How to Cite Musicals

By Kenneth Gordon

Like all other sources, when you reference a musical in an academic paper, you have to give credit by citing it in your paper and listing it properly on your works cited page. Depending on how you watched the performance and what element you are focusing on, you could cite it in a few different ways. If viewed as a recording, then the citation rules are similar to a film recording. If you watched it as a live performance, then the citation needs to account for this by including information on the place and specific date of the performance, similar to if it was an oral presentation. And if you are only referencing a song from the soundtrack of a musical, it should be cited as a sound recording.
The following describes MLA format because it is a common standard for academic papers.

Recorded Performance

Write the name of the musical in italics, followed by a period.

Write Dir. and then list the name of the director, followed by a period.
If relevant, highlight notable performers. Write Perf. followed by their names separated by commas. End with a period.

List the theatrical company that put on the musical, followed by a comma and the year that the recording is from, followed by a period.

Name the medium in which you watched the recording, such as DVD, VHS or Blu-ray. End with a period. The citation should look something like this: Musical Title. Dir. Director's Name. Perf. Performer 1, Performer 2, Performer 3. Theater Company, year. Medium of recording.
Note: The title of the performance should be in italics and all lines after the first one should be indented.

Live Performance

List the name of the musical in italics, director and any performers (if relevant), following the same rules as in Section One, Steps One and Two for citing a recorded performance.

List the name of the theatrical company, followed by a period.

List the theater in which the performance took place, followed by a comma and the theater's address, followed by a comma and the exact date of the performance. End with a period. If the date is not known, write n.d.

List the medium, which would be theater, followed by a period. The citation should look something like this: Musical Title. Dir. Director's Name. Perf. Performer 1, Performer 2, Performer 3. Theater Company. Theater's Name, Its Address, Specific Date (or n.d.), Theater.
Note: As with citing a recorded performance, the title of the performance should be in italics and all lines after the first one should be indented.

Song from a Musical

Begin the citation with the name of the song's composer (Comp.), the songwriter or the performer (Perf.). If it is a musical number with a number of principle singers whom you want to credit, you can list the main singer followed by et al, which is latin for "and others." Because this is the name in which the citation will be alphabetically ordered by, follow the format of Last Name, First Name, role in abbreviation (such as comp. or perf.).

List the song in quotations, followed by a period within the quotes.

List the name of the soundtrack in italics, followed by a period.

List the recording manufacturer, followed by a comma and the year of production. If no date is known, write n.d.

Write the medium of the sound recoding, such as CD or Audio cassette. End with a period. The citation should look something like this: Last Name, First Name, role in abbreviation. "Song Name." Soundtrack Name. Recording Manufacturer, year. Medium of recording.
Note: The title of the soundtrack should be in italics and all lines after the first one should be indented.

About the Author

Kenneth Gordon has been writing since 2010. He works independently on fiction and screenplays in addition to freelance assignments. Gordon graduated from New York University, Tisch School of the Arts in 2010, earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts in film and television production.