West Side Story

Story: Set in New York City in the mid-1950s, the musical explores the rivalry between two teenage street gangs of different ethnic backgrounds (the Jets from Puerto Rico and the Sharks, a Polish-American working-class group). One of the Jets falls in love with the sister of one of the Sharks. Characters: Tony, Maria, Bernardo, Office KrupkeMusic: Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and choreography by Jerome Robbins. Songs: "Maria," "America," "Tonight," "Somewhere"Inspired by William Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet.

The Phantom of the Opera

Characters: Christine Daae, RaoulMusic: Andrew Lloyd WebberSongs: "All I Ask of You," "Music of the Night"Longest running show in Broadway history.Adapted from the 1909 novel by Gaston Leroux.

My Fair Lady

Story: A Cockney flower girl takes speech lessons from a phonetics professor so that she may pass as a well born lady.Characters: Eliza Doolittle, Henry Higgins, Colonel Pickering, FreddyMusic: Frederick Loewe, Alan Jay LernerSongs: "Wouldn't It Be Loverly?" "I Could've Danced All Night," "On the Street Where You Live"Based on the play Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw


Story: The Jellicle tribe (of cats) roams the streets of LondonCharacters: Rum Tum Tugger, Grizabella, Jellylorum, Old Deuteronomy, SkimbleshanksMusic: Andrew Lloyd Webber, T.S. EliotSongs: "Memory"Based on Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot


Story: The story follows the early life, rise to power, charity work, and eventual death of the second wife of Argentine president Juan Perón.Characters: Eva Peron, Juan PeronMusic: Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice.Songs: "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina"Madonna played the title role in the movie version, accompanied by Antonio Banderas

The Mikado

Story: The Mikado (emperor of Japan) has made flirting a capital crime in Titipu, so the people have appointed an ineffectual executioner named KoKo. Koko's ward marries a wandering musician and the two lovers fake their execution. The mikado forgives the lovers of their transgression.Characters: Ko-Ko, Yum-Yum, Nanki-PooMusic: Arthur Sullivan, W.S. GilbertSongs: "Three Little Maids From School Are We

The Sound of Music

Story: A nun becomes governness to a Naval captain's seven children in Austria just before World War II.Characters: Maria, Captain von Trapp, Liesl, Friederich, Greta, Max DetweilerMusic by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II Songs: "Edelweiss", "My Favorite Things", "Climb Ev'ry Mountain", "Do-Re-Mi"Julie Andrews starred in the 1965 award-winning film.

Fiddler on the Roof

Story: Centers on Tevye, Russian milkman and the father of five daughters and his attempts to maintain his family and Jewish religious traditions while outside influences encroach upon their lives.Characters: Tevye, Golde, Tzeitel, Hodel, Chava, YenteMusic: Jerry Bock, Sheldon Harnick, Joseph Stein.Songs: "Tradition," "If I Were a Rich Man," "Matchmaker", "Sunrise, Sunset", "The Bottle Dance


Story: On the eve of Oklahoma's statehood, cowboy Curly McLain and sinister farmhand Judd compete for the love of Aunt Eller's niece, Laurey. Judd falls on his own knife and Curly and Laurey get married. (Subplot: Ado Annie chooses cowboy Will Parker over Persian peddler Ali Hakim)Characters: Curly McLain, Judd, LaureyMusic: Rogers and HamersteinSongs: "Oh what a beautiful mornin'", "Oklahoma".Often considered the first modern book musical.

The Music Man

Story: Swindler Harold Hill attempts to con the families of River City, Iowa by starting a boy's band. While there, he falls in love with the librarian Marian Paroo. The scheme is exposed but the town forgives him.Characters: Harold Hill, Marian ParooMusic: Meredith Wilson and Franklin LaceySongs: "Trouble" (origin of the phrase, "trouble in River City"), "Seventy-six trombones", "Shipoopi", "Gary, Indiana" and "Till There was You


Story: Impoverished young artists and musicians struggle to survive and create in New York's Lower East Side during the AIDS crisis circa 1990. There are drug problems, strippers, transvestites and one of the roommates eventually marries rich and wants to evict his former roommates.Characters: Mark, Roger, Mimi, Benny, Angel, Tom, MaureenMusic: Jonathan LarsonSongs: "Light My Candle," "I Should Tell You," "Seasons of Love"Based on Puccini's opera La bohème

Guys and Dolls

Story: Nathan Detroit runs an underground craps game. There is a lot of betting between him and notorious gambler Sky Masterson. Through lots of bets, Sky will marry Sarah and Nathan will marry Adelaide.Characters: Nathan Detroit, Sky Masterson, Sarah Brown, and Adelaide.Music: Frank Loesser, Jo Swerling, and Abe BurrowsSongs: "A bushel and a peck", "Lucky be a Lady", "Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat

Les Miserables

Story: a French peasant's quest for redemption after serving nineteen years in jail for having stolen a loaf of bread for his starving sister's child.Characters: Jean Valjean, Inspector Javert, Cosette, Marius, ÉponineSongs: "I Dreamed a Dream," "Castle on a Cloud," "Do You Hear the People Sing?", "One day More", "On My Own"Based on the novel by Victor Hugo, set in revolutionary France. The longest-running show on London's West End.

Annie Get Your Gun

Story: the fictionalized version of the life of a sharpshooter who starred in Buffalo Bill's Wild West, and her romance with sharpshooter Frank Butler.Characters: Annie Oakley, Frank Butler, Buffalo Bill, Chief Sitting BullMusic: Irving BerlinSongs: "There's No Business Like Show Business", "Anything You Can Do.

The Pirates of Penzance

Story: Frederic, having turned twenty-one, is released from his apprenticeship to the title pirates. Reaching shore for the first time, Frederic falls in love with Mabel, the daughter of Major-General Stanley. Frederic realizes that he was apprenticed until his twenty-first birthday, and, having been born on February 29, he must return to his apprenticeship. Mabel vows to wait for him. The Major-General and the police pursue the pirates, who surrender. The pirates are forgiven, and Mabel and Frederic reunite. Characters: Frederic, Mabel, Major-General StanleyMusic: W. S. Gilbert and Arthur SullivanSongs: "Pour, oh pour, the pirate sherry" and "I am the very model of a modern Major-General.

H.M.S. Pinafore

Story: Aboard the title ship, Josephine promises her father, the captain, that she will marry Sir Joseph Porter, but Josephine secretly loves the common sailor Ralph Rackstraw, and the two plan to elope. A peddler named Buttercup reveals that she accidentally switched the captain and Ralph at birth: Ralph is of noble birth and should be captain, while the captain is nothing more than a common sailor. Ralph, now captain, marries Josephine, and the former captain marries Buttercup. Characters: Josephine, Ralph Raskstraw, Buttercup, the CaptainMusic: W. S. Gilbert and Arthur SullivanSongs: "We sail the ocean blue," "I'm called Little Buttercup," and "Pretty daughter of mine." (named for their first lines)

The King and I

Story: Anna Leonowens, a British schoolteacher, travels to Siam (now Thailand) to teach English to the King's many children and wives. Anna's western ways, the looming threat of British rule, and romance between Lun Tha and the concubine Tuptim all weigh heavily on the traditional, chauvinistic King. As the King dies, Anna kneels at his side, and the prince abolishes the practice of kowtowing.Characters: The King, Anna, Lun Tha, TuptimMusic: Rogers and HammersteinSongs: "I Whistle a Happy Tune," "Getting to Know You," and "Shall We Dance?".Adapted from Anna and the King of Siam by Margaret Landon .It was made into an Academy Award-winning 1956 film starring Yul Brynner.

Jesus Christ Superstar

Story: In the week leading up to the crucifixion, Judas grows angry with Christ's claims of divinity, and Mary Magdalene laments her romantic feelings for Christ. Judas hangs himself, and Christ, though frustrated with God, accepts his fate. Characters: Judas, Mary Magdelene, Jesus ChristMusic: Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim RiceSongs: "I Don't Know How to Love Him," "Gethsemane," and "Trial Before Pilate.

South Pacific

Story: During the Pacific Theater of World War II, Nellie, a U.S. Navy nurse, has fallen in love with Emile, a French plantation owner. Emile helps Lt. Cable carry out an espionage mission against the Japanese. The mission is successful, and Emile and Nellie reunite. Characters: Emile de Becque, Nellie, Bloody MaryMusic: Rogers and HammersteinSongs: "Some Enchanted Evening," "There is Nothing Like a Dame," and "I'm Gonna Wash that Man Right Outta My Hair," "Happy Talk

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Story: Sweeney Todd, a barber, returns to London from Australia, where the evil Judge Turpin, who lusted after his wife, unjustly imprisoned him. Sweeney's daughter, Joanna, escapes Turpin - of whom she had been a ward during her father's incarceration - and falls in love with the sailor Anthony Hope. A vengeful Sweeney begins murdering his customers, and his neighbor, Mrs. Lovett, bakes them into meat pies. Sweeney kills the Judge but, in his fury, accidentally kills a mad beggar woman who was really his long-lost wife. Mrs. Lovett's shop boy, Tobias, grows scared and kills Sweeney.Characters: Sweeney Todd, Joanna, Turpin, Anthony Hope, Mrs. Lovett, TobiasMusic: Stephen Sondheim and Hugh WheelerSongs: "The Ballad of Sweeney Todd," "The Worst Pies in London," "Johanna," and "God, That's Good,"The show is nearly sung throughout and it is nontrivial to identify distinct songs within it.

Beauty and the Beast

Story: a prince is transformed as punishment for his cruel and selfish ways, and he imprisons an adventurous young woman in his castleCharacters: Belle, Gaston, Lumiere, Mrs. PottsMusic by Alan MenkenSongs: "Be Our Guest

The Lion King

Story: Believing he is responsible for his father's death, a young prince flees his kingdom only to return later to challenge his uncle and reclaim his kingdom.Characters: Simba, Mufasa, Timon, ZazuMusic by Elton John and lyrics by Tim RiceSongs: "Circle of Life," "I Just Can't Wait to be King," "Hakuna Matata

Miss Saigon

Story: Set in the 1970s during the Vietnam War, it is the tragic tale of a doomed romance involving an Asian woman abandoned by her American lover. Characters: Kim, Christopher ScottSongs: "Last Night of the World"Based on Puccini's opera Madame Butterfly

Mamma Mia

Story: A young woman about to be married discovers that any one of three men could be her father. She invites all three to the wedding without telling her motherCharacters: Sophie, Donna, Sam, Bill, and HarrySongs: "Dancing Queen," "Take a Chance on Me,"Based on the songs of ABBA


Story: Set in 1959 at fictional Rydell High School, this musical follows ten working-class teenagers as they navigate the complexities of love, cars, and drive-insCharacters: Danny, Sandy, Kenickie, Rizzo, FrenchieSongs: "Summer Nights," "Born to Hand Jive," "We Go Together


Story: Two unlikely friends struggle through opposing personalities and viewpoints, rivalry over the same love-interest, reactions to a corrupt government, and, ultimately, one's public fall from grace.Characters: Elphaba, Glinda, Nessarose, Madame MorribleMusic and Lyrics by Stephen SchwartzSongs: "Popular," "For Good," "Defying Gravity"Based on the book by Gregory Maguire


Story: A billionaire invites an orphan and her dog to come to his mansion for the Christmas holiday.Characters: Oliver Warbucks, Grace, Miss Hannigan, SandySongs: "Tomorrow," "Hard Knock Life," "Maybe," "You're Never Fully Dressed without a Smile"Based upon the popular Harold Gray comic strip

Man of La Mancha

Story: In the late sixteenth century, Miguel de Cervantes has been thrown into a dungeon by the Spanish Inquisition, along with his manservant. While there, Cervantes performs a play about Don Quixote who sets out to find adventures with his "squire."Characters: Don Quixote, Sancho Panza, DulcineaSongs: "The Impossible Dream,"Inspired by Miguel de Cervantes's seventeenth century masterpiece.


Story: A satire on corruption in the administration of criminal justice and the concept of the "celebrity criminal;" Set in a major US city during the Prohibition Era; Characters - Roxie Hart, Velma Kelly, Billy Flynn; Music:Songs - "All That Jazz," "Razzle Dazzle

A Chorus Line

About Broadway dancers auditioning for spots in a musicalComposed by Marvin HamlischSongs: "One," "What I Did for Love