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A History of Musical Theatre

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Brent Ries

on 6 November 2014

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Transcript of A History of Musical Theatre

Opera vs Operetta
• Ancient Greek theatre included music and dance

• In the Middle Ages traveling minstrels
performed songs and slapstick comedy
in Europe

• Court masques of the Renaissance had music, dancing, singing and acting, often with expensive costumes and complex stage design

• The18th century saw musical sections of masques developed into sung plays that are recognizable as English operas
A History of
Musical Theatre

Gilbert and Sullivan
Gilbert and Sullivan were a Victorian-era theatrical partnership made up of librettist W. S. Gilbert and composer Arthur Sullivan and to the works they jointly created.

Gilbert and Sullivan introduced innovations in content and form that directly influenced the development of musical theatre through the 20th century

Best known works:
H.M.S. Pinafore
Pirates of Panzance
The Mikado

Minstrel Shows 1830's - 1910's
Minstrel Shows were variety acts performed by
white men in black face because black performers
were not allowed on stage.

They portrayed black people as dim-witted, lazy
buffoonish, superstitious or happy-go-lucky
and musical.

Showboat (1927)
Music by Jerome Kernand lyrics and book by Oscar Hammerstein II

Firmly establishes form of American musical

Introduced the elements of spectacle, details, realism and a depth of character that had not been seen before

was the first Broadway musical to seriously depict an interracial marriage and to feature a character of mixed race who was "passing" for white
Began at the end of the 16th century in Florence, Italy
Invented by a group of amateur poets and musicians who were trying to recreate the art of Greek drama
Every song is sung

A light opera with spoken dialogue, songs and dances
Cast will usually consist of classically trained opera singers
Acting combined with song
Rodgers and Hammerstein's
Rodgers and Hammerstein guidelines:
1. Song is servant of the play
2. Believed sincerely in what they wrote
3. Comedy must develop out of character and situation

Tightly integrated all aspects of musical theatre
with song and dance that furthered the plot and developed the characters

Touched on more serious subject matter
than most earlier shows: spousal abuse, thievery, suicide,the afterlife, miscegenation and death
Only a matter of time before rock music, real rock music, hit Broadway

(1968) came directly from Greenwich Village a couple of blocks away from the real hippies changing the world down in Washington Square

No real plot, it was simply a revue, showing practically every aspect of the counterculture in a variety of musical styles, dance, and stage effects

Its encyclopedic psychedelia included mind-altering drugs, pollution, the Vietnam War, civil rights, astronauts, astrology, hairstyles, Shakespeare, and the Waverly movie theater on Sixth Avenue. And sex.

End of the first act entire company assembled in the nude - first for a Broadway musical
Stephen Sondheim
Master lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II was a mentor

Known for his witty, conversational lyrics,
seamless merging of words with music

Combines various musical genres with unexpected subject matter

He believes lyrics should be ordinary, but filled with subtext to give actor something to act
A Chorus Line

Director/choreographer Michael Bennett

Developed at the Public Theater and opened
on Broadway in 1975

Won every prize the theater could offer, including the Pulitzer and nine Tonys

Score blended a backbeat rock score with Broadway ballads

Success of the show is particularly impressive because it ran counter to most every American musical convention

No scenery beyond some mirrors, no real costumes save leotards and a few spangles for the finale

No setting other than a nondescript theater, no intermission, and no star
Influence of European "mega-musicals" with large casts and sets
- The Phantom of the Opera
- Miss Saigon

Based on novels or other works of literature -
Les Misérables



Opened on Broadway in 1996

Won the Tony and Pulitzer

Tells the story of a group of impoverished young artists struggling to survive and create a life in New York City's East Village in the thriving days of Bohemian Alphabet City, under the shadow of HIV/AIDS.

Based off the opera
La Boheme
with a heavily rock-influenced score

Jonathan Larson, died suddenly of a aortic dissection, the night before the off-Broadway premiere.

•Producers and investors want familiar musicals to guarantee a profit

•“Jukebox musicals” create a minimal plot to fit a collection of songs that have already been hits
The Buddy Holly Story
Jersey Boys
Rock of Ages
Million Dollar Quaret

Plot-driven musicals have been built around pop groups, such as
Mamma Mia!
(ABBA) and
We Will Rock You

A variety show
popular chiefly in the US in the early 20th century, featuring a dozen or more acts in every vaudeville performance

Starting and ending with the weakest, the shows went on for hours. The performances ranged from the truly talented to the simply quirky

An act could be darn near anything that was entertaining. A performer's gender, race and appearance were no barrier to success, and nothing was too eccentric if it gave an audience ten to fifteen minutes of diversion

What is a Musical?
A form of theatrical performance that combines song, spoken dialogue, acting and dance/movement

The story and emotional content of a musical (songs, spoken humor,
pathos, love, anger) are
communicated through the words, music, movement and technical aspects of the entertainment as an integrated whole
Porgy and Bess

A humorous and provocative stage show featuring slapstick humor, comic skits, bawdy songs, striptease acts, and a scantily clad female

Largely put out of business in the 1940's due to prohibition and a crackdown from the New York Mayor

Porgy and Bess
is an opera and was first performed in 1935

Music by George Gershwin, libretto by DuBose Heyward, and lyrics by DuBose Heyward and Ira Gershwin

Was not widely accepted in the United States as a legitimate opera until 1976

Porgy and Bess
tells the story of Porgy, a disabled black beggar living in the slums of Charleston, South Carolina and his attempts to rescue Bess from the clutches of a possessive lover and a the drug dealer.
West Side Story
American musical - 1949

Libretto by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and conception and choreography by Jerome Robbins

Inspired by William Shakespeare's play
Romeo and Juliet

Explores the rivalry between two teenage street gangs of different ethnic backgrounds

The dark theme, sophisticated music, extended dance scenes, and focus on social problems marked a turning point in American musical theatre

Displayed how dance can tell the story
Little Night Music
Sweeney Todd
Jesus Christ Superstar

Bye Bye Birdie
The Fantasticks
How to Succeed in Business
Fiddler On the Roof
Funny Girl
Hello, Dolly!
Man of LaMancha
Sweet Charity
42nd Street
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
La Cage aux Folles
Sunday in the Park with George
Big River
The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Les Miserables
Starlight Express
Into the Woods
The Phantom of the Opera
Founded in 1993 as Walt Disney Theatrical

Gained a reputation within the industry for creating professional and popular (both critically and financially) performances

Beauty and the Beast
first Broadway show

Lion King
Mary Poppins
The Little Mermaid
High School Musical

Aspects of Love
City of Angels
Grand Hotel
Miss Saigon
Secret Garden
Will Rogers Follies
Kiss of the Spiderwoman
The Who's Tommy
Beauty and the Beast
Sunset Boulevard
Smokey Joe's Cafe
The Lion King
Jekyll and Hyde

2000 and on...
The Producers
Avenue Q
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
Monty Python's Spamalot
Spring Awakening
In the Heights
Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Andrew Lloyd Weber
Most successful composer of our time

Several of his musicals have run for more than a decade both in the West End and on Broadway

Composed 13 musicals, two film scores, and a Latin Requiem Mass

Honours: a knighthood, seven Tony Awards, three Grammy Awards, Academy Award, seven Olivier Awards, a Golden Globe Award, and the Kennedy Center Honors

His company, the Really Useful Group, is one of the largest theatre operators in London

Jesus Christ Superstar
Love Never Dies
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
The Woman in White
Sunset Boulevard
Aspects of Love
The Phantom of the Opera
Starlight Express
Song and Dance
Love Never Dies
Tell Me On A Sunday

Andrew Lloyd Weber

The Black Crook
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

Anyone Can Whistle
Do I Hear a Waltz?
Evening Primrose
The Frogs
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
Into the Woods
A Little Night Music
Marry Me a Little
Merrily We Roll Along
Pacific Overtures
Putting It Together
Road Show (Bounce)
Saturday Night
Side By Side By Sondheim
Sondheim on Sondheim
Sunday in the Park With George
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
West Side Story
You're Gonna Love Tomorrow

Sondheim Muicals
Full transcript