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Everything You Need To Know About Musical Theatre

Photograph of the blog post author, Annika Hope

Annika Hope


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Musical theatre is a genre that is really special, and that has such a rich history. Just take a look at the packed out theatres around the globe, especially in London and New York. Their audiences are captivated by the stories told on stage. It can feel exhilarating and fulfilling to bring a story to life through these various art forms. Additionally, to connect with an audience through the power of live performance.

musical theatre

Musical Theatre

Musical theatre is a form of theatrical performance that combines songs, spoken dialogue, acting, and dance. It originated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and has since become a popular form of entertainment around the world. Musicals often tell a story through a series of songs and scenes, with the music and lyrics helping to convey the emotions and themes of the production. Some well-known musicals include “The Phantom of the Opera,” “Les Misérables,” and “Hamilton.”

Musical Theatre History

Musical theatre has its roots in various forms of theatrical entertainment, including opera, vaudeville, and burlesque. The modern musical as we know it today emerged in the early 20th century with the works of composers like George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, and Cole Porter. The genre continued to evolve and gain popularity throughout the 20th century with the works of composers like Rodgers and Hammerstein, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and Stephen Sondheim.

The Black Crook is widely regarded as the first modern musical, incorporating dance and original music to advance the plot. It premiered in New York on September 12, 1866.

If you want to go even further back, musical theatre is believed to have originated in ancient Greece about 2,500 years ago with the staging of comedies and tragedies that incorporated music and dance in open-air amphitheatres.

West End Vs. Broadway

Musical theatre in the UK and US have similarities, but also differences in terms of style, history, and cultural influences. The West End in London is known for its traditional, classic musicals, while Broadway in New York City often features more contemporary and experimental productions. Additionally, there are differences in the training and education of performers, as well as the structure and funding of theatre companies.

The West End is known for its rich history and tradition of producing world-class musical theatre productions, featuring top-notch talent, stunning sets, and innovative staging. Its theaters are iconic and the productions are often highly anticipated events, drawing audiences from all over the world. Additionally, the West End has a vibrant theater culture and community, with many talented performers, writers, and directors contributing to its success.

Similarly, musical theatre on Broadway is special because it combines live performance, music, dance, and storytelling in a unique and immersive way. The productions often feature elaborate sets, costumes, and lighting, and the performances are typically of a very high caliber. Additionally, many of the shows that premiere on Broadway go on to become cultural touchstones and have a lasting impact on popular culture.

The Biggest Musical Theatre Hits

Now this is not an exclusive list, but here are the biggest musical shows that have kept audiences coming back for more, year after year. I would mention that The Phantom of the Opera continues at His Majesty’s Theatre through 2 March 2024 and it closed on Broadway on April 16, 2023, after 13,981 performances.

  • Les Mierables
  • Phantom Of The Opera
  • Lion King
  • Hamilton
  • Rent
  • Frozen
  • 42nd Street
  • West Side Story
  • Wicked
  • Cabaret
  • Book Of Mormon

How To A Musical Theatre Performer

To become a musical theatre performer, you should consider taking singing, acting, and dancing classes to develop your skills. You can also audition for local theatre productions and participate in community theatre to gain experience and exposure. Networking with industry professionals and attending auditions can also help you land roles and build your career.

You can attend drama schools, which are geared towards musical theatre, such as Mountview, Julliard. Yiu can read our article about audition songs here.

It can be demanding and require a lot of hard work and dedication, but so rewarding at the same time.

Working Behind The Scenes

To work in musical theatre behind the scenes, you can start by gaining experience in areas such as stage management, lighting, sound, set design, and costume design. You can also attend workshops, internships, and networking events to build connections and learn more about the industry. It’s important to be organized, detail-oriented, and able to work well under pressure in order to succeed in this field.

Biggest Musical Theatre Legends

We couldn’t write an article about musical theatre without mentioning some of the greats that have graced us with their presence. They truly have made their mark. How many of them do you know?

  • Lin Manuel-Miranda
  • Stephen Sondheim
  • Jonathan Larson
  • Bernadette Peters
  • Sutton Foster
  • Joel Grey
  • Sara Bareilles
  • Andrew Rannells
  • Renée Elise Goldsberry
  • Oscar Hammerstein II
  • Bob Fosse
musical theatre

Conclusion – Musical Theatre

We hope you have enjoyed this article about musical theatre and maybe it will inspire you to take up a career in this particular genre. It has all the energy, pizzazz, bright lights and belting musical numbers you need for a spectacular night out. Which are your favourites and which will you be going to see next? I know I’m booking my ticket for Les Misérables right now!


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