Musicals Set in the 1980s – 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 1980s are included below.

The following list is broken down into three categories – “Musicals Fully Set in the 1980s”, “Musicals Partially Set in the 1980s”, and “Musicals Set Around the 1980s”. Each category is sorted alphabetically.

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Musicals Fully Set in the 1980s

A VHS Christmas Carol

Music/Lyrics/Book: Clark Baxtresser

Musical Type: Contemporary (2020)

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American Psycho

Music/Lyrics: Duncan Sheik  Book: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa

Musical Type: Contemporary (2013)

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Billy Elliot

Music: Elton John  Lyrics: Lee Hall  Book: Lee Hall

Musical Type: Contemporary (2005)

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Bring Back Birdie

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

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1981)

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Music: Elizabeth Swados  Lyrics/Book: Gary Trudeau

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1983)

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Music/Lyrics/Book: Ben Adams, Chris Wilkins

Musical Type: Contemporary (2016)

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Music/Lyrics: William Finn  Book: James Lapine

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1990)

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Music: Steve Margoshes  Lyrics: Jacques Levy

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1988)

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Music: Robbie Roth  Lyrics: Roth, Robert Cary  Book: Cary, Tom Hedley

Musical Type: Contemporary (2008)

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Music/Lyrics/Book: Laurence O’Keefe, Kevin Murphy

Musical Type: Contemporary (2010)

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Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Music/Lyrics: Stephen Trask  Book: John Cameron Mitchell

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1998)

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La Cage aux Folles

Music/Lyrics: Jerry Herman  Book: Harvey Fierstein

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1983)

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Music/Lyrics: Charles Strouse  Book: Warren Leight

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary/Revue (1985)

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Pretty Woman

Music/Lyrics: Bryan Adams, Jim Vallance  Book: Garry Marshall, J.F. Lawton

Musical Type: Contemporary (2018)

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Rock of Ages

Music/Lyrics: Various  Book: Chris D’Arienzo

Musical Type: Contemporary/Jukebox (2005)

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Sing Street

Music/Lyrics: Gary Clark, John Carney  Book: Enda Walsh

Musical Type: Contemporary (2019)

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Music: Marvin Hamlisch  Lyrics/Book: Howard Ashman

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1986)

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Stranger Sings! The Parody Musical

Music/Lyrics/Book: Jonathan Hogue

Musical Type: Contemporary (2021)

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The Life

Music: Cy Coleman  Lyrics: Ira Gasman  Book: Coleman, Gasman, David Newman

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1990)

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The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4

Music: Pippa Cleary  Lyrics: Jake Brunger, Cleary  Book: Brunger

Musical Type: Contemporary (2015)

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The Tap Dance Kid

Music: Henry Krieger  Lyrics: Robert Lorick  Book: Charles Blackwell

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1983)

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The Wedding Singer

Music: Matthew Sklar  Lyrics: Chad Beguelin  Book: Beguelin, Tim Herlihy

Musical Type: Contemporary (2006)

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Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

Music/Lyrics: David Yazbek  Book: Jeffrey Lane

Musical Type: Contemporary (2010)

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Music/Lyrics: Jeff Lynne, John Farrar  Book: Douglas Carter Beane

Musical Type: Contemporary (2007)

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Musicals Partially Set in the 1980s

A Class Act

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

Musical Type: Contemporary (2000)

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

Musical Type: Contemporary (2012)

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Back to the Future

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

Musical Type: Contemporary (2020)

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Blood Brothers

Music/Lyrics/Book: Willy Russell

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1983)

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Boogie Nights

Music/Lyrics: Various  Book: Jon Conway

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary/Jukebox (1998)

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Broadbend, Arkansas

Music/Lyrics: Ted Shen  Book: Ellen Fitzhugh, Harrison David Rivers

Musical Type: Contemporary (2019)

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

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1984)

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Diana: The Musical

Music/Lyrics/Book: David Bryan, Joe DiPietro

Musical Type: Contemporary (2019)

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Music/Lyrics/Book: William Finn  Book: James Lapine

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1992)

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Fun Home

Music: Jeanine Tesori  Lyrics/Book: Lisa Kron

Musical Type: Contemporary (2013)

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John & Jen

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

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1995)

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MJ: The Musical

Music/Lyrics: Michael Jackson, Various  Book: Lynn Nottage

Musical Type: Contemporary/Jukebox (2022)

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Motown: The Musical

Music/Lyrics: Various  Book: Berry Gordy

Musical Type: Contemporary/Jukebox (2013)

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On Your Feet!

Music/Lyrics: Gloria & Emilio Estefan, Miami Sound Machine  Book: Alexander Dinelaris Jr.

Musical Type: Contemporary/Jukebox (2015)

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Music/Lyrics/Book: Jonathan Larson

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary (1996)

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Summer: The Donna Summer Musical

Music/Lyrics: Various  Book: Colman Domingo, Robert Cary, Des McAnuff

Musical Type: Contemporary/Jukebox (2017)

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The Boy From Oz

Music/Lyrics: Peter Allen  Book: Nick Enright, Martin Sherman

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary Jukebox (1998)

Musical Info ➝

The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin

Music/Lyrics/Book: Kirsten Childs

Musical Type: Contemporary (2000)

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The Cher Show

Music/Lyrics: Various  Book: Rick Elice

Musical Type: Contemporary Jukebox (2018)

Musical Info ➝

Tina: The Tina Turner Musical

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

Musical Type: Contemporary/Jukebox (2018)

Musical Info ➝

Musicals Set Around the 1980s

Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens

Music: Janet Hood  Lyrics/Book: Bill Russell

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary/Song Cycle (1989)

Musical Info ➝

Related Posts:

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

Musicals set in the 1960s

Musicals set in the 1970s

• Musicals set in the 1980s → You are here!

Musicals set in the 1990s

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Which of these musicals set in the 1980s is your favorite?

Or have you ever played a role in any of the above musicals set in the 1980s? 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 1980s.
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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