Returning to Birmingham Hippodrome this hugely popular six week course provides a fascinating and entertaining introduction to the history of the musical, from its origins right up to the modern day.

Led by Adam Carver, a Birmingham-based director and producer with a background in musical theatre.

Over the course of six jam-packed classes, we will map the musical onto over a century of theatrical and social history, exploring how musicals work, their impact on popular culture and theatre, and how musicals came to exist.

From key composers to “game-changing” musicals, this is the perfect chance to learn more about your favourite musicals, discover lots of new ones, and build an appreciation for the ever-changing world of musical theatre. With the help of an assigned listening each week (like a show-tune book club), documentary footage, and archive performance watching in class, you’ll discover a huge range of musicals old and new.

You don’t need to be an expert in musical theory or stagecraft – you just need to have a love of musicals and the desire to learn more about them. There is no written work or assessment, so just sign up, come along and enjoy!

Feedback from last year’s students:

“It was an excellent course, full of context and brilliantly presented by an enthusiastic knowledgeable and friendly expert”

“I have had a wonderful time on this course. Every session brought me something new, even when I already knew the musicals discussed”

Photo: The cast of Annie at Birmingham Hippodrome.

Week by Week Breakdown

Week 1: The Origins of Musical Theatre

What makes a musical? What does a musical look and sound like? Where does Musical Theatre come from? This first session will answer these questions and give you a tool-kit to explore the next five weeks of Musical Theatre history.

Week 2: The Musical Play

From Showboat through to Oklahoma!, this class will explore what early Musical Theatre looked like and the ways these musicals changed the game forever.

Week 3: The Golden Era

Picking up where Oklahoma! left off, this session looks at the developments of the “Golden Era” of musical theatre in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, including West Side Story, Gypsy, Hello Dolly! and Fiddler on the Roof.

Week 4: Rethinking the Musical

Starting with Hair!, this week’s class will explore four new directions in Musical Theatre during the 1970s: the rock musical, dance musicals, the introduction of black voices into musical theatre, and the work of Stephen Sondheim.

Week 5: The Global World and the “Mega-Musical”

From Evita to Les Misérables, this session will examine changes in the ways musicals were made in the 1980s and 1990s, the introduction of spectacle (think flying helicopters and falling chandeliers) and the musical as a business including Phantom of the Opera and The Lion King.

Week 6: New Directions in Musical Theatre

The final session will explore the legacy of Jonathan Larson’s RENT, and look at new trends, ideas and voices in contemporary musical theatre including Wicked, The Book of Mormon and Hamilton.

Course Dates

The course will take place on the following dates:

Tue 8 Jan, 6.30 – 8.30pm
Tue 15 Jan, 6.30 – 8.30pm
Tue 22 Jan, 6.30 – 8.30pm
Tue 29 Jan, 6.30 – 8.30pm
Tue 5 Feb, 6.30 – 8.30pm
Tue 12 Feb, 6.30 – 8.30pm

About the Instructor

This course is led by Adam Carver, a Birmingham-based director and theatre-maker with a background in musical theatre, and the producer of SHOUT Festival of Queer Arts and Culture.

Adam will be sharing his industry experience and insight with you throughout the course.