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Guides for Musicals, Plays, Operas & Operettas

Read expert-written show guides with context, plot, characters and video examples.

Phantom of the Opera

Based on the 1910 horror novel by Gaston Leroux, The Phantom of the Opera is a thrilling and romantic account of the legendary Phantom, a musical genius who dwells deep beneath a majestic opera house in Paris. Shunned by society for his horrible facial deformity, he takes a promising young sopra... read more

  • romance
  • star vehicle (adult male)
  • star vehicle (adult female)
  • spectacle
  • andrew lloyd webber
  • supernatural
  • thriller
  • tragic romance
  • opera
  • period piece
  • ideal for: college
  • professional
  • large company


Stephen Schwartz’s Wicked: The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz takes place before L.Frank Baum’s classic Wizard of Oz story ever began. Before Dorothy was even alive, two young girls met in the Land of Oz, became rivals, and then friends. One was born with emerald green skin, with a brillian... read more

  • oz
  • evil
  • wicked
  • good
  • transformation
  • friendship
  • power
  • fantasy

Les Misérables

One of the world’s most iconic and longest-running musicals, Les Misérables tells the story of Jean Valjean, a former convict who spends a lifetime seeking redemption. Set against the backdrop of 19th-century France and the aftermath of the French Revolution, this timeless story of intertwined d... read more

  • revolution
  • mega-musical
  • france
  • classic songs
  • movie
  • boublil
  • schonberg
  • legit


Based on Puccini’s beloved opera La Bohème, Rent follows the ups and downs of a year in the life of a group of impoverished, artistic friends living in Manhattan’s East Village. Mark, an aspiring filmmaker, struggles to find his place in the world; his roommate Roger, an HIV-positive musician, w... read more

  • romance
  • aids
  • gay
  • lesbian
  • bisexual
  • african-american
  • ensemble cast
  • ethnic roles

Beauty and the Beast

Based on the smash hit 1991 Disney movie and dating back to a late 18th-century classic French fairy tale, Beauty and the Beast tells the story of Belle, a beautiful and intelligent young woman who feels out of place in her provincial French village. When her father is imprisoned in a mysterious... read more

  • romance
  • disney
  • family
  • fantasy
  • fairy tale
  • france
  • french
  • strong female lead
  • star vehicle (male)
  • star vehicle (female)
  • dancing

Into the Woods

“Be careful what you wish for” seems to be the ongoing theme in Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Brothers Grimm inspired musical, Into the Woods. The story follows The Baker and his wife who wish to have a child, Cinderella who wishes to go the King’s Festival, and Jack who wishes his cow woul... read more

  • sondheim
  • brothers grimm
  • fairytale
  • fantasy
  • witch
  • magic


It’s 1962 in Baltimore, Maryland, and quirky, plus-sized, teenage Tracy Turnblad has one dream: to dance on the “Corny Collins Show”. When she gets put in detention with the African-American students in the school, they teach her some of their dance moves, and her new found groove wins her a spo... read more

  • 60s
  • african-american
  • female lead
  • segregation
  • integration
  • drag
  • transgendered
  • belt

Little Shop of Horrors

Little Shop of Horrors is a delectable sci-fi horror musical with an electrifying 1960s pop/rock score by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman.Seymour Krelborn is a meek and dejected assistant at a floral shop who happens upon a strange plant, which he affectionately names “Audrey II” after his crush a... read more

  • romance
  • tragedy
  • faust
  • comedy
  • puppetry
  • rock
  • r&b
  • motown
  • greek chorus
  • satire
  • ethnic roles


It’s 1959, and Rydell High School’s senior class is in rare form. The too-cool-for-school “Burger Palace Boys” are stealing hub-caps and acting tough and their gum-snapping, chain-smoking “Pink Ladies” are looking hot in bobby sox and pedal pushers. The 1950s high school dream is about to explo... read more

  • high school
  • adolescent
  • parody
  • farce
  • satire
  • 1950s
  • ensemble
  • puberty
  • romance
  • love
  • heartbreak
  • sex
  • greaser
  • teens
  • fun
  • transformation
  • peer pressure
  • cliques


Broadway’s longest-running American musical, Chicago is a dazzling and satirical look at fame, justice, and the media machine. Set in 1920s Chicago and based on real-life murders and trials, Chicago follows Roxie Hart, a wannabe vaudevillian star who murders her lover and is arrested, despite her... read more

  • murder
  • jail
  • chicago
  • vaudeville
  • women
  • justice
  • lawyers
  • law
  • trial
  • prison
  • guilty
  • dance