Musicals Set in the 1950s – A Full List

Whether you’re auditioning for musicals, setting up your rep book, or simply looking for some new musicals to get into, it’s good to get familiar with what’s out there. And that’s why we’ve put together this list for you! The most notable musicals set in the 1950s are included below.

The following list is broken down into three categories – “Musicals Fully Set in the 1950s”, “Musicals Partially Set in the 1950s”, and “Musicals Set Around the 1950s”. Each category is sorted alphabetically.


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Musicals Fully Set in the 1950s

A Catered Affair

Music/Lyrics: John Bucchino  Book: Harvey Fierstein

Musical Type: Contemporary (2007)

When It’s Set: The 1950s


All Shook Up

Music/Lyrics: Various  Book: Joe DiPietro

Musical Type: Contemporary/Jukebox (2005)

When It’s Set: The 1950s


Bells Are Ringing

Music: Jule Styne  Lyrics/Book: Betty Comden, Adolph Green

Musical Type: Golden Age (1956)

When It’s Set: The 1950s


Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story

Music/Lyrics: Buddy Holly, Various  Book: Alan Janes

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary/Jukebox (1989)

When It’s Set: The 1950s


Bye Bye Birdie

Music: Charles Strouse  Lyrics: Lee Adams  Book: Michael Stewart

Musical Type: Post-Golden Age (1960)

When It’s Set: The 1950s


Coco

Music:  André Previn  Lyrics/Book: Alan Jay Lerner

Musical Type: Post-Golden Age (1969)

When It’s Set: The 1950s


Cry-Baby

Music: Adam Schlesinger  Lyrics: David Javerbaum  Book: Mark O’Donnell, Thomas Meehan

Musical Type: Contemporary (2007)

When It’s Set: The 1950s


Curtains

Music/Lyrics: John Kander  Lyrics: Fred Ebb  Lyrics/Book: Rupert Holmes

Musical Type: Contemporary (2006)

When It’s Set: The 1950s


Far From Heaven

Music: Scott Frankel  Lyrics: Michael Korie  Book: Richard Greenberg

Musical Type: Contemporary (2012)

When It’s Set: The 1950s


Flower Drum Song

Music: Rodgers  Book/Lyrics: Hammerstein  Book: Joseph Fields, David Henry Hwang

Musical Type: Golden Age (1958)

When It’s Set: The 1950s


Flying Over Sunset

Music: Tom Kitt  Lyrics: Michael Korie  Book: James Lapine

Musical Type: Contemporary (2021)

When It’s Set: The 1950s


Forever Plaid

Music/Lyrics: Various  Book: Stuart Ross

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary/Revue (1989)

When It’s Set: The 1950s


Grease

Music/Lyrics/Book: Jim Jacobs, Warren Casey

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1971)

When It’s Set: The 1950s


Grits

Music/Lyrics/Book: Erica Allen McGee

Musical Type: Contemporary (2008)

When It’s Set: The 1950s


Happy Days

Music/Lyrics: Paul Williams  Book: Garry Marshall

Musical Type: Contemporary (2007)

When It’s Set: The 1950s


Irma La Douce

Music: Marguerite Monnot  Lyrics/Book: Alexandre Breffort

Musical Type: Golden Age (1956)

When It’s Set: The 1950s


Jamaica

Music: Harold Arlen  Lyrics/Book: E.Y. Harburg

Musical Type: Golden Age (1957)

When It’s Set: The 1950s


Judy’s Scary Little Christmas

Music/Lyrics: Joe Patrick Ward  Book: David Church, Jim Webber

Musical Type: Contemporary (2002)

When It’s Set: The 1950s


Kat and the Kings

Music: Taliep Petersen  Lyrics/Book: David Kramer

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1996)

When It’s Set: The 1950s


Li’l Abner

Music: Gene De Paul  Lyrics: Johnny Mercer  Book: Norman Panama, Melvin Frank

Musical Type: Golden Age (1956)

When It’s Set: The 1950s


Me and Juliet

Music: Richard Rodgers  Lyrics/Book: Oscar Hammerstein II

Musical Type: Golden Age (1953)

When It’s Set: The 1950s


Memphis

Music/Lyrics: David Bryan  Lyrics/Book: Joe DiPietro

Musical Type: Contemporary (2002)

When It’s Set: The 1950s


Million Dollar Quartet

Music/Lyrics: Various  Book: Colin Escott, Floyd Mutrux

Musical Type: Contemporary/Jukebox (2006)

When It’s Set: The 1950s


My Favorite Year

Music: Stephen Flaherty  Lyrics: Lynn Ahrens  Book: Joseph Dougherty

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1992)

When It’s Set: The 1950s


Oh, Captain!

Music/Lyrics: Jay Livingston, Ray Evans  Book: Al Morgan, José Ferrer

Musical Type: Golden Age (1958)

When It’s Set: The 1950s


Out of This World

Music/Lyrics: Cole Porter  Book: Dwight Taylor, Reginald Lawrence

Musical Type: Golden Age (1950)

When It’s Set: The 1950s


Pipe Dream

Music: Richard Rodgers  Lyrics/Book: Oscar Hammerstein II

Musical Type: Golden Age (1955)

When It’s Set: The 1950s


Raisin

Music: Judd Woldin  Lyrics: Robert Brittan  Book: Robert B. Nemiroff, Charlotte Zaltzberg

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1973)

When It’s Set: The 1950s


Salad Days

Music/Lyrics: Julian Slade  Lyrics: Dorothy Reynolds

Musical Type: Golden Age (1954)

When It’s Set: The 1950s


Say, Darling

Music: Jule Styne  Lyrics: Betty Comden, Adolph Green  Book: Abe Burrows, Marian & Richard Bissell

Musical Type: Golden Age (1958)

When It’s Set: The 1950s


Silk Stockings

Music/Lyrics: Cole Porter  Book: George S. Kaufman, Leueen MacGrath, Abe Burrows

Musical Type: Golden Age (1955)

When It’s Set: The 1950s


Smokey Joe’s Cafe

Music/Lyrics: Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary/Revue (1994)

When It’s Set: The 1950s


Sweet Smell of Success

Music: Marvin Hamlisch  Lyrics: Craig Carnelia  Book: John Guare

Musical Type: Contemporary (2002)

When It’s Set: The 1950s


The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz

Music: Alan Menken  Lyrics/Book: David Spencer

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary/Contemporary (1984/2015)

When It’s Set: The 1950s


The Light in the Piazza

Music/Lyrics: Adam Guettel  Book: Craig Lucas

Musical Type: Contemporary (2013)

When It’s Set: The 1950s


The Marvelous Wonderettes

Music/Lyrics: Various  Book: Roger Bean

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary/Jukebox (1999)

When It’s Set: The 1950s


The Pajama Game

Music/Lyrics: Richard Adler, Jerry Ross  Book: George Abbott, Richard Bissell

Musical Type: Golden Age (1954)

When It’s Set: The 1950s


The Producers

Music/Lyrics/Book: Mel Brooks  Book: Thomas Meehan

Musical Type: 1967 Film/Contemporary Musical (2001)

When It’s Set: The 1950s


Top Banana

Music/Lyrics: Johnny Mercer  Book: Hy Kraft

Musical Type: Golden Age (1951)

When It’s Set: The 1950s


West Side Story

Music: Leonard Bernstein  Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim  Book: Arthur Laurents

Musical Type: Golden Age (1957)

When It’s Set: The 1950s


Whistle Down the Wind

Music/Book: Andrew Lloyd Webber  Lyrics: Jim Steinman  Book: Patricia Knop, Gale Edwards

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1996)

When It’s Set: The 1950s


White Christmas

Music/Lyrics: Irving Berlin  Book: David Ives, Paul Blake

Musical Type: 1954 Film/Contemporary Musical (2000)

When It’s Set: The 1950s


Zombie Prom

Music: Dana P. Rowe  Lyrics/Book: John Dempsey

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1993)

When It’s Set: The 1950s


Musicals Partially Set in the 1950s

A Class Act

Music/Lyrics: Edward Kleban  Book: Linda Kline, Lonny Price

Musical Type: Contemporary (2000)

When It’s Set: 1950s-1980s


Allegiance

Music/Lyrics/Book: Jay Kuo  Book: Marc Acito, Lorenzo Thione

Musical Type: Contemporary (2012)

When It’s Set: 1940s-2000s


Aspects of Love

Music/Book: Andrew Lloyd Webber  Lyrics: Don Black, Charles Hart

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1989)

When It’s Set: 1940s-1960s


Back to the Future

Music: Alan Silvestri  Lyrics: Glen Ballard  Book: Robert Zemeckis, Bob Gale

Musical Type: Contemporary (2020)

When It’s Set: 1980s/1950s


Chaplin

Music/Lyrics/Book: Christopher Curtis  Book: Thomas Meehan

Musical Type: Contemporary (2006)

When It’s Set: 1900s-1960s


Chess

Music: Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus  Lyrics: Tim Rice, Ulvaeus  Book: Richard Nelson, Rice

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1984)

When It’s Set: 1950s-1980s


Evita

Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber  Lyrics: Tim Rice

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1976)

When It’s Set: 1930s-1950s


Get Up Stand Up!

Music/Lyrics: Bob Marley  Book: Lee Hall

Musical Type: Contemporary (2021)

When It’s Set: 1950s-1980s


Giant

Music/Lyrics: Michael John LaChiusa  Book: Sybille Pearson

Musical Type: Contemporary (2009)

When It’s Set: 1920s-1950s


Grey Gardens

Music: Scott Frankel  Lyrics: Michael Korie  Book: Doug Wright

Musical Type: Contemporary (2006)

When It’s Set: 1930s-1970s


Hallelujah, Baby!

Music: Jule Styne  Lyrics: Adolph Green, Betty Comden  Book: Arthur Laurents

Musical Type: Post-Golden Age (1967)

When It’s Set: 1910s-1960s


John & Jen

Music/Book: Andrew Lippa  Lyrics/Book: Tom Greenwald

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1995)

When It’s Set: 1950s-1990s


Knoxville

Music: Stephen Flaherty  Lyrics: Lynn Ahrens  Book: Frank Galati

Musical Type: Contemporary (2022)

When It’s Set: 1910s/1950s


Little Me

Music: Cy Coleman  Lyrics: Carolyn Leigh  Book: Neil Simon

Musical Type: Post-Golden Age (1962)

When It’s Set: 1930s-1950s


LoveMusik

Music: Kurt Weill  Lyrics: Various  Book: Alfred Uhry

Musical Type: Contemporary (2007)

When It’s Set: 1920s-1950s


Merrily We Roll Along

Music/Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim  Book: George Furth

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1981)

When It’s Set: 1950s-1970s


Miss Littlewood

Music/Lyrics/Book: Sam Kenyon

Musical Type: Contemporary (2018)

When It’s Set: 1910s-1960s


Motown: The Musical

Music/Lyrics: Various  Book: Berry Gordy

Musical Type: Contemporary/Jukebox (2013)

When It’s Set: 1950s-1980s


Selma

Music/Lyrics/Book: Tommy Butler

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1976)

When It’s Set: 1950s-1960s


Space Dogs

Music/Lyrics/Book: Nick Blaemire, Van Hughes

Musical Type: Contemporary (2022)

When It’s Set: 1950s-1960s


Spies Are Forever

Music/Lyrics: Clark Baxtresser, Pierce Siebers  Book: Corey Lubowich, Joey Richter, Brian Rosenthal

Musical Type: Contemporary (2016)

When It’s Set: 1950s-1960s


Sunset Boulevard

Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber  Lyrics/Book: Don Black, Christopher Hampton

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1991)

When It’s Set: 1940s-1950s


The Capeman

Music/Lyrics: Paul Simon  Lyrics/Book: Derek Walcott

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1998)

When It’s Set: 1950s-1970s


The Marvelous Wonderettes: Caps and Gowns

Music/Lyrics: Various  Book: Roger Bean

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary/Jukebox (1999)

When It’s Set: 1950s-1960s


The Who’s Tommy

Music/Lyrics/Book: Pete Townshend  Book: Des McAnuff

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1992)

When It’s Set: 1940s-1960s


Tina: The Tina Turner Musical

Music/Lyrics: Various  Book: Katori Hall, Frank Ketelaar, Kees Prins

Musical Type: Contemporary/Jukebox (2018)

When It’s Set: 1950s-1980s


War Paint

Music: Scott Frankel  Lyrics: Michael Korie  Book: Doug Wright

Musical Type: Contemporary (2016)

When It’s Set: 1930s-1960s


Musicals Set Around the 1950s

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

Music/Lyrics: Frank Loesser  Book: Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock, Willie Gilbert

Musical Type: Post-Golden Age (1961)

When It’s Set: Around the 1950s


Ruthless!

Music: Marvin Laird  Lyrics/Book: Joel Paley

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1992)

When It’s Set: Around the 1950s


More Musicals by Setting

Musicals set in the 1900s

Musicals set in the 1910s

• Musicals set in the 1920s

Musicals set in the 1930s

Musicals set in the 1940s

• Musicals set in the 1950s → You are here!

Musicals set in the 1960s

Musicals set in the 1970s

Musicals set in the 1980s

Musicals set in the 1990s


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Which of these musicals set in the 1950s is your favorite?

Or have you ever played a role in any of the above musicals set in the 1950s? Feel free to share in the comments below! And if you like these types of lists, check out the musical database. That’s where you’ll find musicals sorted by composer, theme, setting, and more!


Stacy Karyn, author of Musicals Set in the 1950s.
Author: Stacy Karyn

Stacy Karyn is the founder of Theatre Trip, author of The Thespian’s Bucket List, and creator of The Cast Album List. She has a TESOL drama certificate, a BA in theatre, and has worked and interned with Broadway and Off-Broadway theaters.


 

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