A5 - GRADED EXAMINATIONS IN DRAMA: MUSICAL THEATRE (SOLO/DUO)
Purpose of the Qualification
LAMDA examinations in Musical Theatre for the Actor/Singer are designed to develop the skills necessary to communicate the dramatic content of musical text over a range of musical styles/categories. The emphasis is on performance and presentation rather than on the study of musical theatre as a whole. These examinations also provide learners with the opportunity to develop skills which support the delivery of dramatic text and devised performance. For this reason, these examinations complement Graded Examinations in Drama: Acting and Graded Examinations in Drama: Devised Performance.
Broad Objectives of the Examinations

- Interpretative skills
To explore style, form, character, subtext and context in order to realise the specific demands of the scene and/or song.
To create a credible sense of reality by focusing on the immediacy of the situation.

- Technical skills
Voice, diction, movement, setting and staging.
Musicality: pitch, rhythm and phrasing.


- Knowledge of literature
To understand character, situation, staging, context, subtext and musical style.

Examination Content
The learner will have a short discussion with the examiner. Questions will be based on the listed ones. The learner(s) must be prepared to discuss with the examiner any aspect of 'knowledge' specified for previous grades.
Musical Theatre (Solo/Duo) 1, 2 or 3. Interpretation and Technique
The learner(s) must perform song(s) from memory.
4. Knowledge
(A short discussion)
Entry Level A traditional, original or ‘action’ song. This may be accompanied or unaccompanied. The reason for their choice of song
The meaning of individual words or phrases within the song.
Level 1       
This may be accompanied or unaccompanied. The title and librettist/composer must be announced prior to the performance. Total songs
A song tells a story A song celebrates a special moment A song of their own choice
Grade 1 1 0 1 2
Grade 2 0 1 1 2
Grade 3 1 1 0 2
1 The learner(s) will be asked to share the story and describe the mood within the selected songs.
What is the story within your song?
What does the character look like?
What is the character feeling in this scene?
Is there any mood change?
2 The learner(s) must be able to describe the mood, content and contrast between selections.
Describe your special moment (First song).
Where is the character?
To whom is the character singing?
3 The learner(s) must be able to describe the mood, content and contrast between selections.
What is the story within your song?
Describe your special moment.
Identify the contrasts between your two songs.
Level 2
The song must be accompanied.
The title, librettist/composer, character and situation must be announced prior to the performance. Total songs
The learner(s) must present a short piece of published or devised text in character A song of their own choice from musical theatre or from a film.
which leads into the performance of a song in character. which leads into the performance of a ballad*.
Grade 4 1 0 1 2
Grade 5 1 1 0 2
*A ballad is a moment within a musical when a character reflects upon personal feelings: a soliloquy in song.
4 How did you choose or develop your spoken text?
Describe your characters.
How do you feel the text informed or set the scene for your first song ?
Why did the characters move the way they did?
How did you decide on your staging?
5 What is a ballad?
What does it mean to perform a song in character?
Identify the working stage areas. (upstage, downstage, stage left, stage right).
Level 3
The song must be accompanied. Prior to the performance, the learner must present a brief introduction of no more that 30 seconds, announcing the song, title, librettist, character and situation. Total pieces
List A List B
Operetta
Music Hall/Vaudeville
Book musical
Concept musical
Torch song/Ballad
Patter song/Comic song
Jazz/Blues
Pop/Rock
A song taken from any published work of musical theatre, film or screenplay.
Grade 6 A song selected from one of the musical theatre styles/categories on either List A or List B. Prior to the song the learner(s) must present, in character, a short piece of published or devised text which leads naturally into the context of the song. 2
Grade 7 & 8 A song selected from one of the musical theatre styles/categories on List A. A song selected from one of the musical theatre styles/categories on List B. The words of a song, spoken as a dramatic monologue: the words must not be taken from a song performed by the learner(s) for other elements of this examination 3
6 Identify the theatre style/category of your chosen song.
Explain the contrast between the two songs in character, situation and mood.
Describe the technical requirements of breathing, voice production and resonance to support your voice in song.
Understand how the requirements change in the performances of your spoken and sung text.
7 Explain the theatre style / category of your first 2 chosen songs on List A and List B.
Explain the text, subtext and context of your chosen pieces.
Explain how you created and developed the character of your dramatic monologue.
8 What is meant by Acting Through Song?
Describe the process you followed to develop your chosen scenes.
Describe the styles of your scenes with reference to any background research.
Explain what additional skills were needed to create and perform your dramatic monologue.
Glossary of Musical Theatre Styles/Categories
- Operetta
Sung material that concentrates on the lighter elements of opera, such as subject and style, and includes spoken dialogue. Musical theatre can be traced back to light comic operas originating in France, Germany, Vienna and England.

- Music Hall
Lighthearted sung material relating directly to the performances given by Victorian and Edwardian artistes.

- Vaudeville

A popular ‘song and dance’ routine associated with America the Edwardian and Victorian Variety period and Pantomime that also employs a satirical lyric.

- Book Musical
A musical that has a narrative journey and is usually based upon a book, screenplay or historical event.

- Concept Musical
A musical that is based around an idea and challenges the usual order of a narrative structure; often experimental in nature.

- Ballad
A moment within a musical when a character reflects upon personal feelings: a soliloquy in song.

- Torch Song
A sentimental love song where the singer is usually expressing disappointment in love. It originates from the phrase ‘carrying a torch’ for a lover who does not respond in a similar manner.

- Patter Song
A song that employs tonguetwisting lyrics sung at great speed.

- Comic Song
A song which has a humorous effect.

- Jazz
Music of black American origin, characterised by syncopation and improvisation, which emerged at the beginning of the twentieth century.

- Blues
Melancholic music of black American folk origin, typically in a twelvebar sequence.

- Pop
A combination of the traditional ‘rhythm and blues’ and ‘country and western’ styles, which originated in the 1950s.

- Rock
Music that is similar to ‘pop’ but usually has a heavier beat.

- Acting Through Song
Bringing the character to life through the sequences of thought and melodic phrasing created by the lyricist and composer.
Repertoire Guidelines and Regulations
Musical Theatre (Solo/Duo) Entry Level Level 1 Level 2 Level 3
Grade 6 Grade 7 Grade 8
Total time allowance (minutes) Solo 10 15 20 20 25
Duo - 20 25 25 30
Each selection (minutes) x 2-3 x 2-3 x 3-4 x 3-4
Total pieces Solo 1 song 2 song 2 song 2 songs + 1 dramatic monologue
Total pieces Duo - 2 duets
Choice of song(s) and/or scene(s) Learners may sing a traditional, original or ‘action’ song. The selected songs may be traditional, original or taken from a film. - The selected songs must differ in style or theme, setting, character and mood enabling the learner to display range and ability.
The selected songs must differ in theme, setting, type of character or mood enabling learners to display some contrast.
- Cuts are permitted but learners must ensure coherence i.e. the emotional and intellectual fluency of the song must be maintained.
The language & The content The content of the song must be simple and accessible, conveying meaning clearly and unambiguously. The content of the selected songs must offer some opportunity for interpretative choices. The content of the selected songs must offer opportunities for a variety of approaches and interpretative choices. The selected songs must enable learners to engage with complex emotions and universal themes.
The content of the selected songs must be technically appropriate for the level.
The song must be sung in English.
A copy of the libretto must be provided for the examiner and must adhere to copyright laws.
Movement Movement and Dance may be incorporated where appropriate and relevant to enhance the overall performance.
General Notes and Regulations
Both learners in a Duo examination must be entered at the same grade level.
Learners may not enter for both Solo and Duo examinations at the same grade level in the one examination session.
Learners may not enter for both Solo and Duo examinations at different grade levels in the one examination session.
Duo partners may not interchange with other learners. Substitution will only be allowed under exceptional circumstances.
Songs/scenes may be presented in the order of the learner’s choice.
Movement and dance may be incorporated where appropriate and relevant to enhance the overall performance.
Costumes and hand props are permitted, if appropriate, but must be kept to a minimum;however, they will not be assessed specifically and the learner will not be awarded any extra marks for their inclusion.
Any time taken for changes and the setting or striking of props must be included in the time of the scene.
The examiner reserves the right to halt songs/scenes that exceed the stipulated time allowance.
Hairstyles must not obscure the face and shoes must not hinder movement. Suitable shoes must be worn for all scenes unless the character portrayed is barefoot. Nudity is not permitted.
Learners must bring legible copies of the libretti for the examiner.
Copies of the songs must adhere to copyright laws.
Learners must write the title and character (if applicable) at the top of the Examination Report prior to entering the examination room.
Learners must not present the same song/scene for more than one examination.
Songs and/or libretti which are directly addressed to an audience must not be focused solely on the examiner;however the examiner should be included in the wider imagined audience.
Although the use of accent/dialect is not compulsory, the style and intent of the librettist/ composer should be taken into consideration in the interpretation of a role.
Duo learners will be assessed through open discussion with both learners in the Knowledge section of each examination.
The key of a song may be transposed to accommodate the vocal range of the learner.
It is the responsibility of the learner to provide an accompanist necessary to support their performance. The accompanist will only remain in the room for the portion of the examination for which s/he is required. A piano, electronic keyboard, guitar or other appropriate instrument may be used to accompany the pieces, but it is the responsibility of the learner to provide the instrument or make prior arrangements with the centre organizer. If necessary, a pageturner will also bepermitted in the examination room. However, they will only remain in the room for the portion of the exam for which s/he is required.
Where a learner wishes to use a recorded accompaniment, playback equipment of good sound quality must be provided and operated by a technician. If a technician is used, they will only remain in the room for the portion of the examination for which s/he is required.
Electronic sound enhancement is not permitted, including the use of microphones.
Health and Safety
Learners must take responsibility for their own health and safety when working towards an examination in Musical Theatre for the Actor/Singer and should:
Organise a personal physical and vocal warm up and cool down.
Wear appropriate clothing and footwear that allow for ease of movement.
Develop a physicality that does not overly tense the body or restrict the larynx, even in character transformations.
Support breath and release tone without force.
Sing in a comfortable register.
Avoid ‘belting’ unless they have received vocal training on the technique.
Avoid singing if there is any discomfort in the throat.
Seek specialist medical attention if discomfort persists when singing and/or a husky tone develops.