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Music Theatre #2

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Melanie Gouda

on 25 October 2012

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Transcript of Music Theatre #2

Musical theatre is a form of theatre that combines songs, spoken dialogue, acting, and dance. The story and emotional content of the piece – humor, pathos, love, anger – are communicated through the words, music, movement and technical aspects of the entertainment as an integrated whole. Music Theatre Early 1900s: Operetta Period One - During the early 1900s, Broadway was just beginning to develop as a cultural centre
- This era was called “The Era Of Good Feelings” because the relationship between the audience and actors was most cordial and unsophisticated, but lively and exuberant
- Before World War One in 1917, Broadway theatre did not deal with reality or social issues in plays
- Once the war began, Broadway plays were used as an escape from harsh reality - most popular broadway operetta
- distinction between operetta and the 20s musical comedy
- plot included catchy songs (Every Day is Ladies’ Day with Me) - dramatized distasteful topics, such as brutality and suffering
- public preferred more cheerful plays By Beulah Marie Dix & produced by George Tyler (1915) "Moloch" By Victor Herbert "The Red Mill" - best known for composing many successful operettas
- prominent amoung the Tin Pan Alley composers
- began his career as a cellist in Vienna and then began to compose orchestral music
- composed operettas since 1894 with several successes (The Fortune Teller - 1898)
- most successful operettas he wrote after the turn of the 20th century were: Babes in Toyland (1903) Mlle Modiste (1905) and Naughty Marietta (1910) Victor Herbert Based on The Wonderful Wizard of Oz By L. Frank Baum "The Wizard of Oz" - originally published in 1900
- the 1902 show premiered in Chicago and then went onto Broadway in 1903
- main plot is Pastoria's attempts to regain the throne from the Wizard of Oz. The original protagonists' search for the Wizard puts them on the wrong side of the law. By George M. Cohan "Little Johnny Jones" - Forty-Five Minutes from Broadway
- hit song after hit song (Mary is a Grand Old Name) 1906 - an American jockey accused of miscreance in England- third time attempted and it failed- “I’m a Yankee Doodle Boy” and “Give my regards to Broadway” George M. Cohan - writer, composer, producer and also appeared in over three dozen broadway musicals
- early member of the American Society of Composers
- known as “the man who owned Broadway” and considered the father of American musical comedy
- in 1909 Cohan opened another hit called “The man who owned Broadway because he did
- his first Broadway hit was “Little Johnny Jones” - mounted by Florenz Ziegfeld
- half the budget went to costumes
- after the show, people could enjoy a cabaret experience over a dinner/drink on the theatre’s roof Ziegfeld Follies - first to break with the operetta tradition
- when operetta was in the twilight of its vogue, Hammerstein collaborated with the established composers of the genre Guy Bolton 1920s and 1930s: Show Boat to Oklahoma Period Two - During the 1920s, Broadway reached its prime Oscar Hammerstein’s and Jerome Kern’s adaptation of Edna’s Ferber’s epic novel "Show Boat" - Show Boat added new dimension to the musical stage
- first musical w/ drama, characterization, plot development
- confronted racism in the reaction of characters to a then-illegal interracial marriage
- music and lyrics helped amplify emotions and move the plot forward - dubbed "The World's Greatest Entertainer"
- Multiple famous entertainers were influenced by his performances and music, including
Bob Dylan, Bing Crosby, Judy Garland and Jerry Lee Lewis
- “The Jazz Singer” was the first talking motion picture
- signaled the end of the silent picture era
- His music was characterized by his great performance quality
- “The Jazz Singer” was another example of real-life connections with an audience
- “Dirty Hands Dirty Face” - coming home to his little son - creating connections Al Jolson - Hammerstein’s task was unlike any others. No one had ever made a musical adapted from a serious novel, none had to deal with a three-generation time span, and none had dealt with black and white characters sharing the stage as full dramatic entities
- “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man” foreshadows the most famous “miscegenation” scene
- First realistic musical and brought audiences in because of relation to their personal lives
- It is undeniably one of America’s most revolutionary musicals - This movie signified the permanent connection between Broadway and Hollywood
- Ziegfeld sold movie production rights to his musicals in order to combat the depression
- Hollywood and MGM produced a vision of a Broadway spectacle that no theatre in New York could possibly contain let alone produce The Great Ziegfeld - Most famous for big band musicals like Anything Goes and The Gay Divorcée
- had a gift for deeply yearning, aching ballads, Latin rhythms and unexpectedly long and complicated musical structures Cole Porter - Gershwin’s American Folk Opera
- Much racial controversy, written by white composers without complete knowledge of the black communities in question
- Jazz vocal staples like “Summertime” stemmed from this musical
- An almost tragedy—the end of the show ends with Porgy’s probable doom "Porgy and Bess" -Babes in Arms
- I’d Rather Be Right
- The Boys from Syracuse
- On Your Toes
- All of the above composed jointly by Lorenz Hart and Richard Rodgers Other important musicals: Musical Example: -“Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man O’ Mine”
- note the southern blues melody
- the cook listening and noticing
- this is the source of controversy in the musical
- interestingly in the 1950s MGM movie, there was controversy because of casting 1940s and 1950s: more realistic plots, elements more balanced Period Three Continuation of Broadway production from composers of past decades: Irving Berlin ( popular since 1911) - “Louisiana Purchase” (1940- 444 performances)
- “This is army” (1942- 113 performances) Cole Porter -“Panama Hattie” (1940- 501 performances)
-“Let’s Face It” (1941- 547 performances) Ira Gershwin
(abandoned composing for several years following his brother’s death) - “Lady In The Dark” (1941- 467 performances) Rodgers and Hart -“Pal Joey” (1940 – 374 performances). This was the first musical to center on an anti hero. The end of Rogers and Hart Signs of change - Hart declines in health due to alcoholism- Rodgers seeks out new partnership for a new musical
The birth of the most successful collaboration – Rogers and Hammerstein
Their excellent collaboration is due to Rodgers’s preference of setting complete lyrics to music and Hammerstein’s preference of writing complete lyrics before setting them to music. - Rodgers and Hammerstein have decided to write this as a musical play
- features musical themes, motifs that work to fully connect the music with the story , which builds on the innovations of Show Boat
- Artistic risks : opening with a farm woman churning butter as a farm boy sings about the beautiful morning, using dance as an integral part of plot development
- "dream ballet sequence - the first time dance has been used in such an essential way to move the plot ( Choreographed by Agnes De Mille) "Green Grows the Lilacs" Opened march 31 st, 1943 , unprecedented 2212 performances

Before “Oklahoma”, Broadway composers/ lyricists were songwriters, everyone who came after, they became dramatists Rodgers and Hammerstein were first true masters of the musical play

Other artists follow their example:
Irving Berlin's “Annie Get Your Gun” 1946 was huge success with character songs –
“doin what comes naturally”, “you can't get a man with a gun”, “there's no business like show business” Golden age of Broadway Other Rodgers and Hammerstein hits: - “South pacific” (1949 - 1925 performances)Artistic Risks: minimal dance, two equally important love stories, dramatic tension was not provided by a single antagonist/bad guy, conflicts of love stories are based on racial prejudices Tony award for best musical, Second musical to receive Pulitzer Prize for Drama. - Frank Loesser - Guys and Dolls (1950)
Also elected as winner of Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Tony award for Best music Music Comedy is still around: Entering the 1950s, the team of Rodgers and Hammerstein are still leading. “The king and I” (1951- 1246 performances)
- Original Production won 5 Tony AwardsInnovations of Rodgers and Hammerstein paved the way for a new pair that emerges, Lerner and Loewe, and Bernstein. 1951: Director: Morton Da Costa - Book, music, and lyrics: Meredith Willson "The Music Man" - The cast album won the first Grammy Award (1st awards) for "Best Original Cast Album" and was number one on the Billboard charts for 245 weeks
- Plot: Con man Harold Hill convinces a town that they need a boy's band, and plans to make offwith the money once the boys have paid for outfits and instruments. In the mean time, he fallfor the local piano teacher, Marian, who teaches him the error of his ways 1956: Lerner (lyrics) and Lowe (music) "My Fair Lady" Adapted from G.B Shaw’s Pygmalion
- Plot: Wealthy speech therapist Henry Higgins bets that he can make poor flower girl Eliza
- Doolittle into a fine upper-class lady just by teaching her to speak the English language properly.
- Lerner and Lowe were inspired by the story telling of Rodgers and Hammerstein, and wanted to create a show with very elaborate characters and relatable plot 1957: Bernstein, Sondheim, and choreography by Gerome Robins "West Side Story" - Plot: West Side Story is a modern day adaptation of the Shakespeare’s classic, Romeo and Juliet, involving a conflict between the Jets and the Sharks, two New York gangs
- Was not hugely popular during its first run, (won only two tony awards, not including best musical) mostly because many people were uncomfortable with the racial tension it portrayed at the time
- However, the movie in 1961 was hugely popular, taking home 10 Academy Awards
- Musical Example: Cool from West Side Story 1959: Rodgers and Hammerstein "The Sound of Music" - Plot: Young Maria is studying to be a nun, but is sent from the nunnery to become a governess for the seven children of Capitan Von Trapp, whom she latter falls in love with. It deals with themes of world war II throughout the musical, taking place in Austria, when the family escaped from the Nazis- An extremely popular movie was released in 1965, which caused a boom in the popularity of the show, much like West Side Story “If the 1950s was the decade that promised a continuation of the musical's crucial place in the culture, it was at least partly because the Rodgers and Hammerstein revolution of the 1940s urged the musical to seek beyond typical fare for stories based on realistic character development: to become drama. Thus, the 1940s introduced the notion and the 1950s exploited it.”- Ethan Mordden
- Tested the boundaries- Boost in popularity- All elements of the show were equally important Overall Themes Stephen Sondheim:
"now the greatest and perhaps best-known artist in the American musical theater”
"possibly the greatest lyricist ever."
-composer & lyricist KNOWN for contribution to musical theatre
works include: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Follies, A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd, Company, lyrics for West Side Story and countless others
has won 8 Tony Awards including Lifetime Achievement in Theatre, multiple Grammy’s and an Academy Award
“blended drama and music in which singing continues naturally”
Period 4 -Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum (1962) HUGE success of Sondheim
introduced the first of Sondheim's tunes to become a show business standard, "Comedy Tonight."
Fiddler On the Roof (1964) HUGE HITTTTT
-first musical to exceed the 3,000 performances mark
-held the record for longest-running Broadway musical, until Grease claimed the title in 1972
-“No other musical has so magically woven music, dance, poignancy and laughter into such an electrifying and unforgettable experience”
Timeline Hair (1968) first rock musical
- serious social conscience, preparing the stage for socially aware musical hits likeRENT.
-Vietnam War, racism, environmentalism, and the sexual revolution
-Sondheim’s breakthrough as both composer and lyricist with Company (1971)
The show marked a sharp break with Broadway's past, and established Sondheim as the most inventive and daring composer working in the musical theater
-Follies (1971) was criticized and doubted for its”pop” potential too sophisticated for popular success
-A Little Night Music (1973) put these doubts to rest
Its elegant, waltz-based score and warm humor charmed audiences on both sides of the Atlantic, while its signature song, "Send in the Clowns," became an unexpected pop standard
Chorus Line
Funny Girl
Sweeney Todd
Jesus Christ Superstar
Les Miserables 1986: Phantom of the Opera
End of the most prominent “Webber” era with Phantom of the Opera, which is still considered one of the most popular musicals in the late twentieth century.
Was operatic in style, which was unusual for the time as more and more musicals were more modern and edgy even if they were set in historic settings (such as with Miss Saigon).
Phantom of the Opera is one of the greatest examples of a “Mega Musical”, a dominant trend that began to gain popularity in the late 80’s into the 90’s.
After this, Webber continued to make musicals and musical movies, however none gained the popular in which that his previous had made.
1996: Rent and Ragtime
After a gap of major productions between the end of the 80’s and the mid 90’s, two extremely popular musicals were released in 1996.
Written by Jonathan Larson, it was unique in the sense that it was the first to succeed in marrying rock and the Broadway musical, and is sometimes referred to as “The Rock Opera of the Nineties”.
Very involved with common day issues at the time, such as AIDS, sexuality, poverty, and the problems of the people who were often classified as “Bohemian”.
A break from the large-scale productions that had been becoming commonplace; with little set and the focus set on the music and the storyline instead of the costuming and background.

Continuing trend of taking storylines from other sources: this one from E.L. Doctrow’s book with the same title.
Still not enough to be considered a “Mega Musical”, the 90’s were not known for their elaborate productions.
Premiered in 2003.
Famous not only for its music and story (which is based of Gregory Maguire’s novel), but for the extremely complicated and flashy sets and scenes.
Is now one of the most famous Broadway musicals in the twenty-first century.

Avenue Q:
Produced in 2003.
Extremely unique in its use of both puppets and human actors together in scenes.
Based off of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, a part of the trend of taking storylines from other sources.
American Idiot
Premiered in 2009, it is based off of Green Day’s 2002 concept album by the same name.
Biggest example besides We Will Rock You (2002) of a “Rock Musical”, which has been a growing trend since the mid 90’s in Broadway musicals.
Focuses on common-day problems, such as drug addiction, youth issues and war.
The use of technology and mixers was very prominent in the production and performance of the musical, due to the size and volume of the instrumentals versus the vocals.
The Book of Mormon
Released in 2011
Currently the most popular musical still on tour.
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