By Noelle Buffam · March 26, 2011

A Musical interweaves vocal and dance performances into the narrative of the film. The songs of a film can either be used to further the story or simply enhance the experience of the audience. These films are often done on a grand scale and incorporate lavish costumes and sets. Traditional musicals center on a well-known star, famous for their dancing or singing skills (i.e. Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Judy Garland). These films explore concepts such are love and success, allowing the audience to escape from reality.

Examples of Musical Film:

Grease A good girl and a greaser must decide whether or not to continue their summer romance when they unexpectedly return to the same school.

Funny Face A shy and reluctant book clerk is taken to Paris to become a fashion model.

Singin’ in the Rain When the world transitions from silent film to sound, a star-studded cast must make an elaborate scheme to pull of their new film. 

Musical Sub-genres:


Broadway Musical

A Broadway Musical adapts a stage production to film. Having already found success on the stage, Broadway Musicals are usually much anticipated and find success within their niche. Broadway Musicals can cover many different subjects and can vary from musical comedy to musical drama.

Examples: Chicago, Hairspray, My Fair Lady.


Animated Musical

Animated Musicals are animated films that incorporate large musical numbers into the narrative. These films usually appeal to families. This sub-genre was dominated by Disney when the studio had a surge of Animated Musicals in the 1950s and 1990s. Like children’s animation, these stories usually show the battle of good over evil with likable, memorable characters.

Examples: Snow White, The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast.


Family Musical

The traditional Family Musical has a simple storyline, while having elaborate dance and musical numbers.  Aiming to appeal to a broad age range, Family Musicals often have many primary characters of all different ages. Since the goal is to appeal to more ages, the Family Musical can delve into musical drama, as well as musical comedy.

Examples: The Sound of Music, High School Musical, Mary Poppins.