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Lecture 7

MUSIC 2TT3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 7: Nanette Fabray, Kurt Weill, Cheryl Crawford

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Lara Housez

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Music 2TT3 Lecture 7 Love Life and Cabaret
What is a “concept” musical?
- A musical that focuses more on projecting a central metaphor or notion rather than
- In the 1970s, critics started to use the word “concept” to describe a plotless or “plot-lite”
musical often a piece that offered multiple angles and perspectives on a subject
o Effect is often kaleidoscopic
o Gives the effect of circling around a subject rather than moving forward along a
- Examples of concept musicals: Lady in the Dark, Allegro, Love Life, Cabaret, Company,
Follies, A Chorus Line, Chicago, Sunday in the Park with George, Assassins
- Self-reflexive: to be looked at as object not just form of entertainment, musicals want you
to think more critically
- Concept musicals often draw on forms of musical theatre to frame the show:
o Nightclub acts: Cabaret
o Vaudeville: Love Life, Chicago, Assassins
Vaudeville was the early form of American entertainment, circa late
1800s, early 1900s
o Revue: Follies
Revues are variety acts, no plots rather a variety of acts
o Musicals: A Chorus Line
- Frames often have diegetic performance element to them
- Presentational, often breaking the fourth wall
- Can look more clearly and critically
Characteristics of concept musicals
- 1) The frame is more important than plot or character
- 2) The musical is a vehicle for socio-political commentary
- 3) Use of metadramatic techniques
o Reminds the audience that the play is fake, e.g. Tapping you on the shoulder,
pouring water on your head
o Shakes entertainment perspective
- 4) The director becomes the principal collaborator
o Director can make sure that all the critical elements work together to achieve
overarching vision, or theme that they are trying to enact
- 5) The musical follows a non-linear structure
o Musicals usually follow non-linear structure: one that fast forwards many many
years or one that jumps back and forth between time (lack chronological order)
- 6) The book of the musical is short
Love Life
- Everyone would have seen this show, but would have fallen off the map somehow
- Kurt Weill’s most ambitious, experimental, interesting work
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- Shows innovation, gave inspiration to future shows
- Nanette Fabray went on to win the Tony
- Love Life opened in 1948
- Kurt Weill writes Street Scene, Love Life and Life in the Stars as his last shows
o All 3 done with 3 different lyricists
The Playbill
- Main characters: Sam and Cooper
- Love life is a portrait of how relationship goes sour
- Timeline of musical: 1791-1940s, Utopian New England, industrial Urban America
- No physical changes to appearance, no wrinkles in characters, but marriage changes
- Instead of celebration of love and life as the title suggests, it illustrates the destructive
effects of family and marriage as it goes on
The Credits for Love Life
- Composer: Kurt Weill
- Lyricist: Alan Jay Lerner
- Bookwriter: Lerner
- Source: Original
- Producer: Cheryl Crawford
- Director: Elia Kazan
- Choreographer: Michael Kidd (young choreographer)
- Set designer: Boris Aronson (Cabaret too)
o One of two direct links for Love Life and Cabaret, was a brilliant set designer
- New York run: 7 October 1948 14 May 1949
- Performances: 252
- Actors: Nanette Fabray (won Tony) and Ray Middleton
- 1 Tony nomination, 1 Tony win
Love Life’s Billing and Frame
- Vaudeville more known to 1940s audiences than today’s audiences, but still it was an
antiquated form
- Love Life was billed as a vaudeville
o Wasn’t a true vaudeville but a book show with interpolated vaudeville acts that
comment on the book scenes
o Not a true vaudeville, no animal acts, there IS a plot but it is repeatedly
interrupted by a Vaudeville troop of performers
- Sometimes look ahead, see vaudeville act which foreshadows what happens in the next
- The second act all takes place in 1940s, the present
- The set is often marked Olio a scene that happens in front of a curtain (Olio curtain)
which provides opportunity for scene to change behind the curtain
o Some specialty number could occur while next scene would be set up in the
meantime behind the curtain
What is vaudeville?
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