Wikipedia:WikiProject Musical Theatre/Article Structure

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WikiProject Musical Theatre

Article Structure

Below is the suggested structure of Wikipedia articles pertaining to works of musical theatre. This suggested structure is a guideline that the consensus of editors at WikiProject Musical Theatre believe will help to make musical theatre articles readable and consistent in appearance and which we hope will assist editors in starting and improving these articles. We hope that you will take this guideline into consideration when editing articles on musicals.

Introduction & infobox (before TOC)[edit]

The introduction of each article should follow the rules set down at Wikipedia:Lead section. The introduction should begin with the name of the musical in boldface and italics, referred to in the present tense (i.e. "Oklahoma! is a musical...." not "Oklahoma! was a musical...."). The lead paragraph should mention the creators and a brief (2 sentence) overview of the plot. The introduction should briefly mention any derivative works (films, television shows), as well as any source material (based on a book, etc.) (For example, "How to Succeed in Business is based on the book How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying written in 1952 by Shepherd Mead.") As described in WP:LEAD, the introduction should explain why the musical is notable and give a brief overview of the entire article.

The infobox for musicals articles should be {{Infobox Musical}}. The productions in the infobox should include the original production, the major productions in New York and/or London and U.S. or UK national tours. Other productions can be indicated by the catchall phrase "International productions" or "Major regional productions". Future productions should not be included in the infobox, but only added after the production opens. The awards section in the infobox should contain only those about the play as a literary work (i.e. Best Musical, Best Book, Best Lyrics, Best Score). Awards given to actors or actresses, directors, choreographers, etc. should be listed in the awards section below. Future productions should not be listed in infoboxes. Please wait until the production begins previews.

The lead section should not contain a detailed plot synopsis or production information, except very briefly as overview/notability information.


This section answers the following questions:

  • What is the source material for this work? What is notable about the older work or how has the musical changed its focus?
  • How did this musical come to be written and/or produced?
  • Whose idea was it to make this musical?
  • Was this musical started in any workshops or previews? What was unusual about them? (For example, in a workshop of the precursor to Dreamgirls, Nell Carter's performance influenced how the show developed, and this should be addressed in this section.)


One of the most important parts of the article, this section describes the plot of the musical. Divided by acts, the synopsis should be long enough to concisely convey the story-line, identify the primary characters and name the principal musical numbers. It should not be overly long or detailed nor include a scene-by-scene description. A two-act musical's synopsis should be between 800 and 1100 words, with leeway for an unusually complicated plot. A longer synopsis may be needed for a musical theatre work than for other media to provide context for the songs and to name the principal musical numbers. If you change the plot summary to exceed 1100 words, please explain why on the Talk page under an appropriate heading. The Synopsis should generally be prepared using the musicals' script as a primary source. The essay on "How to write a plot summary" (WP:PLOTSUM) may also be instructive.

Incorporating musical numbers in narrative[edit]


The story of a musical is told through the songs within it. We strongly encourage you to incorporate the names of the musical numbers into the prose. The titles of the musical numbers should be "in quotes" per MOS:MUSIC. Musical numbers can be incorporated like this in two ways:

  • In parentheses, after the description of the song or scene where the song appears, like these examples from Hello, Dolly!: Horace Vandergelder informs his two employees that a woman is essential to make a household complete ("It Takes a Woman"); or
  • Using the title of the number in a sentence: Horace Vandergelder informs his two employees that "It Takes a Woman" to make a household complete.

Note that the two methods can be used interchangeably in the same summary, but, in either case, please be careful to incorporate the song titles using prose that sounds "encyclopedic". For example, a synopsis should not refer to the fact that a song is being sung or to mechanics of the play. For example: Horace Vandergelder sings to his two employees that "It Takes a Woman" to make a household complete, and then the curtain falls. An exception might be where the mechanics of the play are part of the story itself: For instance, in The Fantasticks, the narrator drops the fourth wall to describe elements of the play and to comment on it periodically. Similarly, in Into the Woods, a narrator introduces elements of the play, and this might be noted in the Synopsis.

Media (optional)[edit]

Snippets of major songs in the musical can be included in inline links in the synopsis. EVERY song in the show should not be represented, merely the handful of major and well-known songs should be included. These should be no longer than 30 seconds, and should follow the guidelines represented in Wikipedia:Media#Audio and WP:NONFREE#Acceptable use. You should use Template:Listen or Template:Audio to include music in the body of the text.

Major roles/characters[edit]

A reader should be able to gain information about the main characters through the synopsis. For example:

  • At this school, Elphaba meets Galinda, a blond, popular girl who does not, at first, take well to Elphaba's strange skin tone. (From the musical Wicked)

Long, detailed descriptions of characters are not needed (unless necessary to convey the story-line). Rather at the first mention of an important character in the Synopsis, some effort should be made to convey the personality or characteristics of the character. If a story is complex, the characters confusing, then a list of principal characters may be given.

Vocal ranges: Vocal ranges for musicals articles should generally not be included in character lists unless a consensus of editors working on the article is obtained. Editors may remove the vocal ranges in the absence of such a consensus. For musicals that are similar to operas or operettas, however, such as Candide (operetta), or The Desert Song, it may be useful to include vocal ranges. In these cases, editors working on an article should attempt to reach a consensus and report the consensus on the article talk page.

List of musical numbers[edit]

The song list should note which character(s) sing each song and should bluelink to WP articles on songs that have a separate article. An n-dash should separate the name of the song from the characters that sing the song.

Multiple song lists (i.e. in the case of a musical which had several re-writes between productions) should be avoided: short-running tryout productions should not have a separate list, unless significantly different versions have each had multiple revivals and/or major, long-running productions. Broadway shows should generally follow the list for the original production at the IBDB for the original Broadway productions, unless you cite WP:Reliable sources that contradict the IBDB. Information about different versions can be discussed in a narrative Versions section, or in footnotes below the musical numbers list.

In a lengthy list of songs, the songs can be presented in columns of a table by act. Song lists should generally be bulletted (*), not numbered. Short reprises should be omitted.

Musical analysis[edit]

A musical analysis section must analyze the use or technical features of the music within the musical. For example, the music section might contain a sentence like:

  • Sondheim gives each of the characters a specific musical theme that is used in their solos. These themes are also used in the musical underscoring to indicate to the audience the importance of a character in a scene. Likewise, some themes are given to motifs within the musical. The beans themselves have a theme that can be heard when the Baker gives the beans to Jack. This "bean theme" is the basis of the song "Your Fault". (From the musical Into the Woods)

Another example:

Dramatic analysis (optional)[edit]

Like the music section, this section should contain analysis of the acting style or conventions used in the musical. For example:

  • The script gives no descriptions of settings or character names. Although the characters can be inferred to be Jesus and the disciples from the bible, in the script the lines are listed with the names of the actors who originally played the characters. The original production presented the company as a troupe of clowns who follow Jesus in an abandoned playground; subsequent productions have been set in museums, classrooms, on top of buildings, or in an abandoned theater. Since the setting is never explicitly stated in the text, directors are free to show off their creative abilities. (From the musical Godspell)

Another example:

  • In "Nowadays", Roxie and Velma sing about the "good things" of life in 1924. The items that they identify as "good" however, including booze, cheating, and murdering, are not good. This song that is, on surface level, about the good life, upon further analysis, is about the corruption present in 1924. Several times throughout the song, the two sing, "In fifty years or so / It's gonna change, you know." Chicago was set in 1924 and premiered in 1975. Through their sarcasm, Roxie and Velma are, in fact, accusing the audience of being everything "bad" depicted in the musical. (From the musical Chicago)

Other elements as required (e.g., Book, Design etc)[edit]

Like the two sections above, this section should contain information about significant production specific topics:


This section should contain information about the different productions of a show. The following could be included for each production:

  • Name of theatre
  • Location of theatre (Broadway, West End)
  • Opening/Closing Dates
  • Famous or notable featured cast members

Only professional productions should be included in this section, following the conditions set in WP:NOTABILITY. Amateur productions will be deleted without discussion.

The names of non-notable (i.e., non-bluelinked) ensemble and chorus members, understudies and non-notable production team members (other than directors and choreographers) should be deleted. Only the actors playing principal (significant speaking and singing) roles should be mentioned. For the original Broadway or West End production, there may be a cast list, with notable actors bluelinked, or the casting may be described in prose. Please do not delete such lists. However, there should not be full lists of replacement casts. Notable replacement actors can be named either next to the original cast list or in prose in the description of the production. Other productions should merely name the notable actors and production team members who have Wikipedia articles and can be blue-linked, unless their names are important to an understanding of the musical and its history. A citation to the full cast lists can be given so that the information is easily accessible to anyone who needs this information.

Adaptations and/or versions (optional)[edit]

If the musical was turned into a TV show or film, that should be noted here, with a link to any relevant Wikipedia articles. Please note that movie musicals based on stage musicals should have their own articles and should be very briefly summarized and cross-referenced in the stage musicals' article.

If the show was presented in one form originally and then edited (cut, new numbers added, etc.) for another production, that could be discussed in a section on adaptations or versions. For instance, Chicago originally opened in one version and then, for the more successful revival, changes had been made, and the significant changes should be described.


This section does not require all the following sub-headings. Not all musicals have enough information in the sub-headings below to warrant the inclusion of all four. If, for example, only one sub-heading below applies to a musical, do not use the "Response" heading, and instead use the appropriate sub-heading below as a second-level heading.

Awards (optional)

This section should contain a list of major awards. For musicals performed in the U.S., these awards are limited to the Tony Award, Drama Desk Award, Obie Award, and Pulitzer Prize for Drama. For musicals performed in the U.K., these awards are limited to the Laurence Olivier Award, Evening Standard Award and the Critics' Circle Theatre Award. Unlike the awards section of the infobox, production-specific awards (i.e. those given to actors/actresses in this musical) can be listed here. If this list becomes too long, it may be shortened to the most notable awards. Also, if the only awards that belong in this section are also listed in the infobox, this section need not exist. If there are only one or two notable awards, they could be mentioned in the description of the relevant productions.

Critical reception

In this section, a production's critical response may be described. It should include references to reliable sources and/or quotes to theatre critics or theatre periodicals. This is not your opinion of how well the musical ran. Rather, this is what the professionals felt about this musical, as evidenced by their actual published reviews or books. Any statement that is obviously WP:original research or a violation of WP:NPOV and is uncited will be considered original research and will be swiftly removed.

Box office and business (if available)

If the amount of money made by this musical is notable or the producer(s) is(are) notable because of this production, that should be noted here.

Cultural impact (optional)

For musicals that have had a profound impact outside of the Musical Theatre world, that can be described here. Please do not, however, allow this section to become a long list of trivia. See below.


Lists of trivia should be avoided; important information contained in such a list should be integrated elsewhere in the article, and passing references to the show or less important items should be deleted. Sections of articles that contain such lists should be tagged {{Trivia}}, which would appear as follows:


This should be a short list of recordings completely about this musical (i.e. not "this song was included on so-and-so's greatest hits CD"). Also, a track listing should not be listed as all the songs should be noted somewhere above. However, if the track list of the original cast album or other very notable albums are significantly different from the list of musical numbers performed in the show, there should be a discussion of that fact (and the reasons for it, with appropriate citations).

References and external links[edit]

References and Notes

References and Notes should be cited as described in Wikipedia:Citing sources. References should be from reliable sources. Footnotes using ref tags should generally be under the heading "Notes", and book references may be under the heading "References" or "Further Reading", with page number references under "Notes".

External links

There may be links to any other helpful sites about this musical, as long as references are to non-commercial sites. See WP:EL.

Also should include Template:Ibdb title if applicable.


The heading "categories" is not needed and should not be added. Simply paste the category at the bottom of the article.

To determine what Categories this musical belongs in, follow these steps:

  1. Determine the first verified year "YYYY" the musical was produced, and copy the text [[Category:YYYY musicals]].
  2. If the musical ever appeared on Broadway, paste the text [[Category:Broadway musicals]]. If the article says it was an Off-Broadway production and never played Broadway, paste the text [[Category:Off-Broadway musicals]]. A musical normally (but not always) should not appear in both these categories simultaneously.
  3. If the musical ever appeared in London's West End, paste the text [[Category:London West End musicals]].
  4. If the musical was made into a musical film, and there is not already a separate article about the film, paste the text [[Category:Musical films]]. If the musical is a stage production adaptation of what was originally a film, paste the text [[Category:Musicals based on films]]. If the musical was adapted for a musical on television, paste the text [[Category:Musical television specials]].
  5. Lastly, if the musical doesn't clearly fit into ANY of those subcategories, place it in the overall category [[Category:Musicals]]. Only articles which do not fit in any subcategory should appear here (which means that most of the articles still in this category are probably stubs that need additional information or which haven't yet been sub-categorized).

Use of these guidelines on new and existing articles[edit]

This is the preferred structure of articles created by this project's editors after discussion of the merits of the choices reflected in the guidelines above. It represents our WP:CONSENSUS. We believe that this structure should have precedence over an article's former structure where articles were written before this structure was adopted. This applies to infoboxes, heading names, and the other matters discussed above.

Retention of Information

In "changing over" any part of an article, it is important that no valuable information should be lost. See WP:GF. No information should be left out just because there is a new format. You may wish to place a message on the talk page saying "I could not find a place to incorporate the following information." If information seems unnecessary to you, please transfer it to the talk page to see if another editor can rescue it by rewriting/improving/referencing it and putting it where it belongs in the article. This includes text, images, and information in infoboxes. Of course, if information is libellous or patently WP:Trivia, like information about amateur performances, lists of celebrities who came to see the show, etc., use your best judgement. You still should note on the talk page when you delete a significant amount of information so others can review your edit and make sure they agree.

Final note[edit]

This Article Structure is put in place to assist in the addition of information to Wikipedia. This system was not intended to justify the removal of information.

Happy editing,

--The WikiProject Musical Theatre team