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.

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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.

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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. Et al says:

    The problem is a lot of the family friendly and super popular classics have already been redone in recent years. Music Man, Annie, Cinderella, Mattress, etc. I’m almost thinking they have to go with My Fair Lady or West Side Story.

    • Alice says:

      The Secret Garden. A Christmas Carol. Meet Me In St. Louis. Hairspray. The Music Man. Beauty and the Beast. Oliver. Or just give the girls what they want and do Newsies already. It will be like coming full circle.

      • Alia says:

        Meet Me in St. Louis is a good choice if they plan to make this a holiday event every year.

      • scooby says:

        The Secret Garden would amazing. Expensive but amazing. If Sound of Music cost $9 mil I don’t see how TSG wouldn’t cost more. I’d find it hilarious and awesome if they did Newsies. I liked the original version and they nailed it on Broadway. The dance numbers would be insane.

  2. My choice would be Rock of Ages.

  3. Teeny Bikini says:

    Are you kidding me?! I would watch any of those combinations. And you actually found a ton singers with really acting chops – which will make all of the difference.

  4. Mely says:

    Well it’s adorable that anyone thinks Naya Rivera could handle the high B-flats and Cs in West Side Story as Maria.

    • frankmcbee says:

      Why would anyone want Naya for Maria, Anita is a much meatier role and fit her. She doesn’t have the right range for for Maria either they would have to transpose it.

  5. Ali says:

    I had hoped to see Kevin McKidd in The Sound of Music. The male lead they used opposit Carrie Underwood was underwhelming. Kevin would have been WAY more fun and would have given a stellar performance. His voice is to-die-for. I hope someone will consider casting him in a musical so he can show his stuff.

    I feel that TSOM should have been left alone and never re-done. It felt almost disrespectful to Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer and the rest of the original cast.

  6. mm says:

    All of these selections are horrifically bad wow. You are a TV reporter, shouldn’t you know that pretty much none of those are family friendly and would all bomb in the ratings??? Try The Wizard of Oz or Annie.

    • SoozinCA says:

      I disagree that none of Michael’s list are family friendly. I saw My Fair Lady when I was in grade school, and a few of the others too. There are other good choices besides Annie, which is in revival on Broadway, and The Wizard of Oz which is presently touring with new music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Oliver, Beauty and the Beast, Wicked, The Lion King. I’m hoping they don’t decide to redo Mary Poppins but I bet that’s being considered too – especially with it having had a Broadway show recently and Saving Mr. Banks coming out this month which likely will spark new interest.

  7. Susan says:

    Fun fact – Christiane Noll was in the US production of Witches of Eastwick. She was also in last week’s Sound of Music!

  8. Skippy says:

    Alan Cumming is now, has been, and forever shall be the greatest Emcee in Cabaret. Joel Gray was brilliant, but Alan Cumming brings wicked sadness to the role.

  9. frankmcbee says:

    Why would anyone want Naya for Maria, Anita is a much meatier role and fit her. She doesn’t have the right range for for Maria either they would have to transpose it.

  10. xx says:

    Amused at the idea of Katy Perry singing live on TV.

  11. lena says:

    Jesus Christ Superstar, with Matt Bellamy as Jesus, Adam Lambert as Judas, and Gin Wigmore as Mary Magdalene, in time for Easter :)

  12. Alia says:

    This list needs more Skylar Astin.

  13. Sarah says:

    SINGING IN THE RAIN
    Hugh Jackman as Don Lockwood, Neil Patrick Harris as Cosmo Brown, and Sutton Foster as Kathy Selden

    • Stormy says:

      I’d much prefer Sean Hayes as Cosmo. Picture NPH doing the “Make ‘em Laugh” number, then picture Sean doing it. The likeness to Donald O’Connor is striking. IMO Sutton Foster isn’t a big enough name to draw viewers. Xtina would gather more eyes.

  14. leah says:

    I LOVE this!
    I just want to see more musicals on tv in general
    Glee is becoming more popular but their quality is down
    musicals would be perfect to fill the void

  15. dude says:

    I actually love all of these. It’s sad that most of these will never happen as NBC’s grounds for a live musical are ones that are “family friendly” with “lots of well-known songs”

    • Stormy says:

      Annie Get Your Gun is perfect for it.
      Doin’ What Comes Naturally
      The Girl That I Marry
      You Can’t Get a man With A Gun
      There’s No Business Like Show Business
      They Say It’s Wonderful
      Anything You Can Do [I can do better]
      I Got The Sun In The Morning
      My Defenses Are Down
      It needs a good baritone for Frank Butler and a slightly twangy ingenue for Annie. I’d go with Harry Connick Jr. and Hayden Panettiere or Miranda Lambert.

      • Montavilla says:

        How about Big River? Hopefully no one would find that story too objectionable, and it’s country-ish music (with some gospel-ish music thrown in). Hire any cute young guy for the lead. There’s a lot of really great African-American singers who could play Jim.

        And NPH would be great in the role of the Duke.

  16. Titina says:

    How about a WIzard of Oz live? That would be awesome.

  17. Caro says:

    I would love to see “My Fair Lady” with Lea and Hugh! “West Side Story” would be great with Naya and Jensen IF Jensen can sing! (Jensen has the charisma to play Tony but I’ve never heard him sing.) No interest in Bombshell unless Katharine McPhee is playing Marilyn – I loved Hilty in “Let’s Be Bad” but in all the other songs she fell flat for me. Plus, Hilty cannot handle the choreography. Why isn’t “HitList” on this list?

  18. Ella says:

    OMG, Jensen Ackles and Naya Rivera?! I think my brain would implode!

  19. Sara says:

    Jensen Ackles as Tony would be a must see for me.

  20. Ann says:

    Kristen Bell and Lea Michelle in Wicked!! And Adam Lambert as Fiyero….that would be awesome….This would bring in the younger viewers…then you can have someone like Hugh Laurie as the Wizard….a broadway vet, maybe Audra McDonald again, for Madam Morrible. Then we have to find a way to bring Laura Benanti back in a singing role…

  21. Brittney says:

    I might actually die if Jensen Ackles was in a musical! Thats just perfect for him. And he would be a great Tony! Anything to get him more recognized with the general public because that guy is so freaking talented and underutilized by the writers on SPN

  22. Montavilla says:

    Nobody’s even mentioned The Wiz. Michael, how could you outlook that as a vehicle for Rachel Crow?

  23. Angela says:

    Anything that puts David Hyde Pierce back on TV, I’m all for it.

  24. carolelee1 says:

    PLEASE LISTEN TO Brigadoon with Adam Lambert -ENOUGH SAID!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DJYyqzUr6jU

  25. Alexandra says:

    Love Guys and Dolls, but Kristin as Adeleide, Idina as Sarah Brown, Craig Bierko as Sky, NPH as Nathan and Nathan Lane as Nicely Nicely Johnson.

  26. Please, please tell me you are joking about the Evita casting? No more pop singers trying to swing vocalizations that are borderline operatic. I already suffered through Madonna’s wooden metronome like performance. NO MORE!
    .
    Naya is definitely more an Anita than a Maria.
    .
    My two cents about Wicked is this: Lea as young Elphaba and Idina as older Elphaba. Kristen Bell as young Glinda and Kristen C. as older Glinda.
    .
    While I love Lea, I’m not entirely sure that she could handle the horrible british accent needed to be Eliza without it being cringe worthy. Hugh Laurie should 110% be Professor Higgins but Hugh Jackman needs another role because he is sooooo awesome.

  27. M says:

    I would love…um all of them?

  28. Alan Dvorkis says:

    How about bringing back Smash. Only this time, give it a chance to succeed. If not, then Sweet Charity has so many great songs that it needs to be seen by millions. Also the obscure, The Fig Leaves are Falling has beautiful music with lyrics by the one and only, Allan Sherman. Longshots do happen, but not when money is involved. Sorry I wasted space.

  29. blah!! says:

    yeah because we need more singing & dancing on TV.

  30. Erin says:

    They are going to go family friendly, which takes quite a few off your list. I could see them doing Music Man or Bye Bye Birdie. Or Cinderella or Peter Pan, which have both aired live before. They will want something that will appeal to children but won’t put off their parents. They should go with actual Broadway performers, raid the conservatories, or at least pull TV actors that can sing (not singers that can’t act). You could do Cinderella with a young ingenue pulled from a conservatory (or do a Lloyd-Webber-style televised search in the summer so that people are invested in it) and use a couple of good names to fill the supporting roles. Kristen Chenowith would be great as the fairy godmother, maybe Christine Baranski as the wicked stepmother, Zachary Levi as the prince…

  31. Leanna says:

    YES! YES! YES to My Fair Lady and West Side Story!

  32. tvetc says:

    LOL at katy perry!
    as if the girl can sing a note while moving

  33. KJ says:

    I know the idea has been floating around but I would enjoy Cinderella with Beyoncé as the fairy godmother.

  34. JIM says:

    THE PRODUCERS LOOKS GOOD AS DOES ANNIE GET YOUR GUN WITH ONE SUBSTITUTION, DANIELLE BRADBERY AS ANNIE (THE VOICE WINNER IN 2013)