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Lecture 10

MUSIC 2TT3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 10: Leslie Bricusse, Alan Menken, Single Person

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Lara Housez

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Music 2TT3 Lecture 10 Phantom and Rent
Broadway in the 1970s and 1980s
- Sondheim wasn’t a composer of mega musicals
o He did well in 1970s for him
- America’s urban middle-class moves to the suburbs
- Death or defection removed many from the scene
o In 1970s, decay going on
o Additional barrier to getting audiences to come out/sell tickets
o Important collaborators passed away
o AIDs had a huge impact on Broadway and in musical theatre
o Substantial part of generation disappears, teachers are gone
- People started to wonder if Broadway was dead
- Competition from electronic media
- Changes in taste: producers had to bet on shows that offered theme park-like
excitement, daredevil situations and stunts, and high-tech special effects to wow
o More tourists in Broadway theatres, producers had to change and make sure
they brought things to the stage that was guaranteed success; especially an
issue with mega musicals because they cost so much to put on
o Producers less brave in material they put on stage, didn’t risk experimental
o Didn’t use social commentary as much or political stuff
o Instead wowed by special effects and stuff
Soaring Production Costs
- 75% of all Broadway shows fail to recoup their investments during their initial Broadway
o Changes with safer bets happening today
- Oklahoma! (1943): $180,000 ($1.86 million in 2003 dollars)
- Follies (1971): $750,000 - $800,000
- Phantom (1988): $8 million
- Beauty and the Beast (1994): $12 million
- Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark (2011) cost a record breaking $75 million
- Average today: $10-20 million
o Know this
- Beginning in the late 20th century, shows had to run for at least 2 years before making
- Overarching theme these things getting more and more expensive
Why have production costs risen?
- Marketing is a huge expense
o Commercials (Pippin was the first show to advertise on TV) guarantee people
- Unions (actors, people backstage) have demands to make sure people paid properly
- Demand for high-tech wizardry
o Special effects are expensive: chandelier in phantom, rubber tire in cats
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Result of escalating costs
- Ticket prices rise (2017: $900+ for Hamilton)
- Fewer new productions get mounted (32 in 1975, 19 in 1985)
o With mega musical revival, theatres got booked fast
- Audiences decline (6 million in 1975 to 4.6 million in 1985)
- Theatres close, especially in 70s 80s
- Corporations become producers replacing one-man producers
o Single person can’t bring together all the cash
o Ex. Hal Prince, not the one to back whole show, had to find investors for the
show and each contribute some percentage of the whole budget
Today’s Producers
- The three main producers today are:
o Shubert Organization (17 theatres)
o Nederlander Organization (9)
o Juiamcyn Theatres
- These corporations are also theatre owners
o Theatre owners don’t have to pay rent
Cameron Mackintosh (b.1946)
- Producer extraordinaire
o Ziegfeld of now
- British entrepreneur behind Cats, Les Miz, Phantom and Miss Saigon
- The success of these 4 shows made Mackintosh the most powerful theatre producer of
the age and a very wealthy man
- Before Cats, Mackintosh had a spotty track record producing revivals of Oliver!, My Fair
Lady and Oklahoma! in the UK
o Before Cats, didn’t do much, small revivals in UK
Hugh Jackman’s Oklahoma! in UK
- Good at promoting musicals
- Works well with Weber
- Makes his shows cultural events and makes sure that audience has access to all music,
branding ahead of time
o Cultural events: if you’re someone who’s anyone you have to go
- Music released beforehand so audience is familiar with all the material before they get
there (easier to sell then)
Sights and Stunts
- Cats
o The stage revolved and so did a section of theatre seats
o A huge rubber tire rose like a spaceship to cat heaven
- Phantom
o The chandelier came crashing down over the heads of the audience
- Miss Saigon
o A helicopter landed and took off
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- Special effects that’s closely associated with the image/branding/ the way the shows are
British invasion
- Mackintosh
- Andrew Lloyd Weber (Jesus Christ Superstar, Joseph and His Amazing Technicolour
Dreamcoat, Evita, Cats, Starlight Express, Phantom, Sunset Boulevard)
- Trevor Nunn (Cats, Les Miz, Sunset Boulevard)
- Usually British invasion talks about pop music with the Beatles
- This is a different kind, British collaborators entering NYC from west end
- These 3 men are all Brits, involved in big shoes
What is a megamusical?
- This term was coined in the 1980s when the New York Times used it to describe a kind
of Broadway show that rose to prominence that decade and remains the dominant force
of Broadway today
o Critics came up with term, not creators
o Like concept musical
o Creators don’t really like the terms, Sondheim doesn’t like the term concept
- Alternatives:
o “Spectacle show
o “Blockbuster show”
o “Disney musical”
o “Movical”
o “McMusical”
Characteristics of megamusicals
- Foreign roots
o A lot of creators come from England or France
o A lot of stories take place else where
o Phantom = 1800s in Paris
- Plots are large in scope
o Big themes that apply to multiple generations; whole family can see the show
and all get something out of it
o Love, war, social unrest, government gone wrong
- Little or no spoken dialogue (called “through-sung”)
- Impressive, complicated, expensive sets and staging
- Elaborate lighting designs and special effects
- The producer carries the most influence over the production
- Aggressive marketing campaigns
o People know about the shows before it comes out
- Longevity
o Need to last, stand the test of time (well into thousands of performances) to
recoup investment and make profit
o End goal isn’t usually just Broadway, usually national tours afterwards
- Universal/global appeal
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