Musicals Thread (Becoming Educated)

Welcome! The purpose of this thread is to talk about all things related to the wonderful world of musical theatre. I post a thread with a topic/question for everyone to respond to, but you are always more than welcome to discuss other topics! This is also a great place to mention any new musicals you’ve discovered and/or general recommendations for other musical fans. Heard any good shows lately? Have any theatre news to share? Tell us about it!

This week we have another special thread written by Lydia

Books, documentaries, newspaper columns, websites, YouTube channels – the musical theatre enthusiast has any number of ways to engage with their hobby in addition to, y’know, actually watching and listening to musicals. These sources can provide a peek (or a full guided tour) behind the scenes and reveal new details about beloved shows. They can also guide us to new favorites from theatre past, present, and future. Plus, it’s just fun to find other people who love the same things we do, even if they’re on the other side of a page or a screen. Today, then, let’s appreciate those that help us appreciate musicals even more than we already do!   

There are plenty of theatre resources that focus on a specific era, composer, or show, but I’d like to mention two that survey musicals in general. The first is Broadway: The American Musical from PBS. I found this miniseries on DVD at my local library early in my life as a theatre fan (that is, as a teenager newly obsessed with Les Miserables). It was an excellent introduction to the history of musicals, from their beginnings in the late 1800’s to…well, to the present day at the time it was released (2004). I learned about the major players and productions that shaped the art form over the years and felt well-equipped to direct and expand my nascent interest.

The second is The Secret Life of the American Musical (2016) by Jack Viertel. Viertel’s book digs into how musicals work – the tried-and-true tropes and plot beats that have been eliciting passionate audience responses for decades and across genres, as well as notable evolutions and subversions. It’s a fascinating look at what makes our favorite shows so satisfying and keeps generations of fans coming back for more.

What are your favorite/recommended sources for learning about musicals?