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Guides for Musicals, Plays, Operas & Operettas

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

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

In one of the most famous of literary love quadrangles, A Midsummer Night’s Dream tells the tale of Hermia, Demetrius, Lysander, and Helena; four misguided lovers whose journey into the woods lands them in even more trouble, as members of the fairy kingdom decide to use them as veritable pawns in... read more

  • fantasy
  • fairies
  • summer
  • shakespeare
  • romance

Romeo and Juliet

Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is a love story for the ages. The Capulet and Montague households have been embroiled in a bloody fight for as long as anyone in Verona, Italy can remember. The death toll is mounting, and it seems that the best thing anyone can do is keep the two sides as far fro... read more

  • love
  • star-crossed
  • violence
  • adolescence
  • feud
  • family
  • honor
  • suicide
  • fate
  • shakespeare
  • tragedy
  • verona
  • death


Prince Hamlet of Denmark is not a happy camper. He has just been hurried back home from University to learn that his father the King is dead, and that his mother has already jumped into “incestuous sheets” by marrying his father’s brother, Claudius, thus making him the new King of Denmark. In... read more

  • ghost
  • depression
  • murder
  • family
  • royalty
  • revenge
  • existentialism
  • denmark
  • shakespeare


Heroic Macbeth has just won two victorious battles for Scotland, when he encounters three weird sisters who tell him this is only the beginning of his path to glory: Macbeth, they say, will become Thane of Cawdor, and then King of all Scotland. At first, honest and upright Macbeth ignores the p... read more

  • shakespeare
  • tragedy
  • scotland
  • scottish
  • murder
  • ambition
  • fate
  • weird sisters
  • witches
  • gender
  • monarchy

The Crucible

In the insular, Puritan community of 1692 Salem, Massachusetts, a group of young girls are found dancing in the woods, and immediately fall ill. When no earthly cause can be determined, the citizens of Salem suspect that some more sinister force may be at hand. As long-held grudges turn to violen... read more

  • religion
  • political
  • mccarthy
  • witches
  • family
  • adultery
  • lust
  • love
  • adolescence
  • guilt
  • social critique
  • puritan
  • trial
  • desire
  • death
  • lying
  • fear
  • hysteria
  • communism

Much Ado About Nothing

The Bard’s famous comedic romp known for the brilliant war of words between the feisty Beatrice and the staunch bachelor Benedick, Much Ado About Nothing plays out amidst the brittle high spirits of a post-war house party. When Don Pedro Prince of Aragon visits Leonato, Duke of Messina, love ant... read more

  • lively
  • comedy
  • gender politics
  • romantic
  • witty
  • war of wits
  • shakespeare
  • love
  • marriage
  • fidelity
  • trust
  • loyalty
  • star vehicle (male)
  • star vehicle (female)
  • strong women
  • verse
  • war
  • romantic comedy

The Diary of Anne Frank

The Diary of Anne Frank is one of the most famous and haunting stories to emerge from the 20th Century. The memoirs of this young Jewish girl, forced to hide for nearly two years to escape the Nazis persecution, are an essential part of how we remember one of the darkest periods of our human hist... read more

  • judaism
  • jewish
  • holocaust
  • world war ii
  • genocide
  • antisemitism
  • teenage girl
  • family
  • faith
  • religious identity
  • strength
  • human spirit
  • amsterdam
  • holland
  • growing up
  • adolescence
  • narration
  • biographical
  • historical figures
  • female lead
  • young adult
  • hiding
  • terror
  • nazism
  • third reich
  • courage
  • pulitzer
  • tony

To Kill a Mockingbird

It’s 1935, and racial tensions are high in Maycomb, Alabama. Nonetheless, young Jean Louise Finch -- or Scout, as she is fondly called -- manages to live a rather carefree, privileged existence, insulated from issues of race. All that changes when Scout watches her father, Atticus Finch, defend... read more

  • racial tension
  • bigotry
  • honor
  • law
  • fairness
  • equity
  • justice
  • trials
  • courage
  • literature
  • film adaptation
  • racism
  • memory play

Twelfth Night

Often lauded as one of the most structurally perfect comedies ever written and beloved by audiences for generations, Twelfth Night; or, What You Will is a masterpiece. Shipwrecked on the shores of the strange land, Illyria, Viola believes herself alone in the world and her twin brother drowned.... read more

  • play with music
  • ensemble cast
  • classic
  • epic
  • love
  • shakespeare
  • classical

A Streetcar Named Desire

Explosive, passionate, and heartrending, A Streetcar Named Desire is modern American theatre at its best. When fading Southern belle Blanche DuBois arrives on the doorstep of her sister Stella’s apartment building in New Orleans, she is unwittingly entering a lion’s den. Wounded by romantic abuse... read more

  • psychology
  • new orleans
  • southern
  • class
  • race
  • siblings
  • marriage
  • abuse
  • sexuality
  • shame
  • love
  • mental illness
  • money
  • destitute
  • family