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Steps to the Stage Jazz Units for Middle and High School

Musical Theatre History

Rachel Wurman

on 5 October 2015

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Transcript of Steps to the Stage Jazz Units for Middle and High School

Musical Theatre Timeline:
Steps to the Stage Jazz Units

WW II through the 50's
Post WWII to today
Jazz dance on Broadway changed from social styles to ballet and modern dance. Agnes De Mille cast strong dancers for the corps of Oklahoma, instead of a line of glamour girls. Her ground breaking choreography enabled theatre dance to enhance and contribute to the narrative.
Musical Theatre develops from varying forms of entertainment, which are each reflective of the economic, political, and social climate of its time.
Blackface acts were common in circuses and traveling shows from the late 18th century.

The practice of applying burnt cork to a performer's face reached a new fever pitch when Thomas Rice, white performer and probable slave owner, sang "Jump Jim Crow." The skit, which mocked an elderly black singer, became a regular part of the minstrel show circuit.

By: Rachel Anne Wurman
In the early 1840s, the Tyrolese Minstrel Family toured the US performing traditional folk songs. Four unemployed white actors staged a spoof of this group's concerts. They called themselves Dan Emett's Virginia Minstrels and premiered their blackface revue in NYC in 1843. They were the first troupe to perform a full evening of blackface songs, dances, and skits, creating cartoonish caracticures of Slaves. This marked the beginning of minstrelsy and they produced a few hit songs such as Polly Wolly Doodle.
1849 in NYC
The upper class attended the opera. The middle class frequented the minstrelsy or melodramas. The working class viewed variety shows in saloons.
The Industrial Revolution changed the economic climate of the country. Citizens now had spare cash and leisure time. Most variety shows were too racy for women and children though. Tony Pastor was the first manager to present a 'clean' variety show with great success in NYC 14th Street Theatre.

Manhattan's Union Square became the place for NYC's top theatres, restaurants and shops. It was 'Broadway' but further South.
Minstrelsy reached its peak popularity after the Civil War but remained a viable business until the early 1900s. Despite its racist content and delivery, minstrelsy developed a unique format of entertainment and developed popular 19th century music.
In Boston in 1883, Benjamin Keith and Edward Albee build a chain of theaters across the Northeast and offer continuous multiple and daily shows, which they titled Vaudeville.
Vaudeville acts could be anything entertaining but unoffensive like quick-change artists, escape artists, contortionists, regurgitators, family acts, one act plays, singers and comedians.
This era produced some major stars like Judy Garland, the Nicholas Brothers, Ethel Barrymore and George Burns.
Vaudeville's legacy in musical theatre history is the variety and the showmanship, offering the audience something for everyone.

Meanwhile, the South created what will be known as the Jim Crow laws in 1890. The segregation laws became widespread by 1910.
Operetta provided a world of romance and escape for middle class audiences in the first 20 years of the 20th century. Love stories become central to the musical theatre plot from here on. Operettas were refined and lyrical, with heavy European influences. The settings were exotic, the plot was cliche filled, and there was always a happy ending.
In 1921, the first all black musical "Shuffle Along" starring Josephine Baker and Paul Robeson debuted on Broadway.
NYC's theatre district moved to the East 20s, then Herald Square and spread to 40th Street. Thanks to new business development along 42nd Street and a major subway stop at the corner of 42nd and Broadway, the triangle of land surrounding a new building, Time Tower, was named Times Square. From 1904 to present day, this area becomes the forever home of the theatre capital of the world.

Patriotism was a common theme on Broadway.
World War I
In 1927, the groundbreaking musical "Show Boat" hit Times Square, which was the first to be adapted from a serious novel as well as featured white and black characters sharing the stage as full dramatic partners.
In 1928, the first talking picture "The Jazz Singer took Hollywood by storm. The lead character performed in blackface.
October 29, 1929
Stock Market crash and Great Depression era left Broadway to flounder. Talking films added insult to injury.

Vaudeville disappeared.
1932- 1/3 of factories closed, 1.6 million on welfare, 1/3 of NYers unemployed.
Themes on Broadway changed to social criticism and political satire, as well as mixing escapism and engagement.
1936- FDR is re-elected and offered a 'New Deal'.

George Balanchine choreographed for Broadway.
December 7, 1941: Attack on Pearl Harbor

May 18, 1942: Lights turned off on Broadway marquises to protect NY ports.
After the Civil War, NYC evolved as center of American theatre.
1947: First Tony Awards

40's and 50's: NYC is home to large film premier events.
Broadway turned to strong narratives, characters and have true dramatic merit. Became the 'Golden Age'
50's = Baby Boom and Broadway Boom

Post WWII, Broadway shows began to tour and appeared on television.
Agnes De Mille
Michael Kidd
Jerome Robbins
Bob Fosse
Susan Stroman
Twyla Tharp
Gower Champion
Bill T. Jones
Michael Bennett
Garth Fagan
Tommy Tune
One touch of Venus
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
Paint Your Wagon
Fall River Legend
Lend an Ear
Bye Bye Birdie
Hello Dolly
42nd Street
Finian's Rainbow
Guys and Dolls
Li'l Abner
On the Town Billion Dollar Baby
The King and I West Side Story
Peter Pan Gypsy
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
Funny Girl Fiddler on the Roof
The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas
Grand Hotel
Will Rogers Follies
The Pajama Game
Damn Yankees
Sweet Charity
A Chorus Line
Promises, Promises
The Lion King
Movin' Out
The Times They Are a Changin'
Come Fly Away
Spring Awakening
Crazy For You
The Producers
Young Frankenstein
Big Fish
It is a common belief that theatrical elements from Minstrelsy, Vaudeville, and Operetta combined make our modern American musical theatre format.
Variety was a popular form of entertainment from the mid 1800's, including Honky Tonk, Blue Acts, and Museums. The content was generally raunchy, sexual, or freakish.
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