Key change – the technique of shifting keys in the middle of a song to add interest or build dramatic intensity; also known as Modulation.
Lead sheet – a sheet of music which contains melody, lyrics and simple chord symbols from which the soloist can sing and the accompanist, usually a pianist or small combo, can improvise from chords given.
Legs – theatrical slang for the side curtains on the stage.
Librettist – person who writes the poetry or lyrics of the song.
Lighting – the aspect of the stage performance in which the intensity, aiming, coloring or diffusing of the lights lends to the visual focus and emotional moment onstage.
List song – a type of comic song that derives its humor from a long list of items recited by the character.
Love ballad – a solo or duet in which the characters express their emotions and feelings for another character in the musical.
Lyrics – the words for a song.
Lyricist – the person responsible for writing the lyrics to the song, partnering with the composer, they collaborate to create songs.
Lyrical singing – a smooth style of singing which emphasizes a graceful, beautiful vocal sound.
Merchandising – the selling of consumer goods associated with a particular show that helps to maximize the show’s popularity and aid in its financial success.
Mezzo-soprano – a female voice type which is medium in range and is pitched between the higher soprano and the lower alto voices.
Minstrel show – a 19th-century stage form created by African-American performers which was a plot-less variety form incorporating songs, skits, stories, and dances. Together with the French vaudeville and the English operetta forms, the American minstrel show helped to prepare for the creation of the American musical theatre form in the first decade of the 20th century.
Modulation – see Key change
Music hall – A 19th- and early 20th-century English form of the French vaudeville stage work with a greater emphasis on music; also can refer to the physical location of the performance.
Musical theater – (also spelled musical theatre) – a type of sung play performance which could be dramatic or comic in nature; more commercially popular than the classical opera or operetta.
Narrator – a person, whose purpose is to explain a scene or its background, provides plot continuity between scenes or gives commentary about a character or situation.
Nut – Broadway slang for the weekly costs of presenting a show.
Obie Awards – the awards given to performers and those productions that are presented in the off-Broadway theaters of New York.
Offstage – the area of the stage behind the curtains and out of view of the audience; also called “backstage.”
Off-Broadway – smaller theaters of New York that are geographically located outside the area known as “Broadway.”
Olivier Awards – the British theatre awards named for the British actor Sir Lawrence Olivier, also known as the “Larrys” as compared to the American “Tonys.”
Opening night – the first official public performance of a show.
Operetta – a British form of comic opera which was popular in the 19th century; the operetta, unlike the opera, included spoken dialogue between the sung portions of the show.
Orchestra – an ensemble of instrumentalists that provide musical accompaniment for the singers onstage. The orchestra, which usually performs in the pit area below the stage, also plays incidental music between scenes, the overture to Act I, the Entr’acte between subsequent acts, music during bows and following the performance.
Orchestration – the collective instrumental parts that are created from the piano part provided by the composer.
Orchestrator – the musical arranger who creates instrumental parts from the composer’s piano score.
Original cast album (or CD) – a recording made by the musical’s original performers of the musical portions of the show.
Overture – introductory music played after the audience has arrived but before the first curtain goes up; most often uses portions of melodies and musical ideas which appear later in the show.