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History of Musical Theatre
Transcript of History of Musical Theatre
Archbishop Jordan High School
musical (noun): a stage, television or film production utilizing popular-style songs - dialogue optional - and dance to either tell a story (book musicals) or showcase the talents of the writers and/or performers (revues).
What is Musical Theatre?
Musical Theatre can be traced back to Ancient Greece. Music and dance were used in both the Greek Comedies and Tragedies of 5th century BCE. The path that musical theatre took from here is debated, some saying that it is routed in Opera, while others considering it its own art form
Origins of Musical Theatre
Operettas in English were beginning to be composed in the 1860's in England. Most famously, by Gilbert and Sullivan.
Minstrel Shows were variety acts performed by white men in black face. This was at a time when black performers were not allowed.
Portrayed black people as dim-witted, lazy, baffoonish, superstitious, happy-go-lucky and musical. These attributes were portrayed through stock characters
Followed a 3 act structure - in the first act the troupe danced on stage, delivered wise cracks and sang songs, in the second act there was a variety of entertainment, and the third act was a slapstick musical plantation skit or a send up of a popular play.
While Minstrel shows were popular until the 1910's, they were performed until the 1960's, which coincides with the civil rights movement
Minstrel Shows 1830's - 1910's
Burlesque - 1860's - 1940's
A Variety Show that closely followed the three act structure of Minstrel Shows, without the focus on black face.
Increasing focus on female nudity
Largely put out of business in the 1940's due to prohibition and a crackdown from the New York Mayor
Vaudeville - 1880's - 1930's
Another type of variety entertainment
A step up from Burlesque
A group of separate, unrelated acts grouped together on a common bill
included acts such as popular and classical musicians, dancers comedians, trained animals, magicians, impersonators, acrobats, etc.
Rise of Film = decline of Vaudeville
"The Black Crook"
Book by Charles M. Barras Music is mostly adaptations, but some new songs were composed for the play, notably "March of the Amazons" by Giuseppe Operti, and "You Naughty, Naughty Men", with music by George Bickwell and lyrics by Theodore Kennick.
Considered to be the first "book musical"
Opened on September 12, 1866 at the 3,200-seat Niblo's Garden on Broadway, New York City and ran for a record-breaking 474 performances.
Florenz Ziegfeld - 1867-1932
A series of elaborate theatrical productions on Broadway from 1907-1931
The Follies were lavish reviews that fell somewhere between a musical and a Vaudeville show
Known for beautiful chorus girls in elaborate costumes
Very popular from the 1930's - 1960's and onward
Stars of movie musicals became household names - Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Gene Kelly, Judy Garland
Movie Musicals made a comeback in the 2000's: Moulin Rouge, Across the Universe, Chicago, Sweeny Todd, Les Miserables
Oscar Hammerstein II - 1895-1960
Although his father was in the arts, he discouraged it in Oscar. Oscar went to Law school until 1917, three years after his father's death
Librettist, producer and director
Collaborated with Jerome Kern on the Musical "Show Boat"
Most famous collaboration was with Richard Rodgers
First performed in 1927
The musical follows the lives of the performers, stagehands, and dock workers on the Cotton Blossom, a Mississippi River show boat, over forty years, from 1887 to 1927. Its themes include racial prejudice and tragic, enduring love. The musical contributed such classic songs as "Ol' Man River", "Make Believe", and "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man".
"Here we come to a completely new genre – the musical play as distinguished from musical comedy. Now... the play was the thing, and everything else was subservient to that play. Now... came complete integration of song, humor and production numbers into a single and inextricable artistic entity."
~ Complete Book of Light Opera
Rodgers and Hammerstein
1945 State Fair
1949 South Pacific
1951 The King and I
1953 Me and Juliet
1955 Pipe Dream
1958 Flower Drum Song
1959 The Sound of Music
American Composer and Songwriter
Unlike most, composed both the music and the lyrics to his songs
Most famous musicals: Can-Can, Kiss Me Kate, Anything Goes
George and Ira Gershwin
George - 1898-1937 - Composer
Ira - 1896-1983 - Lyricist
Together wrote many musicals including Porgy and Bess, Lady be Good, and Girl Crazy (which was rewritten in 1992 as Crazy for You without either brother)
Composer and Lyricist
"The greatest and perhaps best known artist in the American Musical Theater" ~New York Times
Most famous works include (as composer and lyricist) A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd, Sunday in the Park with George and Into the Woods. He also wrote the lyrics for West Side Story and Gypsy.
West Side Story
Music by Leonard Bernstein
Choreographed by Jerome Robbins
Based on Romeo and Juliet
Originally presented on Broadway in 1957
Rock Musicals (Jesus Christ Superstar, Godspell), African American Musicals (The Wiz, Dream Girls)
Dance Musicals (A Chorus Line, Chicago)
American actor, dancer, choreographer, director, screenwriter, film editor and film director
Fosse had a unique and distinguishable style of jazz that used turned-in knees, sideways shuffling, rolled shoulders, and jazz hands
Mega Musicals and Pop Operas such as The Phantom of the Opera, Miss Saigon and Les Miserables
Often involved large budgets
Jason Robert Brown
American musical theater composer, lyricist, and playwright
Songs for a New World, The Last Five Years, Parade
American composer and playwright
Tackled tough issues such as homosexuality, AIDS, drug addiction, etc.
Rent, Tick, tick... Boom!
Disney On Broadway
Beauty and the Beast
The Little Mermaid
Honourable Mention: The Jukebox Musical
We Will Rock You
Rock of Ages