ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Musicals through the Ages for a 'Decades' costume event

Updated on May 9, 2014
Party Girl profile image

Hi, I am Adele, and I have run a large fancy dress shop in Essex, England since 1998. Happy to pass on my knowledge to help others.

The ‘Decades’ costume theme is a regular choice for costume event themes, as is ‘Musicals’. So, in a stunning fusion of these two ideas, Party Girl at Props & Frocks presents a list of musicals set in various time periods to offer an extra dimension to your next decades or historical event. As always, the list is not exhaustive and features some musicals better known in Britain, but nonetheless, they will hopefully prove useful and you might have a few suggested additions of your own.

There is an increasing trend to create musicals based on popular films, so a 'crossover' between the genres may offer other costuming opportunities in the future.

Biblical & Ancient Times

Joseph & the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat: An early Lloyd-Webber/Rice collaboration bringing a much-loved early Bible tale to a wider audience.

Jesus Christ Superstar: The better known (and more controversial) Lloyd Webber/Rice musical of biblical times.

Godspell: The Jesus story done differently, as if by a hippy performing group.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum: Ancient 'Romans' as a musical sitcom

Medieval (Renaissance) and Tudor

Camelot: The tale of King Arthur, his Queen and the Knights of the Round Table.

Pippin: An interesting setting and characters – strolling players in the reign of King Charlemagne. Recently revived on Broadway.

Twang: The story of Robin Hood and his Merry Men from the pen of British composor Lionel Bart, but unlike Oliver (see Victorian), not a success.

Kiss Me Kate: There are several musicals based on Shakespeare plays (Catch My Soul – Othello; West Side Story- Romeo & Juliet; Boys from Syracuse- Comedy of Errors). Kiss Me Kate mixes a modern love story with the performing of ‘Taming of the Shrew’.


Lock Up Your Daughters ; A musical based Henry Fielding’s 18th century comedy

1800s & Victorians

Les Miserables: Trials, tribulations and struggles against the odds in 19th Century Revolutionary France.

Paint Your Wagon: Action set against the 1853 American Gold Rush.

The King & I: The relationship between a Siamese King and a governess in the 1860s.

Showboat: Set on a Mississippi paddle steamer in the 1880s.

Barnum: The tale of the early years of the showman and circus-founder Phineas T. Barnum (born 1810).

Oliver: Based on the Dickens novel, Oliver Twist, a successful musical about a workhouse boy’s adventures amongst Victorian street-people.

Phantom of the Opera: Based on the novel by Gaston Leroux, the story of a disfigured musician who haunts the Paris Opera House and guides a young singer to stardom.

Sweeney Todd: The tale of the embittered Demon Barber of Fleet Street (Todd) and his partner-in-crime, Mrs Lovatt who finds a novel way to dispose of evidence,


Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: A fanciful musical (based on an Ian Fleming story) about a flying car.

Hello Dolly: Social climbing in early 20th century America.

Oklahoma: Romance on the mid-West frontier.

Moulin Rouge: Boy meets girl to the backdrop of the best-known night-spot in Fin de Siècle early 20th century Paris.

Mary Poppins: A practically perfect nanny turns up to enchant a family in Edwardian London.

My Fair Lady: The Cinderella Story done as a social experiment in class and etiquette.


Oh What A Lovely War: The First World War presented as an end-of-the pier Pierrot show


Anything Goes: Musical set aboard a cruise-liner en route from New York to London.

Bugsy Malone: A musical about 20’s-style Gangsters and Molls, performed by children

Chicago: 1920s flappers, speakeasy bars, crime and punishment – Bob Fosse style.

No No Nanette; A bible-publisher and his wife seek to ‘tame’ their wild ward, Nanette who is caught up in the spirit of the Age.

The Boyfriend: A celebration of the Bright Young Things in the South of France.

Thoroughly Modern Millie: Another ‘flapper-based’ musical, set in New York, with the addition of sinister Chinamen (and women)!


Cabaret: The decadence of pre-War Berlin portrayed in the setting of the KitKat nightclub.

Gypsy: The early days of burlesque dancer and entertainer Gypsy Rose Lee

Me and My Girl: Cockney-based musical set to songs of the London East End.


Guys & Dolls: Based on Damon Runyon stories and featuring, gangsters, molls and the Salvation Army.

Evita: The rise of the Argentinian inspirational force that was Eva Peron.

South Pacific: Musical set in a US Naval Base in the South Pacific (there’s a clue in the name).

From Here to Eternity: Following a recent trend to create stage musicals based on popular films, Tim Rice and others premiered this adaptation of the book (and film) in 2013 - unfortunately it was not a success and closed in Spring 2014. The action is set around a US base Hawaii in 1941.

The Sound of Music: A novice nun acts as nanny to a family of singers and helps them escape the Nazis in Austria.


Buddy: Biographic musical about 50s legend who died too young, Buddy Holly.

Grease: Highly popular ‘coming of age’ Romeo/Juliet musical set at Rydale High School, USA.


Steven Ward-the Musical: On the 50th anniversary of the 1963 Profumo Scandal, Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote this musical which had its premiere in December 2013. Unfortunately the subject matter did not generate audience enthusiasm and the musical closed early in 2014.

Hair: Possibly the best known hippy musical, set in the shadow of the Vietnam War call-up.

Hairspray: Set around a TV talent contest with a sub-text of racial intolerance and stereotyping.


Xanadu: Film about a roller-disco featuring Olivia Newton John as an ethereal spirit and Gene Kelly in one of his last films.

Mamma Mia. Technically Mamma Mia is not 'of the 70s', but being based on Abba's music, which certainly is associated with the era, it could qualify.


Billy Elliot: A boy follows his dream to be a dancer against the background of the British Miners’ Strike.

Rock of Ages: The Golden age of Heavy Rock music remembered.


Viva Forever: A short-lived musical based around the girl-power ethos of the 90’s to the soundtrack of the Spice Girls.


There are some musical which cannot be tied to a specific decade-period but which are nonetheless extremely popular, making them essentially timeless.

Cats: A musical on the secret lives of cats set on a rubbish dump. Good for those of lithe figure wanting to make an impression with costume and make-up.

Rocky Horror: Whilst having its roots in 1950s B-movies, Rocky Horror transcends time and space in its potential

Starlight Express: Another off-beat musical enterprise, this time conflict between train-types done in glitzy cyber-costumes and on roller skates.

We Will Rock You: A jukebox musical of Queen's songs, wrapped in a story of a future dystopian society in which music is banned.

Wizard of Oz & Wicked: The much-loved tale is spawning offshoots of prequels, sequels and back-stories. Makes you green with envy.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Wouldn't Bedknobs & Broomsticks count as 1940s too?


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)