Definition and background:
Theatrical stage performances using popular music of the time to augment the story line. Today it is not uncommon for musicals to be in another performance medium such as television or film. This popular form of theater was developed in 20th century America and England. It is similar to the European operetta in that it contains spoken dialogue, a dramatic story line, songs similar to popular songs of the day, ensembles, and dance. Developed from the line beginning with the minstrel show of the 19th century, the first very successful musical based on a story from common America was probably Jerome Kern's Showboat (1927). Musicals are also known as Broadway Musicals (Broadway is the main venue in America for staged musicals); Musical Comedy (a large number of musicals are comic in nature and hold a special place in the genre); and Musical Theater (this is a more accurate description of the combination of the musical and dramatic elements that comprise the production). the successor to musical comedy. showboat has been hailed as the first great musical
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Wikipedia - Glossary of Musical Terminology
Virginia Tech Multimedia Music Dictionary
ORB -- Medieval Music Glossary