Musical theatre

Students investigate musical theatre throughout time, exploring the historical and social aspects of each associated decade.

Students will develop knowledge and understanding of the variety of musicals and how they originated, from the innovator Bob Fosse, through to the musicals Singin' in the Rain, Dreamgirls, Les Miserables and The Lion King. They will explore PowerPoint presentation, YouTube clips and practical workshops within musical theatre. They will research and investigate the development of musical theatre throughout time while gaining knowledge and an appreciation of musical theatre.


  • 4.3.1 describes dance performances through the elements of dance.
  • 4.3.2 identifies that dance works of art express ideas.
  • 5.3.1 describes and analyse dance as the communication of ideas within a context.
  • 5.3.2 identifies and analyses the link between their performances and compositions and dance works of art.
  • 5.3.3 applies understandings and experiences drawn from their own work and dance works of art.


5 weeks.

Driving question

How has musical theatre developed over time?


Students will explore the historical and social aspects of musical theatre, through appreciation and practical tasks based on the various styles explored. The connection of theory to practical work will further engage students, creating a more in-depth understanding of musical theatre.

  • Work, employment and enterprise
  • Difference and diversity
  • Gender
  • Literacy

Process Diary

Students are to:

  • document the process through practical classes in a process diary. This should be a journal, exploring reflections of each practical lesson or section investigating a differing musical. This can be their class workbooks, a dance process diary, or an online blog through sites such as Class Notebook or Google classroom.
  • Investigate musical theatre through a literacy lens, embedding discussions, summarising and TEEEC paragraphing in written form. These processes used follow literacy structures, language forms and features, as seen in the DoE text type support document.


All activities require students to demonstrate their learning and are all formative assessment activities.

Teaching and learning activities

Students are to work both individually and as a group through discussion-based activities throughout this unit, investigating musical theatre in written and practical forms.

Suggested student learning activities include:

  • discussion and summarising strategies around musical theatre
  • TEEEC structuring to form sophisticated paragraphing, working with the TEEEC scaffold provided (PDF 4.3 MB); and
  • complete the activities below.

Students will:

  • research and investigate the history of musical theatre through questions such as:
    • What is musical theatre?
    • What elements does musical theatre incorporate?
    • What is the difference between a stage production and a musical on film? Explore examples of what came first?
    • What musicals have you seen or do you know of? List these and their adaptions in your workbook.

Students will:

Students will:

Students will:

Students will:

  • complete the summarising activity on slide 7 of the PowerPoint presentation. Explore Les Miserables intent and context
  • watch Do you hear the people sing and One day more clips and describe how this musical has created such powerful performance pieces.

Students will:

  • complete the summarising activity on slide 8 of the PowerPoint presentation. Create a TEEEC paragraph.
  • watch The Lion King stage production. Discuss and describe how the elements of production add to the performance.
  • Watch Backstage at The Lion King musical and discuss:
  1. how are performers able to continue the show without breaking between cities?
  2. How many trucks are required to transport costumes and set designs
  3. How often do the costumes need to be washed? Describe the movement quality viewed.
  • utilising this information, write a TEEEC paragraph on the requirements for a successful musical production
  • watch The Lion King cast sing Circle of Life. Discuss and explore working in unison.

Explore one musical each week throughout the term, coupling them with practical lessons exploring the musical theatre style.

Students are to:

  • demonstrate knowledge and understanding of musical theatre
  • explore performance opportunities embodying the differing styles of musical theatre.



Students could:

  • investigate another musical, that we as a class, have not explored
  • watch a musical theatre production on film and write a review or essay outlining, summarising and analysing it for a set audience.

Life skills


  • LS 3.1

Students could:

  • experience a range of dance styles through film and class performance
  • perform the musical theatre style learning a class routine
  • perform this routine to their class.


Feedback is formative for the duration of the unit.

This sequence and accompanying worksheets are available as word documents below:


Please note:

Syllabus outcomes and content descriptors from Dance 7–10 Syllabus (2003) © NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) for and on behalf of the Crown in right of the State of New South Wales, 2017.

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