Task 2: Research

What is the future of jukebox musicals?

What is a jukebox musical?

It is a film or stage musical that features previously released songs as the musical score. The music usually has a specific connection with a musician or group because the musical is either written by them or for them. The songs feature in a story line usually about the musician or group. Some Jukebox musicals have been very successful for example ‘We Will Rock You’ The musical by Ben Elton and Brian May ran for 12 years in the West End. Mamma Mia has also managed to build up the popularity as it includes the music of ABBA.

Blog critics magazine had written an article on the pros and cons of jukebox musicals. Some of the things the article spoke about is the issues with creating a jukebox musical such as the music was never created for a musical and so the musical is written to the songs so they fit, which doesn’t always bode well and therefore the plot seems to end up lifeless or “inorganic” as the article said. The article also talks about how producers have a much easier job as the only need to write the plot line because the music is already written and composed however sometimes the lyrics are slightly changed to fit the plot line in order for it to make sense. An advantage to Jukebox musicals is that they already have a certain success rate because they feature well known groups all of which will have a fan base and if the artist is still alive the producer does not need to fight for the rights of the songs because the artist is usually delighted that they’re songs are “resurrected”.

At the end of the article the author Ken says “I’m afraid I don’t care too much for these jukebox musicals. I regard them in the same way as revivals. They occupy theatres that should be showcasing new works. Without a healthy infusion of new musicals, in the long run, musical theatre will slip further into decline.”

I disagree with this statement a lot, because it is showcasing new work. Okay so the music is not new however if the story line is about the life of that said group or musician then people may not know it and it gives them a chance to go and learn more about someone they have liked or heard of. Many Jukebox musicals don’t run for many years anyway which gives many opportunities for empty theatres to show new work also places like the national theatre are always showing brand new work from new playwrights. Musical theatre is not declining its just evolving and changing. Also this article was written a long time ago now, and in that time many new musicals have been made for example “Heathers” on Broadway and “Book of Mormon”. However the information is useful as it does point out some very relevant information such as how producers find jukebox musicals easier and less work. The source is partly trustworthy because the author does have a name however it is not his full name and maybe there is reason, possibly for privacy or he may get some sort of abuse because people may not agree completely to what he has written. The article has helped me to think about not just what a jukebox musical is but of course the work that goes into creating it or “lack of work” as it were, which is very interesting to know. However if we were to do a Jukebox Musical for our final major it would possibly be harder as we could do it on one musician, but that is unlikely to happen, and so we would choose songs from a variety of artists and then slightly changing the songs as well and also writing a plot line for them. Which could possibly be easier as we are not restricted to a set of songs but have a variety to any song we like, although the more popular the songs the more successful the show as the audience would actually know some of them.

Justin Cash(2016), Jukebox Musical, http://www.theatrelinks.com/jukebox-musical (02/01/17)

 Ken(2005) Jukebox Musicals, http://blogcritics.org/jukebox-musicals/ (02/01/17)

Here is a link to jukebox musicals in 2005, they are Mamma Mia-ABBA, Movin’ Out-Billy Joel, All Shook Up-Elvis Presley among a few others. Kevin Michael Jones, Musical Theatre Resources, https://musicaltheatreresources.com/2015/11/17/confirmed-broadway-jukebox-musicals-are-plentiful-but-not-always-profitable/ (04/01/17)

When did Juke box musicals become first known and what was the musical?

The first jukebox musical was actually an opera called “The Beggar’s Opera” by John Gay and it was first performed on 29th January 1728. At the time it was very risky to put the show on, because Opera’s were only for the rich upper classes as it was very expensive to attend. Therefore involving a beggar in something that was always so civilised was a major breakthrough in itself. However it proved to be very popular and ran 62 performances in it’s first season. An average amount of performances an Opera does in one season is about 25 as the highest number, so this shows how popular “The Beggar’s Opera” was. This was obviously a jukebox musical and Gay used the music by Benjamin Britten.

I was really surprised to find that not only was the first Jukebox musical performed such a long time ago, but it was also in a way ahead of its time, taking risks about the themes it possesses and showcasing them to an audience that possibly wasn’t ready for that show. However it was a huge success which went in Gay’s favour. I was not expecting to see that Benjamin Britten was the songwriter, because I remember briefly learning about him when I was younger and so I was familiar with him when I saw that he was involved in this Opera. These websites were exceedingly useful they gave me all the information I needed and they were reliable as they had the authors names and they were written in the past 5 years. 

Brian Wise(2016), The Same Four Operas are Performed Over and Over, https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-same-four-operas-are-performed-over-and-over/ (17/01/17)

Hal Gladfelder(2013), The First Jukebox Musical, http://blog.oup.com/2013/05/the-beggars-opera-first-jukebox-musical/ (17/01/17)

Are they recognised as musicals? Why? Why not?

I have created a survey monkey with various questions to see peoples opinions. These are the questions:

  1. Can you name a jukebox musical?
  2. Can you name a normal musical?
  3. What is the difference between a jukebox musical and a normal one?
  4. Which one do you prefer?
  5. Are Jukebox musicals taking up valuable space in theatres that could be used for original new work?
  6. If you could create a Jukebox musical what musician would you pick for their songs?
  7. Why do you like/not like musicals?
  8. Why do you like/not like Jukebox musicals?
  9. Do you think we need them in the performance industry? Why?
  10. Do you think jukebox musicals will be successful in the future? Why/Why not?

Survey 1

  1. Sunshine on Leith
  2. Hamilton
  3. Jukebox – songs from artists and then put into a musical (these songs are already well known, charted and are hits) Musical – original songs
  4. Both- Jukebox – adds a new lease of life to the songs and gives a story behind them. Normal because of the originality
  5. Not at all. People enjoy both based on the story and the songs.
  6. Otis Redding
  7. I love musicals because they are my life……that’s it. The originality is crazy…..HAVE YOU HEARD THE HAMILTON SOUNDTRACK? Genius
  8. I like jukebox musicals as it adds a new twist to each song
  9. I do! They help the artist become more well known
  10. Yes. With current rising stars, the songs can be given new meanings other than just “chart hits”

Survey 2

  1. Mamma Mia
  2. West Side Story
  3. Juke Box musicals use old songs where as normal ones have original numbers.
  4. Both
  5. There is space for both as long as they are entertaining and creative
  6. Blur
  7. I like how songs and music can move emotions
  8. When you know songs you can sing along
  9. It brings new audiences to the theatre that may otherwise not access them
  10. Yes

Survey 3

  1. Our house, Mamma Mia
  2. Les mis
  3. Jukebox musicals have songs released previously as it’s score
  4. Both
  5. No, both are still creative and bring entertainment
  6. Unsure
  7. They can create an emotional connection and can make you feel all sorts of things. They’re a form of escapism through entertainment, fun or interesting plots and characters that you love
  8. Some are fun but they put me off if they have music from artists I don’t like
  9. Yes. They introduce musicals to people who may normally not go to the theatre or watch musicals. If they see an artist they like has their songs in a musical then they will be more encouraged to see it.
  10. About the same as they are now

Survey 4

  1. Mamma Mia
  2. Book of Mormon
  3. A Jukebox musical uses pre-written songs at it’s basis, where as other musicals have completely original songs.
  4. Both
  5. No, it’s still a musical whether it’s using pre-written songs or not, and if it wasn’t good it would have finished its run not long after it started
  6. No specific musician, but would probably do something like Motown and the Commitments have done which is take a music genre and use that instead of music from just one artist
  7. It’s an escape
  8. Like I said previously, it’s an escape, to me it doesn’t matter whether it’s jukebox or not
  9. If it brings in money it helps the industry
  10. Jukebox musicals will always be successful if they have a good storyline, it’s like any musical

Survey 5

  1. Mamma Mia
  2. The Phantom of the Opera
  3. A jukebox musical uses already existing songs whereas the songs for a normal musical are written specifically for it
  4. Normal Musicals: There’s usually a better story and more emotional connection with the songs
  5. No- although I prefer normal musicals I still enjoy jukebox musicals- they can be very entertaining and have great performances in them
  6. David Bowie
  7. I like musicals as I think the songs really add to the scale of the performance and can provide great emotional moments (both dramatic moments and upbeat show stoppers)
  8. I like them as I think they can be really fun performances and are often very feel-good as the songs tend to be upbeat in the jukebox musicals I’ve seen
  9. I think they can as it may draw in people who don’t usually go to musicals- e.g. a Queen fan may go to see We Will Rock You even if they don’t usually go to the theatre- and anything that gets new people into the theatre is a good thing
  10. I think they will be to an extent- it depends on which musicians they choose to base the musicals on as some just don’t have the meaning in the lyrics to make a successful musical as there’s not enough story there to create an emotional connection or a narrative

Survey 6

  1. Sugar and Spice
  3. From what I can understand, a Jukebox musical has music from lots of different artists etc, whereas a normal musical has music specifically written for it? (Yes, I did have to think for a while)
  4. Both
  5. I don’t think so. I feel that if a piece is made well then it doesn’t matter what it is. All art forms have as much purpose as each other:)
  6. That’s a good one. I have no idea, however one song I’d have to include without a doubt would be Ocean Colour Scene – Beautiful Thing.
  7. I love musicals that take a plunge and that are a little different from your usual one. There are many musicals I dislike because of how similar they are, but on the whole I enjoy musicals with an original vibe to them
  8. I like the concept of building a story around pre existing songs. I think that if it’s done correctly then it can create something really quite special. It’s a bit like recycling!
  9. Possibly. I think it definitely keeps old tracks alive which is good. They can bring people together through music that everyone already knows!
  10. It’s hard to tell, but I think that they stand as much of a chance as any other musical! They bring people together through already known material which could bring a larger audience of people who don’t usually go to the theatre. They also keep older and perhaps more forgotten artists in the loop!

Survey 7

  1. We Will Rock You
  2. Miss Saigon
  3. Jukebox musical is where the music of an artist is transformed into a musical then a normal one is a story of ….. with the music is about ….
  4. Both
  5. No not all. Well just look at how long Mamma Mia has been running and how popular We Will Rock You was
  6. George Michael
  7. Just like normal musicals they are entertaining and there are liked because the songs are already known
  8. Skipped question
  9. Yes because without them some actors would have no work and wouldn’t be known as well as they are
  10. Yes

Survey 8

  1. Mamma Mia
  2. Phantom Of The Opera
  3. I don’t know
  4. Both
  5. No
  6. Muse
  7. Escapism out of reality so therefore like musicals
  8. Fun and light hearted
  9. Yes and unsure
  10. I hope so

Survey 9

  1. Mamma Mia
  2. The Sound Of Music
  3. The songs are already written before the show was produced, where as normal musicals have songs created specifically for that show.
  4. No preference
  5. Disagree
  6. Nat King Cole
  7. I like them because I love live entertainment
  8. I like them because I enjoy live entertainment
  9. Yes, because lots of people go to see them, which brings in more money for the industry
  10. Yes, because there are still a number of subjects that the music can be utilised around.

Survey 10

  1. Mama Mia, Rock of Ages, Mowtown, Kinky Boots etc anything where the starting point is a portfolio of songs by an established artist
  2. Anything by: Rogers and Hammerstein Lerner and Lowe. George Gershwin Stephen Sondheim etc
  3. Traditional musicals are totally created pieces where the score and book have been written to tell a story and the plot and characters are the driving force. Jukebox musicals start life as a way (usually for capital gain) to maximise on the music of a very popular artist to fill theatres. Story and character serve the songs. Often the narrative and characters are thin due to the necessity to shoe horn songs into the evening.
  4. Normal Musicals
  5. There is a place for everything. Anything that can get people into theatres is a good thing. Hopefully people who may only ever have been to a jukebox musical because they love the songs may be encouraged to try other theatre if they enjoy the experience
  6. Not sure that I personally would. Although our café theatres essentially have a jukebox musical element.
  7. The musical as an art form is an important part of popular culture and has been for over 100 years. It lifts life to a new level and can inspire, motivate, move and entertain
  8. don’t mind them although they would not be my first choice for an evening.
  9. Anything that brings in audiences and gives work is a good thing
  10. I am sure that as long as there are producers who want to make money and artists who are popular then they will continue and why not? there should be a place for everything in theatre

Survey 11

  1. Mamma Mia, Back To The 80s, We Will Rock You.
  2. Sweeney Todd, Miss Saigon.
  3. A Jukebox musical is made up songs that already exist, whereas a normal musical contains songs specifically for that show
  4. Both, jukebox musicals usually contain well known songs, but somestimes normal musicals contain better plot lines.
  5. No as they are sometimes appealing to a different audience to normal shows.
  6. The Script and Maroon 5.
  7. I like them as they usually break out into song, which doesn’t happen enough in real life.
  8. They have songs that are well known and usually enjoyable.
  9. Yes because it then appeals to fans of the songs they contain, not just normal theatre go-ers.
  10. Yes as they will continue to attract a new audience.


I have discovered a lot throughout my research. I couldn’t believe how many articles I found on peoples opinions on jukebox musicals. However to make my survey more relevant to the majority of peoples views I could have had more responses definitely. It would have been difficult even if I shared the link to more places, because unless someone visits the theatre, or was interested in musicals; they may not have even known what a jukebox musicals was. Therefore not helping me in my research, as they may give me inaccurate answers that wouldn’t benefit me. Although saying that it would have shown that maybe there are a lot of people who don’t go to the theatre or have no understanding of it. I did not find many articles or answers portraying jukebox musicals in a negative light, in fact it was quite difficult find many at all. This factor however has helped partially in my research, because if they were deemed unpopular by a wide variety of people, then there would be more written about it. For example a lot of the public in many countries really hate Donald Trump and you don’t stop hearing about it, I don’t think you can go one day without hearing about him on the news or in a newspaper. After all the public love moaning about things they don’t like.


One thought on “Task 2: Research”

  1. Sophia, you have not analysed and evaluated the different pieces of information that you found when you were researching for your essay. You cannot pass this unit if there is no evidence that you can:
    2.2: Critically evaluate information from a range of sources to inform ideas.

    Please do this as soon as possible. Please write it in italics under each bit of research so I can identify it easily.

    Also, cut and paste from your essay the huge chunk about your survey and put it after survey 11 because what you have written in your essay is what is required for this assessment criterion.


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