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The Black Crook

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Rick Gomez

on 10 March 2014

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Transcript of The Black Crook

1866: The Black Crook
Libretto: Charles Barras
Context In History: Post Civil War NYC and Niblo's Garden
How did the end of the civil war (1861-1865) impact
The Black Crook
in NYC?
Genre of
The Black Crook is Twofold
1. Book Musical
2. Spectacle/Extravaganza
5 Types of Spectacles
The Black Crook
the First Musical?
Musical (noun): a stage, television, or film production utilizing popular style songs to either tell a story (book musicals) or to showcase the talents of writers and/or performers (revue), with dialogue optional.
Music from
The Black Crook
(and Show Boat).
NYC: Broadway and 18th St., 1860
Music: Giuseppe Operti, Edward E. Rice, et al.
Poster from Original, 1866 Production
Poster from 1873 Revival
Deemed by some as the first true Musical, and no longer an antecedent, but not all are in agreement.
Score Compilation: Thomas Baker
Lyrics: Charles M. Barras, J. Cheever Goodwin, et al.
From the Bowery Boys, New York City History Blog
The Black Crook played at Niblo's Garden Theater. What was Niblo's Garden?
Artist's rendering of interior of Theater.
Photo of Exterior of Theater
NYC where Niblo's Garden Theater once stood.
From Musicals101.com
From Wikipedia: The Black Crook
French Ballet Troupe joins
The Black Crook
after a fire at the Academy of Music
Cost of Black Crook: $25,000-$55,000
Preachers denounced the scantily clad dancers, and ticket sales skyrocket.
The show itself was not very good, so they did the American thing and "fixed it" by turning it into a spectacle and throwing a ton of money at it. Financially, it was the right choice.
Despite it's 5 1/2 hour length (over 4 acts),
The Black Crook
was first blockbuster: 474 performances, and over $1,000,000 at the box office. It played in various productions from 1866 to 1929
The Black Crook
a Musical by this definition?
Our definition of Musical. (Kenrick, p. 14)
Was it the first musical work for theatre that fits this definition?
Book Musical: A Musical that tells a story.
The Black Crook
fits this definition.
Revue: An amalgam of skits, songs and dances, often focused on the perfomers.
Concept Musical: The show is more metaphor driven, than story driven.
What is was:
The most successful American musical of the 19th century.
Immensely profitable.
A lavish and socially daring Extravaganza Book Musical.
A blueprint for how to popularize musicals in post civil war America.
So what was the first musical?
The question begs a more specific definition: What was the first Book Musical where the music and the story were fully integrated?
A bit more involved.
Full transcript