Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Musical Theatre/Article Structure/Archive 1

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Article structure

How should the structure for each individual show be accomplished?

  • History
  • Would include a chronological progression of major productions.
  • Synopsis
  • I would personally advocate that synopses be as thorough as possible, adequately cover musical numbers and, when possible, incorporate the title of the song into the syntax of the sentence.
  • It should be broken down by act and, if possible by scene.
  • List of major Musical Numbers
  • Also broken down by Act (though not necessarily by scene).
  • It is possible (but by no means necessary) to list the characters involved in the musical number, as well.
  • Table of major actors (if there have been several major productions).
  • Trivia, if necessary.
—  MusicMaker 08:41, 29 June 2006 (UTC)
  • Productions
Importaint information pertaining to each one. Perhaps put after Synopsis, before List of major Musical Numbers.
omtay38 13:45, 29 June 2006 (UTC)
I think the production section would be part of the history section. —  MusicMaker 19:22, 29 June 2006 (UTC)
How about a table for productions such as the following:
Major productions of Show
Production Location(s) Director Other creatives Open Close Performances
1959 Original Broadway Neil Simon Theatre Gower Champion Agnes DeMille (choreography)
could also include designers, MDs etc
15 July 1959 17 August 1960 245 performances
1960s US national tour various Gower Champion Agnes DeMille (choreography) 1 September 1961 15 October 1963 543 performances
2005 West End revival National Theatre Sam Mendes Twyla Tharp (choreography)
Brian Thompson (set/costume design)
3 January 2005 17 February 2006 25 performances
This type of table could be optional for shows where such information is readily available.
Malfourmed 15:40, 2 July 2006 (UTC)

Table of actors

I'd also like to add a 'nay' vote to the idea of the table of actors. I think it presents too much potential for problems: people will inavariably add their favorite actors to the table, and it will grow and grow, and there will be debates and hurt feelings: "Why didn't you keep Actor X on the list? He's more notable than Actor Z!" Also, at least in terms of the Broadway productions, the IBDB has exhaustive lists of originals and replacements, so we could always just link to that. Perhaps if the table's contents could be restricted to the opening night casts, this could be done and remain controllable. Mademoiselle Sabina 16:32, 29 June 2006 (UTC)
The "table of actors" that I had in mind was something like this toward the bottom. When I'd gotten to this article, it was just lists of the casts of various productions. I didn't necessarily want to keep the information, but someone did a bit of work and I didn't want to get rid of it entirely. —  MusicMaker 19:22, 29 June 2006 (UTC)
That table is a nice way of presenting the cast information for multiple productions, but agree that there should be some guidelines (eg opening night casts only) to prevent these lists from spiralling out of control. Also, what about expanding the concept for the table to include non-actor roles, eg director? This is especially useful for revivals as opposed to franchised ("cookie cutter") remounts. Malfourmed 04:32, 1 July 2006 (UTC)
I've incorporated the idea of a table for non-actor roles in my suggestion for "Productions". Malfourmed 15:42, 2 July 2006 (UTC)

Synopsis/Musical Numbers

I'm going to have to disagree with your ideas on the plot. We should not split everything by scenes. No featured article for a film is that detailed, neither should one for a musical. The people at FA generally like a synopsis section to cover the entire plot of whatever the subject is, while being as brief as possible. Wicked (musical) for instance, is just crazy. This also creates a problem with including musical numbers in the plot synopsis. Jekyll & Hyde (musical) is on its way, but the synopsis section is longer than desirable.
Maybe we need a Music section in each article. This covers information on the composer and lyricist and can include the songs in prose? – warpedmirror (talk) 17:05, 29 June 2006 (UTC)
I think it's extremely necessary to have some sort of mention of the musical numbers. Musicals are remembered for their music. That's why we call them "musicals". I don't think it's necessary to mention every little thing like in Rent, but we need to have something.
I definitely don't mind not separating things by scene. Doesn't really matter to me, I'd just rather not see a huge block of text, you know?
—  MusicMaker 19:22, 29 June 2006 (UTC)
I personally don't mind having an in-depth plot synopsis, but judging from my past experience, I know for a fact that if we nominate an article for FA with a paragraph+ for each scene, we will be eaten alive. – warpedmirror (talk) 21:36, 29 June 2006 (UTC)
Agree that a plot synopsis shouldn't be overly lengthy but that most, if not all, musical numbers should be listed either as part of the synopsis or separately. Malfourmed 04:32, 1 July 2006 (UTC)
Sorry, Warped, I just re-read something you wrote before, and I'm not sure I understand. Could you give an example of what you mean by giving the musical numbers in prose? I'm just not sure how you would do that. It seems to me that to integrate them into the prose, it would be part of the synopsis, no? —  MusicMaker 06:03, 2 July 2006 (UTC)
Well, inclusion in the synopsis would be ideal. But (just throwing this out there) say in a "music" section...(excuse me lackluster on-the-spot writing) Frank Wildhorn's score for Jekyll and Hyde includes a variety of musical numbers. While the character of Lucy haunts the audience with the depressing and reflective "No One Knows Who I Am", she then turns around to sing the raunchy and up-tempo "Good 'N' Evil" – a song that caused a stir among fans of the premature show when it replaced crowd favorite "Bring On the Men". Jekyll performs several frightening numbers including "Alive" when he embrases his evil self and "Confrontation" when he confronts it. Lucy's foil, the pure and high-class Emma Carew idealizes her relationship with Jekyll in her optimistic "Once Upon a Dream". The company's "Murder, Murder" and four-times reprised "Façade" serve as narratives to the harsh realities of the world. This of course, can be awfully boring and can easily including it in the synopsis is probably our best bet. – warpedmirror (talk) 05:01, 3 July 2006 (UTC)
Yeah, that number-by-number rundown could get tiresome quickly. I think it might be better if, as suggested elsewhere, the Music section adopts a more analytical rather than a checklist style approach. The Porgy and Bess section is an example of this, as is A Little Night Music. The Jekyll & Hyde example might run more along the lines of: Jekyll and Lisa's songs are composed in a minor key whereas Hyde and Lucy's songs are written in a major key. Noted music critic Roger Ebert called this technique "the most sublime use of leitmotif since Wagner"[1] -- Malfourmed (user talk) 05:21, 3 July 2006 (UTC)
  1. ^ Ebert, R: "The Genius of Frank Wildhorn", page 23. Academic Press, 2005
I agree -- I think we should do it in the synopsis and leave the Music section for more technical matters. —  MusicMaker 08:17, 3 July 2006 (UTC)
I'm all for that. I just hope that each musical has enough information to warrant its on section. And on a side note, Jekyll's & Emma/Lisa's are major and Hyde's and Lucy's are minor. :-P – warpedmirror (talk) 17:06, 3 July 2006 (UTC)
Heh. I just made that up - I had no idea what keys the J&H songs were in. ;-) Re sections - I'd suggest that only a few of the sections be considered "compulsory", the rest could be optional depending on how much information is contributed. -- Malfourmed (user talk) 17:17, 3 July 2006 (UTC)
Haha! You were very convincing! And I totally agree about the "compulsory" stuff. – warpedmirror (talk) 17:59, 3 July 2006 (UTC)
LOL -- I read that and thought to myself, "I'm pretty sure Alive is in a-minor....", but decided to let it go.
I think that once we get an idea of what sections we want, we can decide sort of where they belong in terms of assessing the articles. A section like "Music", I think, would be one of the last sections added, and we might think of making it a requirement for A-class. I find it difficult to believe that we can't find one paragraph on the technical aspects of the music -- these are musicals, after all....
—  MusicMaker 20:25, 3 July 2006 (UTC)
Okay, whew, I'm not the only one who sat there thinking things like "Wait...isn't Take Me As I Am major?" Crystallina 16:59, 11 July 2006 (UTC)

If we can help it I'd like to stay away from rigid lists of musical numbers. This is mainly for Featured consideration - I see the list argument brought up quite often in failed nominations. Besides, it takes up a lot of space. I much prefer the method used in articles such as Jekyll & Hyde (musical). Crystallina 14:03, 29 June 2006 (UTC)
I agree, that seems to be the method of choice as it is also more useful than a simple list of musical numbers. It also appears to be the standard method on [1] (a wonderful resource).
Agreeing with the structure presented here. I also agree that I'd stay away from a list of musical numbers, but instead would prefer to see them incorporated into the body of the article in the synopsis.
I agree with the basic structure too. However, I would prefer to keep a list of musical numbers, just to prevent people from wanting to claw their eyes out trying to find them embedded in paragraphs of text in a synopsis form. I think it's great to have the songs embedded in a synopsis too, but I still think we should have lists. If the length is a hindrance to Featured status, maybe the lists could just be of major musical numbers. Drenched 21:50, 1 July 2006 (UTC)
I think use of italics can help that. I've also seen synposes where the name of the number is in parenthesis. —  MusicMaker 07:06, 2 July 2006 (UTC)
I know we're closing in on finalization, but could we please keep a list of musical numbers as an open option in some cases? Maybe we can make it the norm to incorporate into the synopsis without a list, but I don't think it should be mandatory for all musicals. I was just editing Movin' Out (musical), and realized that shows like that with only a very loose plot don't fit too well in the synopsis-musical-incorporation format. I listed some numbers in the synopsis but trying to smash them all in would be super redundant, contrived, and cumbersome, and it'd be much easier (in this case) to write a short paragraph incorporating only the major numbers and then having a list of numbers elsewhere. --Drenched 06:29, 29 July 2006 (UTC)

Critical reception

We definitely need a section for critical reception. This, obviously, will be slightly more difficult for older musicals, but hey - that's what research is for. (It's also one of the reasons why the Rent nom failed.) Crystallina 17:13, 29 June 2006 (UTC)
Agree wholeheartedly. Does anyone know where to find this information? —  MusicMaker 19:22, 29 June 2006 (UTC)
Yeah we definitely need a critical response section. Just Google "Reviews for Musical X" and you should come up with something. Another major major major thing we need is Notes and references. There's no chance of getting even GA status if the article isn't referenced. External links don't hurt either.
I was actually thinking old newspapers/magazines, but that may work. Crystallina 01:07, 30 June 2006 (UTC)
Hopefully, Google will take us to Internet archives of old newspaers/magazines. :-) – warpedmirror (talk) 16:40, 30 June 2006 (UTC)
Presumably awards and nominations fall within the "Critical response" section? Malfourmed 04:32, 1 July 2006 (UTC)
I disagree only because awards aren't given by the critics. —  MusicMaker 06:17, 1 July 2006 (UTC)
This is true. But what if we put Awards, Critical Reception, and Box Office as subheadings under a more general "Reception" type of category? And maybe if there was a notable public response or cultural impact, it could go under this umbrella heading too (except with a better name than "Reception") Drenched
I agree with an umbrella "reception" (or better name) section because not all musicals have had significant Awards, Critical Reception, Box Office figures, public response or cultural impact but all these topics serve the same basic purpose to a person reading the article. (Made changes below to reflect this umbrella possibility.)--omtay38 21:41, 1 July 2006 (UTC)

Box office

How about a section for box office/business? Malfourmed 04:32, 1 July 2006 (UTC)
I don't know how encyclopedic such information would be, nor do I think it would make for very interesting reading. —  MusicMaker 06:17, 1 July 2006 (UTC)
Personally, I'm very interested in the economics of musical theatre and would argue it's as encyclopedic as anything else meriting inclusion in Wikipedia. I'm not suggesting we populate a box office/business section with week-by-week grosses from Playbill, but that notes such as the following hypothetical examples would be relevant: "The initial Broadway production of Show had a capitalisation of US$4M and grossed US$12.5M during its run." "Show broke broke the weekly house record during at the Whatever Theatre with a take of $1,041,395 during July 2005." "Investors in the long-running original production of Show received a 1,500% return on their investment." "Show did not recoup its investment during its West End season. In contrast, the subsequent UK national tour which simplified the set and cut two members of the ensembles was profitable." Incidentally, agree with moving Box Office/Business to being a sub-section under Reception (or whatever it's best called). Malfourmed 15:08, 2 July 2006 (UTC)
If we can find this information I'd certainly be interested. My philosophy for categories such as this is 'the more the better' in general. Crystallina 15:04, 11 July 2006 (UTC)


In the article structure section below, how is "Music" different to "List of major musical numbers"? Also, have taken the liberty of rearranging the order somewhat; please feel free to revert. Malfourmed 04:32, 1 July 2006 (UTC)
A Music section could characterize the music in the show, perhaps from a more technical standpoint. Meaning, in A Little Night Music it may talk about how all of the music is in waltz time (3/4) or in compounds thereof.
I've further reordered from there. —  MusicMaker 06:17, 1 July 2006 (UTC)
How about a sub section for cast/studio recordings under Music? Malfourmed 15:40, 2 July 2006 (UTC)
That could get out-of-hand. I wouldn't object to them, but something like Jesus Christ Superstar might end up being huge. It would show a great deal of diversity (things like the Mexican production of JCS), but there are a lot of recordings like that. —  MusicMaker 03:21, 3 July 2006 (UTC)
I figure for JCS-type shows which generate dozens of recordings, we can include the notable ones in the main show article but link to a separate discography article for a more comprehensive study. -- Malfourmed (user talk) 04:41, 3 July 2006 (UTC)
That's not a bad idea at all.—  MusicMaker 08:19, 3 July 2006 (UTC)

Section for other element analysis

There'll be times when we want to include some analysis of elements other than the music. For instance, an article about Into the Woods could easily include some discussion about how the book of the show weaves together different fairy tales and draws heavily upon Bruno Bettelheim's text The Uses of Enchantment. Or an article about The Lion King could go into more detail about the design of the puppets in the show. I suggest these can be added, on a case-by-case basis after the section on Music. -- Malfourmed (user talk) 05:45, 3 July 2006 (UTC)

I agree. I think that deciding on this structure is just a starting point: something that we think should be the least requirements for each article. Even then, I don't think we're always going to use each section; I think including a section on the technical musical aspects of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat would border on mental cruelty. As new sections present themselves, I don't think there's any need to automatically require a consensus on their inclusion -- unless their encyclopedicness is called into question. —  MusicMaker 08:33, 3 July 2006 (UTC)
I think it should be a prime objective of the project to make a detailed 32,0000 word analysis of the "Joseph Megamix" its first feature article. Go go go Joseph!!! -- Malfourmed (user talk) 10:08, 3 July 2006 (UTC)
LOL. The "Music" section for Joseph... would contain this sentence: "It is the same song over and over for 94 minutes or until the audience's ears begin to bleed, whichever comes first." —  MusicMaker 20:31, 3 July 2006 (UTC)

Naming Conventions

Everything is more or less consistent; should the problem of ambiguity arise, the article is Cats (musical). One notable exception is The Phantom of the Opera (1986 musical). (The question had recently been raised on the talk page -- I defended the title by pointing out that there are several musicals based on that particular story.) Should Candide (operetta) be Candide (musical)? Should POTO be The Phantom of the Opera (musical)?
I can't think of any examples of musicals off the top of my head, but some titles, at least in their common usage, have the tendency to pick up a "The..." or, conversely, lose a "The..." or "A...." or "An....". (The Messiah comes to mind....) The title should be its given name, not it's common name.
—  MusicMaker 23:27, 3 July 2006 (UTC)

Section on Source Material

Since just about every musical comes from some other medium, should we include a section about the source material? If the source is something well-known (ie La Boheme), we can go into detail about the adaptation and include a link to the article. If it's less known (like Lilliom for Carousel), we can go into a little more detail about the source, itself. —  MusicMaker 08:33, 3 July 2006 (UTC)

I've assumed that the source material information would go in the (Development) History section of the article. I wouldn't go into too much detail about the source material itself. Eg: "Liliom is a one-act play by Hungarian Ferenc Molnar (1878-1952). It was first produced in Hungary in 1909 and translated into English in 1921. It concerns Liliom, a tough, cocky carousel barker who falls in love with Julie, a young woman who works as a maid. The play was inspired by a domestic incident when Molnar's first wife upbraided him for slapping their daughter, a key event in the play. [2] Prior to its adaptation as Carousel Italian composer Giacomo Puccini had thought of setting it to music. [3]" Rather I'd put that sort of detail into a separate article eg Liliom and only focus on the adaptation related issues. Eg: Rodgers and Hammerstein's source for Carousel was the play Liliom by Hungarian playwright Ferenc Molnar. Key changes from the source material include changing the location to New England, USA and blah blah blah etc etc etc." (As it so happens, the Molnar entry contains a reasonable amount of information on Liliom the play.) -- Malfourmed (user talk) 10:04, 3 July 2006 (UTC)

Porgy and Bess

It may behoove us to take a look at the article for Porgy and Bess. While considered an opera, (and I got yelled at for suggesting otherwise), it's a FA -- and a good one, at that! Something we may want to try and emulate. —  MusicMaker 21:16, 7 July 2006 (UTC)

Gershwin said that Porgy is a musical when it's played on Broadway and an opera when it's played in an opera house.  :-)
I agree that the Porgy article is a very good example of how to organize a long article about a piece that has had several revivals, a story about its genesis/composition/history and controversy, etc. Compare the pages on The Zoo, The Pirates of Penzance and The Gondoliers, which choose to put the genesis/history stuff above the roles and synopsis, whereas the Porgy article and our article structure outline have the roles and synopsis up near the top. Which do people prefer? When you go to a new article, do you want to know the analysis and history first, or the plot synopsis first (after a brief intro, of course)? Ssilvers 22:53, 7 July 2006 (UTC)
Note this dicussion: [4]. It appears that History section generally goes first, right after the brief intro, although the Porgy article does it differently. Ssilvers 05:57, 9 July 2006 (UTC)

Synopsis/Music/List of Numbers revisited

I just reviewed all the discussions about the list of numbers and do not see a consensus. Some argued that the numbers should be embedded into the synopsis. Others said that this would make the synopsis too long (an opinion that I think I share, at least for a complex show). Then a suggestion was made to describe the numbers in the "music" section, but there was no agreement on what else should go in the music section, and IMO, the suggested example seemed like a short but confusing repeat of the synopsis.

Here's my suggestion. If the show is relatively short and simple, it is preferred to embed the names of the principal numbers in the synopsis. However, if the show is complex, and naming the songs as you go would make the synopsis hard to read, then instead add a List of Principal Musical Numbers section, where you can omit every little reprise and just list the names of each principal number by Act. The Music (or "Musical Analysis"?) section, I think, should contain either a discussion of what is notable about the musical history, writing of the music or other aspects of the music of the show (e.g., Hair: "...first time that rock music was extensively used in a musical, with the orchestration consisting of...."; Mamma Mia: "...consists entirely of a collection of pre-existing ABBA songs....") or a musicological or other analysis of the music of the show and/or how the music adds to the drama and importance of the show. Can we get a consensus? Ssilvers 05:11, 8 July 2006 (UTC)

  • Wikipedia doesn't like lists. As one of our goal is to get articles Good/Featured status, I think we should stay away from them. The problem with an analysis of the songs is that it may be considered original research.

My suggestion is that we cover the musical numbers in prose form somehow. I'm torn on how to do this though. On the one hand, I'd like to list every number in the article somehow; on the other hand, musicals such as Rent have over 30 if I recall correctly, which can get horribly horribly long. Crystallina 15:03, 11 July 2006 (UTC)

(From main project talk page) I still don't think we should put the list of musical numbers INTO the plot synopsis, unless there are not that many musical numbers. It makes for bad prose. If the musical has a long list of numbers (let's say more than 10), I think they can be listed out. Or we could leave the choice up to the writer of the article whether to list them out or integrate them into the synopsis. Secondly, I think the list of roles should be required rather than optional. Other than that, I like the format. --Ssilvers 04:03, 26 July 2006 (UTC)
Although I see your point about cluttering up the prose, I think that if the synopsis is not thorough enough to include all the musical numbers in it's prose, it's not thorough enough. Also I think that simple steps can be taken to still allow for easy readability of the synopsis (See The Producers (musical) although it has a list of musical numbers, it could easily be removed at no loss to the article). I feel that of all the other sections of an article about a musical, the synopsis is the most important. As seen in this project's discussions about the infobox, the details of each production are not nearly as important as the book and lyric writers. In the same way, because our articles are focused mainly on each musical as a piece of literature and not on singular productions, the synopsis becomes the most important part. Please feel free to disagree with me, but I think when users look up a musical on wikipedia, they would rather see all the musical numbers as they relate to the story line of the show rather than a chronological listing of musical numbers. Plus according to Wikipedia:Embedded list list making should be avoided because "Wikipedia is not a list". RENT has been one of the few articles on musicals I have found that has been elected for featured article status. One of the reasons it did not receive FA status was because of lists (see it's featured article discussion. Lists seem to be looked down upon by all style guidelines and the easiest way to get around the listing of musical numbers is to incorporate it into the synopsis. Please feel free to disagree / refute / discuss / oppose / anything else you can think of. Just my 2¢. --omtay38 08:18, 27 July 2006 (UTC)

Proposed Article Structure Page

Since discussion seems to be dying down here, I have proposed a page that we would put on our Article Structure page on my sandbox (here). I think that while we're working on it, we should leave it in my sandbox (or, more importantly, outside of the namspace of this WikiProject) so that when we finally reach a consensus, we can put the one and only version on the Article Structure page and not have to worry about people going back through the edit history and getting confused by the parts that have changed. Just to keep everything organized, when you get to my sandbox, feel free to put your comments at the bottom (following the instructions listed there) but do not edit the main section of the article. This way we won't have to worry about edit conflicts and things of that nature.

Because the structure of the Articles may be the most important thing we decide upon, the language of our Article Structure page should be carefully scrutinized to prevent future conflicts. So, without further ado, please head to my sandbox and please comment! Thanks! --omtay38 01:39, 29 July 2006 (UTC)

I'm new here...

Hi there! I've been doing some musical assessments, but as I poke around some more around here, I'm starting to realize that maybe I shouldn't have been doing that yet? I saw that there wasn't a definitive style guide settled upon, so I was just doing a more general sort of assessment. I also tried to track down the discussion on musical article formats, but it's moved around a lot! I want to help out around here, but I'm not sure what I can/should be doing. I hope I haven't been doing things that are unhelpful. Oh, umm - by the way, I nominated Avenue Q for featured article status. That may have been a little hasty as well, but I do think it's one of our best articles! MrCheshire 20:18, 13 August 2006 (UTC)

Well, I have un-nominated it... but I think with a little work we could get it up to that level. MrCheshire 04:49, 14 August 2006 (UTC)