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Musical Theatre in the 1950s

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by

Charlie Henderson

on 3 February 2014

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Transcript of Musical Theatre in the 1950s

Musical Theatre in the 1950s and 1960s
The End of the Golden Age
Recap:
pre-1930: comic opera, operetta and vaudeville shaped what we now know as "modern musical theatre"
1930s: Depression era
Low income families
People turned to entertainment to lift their spirits
Cinema was less expensive than live theatre and quickly rose to popularity
1940s: World War II and the postwar era
Shift in the balance of political power; countries at war
Many wartime atrocities, including Holocaust
Breakdown of traditional family structure
Greater emphasis on social issues
What's going on in the 1950s?
Baby boom - emphasis on traditional family structure
Suburbs and the idea of "The American Dream"
Increased immigration; greater diversity and heightened racial tensions
The Cold War
Fear of 'the other'
Conformity was a necessary part of life
How does this impact musical theatre?
The 'traditional' movement
Heavily influenced by musical theatre of the past, especially the musical comedy
(Usually) drew from "American" values, and (usually) featured American locales and people
Important figures of this movement include:
Frank Loesser (Guys and Dolls, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying),
Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick (She Loves Me, Fiddler on the Roof),
Frederick Loewe and Alan Jay Lerner (My Fair Lady, Brigadoon, Camelot)
Jerry Herman (Hello, Dolly!, Mame)
Cole Porter (Kiss Me Kate, Can-Can)
Examples:
Frank Loesser, Guys and Dolls: Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat
The 'non-traditional' movement
Influenced by earlier musical theatre, but with new innovations
Heavily influenced by classical and jazz music
Musicals as "art" as well as entertainment
Transition from musical revues and comedies to the "integrated musical"
Dealt with themes that were "controversial" in 1950s/1960s society
Examples:
Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim, West Side Story: Mambo
Rodgers and Hammerstein, Flower Drum Song: Chop Suey
Full transcript