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Chapter 13: The Princess Shows
Transcript of Chapter 13: The Princess Shows
1915 - A new kind of show made its debut in New York at the Princess Theatre
Jerome Kern (1885-1945): Composer The Princess Theatre Opened in 1913
Seated a deliberate 299 people
intended to skirt laws that applied to theatres that sat 300 or more
Most seating was orchestra level ("ground floor")
The balcony had only two rows
Had the smallest stage of any Broadway House
It was announced that the theatre would show children's classics but was also announced that it would stage shows in the Grand Guignol tradition
Grand Guignol was a small theatre in Paris which specialized in gruesome stage productions
Featured a series of experimental One Acts by unknown authors Elisabeth "Bessie" Marbury A literary agent
Suggested to her partner (Producer F. Ray Comstock) that they should present a small-scale musical to make the theatre profitable.
Chose the "property"
Mr. Popple of Ippleton - a play
Was also credited with convincing writers to ask for a percentage of the gross profits rather than settling for a flat fee. Guy Bolton (1882 - 1979) Marbury's 2nd choice to make the musical adaptation
Gained recognition with his song "They Didn't Believe Me" Kern, Bolton and... Marbury introduced Bolton to Kern as she was his agent
Their first collaboration did poorly
Kern's score was praised regardless
Marbury hired them to adapt Mr. Popple into Nobody Home
A third partner was added: Schuyler Greene
The term libretto (referred to spoken dialogue only) was often replaced with "book"
Lyrics were more and more often written by a specialist (different then the writer of the book) Stipulations for "Nobody Home" Billed as a Farce Comedy in Two Acts W/Music
Only two sets (one for each act)
Minimal costume changes
No more than 30 cast members (including the chorus)
The orchestra would encompass 11 players
a common practice in which comedians would break the storyline to address the audience directly and tell in-jokes and gags Kern's Stipulation Songs should be integrated into the storyline
"It is my opinion that the musical numbers should carry the action of the play and should be representative of the personalities of the characters who sing them. Songs must be suited to the action and the mood of the play." Gesamtkunstwerk in "Nobody Home" Marbury believed that people looked at sets and costumes as much as they listened to the performers and music.
She imported costumes from Paris
Marbury marketed the show with a brochure that emphasized the "newness" of their approach. It's A Hit Nobody Home
Moved to a larger theatre after two months
Ran for 135 performances
Spawned three separate road companies Very Good Eddie Billed as the "annual Princess Theatre production (1915)
Used contemporary language, an American setting, proceeded at a lightning pace
Situationally comic but believable
The title had a vaudevillian influence
An "eddie": a ventriloquist's dummy
a "very good eddie" was a cooperative, compliant dummy
The chorus girls were dressed tastefully, each wearing a different gown, "as suits her style"
Very Good Eddie ran for 341 performances Pelham Grenville "Plum" Wodehouse Attended the opening night performance of "Very Good Eddie"
Agreed to work with Bolton and Kern at the post-show party The "Trio of Musical Fame" The 1st two products of the new collaborators did not play in the Princess Theatre More expensive than previous Princess Shows
Ticket prices were raised to $3.50
Enjoyed the largest box office advance of any theatre at that time
It ran for an impressive 463 performances Leave It to Jane Oh, Boy! was still running when Leave It to Jane was ready to run
Comstock opened it at Longacre Theatre
It had 167 performances
Leave It to Jane was revived off-Broadway in 1959 and ran for 928 performances Oh, Boy (1917) The Next Thing The revue Miss 1917 was the next project for Kern, Bolton and Wodehouse Oh, Lady! Lady!! The return to the Princess Theatre
Another example of Gesamtkunstwerk
Was the last Princess Show to be composed by the Kern-Bolton-Wodehouse team for several years
(The trio reunited briefly for Sally) Sally Broke away from the dazzling star entrance
Bolton's book called for the star to appear at the end of a line of ragged orphans Sitting Pretty What many call the "last" Princess Show
The overture was unusual
A Journey Southward
Generally a compilation of melodies from the show
Sitting Pretty's overture was programmatic
(By forbidding the customary recordings of the show, Kern limited the dissemination (circulation) of the melodies, thus there were fewer viewers and therefore, Sitting Pretty closed early) Key Terms Orchestra Seating
Seating on the orchestra level or the "ground floor"
A novel, drama, short story, etc. that inspires the plot of a musical
Refers to a written work comprised of spoken dialogue ONLY, as well as the overall plot
A story with broad humor--often satirical--and an improbable plot
A common practice in which comedians would break the storyline to address the audience directly
Touring ensembles that carried the show to theatres all over the country
Measured from the beginning of June to the end of May Box Office Advance
Income from tickets sold before the show has opened
A musical number to which the audiences reaction is so strong that their applause stopped the momentum of the show for a significant time.
The words of the chorus are not the same each time
The "star" of a production would make the first appearance on stage with great fanfare
The instrumental music illustrates a story that had no words or visual depictions.
the events took place solely in the audiences minds
The circulation of the melodies from a musical. Leave it to Jane Plot summary...
The first play to acknowledge the "America sports mania"
Involved college romance, parental influence, comedy and peer pressure