Singin’ into Adulthood

Let these five musicals sing you through the stepping stones of life.


Musicals have a way of being able to explain almost any emotion a person can feel… in song. Whether it be the pain of a heartbreak, the loss of a loved one, or even assuming your roommate is gay. Here are five musicals that might help you go through the confusing and messy time that is adulthood.

1. Avenue Q

When you hear “Avenue Q,” the first thing that pops into your head is probably… puppets. And while you’re not wrong about the show’s mix of puppets with adult humor, the musical is a lot better than it may sound at first.

The plot goes like this: Princeton, not the college, but instead a college graduate, tries to find his reason to live. He rents an apartment in “Avenue Q” in New York City, and meets many new friends who are just as fucked up because of life as he is. Princeton and his friends realize true realities of adulthood including heartbreak, realizing the internet is for porn, and that everyone is a little bit racist.

In the end, the musical makes note to let Princeton and the viewers know that most people never find their purpose but that life goes on and everything is only “for now.”

2. Tick, Tick… BOOM!

While Jonathan Larson’s second musical, “Rent,” still proves to be his most well-known piece — “Tick, Tick… BOOM!” is another masterpiece by the late composer.

The musical is autobiographical and focuses on Jon, who introduces the show explaining his anxiety over failing his dreams of becoming a composer while also on his way to being really old. With the world doubting him, his best friend convincing him to quit his dreams like he had for a more practical job, and his girlfriend prompting him to have a more stable lifestyle so they could start a family together, the musical highlights Jon’s struggle of choosing practicability over his passions.

And while Larson’s life may have not gotten a happy ending, Jon’s story ends up on a much lighter note.

3. Hamilton

While the “Hamilton” seems way too overhyped, the musical is definitely something to look into at least once in your life. Portrayed by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who also wrote the plot, music, and lyrics, Alexander Hamilton is not your typical rags to riches story.

As an immigrant, “bastard, orphan, son of a whore,” Hamilton is a man who came from difficult beginnings and is looked down upon for them. But in spite of his roots, his fierce stubbornness doesn’t get in the way of him building his and America’s legacy. While his journey faced many conflicts, and his choices were never always right, Hamilton’s passion to turn his dreams into a reality is one that’s inspiring.

4. Fun Home

A huge part of our lives are built from relationships we have with our parents, which is explored in the musical “Fun Home.” As an adaptation of the autobiographical graphic novel written Alison Bechdel, the musical focuses on the relationship Bechdel has with her father Bruce, who died walking in front of a truck. Thinking back to her childhood, Alison tries to understand the effects of her father’s dysfunction on their family and understand herself and her own sexuality while in college. Alison’s story is one of self-discovery, while also explaining how our parents, sometimes not directly, affect who we become as people.

5. Waitress

“Waitress,” a musical adaptation of the film by the same name written by the late Adrienne Shelly, focuses on a waitress (spoiler alert). Jenna Hunterson, begins the show going through a midlife crisis being trapped in an unhappy marriage while also finding out she was impregnated by her gynecologist. Going through the musical trying to claim back the identity she once lost, Jenna’s story shows even in times when we feel like we’ve lost ourselves, it’s never too late to “rewrite an ending or two.”

While there are only five musicals on this list, there are a lot more out there to sing along to. If you have any recommendations, or if you liked the article, feel free to leave a response!