five main types of musicals

#1: The Tight-Knit Town 

Act I: characters sing about life in small town

Act II: nothing has changed, but characters sing bittersweetly about human connection, anyway

examples: The Band’s VisitCome From Away, Caroline, or Change, Spring Awakening, Waitress


#2: Mirror Images

Act I: Protagonist and Deuteragonist (secondary main character) sing hate duet

Act II: Protagonist disappears temporarily or permanently; Deuteragonist realizes they have stepped into shoes of Protagonist

examples: The Book of Mormon, Hamilton, Les Misérables, Wicked

note: this sometimes takes the form of:


#3: The Apple and the Tree

Act I: child sings about disliking their parent

Act II: child sings about becoming their parent

examples: Falsettos, Fun Home, Gypsy, Next to Normal


#4: Deal with the Devil (possibly the most common type)

Act I: character sings about how terrible their life is; Shady Opportunity turns everything around and even gives character chance with crush

Act II: Shady Opportunity metaphorically or literally eats everything, including crush, because of course it does

examples: BandstandBe More Chill, Caroline, or Change (with maternal instead of romantic relationship), Dear Evan Hansen, Heathers, Little Shop of Horrors, Merrily We Roll Along (in reverse Act order)


#5: The Escapist

Act I: character sings about wanting to go to Place

Act II: character realizes that Place has existed all along In Their Heart™

examples: The Book of Mormon, Little Shop of Horrors, Newsies, The Wiz