Freddie Mercury Style Costume - PVC Jacket and White Trousers
Victorian Boy Costume
Gangster Man Costume
Phantom of the Opera Budget Mask
Musicals of Stage and Screen
Musicals is another one of those massive costume themes that we can break down into smaller themes based on the individual show. For the most popular, we have given them their own section (see left navigation) but below is a general list to have a look down firstly.
The list includes both stage and screen musicals (although some are both) and some ‘hybrids’ such as Pop Star showcase films (Elvis, Cliff, The Beatles, etc.) and Jukebox musicals, based on a particular group’s catalogue of hits (Mamma Mia – Abba, We Will Rock You – Queen, etc.)
Feel free to suggest any glaring omissions.
Dates sometimes may be approximate. Some musicals may be set in one decade, and were first seen in another (e.g. Oklahoma, Grease). Also some musicals may not necessarily have distinctive costuming. As shows can either start off on stage or in films, we have tried wherever possible to feature the original London or New York location after the date.
Musicals from the 1910s
Sweethearts (1913, Broadway) - The original version of the 1938 film which was MGM’s first musical in Technicolor.
The Tik-Tok Man of Oz (1913) – An American musical from Frank L Baum, before ‘Oz’ became more famous.
Tonight’s The Night (1914, Broadway) – Musical comedy with some tunes from Jerome Kern.
Chu Chin Chow (1916, West End) - Musical comedy based on the Arabian Nights story of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves.
Sinbad (1918) – Building on the success of Chu Chin Chow, this was an Arabian Nights-style vehicle for Al Jolson.
Musicals from the 1920s
No, No, Nanette (1925, West End) – Successful musical, and later film, about a bible-publisher and his wife seeking to ‘tame’ their wild ward, Nanette. It features the song ‘Tea for Two’.
Funny Face (1927) – An early musical, which helped to establish Fred Astaire. In 1957, Astaire also starred in a film which had the same name and some of the original songs. However, the storyline was different.
Showboat (1927, Broadway) – Riverboat musical based in 1880s America.
Animal Crackers (1928) – A stage musical which starred the Marx Brothers. This later became their successful film of 1930.
Mr Cinders (1929) - One of the last successful US musicals of the Roaring Twenties, prior to the Depression. As the title suggests, it’s the Cinderella Story with the roles reversed.
Musicals from the 1930s
Girl Crazy (1930, Broadway) – A musical which has been made into a film three times, one featuring Ginger Rogers and another Judy Garland with Mickey Rooney.
Words and Music (1932, West End) – A musical revue showcase for Noel Coward, notable for the tune ‘Mad About the Boy’.
Anything Goes (1934, Broadway) - 1930s musical set aboard a cruise-liner en route from New York to London. Aside from the title song, also features ‘You’re the Top’ and ‘I Get a Kick Out of You’. It was made into a film in 1936.
Porgy and Bess (1935, Broadway) - Originally called ‘an American folk opera’ and featuring an Afro-American cast.
Babes In Arms (1937, Broadway) - A teenager puts on a musical show to avoid being sent to work camp.
Me and My Girl (1937, West End) – Set in the 1930s, the culture-shock of a long-lost Cockney heir to an aristocratic fortune.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937, film) – Disney’s innovative feature-length cartoon, plus some memorable tunes.
Hellzapoppin (1938, Broadway) - One of the longest running musicals of its time. It was subsequently made into a film.
Wizard of Oz (1939, film) – Legendary Oscar-winning film of the Frank L Baum story. The book was first published in 1900. Follow the Yellow Brick Road, with Dorothy, Toto, Scarecrow, Lion and Tinman.
Musicals from the 1940s
Pal Joey (1940) - 1930s Chicago and the ‘Joey’ in question is looking to set up his own night-club. The show was later adapted into a film, starring Frank Sinatra and Rita Hayworth (1957).
The Boys from Syracuse (1940, film) – A musical based on Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors.
The Wizard of Oz (1942, St Louis Municipal Opera) – A novel turnaround, where a stage musical derived from the successful film used the same songs (but added a few others – rather like Andrew Lloyd Webber in the 2011 version.
Oklahoma (1943) – First production of one of the most popular and successful musicals of all time. Get those costumes out ready for a hoe-down.
Carousel (1945, Broadway) – This Rodgers and Hammerstein stage and screen musical was voted best musical of the 20th century, by the American ‘Time’ magazine. It features the songs ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ and ‘June is Bustin’ Out All Over’.
On the Town (1949, film) – Three sailors, on shore leave, hit the town.
South Pacific (1949, Broadway) – Rodgers and Hammerstein musical. Hawaiian costumes and accessories are a must-have.
Musicals from the 1950s
Annie Get Your Gun (1950, film) - The Wild West story of Annie Oakley at the time of Buffalo Bill’s Travelling Show.
Cinderella (Disney) (1950, film) – Disney’s version of the classic fairy tale, with some memorable tunes.
Guys and Dolls (1950, Broadway) – Set in 1940s New York and inspired by the stories of Damon Runyon. Gangsters, Molls and the Salvation Army! The 1955 film version starred Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra, Jean Simmons and Vivian Blaine.
Paint Your Wagon (1951, Broadway) – Lerner & Loewe’s musical set in the 1853 California Gold Rush.
Show Boat (1951, film) – Musical set aboard an old-time Mississippi paddle-steamer.
The King and I (1951, Broadway) – Supposedly based on the true story of English governess Anna Leonowens in the court of the King of Siam (Thailand) in the early 1860s.
Singin’ in the Rain (1952, film) – For many, this was Gene Kelly’s finest hour, although most just know the title number.
Calamity Jane (1953, film) – Doris Day dressed in cowgirl style buckskin, in this musical Western adventure.
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953, film) – Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell go glamorous.
Kiss Me Kate (1953, film) – Issues of ‘Taming of the Shrew’ are mirrored in the contemporary theatre group performing it.
Boy Friend, The (1954, West End) – Great opportunity to bring out the twenties outfits and there is even a fancy dress ball included.
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954, film) – Lumberjack woodsmen and shotgun weddings.
Oklahoma! (1955, film) – Set in 1906– the first blockbuster of the 1940s’ ‘Golden Era’ of musicals.
Carousel (1956, film) – A play of Hungarian origin, transplanted to a New England fishing village but set around a fairground.
The King and I (1956, film) – Yul Brynner plays the King of Siam, with Deborah Reynolds as his children’s governess. The ‘Shall We Dance’ number features male oriental costume and a large hooped ballgown.
Jailhouse Rock (1957, film) - The successor to ‘Love Me Tender’, this was one of Elvis Presley’s breakthrough movies.
South Pacific (1958, film) – Tales of a Polynesian US Naval Base during the WII conflict with Japan.
Lock Up Your Daughters (1959, Mermaid Theatre, London) – Set in 1735. A British musical in the Restoration Comedy-style based on a Henry Fielding novel and featuring lyrics by Lionel Bart.
Sound of Music (1959, Broadway) – The musical show telling the story of the Von Trapp Family. It was later turned into a classic film starring Julie Andrews.
Musicals from the 1960s
Little Shop of Horrors (1960, film) - Rock horror musical featuring a talking plant.
West Side Story (1961, film) – Romeo & Juliet story set amongst the New York gangs of the 1950s, the Jets and the Sharks.
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1962, Broadway) – Set in Ancient Rome, so it’s all togas (with the odd centurion). It was released as a film in 1966.
Gypsy (1962, film) – Semi-biographical musical based on the life and times of burlesque artiste Gypsy Rose Lee.
Half a Sixpence (1963, West End) – Based on HG Wells’ novel ‘Kipps’ & originally starring Tommy Steele.
Mary Poppins (1964, film) – Live action & animation mix classic from Disney. Julie Andrews won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of Mary Poppins. The film won 5 Oscars in total.
My Fair Lady (1964, film) – Not dissimilar to the above, a street-girl is made ‘posh’ to satisfy a gentlemen’s wager. The film starred Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn.
Sound of Music, The (1965, film) – The tale of the singing Von Trapp family at the time of the Nazi invasion of Austria.
Camelot (1960, Broadway) – Courtly love in the Ancient England of King Arthur – once a knight may not be enough.
The Jungle Book (1967, film) – Animated classic from Disney based on Rudyard Kipling’s book about man-child Mowgli, black panther Bagheera, Baloo the Bear and other jungle animals.
Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967, film) – Mary Tyler Moore & Co. in 1920s setting.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968, film) – Ian Fleming’s popular children’s story brought to the big screen.
Oliver (1968, film) – Film adaptation of Dickens’ Oliver Twist, with lyrics by Lionel Bart. The musical actually premiered in the West End in 1960.
Hello Dolly (1969) – New York City, turn of the 20th Century, featuring brassy widow Dolly Gallagher Levi, whose arrival in the city causes a stir.
Oh, What a Lovely War (1963, West End ) – The First World War done as an ‘end-of the-pier’ show. A film version was made in 1969.
Musicals from the 1970s
Boy Friend, The (1971, film) – The French Riviera in the 1920s.The film starred 1960s model Twiggy.
Follies (1971, Broadway) – Set at the reunion of the artists originally in a 1930 ‘Follies-style’ Broadway revue.
Cabaret (1972, film) – 1930s Berlin during the rise of the Nazis. Burlesque outfits, bowler hats and fishnets are called for here.
Pippin (1972, Broadway) – A Bob Fosse oddity, involving the son of King Charlemagne and some strolling players.
Jesus Christ Superstar (1973, film) – Movie version of the Lloyd Webber/Rice musical.
A Little Night Music (1973, Broadway) – Musical on the romantic lives of a number of couples.
Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975, film) – A musical inspired by horror classics and B-movies.
Tommy (1975, film) – The Who’s rock opera about a deaf, dumb and blind boy who becomes a Messiah.
Bugsy Malone (1976, film) – 1920s Gangsters, Molls & Flappers, starring a young Jodie Foster and various child actors.
Annie (1977, Broadway) – Life in an orphanage and afterwards.
Saturday Night Fever (1977, film) – Classic 70s film musical featuring John Travolta and the music of the Bee-Gees.
Grease (1978, film) – ‘Romeo & Juliet’ in an American High School setting. Stars John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John. Pink lady outfits & T-Bird jackets are extremely popular.
Musicals from the 1980s
Barnum (Broadway, 1980 – West End 1981) – The early years of the American Showman, Phineas T Barnum. His circus travelled to major world cities, during the British Victorian era. Ringmaster and Circus costumes.
The Blues Brothers (1980, film) – Jake & Elwood Blue on a Mission for God, helped by a stellar cast and great music. Props & Frocks stocks some great Blues Brothers accessories including Pork Pie hats, thin black ties and dark glasses.
Cats (1981, West End) – Highly successful show based on TS Eliott’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. Multicolour catsuits and make-up.
Song and Dance (1982, West End) - A ‘Concert for the Theatre’ comprising ‘Variations’ and ‘Tell me on a Sunday’.
Tell Me on a Sunday (1982, West End) – The loves & losses of a single British girl in Las Angeles.
Blood Brothers (1983, West End) - This musical features two brothers who were separated at birth, but whose lives continually intertwine. The show closed on the West End in November 2012.
La Cage aux Folles (1983, Broadway) – Musical based on the French play by Jean Saint-Poiret about a nightclub owner and his gay partner in Saint Tropez and their farcical encounters.
Pirates of Penzance (1983, film) – Comic opera from Gilbert & Sullivan.
Starlight Express (1984, West End) - A musical about trains performed on roller-skates. Noted for its stylised costumes and make-up.
A Chorus Line (1985) – Trials and tribulations of trying out for a big show on Broadway. Recently revived in the West End.
Les Misérables (1985, Barbican Centre – 2012, film) - Popular stage-show set in French Revolutionary times. The recent film is total musical – sung end to end!
Chess (1986, West End) – Settings and endings vary. It has been set in the Tirol, Bangkok and 1960s New York. Sometimes Freddie wins, other times Anatoly.
Dirty Dancing (1987, Film) – Still not putting ‘Baby in the Corner’, but in 2013 it takes the form of a national UK tour.
Phantom of the Opera (1988, Broadway & West End) – Andrew Lloyd Webber musical set in a Paris Opera House. Christine and the phantom can be popular costume choices. Several variations of the half-face mask are available.
Aspects of Love (1989) - Aspects of a 17 year love affair, with the story taking place in France and Italy from 1947 onwards. Music by Andrew Lloyd-Webber.
Buddy (1989, West End) – Biopic ‘jukebox’ musical on Buddy Holly’s life, set in 1950s America.
Musicals from the 1990s
Beauty & the Beast (1991, film) – The classic fairy story was re-told by Disney, with Beauty being named Belle. Aside from the film, it was a stage musical both on Broadway and in London’s West End.
Sunset Boulevard (1993, West End) – The musical of the famous film of 1950.
Evita (1996) - The story of Eva Peron 1935-62, first Lady of Argentina. Made into a film, starring Madonna.
Whistle Down the Wind (Aldwych Theatre, 1998) – Musical adaptation of a much-loved 1961 film starring a young Hayley Mills.
Musicals from the 2000s
Moulin Rouge! (2001, film) – Baz Luhrmann’s period piece set to a modern music track.
Chicago (2002, film) – Award-winning film version of the Bob Fosse musical, starring Renee Zellwegger, Catherine Zeta-Jones & Richard Gere.
Wicked (2003, Broadway) – The re-imagining of Frank L Baum’s creation The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. This musical tells the back story of Glinda the Good Witch of the North and Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West.
Billy Elliott (2005, West End) - Set against the 1980s background of the miner’s strike, time to get out the ballet costume & shoes.
Producers, The (2005) – Musical remake of the original Mel Brooks film (1968), about a bad-taste musical based on the rise of Hitler.
Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (2006, Sydney & 2009, London) – Based on the 1994 Australian film, this story of the trials and tribulations of putting on a Drag Show in the middle of the Australian desert. Great opportunity to dress up in outrageous OTT 1970s style bodysuits, boas, wigs and eyelashes.
Hairspray (2007) - Based around a TV talent contest, with a sub-context of racial tolerance. Early 1960s American fashion.
Sweeney Todd: Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007, film) - Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter in this musical Victorian melodrama, about serial killers and pies.
Mamma Mia (2008, film) - Movie of the popular Abba jukebox musical.
You might also want to check out the Musicals currently being shown in the West End, Broadway or perhaps your nearest local theatre.
The recent trend with some touring shows is to have audience participation, in the form of performances, which you can sing along to. Interaction between performers and audience is encouraged and will often include dressing up as characters from the show in question, as well as singing along to the songs and making comments throughout the performances.
The most popular ones which involve dressing-up and could be coming to a venue near you are:-
- The Rocky Horror Show
- Sound of Music
- Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat
- Moulin Rouge
- High School Musical 3
N.B. When shows are on in the West End, the license for performances in other parts of the country is not often granted. Some of these shows could involve more audience interaction if they were being made available. As a consequence, there are various tribute acts and additional types of shows dotted around the country, which aim to bridge this gap. Abba (1970s fashion) and Blue Brothers (1980s fashion) are probably our most frequent tribute costume requests at Props & Frocks