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Cohen Chapter 9

The Musical Theatre
by

Terie Spencer

on 8 April 2013

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Transcript of Cohen Chapter 9

The Musical Theatre CHAPTER NINE So Then, What is Musical Theatre? Theatre has included music in many forms for over 2000 years
From the Greeks through the Renaissance and onward
Asian theatre has always included music, too

Modern plays often still include music, especially nonrealistic plays such as Beckett's and Brecht's American Musical Theatre’s Beginnings What musical entertainment did people go to in the 1800s?
operettas
vaudeville (collections of musical and variety acts)
ballets
burlesque (parodies of famous plays and performers)
minstrel shows The Age of Musical Comedy First great era of musical genre, from the 1900s to the 1920s
George and Ira Gershwin (Girl Crazy)
Cole Porter (Anything Goes)
Rodgers & Hart (Babes in Arms)
Emphasized spectacle over narrative
Emphasis on comedy, singing, youthful romance, patriotism and sex appeal
Characters were archetypes rather than fully developed figures
Simple plots
Interludes of song and dance were unconnected to plot The Golden Age New genre introduced in mid-1920s: Musical drama
More sophisticated music
Serious and sometimes political plots
Music and dancing connected to plot
Examples: Show Boat, Porgy and Bess, Oklahoma!, The King and I
Plays reached unprecedented commercial success
Also gained international fame through touring companies
Songs became popular hits on radio
Stars became celebrities The Contemporary Musical The genre from the 1950s onward offers diverse innovations
Emergence of choreographer-directors
Tommy Tune
Bob Fosse
Works such as A Chorus Line, West Side Story, and Chicago emphasized dance
Greatest influence on modern musical: Stephen Sondheim
Funny Thing Happened on the Way to The Forum
Company
Sweeney Todd
His plays have disturbing plots, cynical tone, skepticism, mature plots and intricate music New Directions for Musical Theatre It's nonrealistic, but it's not part of the trend against realism.
Musical theatre has had its own separate growth arc. As a distinct genre of Western theatre, musical theatre has existed for 150 years


Took elements from many other genres History of Music in Theatre Musical theatre is the best-known
American contribution to world theatre It's a big business for both
professionals and amateurs And also the 'foreign imports'
British satirical light opera (Gilbert and Sullivan)
French opéra bouffe
Viennese operetta (The Merry Widow) In 1866, an accident created the first true American muscial: The Black Crook

A stranded French dance troupe had their songs and dances added to a straight drama- instant hit! American composers also copied
the European light operas
Victor Herbert (Babes in Toyland) Then came George M. Cohan, who was the first American to write musicals about 'American' things
Yankee Doodle Dandy
Give My Regards to Broadway
(both songs from Little Johnny Jones, 1904) Many songs are still popular even though we don't remember the shows Black musical comedy further developed in Harlem
Shows such as Darktown Follies drew mixed-race audiences
Bert Williams
Eubie Blake
Introduced the Charleston These shows, many from the 1940s and 50s, are now the staples of school and community theatres British musical theatre (Andrew Lloyd Webber)
Cats
Phantom of the Opera

French (Schonberg and Boublin)
Les Miserables
Miss Saigon

These are mostly sung-through musicals, with lush scores and no spoken dialogue American music theatre now deals with
increasingly serious subjects:

Not always
The Producers
Hairspray
Avenue Q

But very often grim material, such as terrorism, racism, pornography, and more
Caroline, or Change (race relations)
Next to Normal (mental illness)
Jerry Springer

These themes have been used before,
but now seem bleaker Disney musicals are a class all their own
Beauty and the Beast
Mary Poppins
The Little Mermaid
Tarzan
The Lion King
Full transcript