Do you love the theater? Did you grow up enjoying timeless hits like Grease, the Sound of Music and My Fair Lady before broadening your horizons as an adult? If so, you’re not alone.
The hype and excitement of places New York’s Broadway and London’s West End has captured the attention of millions of people around the world. And now…. you can enjoy musicals, in podcast form!
That’s right, there’s a whole host of complete series out there for you and the Broadway obsessives in your life!
And, like with real musical theater (and audio fiction at large!), the scope of genres covered in this medium is massive.
So, you’ve spent any of the last five to ten years belting our Hamilton or Hadestown lyrics out at the top of your lungs, this (by no means exhaustive) list of musical podcasts will find you something new to love.
And even better yet? The shows don’t come with the hefty price tag of an in-person Broadway show, even when it does feature real life Broadway talent!
7 Musical Podcasts for 2024
- 7. Newts
- 6. CrossBread
- 5. The Ballad of Anne & Mary
- 4. Childish: The Podcast Musical
- 3. In Strange Woods
- 2. Anthem: Homunculus
- 1. 36 Questions
Newts exists in the perfect cross section of my personal interests: a surf rock musical adaptation of the 1936 Czech sci-fi novel War With the Newts by Karel Čapek.
Co-created and produced by Ian Cross and Sam Jay Gold, with production help from Jonathan Mitchell of The Truth, this series has everything that I could have ever possibly wanted out of a new take on this brilliant source material.
Presented as an alternate history of the 20th century, a briney sea captain stumbles upon a life-changing discovery: bipedal and seemingly intelligent newts that can be trained for menial labor.
But what starts as a meteoric rise through capitalistic exploitation slowly turns as the newts find language, technology, and ultimately: weapons strong enough to overthrow the balance of the entire world.
With a description like that, you might expect this series to be a heavy handed one, but it’s frankly hilarious. With stellar sound design and a catchy score chock full of sea shanties that’ll have you humming along long after you finish its six episode run.
CrossBread is a show I likely never would have come across if I hadn’t worked with ThirdSight Media on the 2020 Virtual PodTales Festival. But upon reviewing submissions for our showcase feed that year, I came across a gem that I would soon discover was unlike any other.
Presented as a musical ‘mockumentary’ about a Christian Rap Duo produced and released by the Australian Broadcast Company, CrossBread is one of the funniest podcasts I’ve ever heard, musical or not.
Twins Joan and Josh Burns formed CrossBread for fun in 2015 while working together in a donut shop, only to see their fame explode across GodTube with hit singles like, “It’s Just Jesus,” and “A Christian on a Mission (ain’t a Christian to be dissin’)”.
The series itself tracks the very fast rise to fame, followed by the fallout of the duo’s split, told form the perspective of Ken Lim, their former social media manager. If you’re a fan of Danny McBride’s The Righteous Gemstones on HBO, this series is right up your alley.
5. The Ballad of Anne & Mary
When The Ballad of Anne & Mary dropped, it set my mind on fire. Not only was this an incredibly high-fidelity musical with a brilliant score, but it was a sapphic swashbuckling adventure story starring two of piracy’s most infamous perpetrators.
Produced by Long Cat Media, the same team behind the fantastic Mockery Manor podcast, I knew going in that this show would be top tier, but I didn’t know just how hard it would go.
As with Newts above, this show has its fair share of sea shanties, but I just need to impress upon all of you how phenomenal the instrumentation is. Laurence Owen’s score, coupled with Lindsay Sharman’s script, and the incredible talents of Christina Bianco and Sooz Kempner as the eponymous duo, this show’s got something for everyone.
If you were as heartbroken as I am by the recent cancellation of Our Flag Means Death, and you can mess with a musical? The Ballad of Anne & Mary is exactly what you need.
4. Childish: The Podcast Musical
You just cannot talk about musical fiction podcasts without touching upon the sheer genius of Rye Dorsey, Zachary Goldberg, Sabeen Shawlani, Lucas Elijah Friedman, and Kamau Wainaina’s Childish: The Podcast Musical. Set in the relatively low stakes world of university resident assistants, Dante is a college student who signs up to RA with the wild-eyed dreams of following in the footsteps of hero, the rapper Childish Gambino.
Only, Dante’s ascent isn’t such a sure thing, when he realizes that all of his other co-RA’s are hellbent on making his life miserable. This show features an electric cast of current (at the time of its late 2019 premiere) NYU students, impossible to forget songs, and a truly outsized sense of acerbic wit.
Like the other shows, it has a short season with only four episodes, but every single one is a hit, and I promise it’ll scratch every itch you didn’t know you even had. For fans of Atlanta, because even though that show’s not really a musical, it was created by Dante’s own hero, Donald Glover.
3. In Strange Woods
Atypical Artists’ In Strange Woods is a bit of an outlier on this list, because while it is an absolute banger of a musical, there isn’t anything funny about it.
Created by Jeff Luppino-Esposito, Brett Ryback, and Matt Sav, with executive production by Lauren Shippen and Briggon Snow, this series is instead presented as an investigative podcast looking into a group of teens who turn toward the practice of survivalism in an attempt to deal with the grief of the death of one of their friends and brothers.
Simultaneously a meditation on loss, war, PTSD, and the ways in which the community reacts to tragedy, this series is heart-stoppingly gorgeous. With a cast that features Snow alongside Brett Ryback, Lily Mae Harrington, Donna Lynne Champlin, Patrick Page, and Michaela Watkins, everyone is firing on all cylinders across this six episode series.
What’s fantastic here is that the story constantly keeps you guessing, wondering whether or not the recluse teaching these teens how to survive had anything to do with the boy who died the year before. For fans of Mare of Easttown but, you know, in a less brutally evil and more musical way.
2. Anthem: Homunculus
I’ll admit, I only recently came to Anthem: Homunculus because of its original status as a Luminary exclusive podcast. Created by (and starring) John Cameron Mitchell of Hedwig & the Angry Inch fame, and originally conceived of as a sequel to that very production, this show has a little bit of everything for everyone.
As should be expected when experiencing a show by John Cameron Mitchell, the series is equal parts hilarious, haunting, and contemplative, and deserves its many laurels.
Playing an exaggerated version of himself, who never left behind the Kansas home where he was born, the 10-episode series follows Ceann Mackay, a broke artist currently running a audio telethon to crowdfund his own brain surgery.
With other superstars along for the ride like Glenn Close, Cynthia Ervio, Nakahne, and Patti Lupone, Anthem: Homunculus spares no expense when it comes to showcasing true theatrical talent. It’s genuinely a huge boon that this show is no longer behind a paywall, and I’d love to see it find more of the audience it deserves!
1. 36 Questions
Of all of the shows on this list, 36 Questions is the one that you’re most likely to have heard of. Produced by Two-Up, the team that brought us the hit-podcast sensation Limetown, and starring real life Broadway-superstars Jonathan Groff and Jessie Shelton, this show hit the airwaves all the way back in 2017. And while I do take umbrage with this team’s insistence to call their series the first podcast musical when The Fall of the House of Sunshine premiered six months before it, its staying power has more than made up for that marketing slight.
In 36 Questions, Jase and Natalie are a couple on the brink of divorce, who use those same questions to try and reignite the spark of their marriage. Across three blisteringly beautiful episodes with a book and score by Ellen Winter & Chris Littler, these characters break our hearts over and over again with their (unfortunately dying) love for one another. It also just so happens to feature one of the most adorable podcast-animal mascots in Jase’s pet duck, Henry.
Let musical podcasts bring joy to your life!
I hope in my list above you’ve found a musical podcast that appeals to you! If not, check out my very fun list of Best Fiction Podcasts for First Time Listeners.
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