Game Changers: The Broadway Musicals That Shaped the Art Form

By Ben Rimalower
29 Mar 2014



In the Heights (2008)

2008's Tony Award-winning "Best Musical" In the Heights was successful on Broadway, playing for three years, but as the first hip-hop Broadway musical, its impact on the genre remains to be seen. While rock purists may debate the rock-and-roll legitimacy of Hair, Jesus Christ Superstar or Rent (I think most would at least cop to Hedwig and the Angry Inch), Broadway gets at least partial credit for giving rock musicals more than a fair try. Actually, though, a hip-hop musical is an even better idea. Hip-hop, more than rock and perhaps even more than the Great American Songbook, is a style devoted to storytelling. Time will tell whether this form, which has become so prevalent in contemporary pop music, finds a new home in Broadway musicals.

(Ben Rimalower is the author and original star of the critically acclaimed Patti Issues. Read Playbill.com's coverage of the solo show here. Visit him at benrimalower.com and follow @benrimalower on Twitter.)