Broadway & Musicals

What's a Musical?

A musical is a stage or film production that uses acting and songs to tell a story. They usually include dancing

What are some musicals that you've been to?

The Lion King on Broadway

Annie: The Broadway Musical

The Chandelier in Phantom of the Opera


Musicals have been around for a long time. The ancient Greeks included music and dance in their stage productions as early as 500 B.C. The Greeks would perform their plays in large amphitheaters. Many of those amphitheaters are still around today.

The Romans later expanded on the Greek's ideas and included songs and dances with instrumental accompaniment. The Romans even invented tap shoes to make dancer's steps easier to hear. Many musicals today still feature tap dancers.

Even though it has singing, dancing, and a story, opera is not considered musical theater.

The ruins of an old amphitheater in Greece

Stage vs. Film

A musical doesn't have to be on stage. Many of us grew up watching musicals on our TVs as children. Any of the Disney movies that have songs are considered musicals, such as The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Frozen. Sometimes, a movie musical is so successful that it get adapted into a theater production. The Lion King is one of those movies.

Did these musicals begin as movies or as theater productions?

  • The Wizard of Oz
  • Mary Poppins
  • Hairspray


Broadway is a street that runs diagonally through New York City. The area around Times Square, where Broadway meets 42nd Street, is the location of many theaters and musical productions.

Broadway is considered by many to be the highest level of musical theater in the world. If your show makes it to Broadway, you've made it big.

Longest Running Broadway Shows

Interesting facts:

  • There are only 41 theaters in New York that are considered "Broadway Theaters".
  • Only four of those theaters are actually on the street of Broadway.

Take a look at the slideshow to see the six longest running shows on Broadway. Try to guess before clicking on the next slide.

Guess the musical!

Watch a short clip from from four different musicals. Can you guess which musicals the songs are from? If so, do you know the name of the song?

Example 2.mp4
Example 3.mp4
Example 4.mp4
Example 5.mp4

Research a Broadway musical

With a partner, use your computers to answer the questions about a musical of your choice. Click the link when you're ready to start (only one partner needs to fill out the form - make sure to enter both names).

Choose one of these musicals:

  • School of Rock - The Musical
  • 42nd Street
  • Phantom of the Opera
  • Matilda the Musical
  • Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark
  • Hairspray
  • Mary Poppins
  • Hamilton
  • Jersey Boys
  • Mamma Mia
  • Wicked