Most pieces of musical theatre contain what is called book—that is, spoken dialogue scenes in between each of the songs. However, some decide to go all the way and ditch spoken word completely (or almost completely) for sung word. Hence, this trope. More conversational and utilitarian exchanges are commonly made with use of recitative, in which the delivery of the singing is meant to mimic regular speech.
It is worth noting that most of these shows do have brief bits of spoken dialogue. In Evita
, for instance, Che has two short monologues between and within songs. However, in order to qualify there should not be any kind of scenes told through dialogue. Hence, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
does not qualify because even though it is very predominantly sung, there are multiple scenes of spoken dialogue.
This is standard practice in French and Italian opera
. However, German operas or Singspiel
usually have talking in between musical numbers (e.g., Mozart's The Abduction from the Seraglio
- Some versions of Chess
- The Golden Apple
- Interstella 5555
- Jesus Christ Superstar
- Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
- The Last Five Years
- Les MisÚrables
- Miss Saigon
- Murder Ballad
- Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812, with exactly one exception. "If I were not myself, but the brightest, handsomest, best man on Earth, and if I were free, I would get down on my knees this instant and ask you for your hand. And for your love." Even the score stops for this line.
- A New Brain
- Notre Dame De Paris
- The Phantom of the Opera
- RENT, though not the movie version.
- Starlight Express
- Tanz Der Vampire, although not its English adaptation.
- Trial By Jury originally had no spoken dialogue at all. One rhymed couplet was later replaced with two words of spoken dialogue.
- Repo! The Genetic Opera features very little dialogue that isn't sung.
- Parodied in The Musical of Musicals: The Musical! with the Andrew Lloyd Webber pastiche "Aspects of Junita," in which Junita and Bill complain that their relationship is deteriorating because "we never talk anymore," since they have to relate to each other in "this wretched recitative." Subverted when Bill finally speaks: "Junita, we have to talk. Yes, talk!" Up until this point, only the stage directions are spoken.