How do I cite lyrics I heard from a song in a musical?

To cite lyrics you heard from a song in a musical, follow the MLA format template. Note that how you cite the lyrics will depend on where you heard them and the information provided by the source.

Live Performance

Let’s say you’re citing lyrics from a song in the musical Cabaret, which you saw in person. In the “Author” slot, list the name of the person who wrote the lyrics. If the lyricist did not also write the music, add the label “lyricist” for clarity. Then list the name of the song as the title of the source and the name of the musical as the title of the container. In the “Other contributors” slot, list any collaborators important to your discussion. Provide the name of the theater company that sponsored the performance in the “Publisher” slot, followed by the date and location of the performance:

Ebb, Fred, lyricist. “Mein Herr.” Cabaret, music by John Kander, Roundabout Theatre Company, 24 Apr. 2014, Studio 54, New York.

Filmed Version

If you heard the song while watching a film version of a musical, your publication information will differ. The example below provides the name of the movie companies that produced the film (separated with slashes) in the “Publisher” slot and the release date of the film: 

Ebb, Fred, lyricist. “Mein Herr.” Cabaret, music by John Kander, directed by Bob Fosse, A Feuer and Martin Production / Allied Artists Pictures / ABC Pictures, 1972.

Sound Recording

If you heard the song in a recording of the musical, the source may indicate a version (e.g., “original cast recording”). If so, list the information in the “Version” slot. Then provide the name of the company that produced the recording and the date. In the optional-element slot at the end of the entry, list the format if the information will be helpful to your reader:

Sondheim, Stephen. “Move On.” Sunday in the Park with George, original cast recording, RCA, 1984. CD.

For more information on citing lyrics, see our post on citing published lyrics to a musical.


Published 21 November 2018

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