Guide to Writing a Musical Theater Essay

As a college student, writing an essay is part of the learning process. Before you get to graduate, you must have taken several essay papers, done research, analysis and created unique content. Have you ever imagined what could transpire when you need to write a musical theatre essay? Well, this professional guide provided by writing experts from ibuyessay will give you the best approaches you can take to come up with a clear essay explaining the elements of musical theatre. Read on to unleash more.

Before you can start structuring your paper, you must, first of all, define musical theatre. When you have a great understanding of musical theater, you can now move to the next section. So, what exactly is a music theatre essay? What is an example of musical play? Well, musical theatre includes different activities such as dancing, acting, spoken word, and songs. These activities aim at showcasing different emotions such as anger, love, betrayal, or humor that are communicated through actions.

Facts You Should Know About Musical Theatre When Writing an Essay

How the development of musical theatre happened

When you get an essay paper where you need to write on musical theatre, ask yourself questions such as when was musical theatre created? Answering such a question will give you a smooth transition on where to begin your essay at.

According to reliable sources, the history of musical theatre first began in Ancient Greece, where there were staged comedies and tragedies that involved open-air amphitheaters and dances.

After some years, the Roman empire embraced the trend and took it to another level where they included singing and dancing the music. They spiced up the music using special effects that we can witness in modern musicals.

In the 12 and 13th centuries, the churches incorporated musical theatre into the services to spice up all the activities. In the 1700s, orchestras and singers could tell stories in Germany, France, and Great Britain, where the storyline could portray a tragic experience, a funny encounter, or a romantic moment. The rend now spread to other parts globally, and up to date, there are many forms of musical theatre people portray in different circumstances.

The elements of musical theatre

Again, before writing a great musical theatre essay, you must understand the elements of musical theatre. This will help you gather relevant points related to your subject matter. The main components include the expressions, structure, texture, rhythm, harmony, melody, and sound. While writing, you need to bring out a clear picture your essay should portray using these elements. The essay’s title will guide you on how the tone, the expressions, the sound, and other elements should be.

Is there a difference between play and musical?

While both activities are entertaining and educating, you must define the difference between the two when writing your paper to ensure you move in the right direction. Well, in simple terms, a play isn’t musical, but a musical is a play. This implies that a musical explains a story through a song and sometimes dancing while a play is strictly a spoken dialogue. Also, a play has some music to emphasize a scene, while musical consists of distinct genres that portray different ways of entertainment. So, when writing a musical theatre essay, ask yourself, is it revolving around a play or musical? This way, you will focus on the right aspects that the instructor expects you to put down.

What are some of the musical theatre examples?

Another important aspect you need to consider when writing a musical theatre essay is checking some examples. This move will give you the best ideas you can follow in coming up with a great paper.  Check the internet, read books & other relevant material, consult other pioneers who have done such papers, and you will get clear limelight.

Here is a sample essay on the topic “Musical Theater” to inspire your creative writing.

Three Musicals About Music

Musical is a special kind of a movie that does not appeal to wide audience. However, some part of viewers appreciates the contributive role of music and the shift from an ordinary movie to a specific piece of art with certain peculiarities. Moreover, music can be the main drive of the movie having the fundamental role. Phantom of the Paradise (1974) by Brian De Palma tells a story of a composer who writes music for his beloved woman. Pennies from Heaven (1981) by Dennis Potter is a story of two people who do not belong to the world where they live as music as their real passion. Across the Universe (2007) Julie Taymor takes songs of The Beatles as the defining legacy of the time. These three musicals are unique by content but each chooses music as the main character that drives the plot.

Phantom of the Paradise

Phantom of the Paradise is a cult musical of the 1970s with peculiar traits of movies and music. This is the mix of such plots as “The Phantom of the Opera,” “Faust,” and even “The Picture of Dorian Gray” enriched by electronic glam-rock of the 1970s. The movie tells the story of a talented but naïve musician whose work is stolen by a producer who sold his soul to the Devil.

Brian De Palma made the only musical in his career and succeeded as his production became a cult movie for several generations. He took the plot, the music, and created something bolder, more dynamic, and more emotional than those would be taken separately. He presents opera to the audience in the style of that time making in appealing to the audience. The theatrical quality of the music is accepted as a single unit rather than a set of singles. In the course of actions, music lives its life, it is born, it grows, it develops, it changes, it conquers mind.

In the movie, music is a kind of litmus paper that reveals the true nature of people. In order to write and finish his piece of audio art, Winslow Leach talented composer, as a person who will use any opportunity to make his music a facetted diamond. To win back his opera, he is ready to break any rules, even to dare to kill a person. Swan, a deceptive producer, is already a negative personage as he sold his soul to Devil. But why? For music to become the core of his life and well-being. Despite his baby face, this person can seal the agreement with blood and then break this agreement mesmerized by the magnitude of the music. Phoenix, Phantom’s beloved, makes a poor dialogue with her dignity placing her career in front of everything. She sees herself only tied with music and agrees on wedding with Swan seduced by stardom.

The sense of time is tracked in Swans intentions about the music. By any means, he wants to have this music but he wants to change it into the manner that would give the best profit. This means that music has to change and become pop drivel. In addition, instead of opera house, the action takes place in a rock club of the 70s. Another point depicted in the plot comes from the “music struggles” so common back in the 70s. Some artists suffered from bad contracts, in the search of fame singers substantially changed their image, and a greedy producer was not an invention of De Palma as well. These topics are reflected in the movie and state the cross-section of the music industry.

Pennies from Heaven

Pennies from Heaven by Dennis Potter is an adaptation of the BBC series that moves the scene from London to Chicago at the time of the Great Depression. The time of hardships evolved into the plot of hardships with all means of depression. A sheet-music salesman Arthur Parker is not doing well with both his business and wife. His dream is to become rich and have a life of those people involved in music industry. His wife does not support him and refuses to give money to start business. Parker meets a school teacher, Eileen, who also feels that she does not belong to the life that she has. They faced numerous problems only to be left with nothing; and in the case of Parker without life as well.

Music in the movie as another reality, a better world, that Arthur and Eileen desperately seek. The main theme of the movie is how popular songs designed the mind of people living in the environment of economic and emotional deficit. The main songs are their dreams where they escape and live the life of joy. When the characters encounter another problem one by one, all they can do is to escape into their fake jolly world. When a bank manager refuses to give Arthur a loan, the musical daydreaming sings “Yes, Yes, My Baby Said Yes, Yes.” And in a moment of dopy passion, Arthur bursts into “I’ll Never Have to Dream Again.”

The striking contrast of the characters highlights the power of music. Eileen, being a shy modestly-dressed teacher, has classes in front of naughty children at a few rows of desks. However, in her “music dreams,” she has a long sparkling silver dress as she conducts her students like an orchestra. She dances frivolously and relaxed, children wear off-white outfits and obey her, and her little orchestra students are sitting at rows of white pianos instead of dull desks. This contrast shows despair and hope, life and living, reality and dreams that will never come true.

The point of escapism that cuts the movie into two independent plots is performed with the help of music. Music is the measure of happiness. Even when Arthur is ready to die, he imagines their last dance to the music as something they deserve after having walked a long life of hardships. If the movie was all the way like this bright world, the audience would accept it ending in better box-office return. However, the order and consistency of a Broadway musical with chorus girls, men who sing and dance, and even cute toddlers around pianos framed with Art Deco style cannot outweigh the heavy load of the reality of the Great Depression. The movie combines both the historical insights into the 1930s where all the odds were possible in order to survive and the Broadway musical style of the dream worlds of characters denying the tragic reality.

Across the Universe

And finally, the latest of the three musicals is Across the Universe by Julie Taymor. In this movie, the songs by The Beatles are real songs that bear the value of the 1960s. This was the time of anti-war protests, struggle for civil rights and freedom of speech, and rock and roll. All these defining factors are highlighted by the songs of The Beatles. Just like other two stories, Across the Universe has a set of unique traits with music being an integral part of the plot.

The story about love and peace is highlighted by sorrow and war. The fact that more than thirty original songs by The Beatles were used in the movie places music at a front line by default. The happy, colorful, and carefree life of the hippies is interrupted by the news that war in Vietnam affects the American society. This changes the world upside down with all the consequences. What was colorful becomes dull in the colors of flashes of war and monoсhromaticism of protests. Where was love, one finds an empty flat. Where was peace and joy, no signs of delight remain.

The number of songs puts a question: was the plot tailored to a number of songs of particular content or The Beatles wrote so many songs that they could fit any plot of the film. The answer is neither the first nor the second. This makes the songs twice as valuable. In this movie, the music is the legacy of time – that time that became the basis of the plot. That is why all songs back up the events throughout the story. Joho leaves home to move to New York with the song “Come Together.” The character named Prudence one way or another had to be in the movie as The Beatles have a song “Dear Prudence” as well as Jude for “Hey Jude.” When relationship is over, it is time for “Oh! Darling” and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” As this was a time of mental games with drugs, some songs like “Happiness Is a Warm Gun” appear. War and protests are two other faces of that time. They are represented in the movie by such songs as “Across the Universe” and as heavy as heavy metal “Helter Skelter.”


The three selected movies chose music to be the basis of the plot ruled by this art. In Phantom of the Paradise, the main characters progressed and acted driven by the need to be attached to music. Pennies from Heaven created the luxurious escape dreamland full of music that denied the total life failure by the time of the Great Depression. Lastly, Across the Universe united the songs of The Beatles into one telling story of that time with lyrics of songs being as meaningful as the play of the characters.


Writing an essay is art. That is why when writing a musical theatre essay, you must evaluate several aspects before you can come up with the relevant content. The above tips are a perfect way to start your theatre-related essay paper.

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