The Best Shows You Can See on Broadway Right Now

Theater is back after a year of going dark.

best shows currently on broadway
'Six' | Joan Marcus
'Six' | Joan Marcus

After a long absence, Broadway is officially back. The home base of American theater quietly began performances again in August 2021 with the play Pass Over, but on September 14, it was back in full swing with the re-openings of big tourist attractions like The Lion KingWicked, Hamilton, and Chicago. Now the season, for the first time in more than a year, is kicking off and (masked and vaxxed) audiences are heading back to theaters. And while the Omicron COVID-19 variant did interrupt some productions, closing the likes of Jagged Little PillWaitress, and Ain't Too Proud, the show is still going on. Here's what we think you should go see if you're ready.

american utopia
Matthew Murphy

Choreographer: Annie-B Parson
Why it's great: David Byrne's quasi-concert, quasi-dance piece has returned to Broadway, so now you have another chance to catch one of the most exhilarating, life-affirming performances you will ever see. Sure, you could watch the Spike Lee movie version, but nothing comes close to seeing it for yourself live.
Watch the number "Burning Down the House"

caroline or change
Joan Marcus

Director: Michael Longhurst (Constellations)
Why it's great: This operetta set in Louisiana in 1963 about a Black maid and the Jewish family she works for first came to Broadway in 2004, but it's power as a piece of art has only seemed to grow since then, as its view into the past looks almost prescient. A semi-autobiographical piece for book writer and lyricist Tony Kushner, of Angels in America fame, with music by Jeanine Tesori (Fun Home), Caroline, or Change has returned in a stunning new production that originated in London with an incredible performance from British actress Sharon D. Clarke as Caroline whose anger and intransigence drives the narrative. It's a challenging show, musically and thematically, but a thoroughly rewarding experience.
Watch "Salty Teardrops"

come from away
Matthew Murphy

Director: Christopher Ashley (Memphis, Xanadu)
Why it's great: A "musical about 9/11" doesn't sound like a particularly joyous way to spend an evening, but Come From Away avoids turgidity by honing in on its characters. The show stages the true story of a group of flying travelers rerouted on the tragic day and eventually taken in by residents of the small Canadian town of Gander, Newfoundland. The entire production feels charmingly intimate and DIY for Broadway, boasting a hardworking cast constantly on the move, always switching between accents and characters. The songs aren't all that memorable, but they are galvanizing toe-tappers that elicit both smiles and tears.
Hear the number "Me and the Sky"

Matthew Murphy

Director: Marianne Elliott (Angels in America)
Why it's great: Marianne Elliott's bold reimagining of Company (one of Stephen Sondheim's most beloved works, which opened shortly after the composer and lyricist died), gender swaps the protagonist going through an existential crisis. Bobby is now Bobbie, played by Katrina Lenk with sexiness and jitteriness. The action takes place around Bobbie's 35th birthday party where all of her "good and crazy" "married friends" are planning a surprise party, but Elliott has conceived it as sort of an Alice in Wonderland funhouse. The stagecraft is magnificent and pays off in spades in numbers like "Not Getting Married Today" now sung by Jamie instead of Amy. But it's Sondheim's show stopping numbers that keep this production as vital as it was in 1970. Plus, nothing beats Patti LuPone singing "The Ladies Who Lunch."
Watch the cast's Tiny Desk concert

girl from the north country
Matthew Murphy

Director: Conor McPherson (The Seafarer)
Why it's great: Jukebox musicals are typically seen as crowd-pleasing affairs, but that is not Girl from the North Country. Sure, it uses the music of Bob Dylan, but it's not encouraging any singalongs. Instead, the Irish playwright Conor McPherson, who also directs, uses the folk rock legend's music to punctuate a tale of sorrow at a boarding house in Depression-era Minnesota. The songs are deep cuts for the most part, though Mare Winningham does deliver a stirring rendition of "Like a Rolling Stone." It's a chilly affair with a bleakness that can turn overwhelming. (Reopens October 13.) 
Listen to "Slow Train/License to Kill"

hadestown
Matthew Murphy

Director: Rachel Chavkin (Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812)
Why it's great: Hadestown tells an ancient story in an old-timey vernacular and is still one of the freshest things you'll see on Broadway. Stemming from a concept album singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell put out back in 2010, it uses Americana folk and jazz traditions to reinvent the tale of Orpheus and Eurydice, young lovers who get mixed up with the fickle gods of the underworld, Hades and Persephone. Mitchell weaves nods to current struggles like climate change into the narrative—and Hades' threatening song "Why We Build The Wall" has only grown more eerily relevant since she composed it—but director Rachel Chavkin's stunning focus imbues it with earthy magic that will take your breath away.
Watch the number "Wait For Me" 

hamilton
Joan Marcus

Director: Thomas Kail (Lombardi, In the Heights)
Why it's great: Given that Lin-Manuel Miranda's unstoppable rap-infused dramatization of the founding father's life is arguably the 21st century's one true theatrical masterpiece, you probably figured we'd include it here. Hamilton is a musical that's made audiences reconsider the medium, and while it's still difficult to get tickets, these days you don't even have to be in New York to see it: There are productions in Chicago and London, as well as a national tour currently underway.
Hear the number "Alexander Hamilton"

the lion king
Brinkhoff-Mogenburg

Director: Julie Taymor (Across the Universe)
Why it's great: I was lucky enough to see The Lion King on reopening night, a joyful experience complete with an intro from director Julie Taymor herself. Did I cry all the way through "The Circle of Life"? I sure did. Had I forgotten just how special this production truly is? Yes. If you haven't seen the Broadway version of the Disney hit in a while and you want to be immersed in stagecraft, go again. Taymor's staging is truly innovative, from the colorful interpretation of "I Just Wait to Be King" to the starry transformations in "He Lives in You." Go. You won't regret it.
Listen to "Shadowland"

six
Joan Marcus

Six 

Directors: Lucy Moss and Jamie Armitage 
Why it's great: Six is quite possibly the best time you'll have on Broadway this season. There are deaths, divorces, and beheadings, but that's just par (if not Parr, as in Catherine) for the course when you're dealing with the six wives of Henry VIII. But this production imagines the ladies as fierce pop stars, a girl group in the guise of the Spice Girls or Fifth Harmony. The members of Six stage a competition for the audience every night: They'll each get a solo detailing their tragic tale, and whichever one had the worst time being married to the English monarch wins. Catherine of Aragon starts things off with a Beyoncé-esque jam about annulment. Anne of Cleves brings down the house with her killer bop about living large after Henry thinks she doesn't match her Hans Holbein portrait (a.k.a. her profile picture). Jane Seymour sings a plaintive ballad. All the performers do some incredible vocal olympics, belting high notes and doing runs as if their lives depended on it. The show's feel-good feminist messaging is not all that challenging, but who cares when you're caught up in the catchy tunes?
Watch highlights from the show

to kill a mockingbird
Julieta Cervantes

Director: Bartlett Sher (My Fair Lady, The King and I)
Why it's great: Aaron Sorkin's adaptation of Harper Lee's seminal novel had a rough journey to Broadway, but it overcame a lawsuit to become one of the biggest hits of the season. Sure, it was snubbed for Best Play at the Tonys, but you should still make time for it—that is, if you can snag a ticket. What's most fascinating about Sorkin's take on the material is how he chooses to reframe Atticus Finch's famous arguments. This isn't some kind of Go Set a Watchmen revision of the character, but the play takes a skeptical eye to Finch's axioms about walking around in another person's shoes, while still allowing for all the speechifying you'd expect from a Sorkin-Jeff Daniels collaboration. (Daniels originated the role.) Adult actors savvily play the children, Scout, Jem, and Dill, who narrate the action. Their voices are a highlight, as is the expanded role of Calpurnia. 

wicked
Joan Marcus

Director: Joe Mantello (The Humans)
Why it's great: The slow reopening of Broadway has given theater fans a chance to revisit their favorites, and many have flocked to Wicked to relive their 2003 teen girl angst. It's hard not to be taken with Stephen Schwartz's incredibly catchy score as you watch the story of Galinda (a.k.a. Glinda) and Elphaba as they turn from enemies to friends to frenemies. You might even forget how silly some of the lyrics are.
Listen to "The Wizard and I"

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Esther Zuckerman is a senior entertainment writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @ezwrites.