Broadway Musicals Lesson Plan

Instructor: John Hamilton

John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.

Educate your students about Broadway musicals with this lesson plan. They will study a text lesson, take a related follow-up quiz, and participate in three fun, hands-on activities to reinforce some main concepts.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, your students will be able to:

  • Detail the history of Broadway as well as Vaudeville
  • Explain what determines whether or not a show is considered Broadway
  • Name some of the current Broadway hit shows


2 hours, ideally divided up into two consecutive class periods


  • Colored markers
  • Copies of the text lesson Broadway Musicals: History & Shows along with the accompanying lesson quiz
  • Internet access
  • Poster board
  • Three preprinted worksheets with 12 Broadway musicals, 12 characters, and 12 plots, not in the correct order. (See Activity 1 for more details.)

Key Vocabulary

  • Great Depression
  • Operas
  • Shakespeare
  • The Great White Way
  • Tony Awards
  • Vaudeville

Curriculum Standards


Describe how a particular story's or drama's plot unfolds in a series of episodes as well as how the characters respond or change as the plot moves toward a resolution.


Compare and contrast the experience of reading a story, drama, or poem to listening to or viewing an audio, video, or live version of the text, including contrasting what they 'see' and 'hear' when reading the text to what they perceive when they listen or watch.


  • Inform your students they will be learning about Broadway musicals.
  • Ask them if anyone has a favorite musical or has been to a show.
  • Review the key vocabulary terms.
  • Pass out the text lesson, Broadway Musicals: History & Shows. Read the introduction and the first section, 'What is Broadway?'
    • How many establishments are considered Broadway theaters?
    • Are most of them actually on Broadway?
    • Are there off-Broadway theaters right on Broadway?
    • When were most of the theaters actually on Broadway?
  • Now read the section 'Broadway vs. Off-Broadway.'
    • How many seats are in Broadway theaters?
    • How many seats are in off-Broadway theaters?
    • How many seats are in off-off-Broadway theaters?
    • Do Broadway theaters pay more? Why?
  • Next read the section 'Where It All Began.'
    • When were the origins of Broadway? On which street?
    • What war halted production temporarily?
    • Which theater accommodated 2,000 patrons?
    • What was Vaudeville?
    • When did it arrive to Broadway?
    • Why did theaters buy so much space on Broadway during this time?
  • Now read the section 'The Great White Way.'
    • Why did people call the theater district The Great White Way?
    • What two factors caused a decline in theater popularity?
    • How did theaters compensate to stay open?
    • What era ended that brought on Broadway's Golden Age?
    • When were the first Tony Awards?
  • Next read the section 'Broadway Today: Success and Shows.'
    • Which is the longest running show?
    • What adaptation of a Disney film is a long-running show?
    • What show tells the story of America's Founding Fathers?
  • Read the final section, 'Lesson Summary,' recap the text lesson, and answer any pertinent student questions.
  • Have your students take the lesson quiz to demonstrate their understanding.


Activity 1 (Day 1)

  • Explain to your students they will be playing a matching type of game to compete for prizes.
  • Divide your students up into pairs.
  • Pass out three preprinted worksheets with the following information, but in mixed order. Worksheet 1 will contain the names of the 12 musicals, Worksheet 2 will contain the names of 12 characters, and Worksheet 3 will contain the plots of the 12 musicals.
    • Aladdin - Jasmine - A young man hopes to marry a princess
    • Anastasia - Anya - An orphan searches for her family
    • The Book of Mormon - Kevin Price - Two missionaries travel to Uganda
    • Cats - Griddlebone - A group has to make a choice on its big night
    • Chicago - Roxie Hart - A woman is sent to prison for committing a crime
    • The Glass Menagerie - Amanda Wingfield - A single mother tries to keep her family together
    • Hamilton - Angelica Schuyler - The lead meets with Jefferson and Madison at dinner
    • The Lion King - Scar - A treacherous uncle plots revenge for not becoming king
    • Phantom of the Opera - Madame Giry - A genius obsesses about a singer
    • School of Rock - Dewey Finn - A guy loses his job and becomes a substitute teacher
    • Sunset Boulevard - Norma Desmond - A former star tries to revive her career
    • Wicked - Glinda - Related to another famous Kansas tale
  • Have your students research to come up with the correct matches. They will probably need to utilize the internet to find most of the correct answers.
  • Grade the papers as the students turn them in.
  • Hand out small prizes to the first three pairs with all the answers correct.
    • Does anyone have any further questions or comments?

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it now
Create an account to start this course today
Used by over 30 million students worldwide
Create an account