A Star is Born, the 2018 movie directed by Bradley Cooper and starring Cooper and Lady Gaga, is many things: a romantic tragedy, a story of a talented singer’s rise, the tale of a fading rock star’s fall. It’s also a musical, full of rousing songs that perfectly encapsulate the drama unfolding onscreen.
If you loved A Star is Born and have already watched the three previous incarnations of the film, don’t fret — here we share 10 recommendations for other musicals you can dive into (in the sha-a-a-a-low).
To princess Giselle, all of life is an animated Disney movie. When she ends up in the middle of New York, she learns that life is a bit more complex than your typical fairy tale, but that doesn’t stop her from putting on a show-stopping number or two.
Enchanted is sweet and charming — and ultimately a lot more innocent and optimistic than A Star is Born. However, Amy Adams’ Giselle shares a similar fish out of water quality with Lady Gaga’s rising pop star Ally. If you loved that about A Star is Born but wished it had a happier ending, Enchanted is a good alternative.
The Bob Fosse-directed Cabaret centers on Liza Minnelli’s Sally Bowles, a performer at the over-the-top Kit Kat Klub in Berlin in 1931. Bowles seems like the life of the party until things take a turn. Based on the stage musical of the same name, Cabaret contrasts the decadence of Bowles’ life with the social and political upheaval happening around her as the Nazi party rises to power.
Like A Star is Born the characters of Cabaret reach amazing highs and sink to amazing lows. And after seeing this musical you won’t be able to get the words to the title tune out of your head.
8 THAT THING YOU DO!
That Thing You Do! takes place in the ‘60s just after The Beatles hit it big in the States, leading to the search for an American counterpart. In this Tom Hanks-directed movie, the Pennsylvania band The Wonders might just be that group.
The band rides the wave of their infectious hit song straight to stardom, just like Ally in A Star is Born. Unlike Ally, the group is a one-hit wonder. The film explores how the trappings of fame and the compromises of the music business quickly take their toll and lead to conflict and turmoil.
7 THE GREATEST SHOWMAN
This musical was inspired by P.T. Barnum's creation of the show that eventually became the Barnum & Bailey Circus, which was labeled “the greatest show on Earth.” While the movie stars Hugh Jackman as Barnum and is based on real events, there’s a lot of artistic license taken with the story. Nonetheless, it’s a rousing narrative of the rise of a show biz impresario and how he learns what’s really important.
Like Ally’s trajectory in A Star is Born, The Greatest Showman centers on Barnum's ascension from humble beginnings to stardom. It also contains a worthwhile message about acceptance. However, it’s the spectacle and fantastic musical numbers that make this movie such a great show.
6 THE SOUND OF MUSIC
The Sound of Music won the award for Best Picture at the 1966 Oscars and is considered a classic today. Based on the true story of the von Trapp Family Singers, the movie centers on Maria, a nun-in-training in Austria, whose creativity and imagination make her a terrible fit for the abbey. The Mother Superior finds her a position as a governess for a local Navy captain’s seven children and she wins the brood over by teaching them to sing and perform.
When Austria is annexed by Germany and the Third Reich summons Captain von Trapp into military service, the family uses their burgeoning musical success as a cover to escape to Switzerland. Like A Star is Born, this film shows the way music and performance can bring people together and make their lives better, even in the face of hardship.
Dreamgirls traces the rise of an R&B girl group from Detroit in the ‘60s and ‘70s and the way a record executive molds and manipulates them. Like A Star is Born it showcases the ups and especially the downs of the music business. Through the story of Jennifer Hudson's Effie, in particular, the movie shows how the industry cruelly uses people up and spits them out,
Effie and former star Jimmy “Thunder” Early (Eddie Murphy) experience downfalls similar to that of A Star is Born’s Jackson Maine. And it’s every bit as tragic to see these characters suffer because of the callousness and insensitivity of industry gatekeepers while falling prey to their own weaknesses.
4 SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN
Singin’ in the Rain is one of the best musicals ever made. Even though it was made in 1952, it still holds up today. The film takes place in the world of show business just like A Star is Born and many of the movies on this list, but there’s no angst here. Singin’ in the Rain is exuberant and buoyant — and sure to put a smile on your face.
The story takes place during the transition from silent to sound films in the 1920s and centers on what that means for the actors who now must actually talk instead of just looking pretty and gesticulating wildly. It’s a funny, upbeat film with fantastic songs that shouldn’t be missed.
Chicago is based on the stage musical that shares its name, and its success helped usher in a renaissance in movie musicals. It tells the tale of fame-hungry Roxie Hart and famous vaudeville star Velma Kelly, whose paths cross when they are imprisoned together after taking out men who did them wrong.
The different characters in the movie cultivate, use, and abuse fame for their own ends. It’s a cynical but fun take on what people will do for the adoration of strangers. And it falls squarely on the commerce side of the art versus commerce debate that’s embedded in A Star is Born.
This charming movie doesn’t have the razzle-dazzle of many movie musicals. But what it lacks in spectacle it more than makes up for with a delicate story about two people falling in love while making music together. In Dublin, a busker meets an immigrant who plays the piano. Together the unnamed pair bond as they write and record songs. The duo work out the disappointments of their pasts and express their budding feelings for each other through their music.
Once is quiet and grounded while still being touching and immersive, much like the scenes where Jackson and Ally grow closer as they talk about and share music with one another.
1 MOULIN ROUGE!
Like A Star is Born, the musical Moulin Rouge! is a tragic romance. In 1899, an English writer moves to Paris and falls in love with the star courtesan of the Moulin Rouge. Soon she returns his feelings but they are caught in a love triangle with a wealthy Duke who is willing to invest in the club but only in exchange for her affections. At the same time, a force bigger than any of them is waiting in the wings.
Moulin Rouge! is stylish and flamboyant and includes anachronistic musical numbers that make it a truly unique experience. However, it’s the love story at its center that makes this musical truly memorable.