting so long for Nathan to propose–14 years wasn’t it? Kelly’s supposed to’ve been waiting since she was underaged? It looks a little ridiculous to have a Sarah who would’ve been in high school when Adelaide was born. If Kelly’s Sarah and Bon Jovi is Sky, he’s old enough to be her father so that doesn’t work either. I think your Nathan is clear–Harry Connick Jr. He’s the natural heir to Sinatra here and he can act. You need a stud who can sing for Sky and a more classical soprano for Sarah–sorry for Kelly but she’s got such a great belt and it’s not particularly light. Not sure I could stand to see Gerard Butler growl his way through “Luck Be a Lady” not that he’d do a live tv thing anyway. Fun fact, Michelle Dockery can sing (when she sang on Downton, it was purposefully not as good as she could do it). Perhaps she’d be a good Sarah. I say get Craig Bierko to reprise his Broadway role which he was great in–so in conclusion: Sarah = Michelle Dockery, Sky = Craig Bierko, Nathan = Harry Connick Jr, Adelaide = Kristin Chenoweth.

  29. Dom Pascullo says:

    Your idea’s about Guys and Dolls and La Cage are killer and spot on with casting. I’d watch both of those in a heart beat.

    • scooby says:

      How familiar are you with Guys & Dolls? The casting suggestion here is all kinds of off. Kelly’s not old enough for Adelaide by a long shot. Kristin’s too old for Sarah and would be perfect as Adelaide. I doubt Kelly would want to dance around in the Hot Box either. Kristin would nail that scene.

  30. uh huh says:

    CAROUSEL.

  31. Alia says:

    Oh, gosh, I would LOVE to see Jensen Ackles in a musical. The boy can sing, you know.

  32. Jay says:

    Naya as Anita in WSS, please and thank you :)

  33. Playhouse says:

    Fun suggestions.

    I fully expect them to go with some old standards, though. Probably ‘Carousel’ or ‘South Pacific’ or ‘Oklahaoma!’ ‘Guys and Dolls’ would be great. Though, isn’t someone trying to mount a new film version of it?

  34. Tammy says:

    I have a problem…………… no NPH or Idina Menzel or Taye Diggs!!!!! Come on now! But still no NPH is blasphemy

  35. Karen says:

    The musical they should absolutely do again is “A Chorus Line” and do it right this time!!!!!!!!!!1
    Also, those are pretty good picks!

  36. Carla Krae says:

    Also want to see BOMBSHELL !!

  37. Joe says:

    Dr.Horrible with the same cast and crew…you know what nevermind *puts dvd in*

  38. jen says:

    Love this idea! But as a few others have said, swap the roles for JBJ and Butler in Guys and Dolls.

  39. Amanda says:

    No glee cast ever. Thanks.

    • Alice says:

      And No people with currently airing fall TV shows either- no network is just going to release them for the 6+ weeks of rehearsal. And really- they only have to stunt cast 2 people, max -to the “name” factor: the rest of them can be legitimate Broadway vets like Audra MacDonald, Laura Bernati and Christian Borle. We don’t need to resort to Jon Bon Jovi or the Glee kids.

    • frankmcbee says:

      Yeah exclude people who can act and sing that make sense. You are actually saying they should exclude some proven Bway vets. Just becasue you don’t like the show doesn’t mean some of their aren’t talented.

      • Montavilla says:

        I agree with you that the Glee is extremely talented. But there’s only one or two that would create the kind of buzz that Carrie Underwood did. (Much as I think Naya Rivera would be great as Anita in WSS, she won’t bring in a huge audience for doing something she does a dozen or so times a year on Glee.)

        But, if we aren’t worrying about buzz, there’s a lot of stuff they’d be great for. How about Kevin McHale in Little Shop of Horrors?

  40. Et al says:

    Speaking of musicals… Tvline, where is your full length video recording of Hit List live from last weekend? I figured if anyone could have pulled off an exclusive it would have been you. ;)

  41. Tom Charles says:

    NO LEA MICHELLE!

    • Tom Charles says:

      but oh am I down for Anna Kendrick as Sally Bowles. Can we find someone else as the Master of Ceremonies though? Like maybe Alan Cumming?

      • audrey says:

        +1 for Alan Cumming. I love Anna Kendrick, too, and would be totally down for her as Sally Bowles, but I’d also love to see Sutton Foster as Sally. Sutton seems more flighty and energetic and would nail Sally’s personality (at least, IMO).

      • Montavilla says:

        The thing about Adam Lambert as the MC is, if anyone could make that role family friendly, he could. :)

        All the concerned moms would watch and say, “Oh, look! He’s singing about a threesome! Isn’t that sweet?”

    • Tom Charles says:

      And I’m noting a distinct lack of Kristen Bell………GREASE! SANDY!

    • Lon says:

      Oh stop she is more than capable of doing several of the roles mentioned. She is a bway vet and a fine actor and singer. So tired of aholes and their irrational hate.

  42. rowan77 says:

    Loved your casting for West Side Story, but you got it all wrong with Guys and Dolls. Kelly Clarkson should be Sara Brown and Kristen Chenowith as Adelaide. Miss Adelaide is a great comic part that Kristen would kill in it.

  43. Kate says:

    Tbh not really feeling your list, some of them don’t make sense, why would you cast Naya Rivera clear alto in a soprano part? And it also looked like some singers were just thrown into the list because you like them! Yeah some I’d agree with but most are well out!

  44. Nodie says:

    I would actually like to see Haley Reinhart as Roxie Hart. She can’t dance well but neither could Renee. And she sure can sing better.

    • Stormy says:

      IMO Xtina would wipe the floor with Haley both dancing and singing. To say nothing about likability.

      • HTGR says:

        Likability? Wow looks like you swallowed the Idol manipulations hook, line and sinker. That is why I don’t like A.I. they will play dirty trick and trash and tarnish their own contestants in order to push who they want to win and have things stay on the season’s script and for cheap one night controversy and drama for ratings. The Voice might do a little push this way and that, but they don’t do damaging dirty cheap stuff at that level.

    • Montavilla says:

      I’m not quite sure Haley Reinhart can really act, and I’m not sure she’s famous enough for people to overlook it. But, if she can, then I think she might make a good Glinda in Wicked.

  45. Drew says:

    These are some remarkably bad suggestions. First of all, the term “family friendly” would exclude a lot of these. Putting anyone from Glee in the show would be a bad move… they may be popular with tweets but a large portion of the population just finds them annoying, whether it is the fault of the actors or not.
    Going with too many Broadway types will ruin the feel of the one time performance which I think contributed to the success of The Sound of Music, where so many cast members were newbies.
    Personally, I could not watch Adam Lambert in anything. That screeching that he calls singing is like nails on a chalkboard.

    Peter Pan
    Cinderella
    My Fair Lady
    Annie

    I like the idea of Kelly Clarkson but I don’t know if she will want to devote that much time to a project so soon after having a baby.
    Jensen Ackles in… White Christmas!

    But anyone who stars on a tv show is probably out of the question.

    • Drew says:

      Meant to write “tweens” but my phone rebelled against the term.

    • Luke says:

      Its called Vocal Range Genius, you clearly have not heard Lambert sing to make such an ignorant statement like that.

      • Drew says:

        Yeah, I usually go around saying that people sound like nails on a chalkboard when I’ve never heard them sing. I also call people ugly when I’ve never seen them and often criticize the way TV characters smell. It’s this weird hobby I have. I’ve actually planned entire weekends around criticizing people for things that I’ve never actually witnessed. One time, I was like “Michelle Obama eats like a gecko” which was totally awesome because I’ve never seen Michelle Obama eat anything, nor have I ever seen a gecko eat anything.

        You know who’s ugly? Voids.

    • SoozinCA says:

      You may not care for Adam Lambert but ask anyone who actually has knowledge of vocal range and technique and across the board they have pegged him as one of the most remarkable voices in the world, ever. Pretty much everyone who has ever worked with him – from those trained in opera to Broadway to rock, and everything in between – has had only the most superlative praises for his vocal skills. Well, except perhaps for Randy Travis, but they say you can’t please everyone.

      • Drew says:

        Yeah and people smear dog crap on canvas, call it art and convince other people to pay millions for it. That doesn’t make it pretty.

        I’ve heard him sing. Nails. Chalkboard. I don’t care what people say I should think. Anyone with any knowledge of me hearing things knows that I never like the things that I think sound like nails on a chalkboard. Ask anyone.

        • Ryan says:

          You are now officially dismissed as a yahoo. Peace. Out.

          • Drew says:

            You didn’t dismiss me. You responded to me. Who is the yahoo now?

            Geez people. It is called an opinion. Everyone is entitled to them. I’m sure that you love Adam Lambert and Justin Bieber and whoever else people like these days. Personally I can’t stand them. So if he is cast in the next production I won’t even consider watching it. If you disagree, well bully for you. That is why I used the word “personally” in my comment. Roughly translated it means that this is my opinion. If you don’t like it you can go turn up your Lady Gaga music and cry into your pillow for a while.

  46. Jj says:

    Cabaret no, Guys and Dolls no, My Fair Lady no.
    However, Chicago yes.
    I wouldn’t mind seeing Grease done either. Or Bye Bye Birdie!!

  47. jbj says:

    See, I saw Jensen more as a Sky Masterson, than a Tony.

  48. mirvin365 says:

    Family friendly probably means Peter Pan, Oklahoma or Annie but I would watch any of these suggestions. Grease is popular & iconic but the actual show can be raunchy without editing (see: lyrics to Grease Lighting). And there was a TV version of Music Man not long ago with Matthew Broderick & Kristen Chenowith.

    There is an old TV version of Peter Pan from TV with Mary Martin but I don’t know how well known those songs are. And Annie was just brought back to Broadway so they may not want to compete with that. So I’m guessing it will be Oklahoma: iconic, decidedly PG and hasn’t been done in a while.

  49. A says:

    Singing in the Rain please! I am not sure who they could get to be as handsome as Gene Kelly through

  50. Kate'shomesick says:

    As a clasically trained singer: your choices for West side story are the stuff of my nightmares…