I thought it would be interesting to look at the different types of musical you can go and see at the theatre in an effort to help you think about the type of musical may be suitable for you to see if you haven’t been to see a piece of musical theatre before.
I have identified 5 different types of musicals (although you could probably extend this list) and given my idea of what each type of musical is like.
1) Jukebox Musicals / Karaoke Musicals
I believe this is one of the more modern types of musical and does what it says on the tin – they are musicals where the audience is encouraged to join in with the songs. I think one of the first musicals of this kind in the West End was (and is) Mamma Mia! Quite often they are centred around a well known band or music recorded by a well known band, for example We Will Rock You is a jukebox musical which features many of the well known Queen songs.
2) Musical Drama
I expect most of the traditional / classical musicals feature in this category – they use music as another way of expressing emotion. Characters will typically burst into song when the emotion of a scene is too much to be expressed using words alone. They also tell a normally quite emotional story like the story of Billy Elliot where a young boy wants to pursue a career in dance but he lives in a time where men box – not dance.
Another example would be Blood Brothers which tells the story of two twins separated at birth to give them a better life. They go on to live nice lives until their paths cross again in both friendship and anger.
3) Musical Comedy
This type of musical is for those who love to laugh (bet that surprised you), they generally have stories which lend themselves to comedy a bit like Avenue Q which for a start stars puppets and seeing them talk about the things they do in Avenue Q – sex, racism, homosexuality etc makes for a great comedy musical. La Cage Aux Folles would be another good example.
4) Sing Through’s
Musical theatre is separate from Opera but bears a very close relationship to it and no more so then in Sing Through musicals like Les Miserables and Jesus Christ Superstar. In a nutshell a sing through musical is one where their is always a music of some kind running through the entire musical and all the words are sung.
5) Film to Stage Musicals
These musicals are based on (sometimes well known) films like the recent production of The Bodyguard which started life as a film musical. In some cases the music from the films make it into the stage musical – not in the case of Sister Act which had a brand new score written. Another example of this type of musical was Priscilla Queen of the Desert The Musical.