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Music 2701A/B Lecture

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Western University
Music 2701A/B

Music Theatre 2701: Lecture 6: The 1920s and 1930s (SHOW BOAT, ANYTHING GOES, PAL JOEY) The Meeting of three Elements: 1) The newly-Americanized European operetta and English comic opera a. Victor Herbert b. Gilbert & Sullivan popular in New York – pirate companies 2) Vaudeville, variety show, musical comedy a. Really popular in the states b. Started with no linking elementsseries of acts i. Little more popular and a little more polished c. Musical numbers, dances, animal acts, magic tricks, comedy skits 3) African-American musical styles a. Ragtime, jazz, early blues b. White folks love music and incorporate it into an upper crust New York white persons entertainment Show #1: Show Boat  Opened in the 1927-28 season  Music by Jerome Kern o Good living as a “song plugger”  Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II o Fluffy style  Based on a novel by Edna Ferber o Ferber travelled with a show boat to research her story o Ferbert researched period-specific vernacular and wrote in dialect to depict sound of language  First produced by Florenz Ziegfeld o Heard script and was eager for this to be his first musical o Built a new theatre for it so the show could have a boat o Allowed black and white people to perform together  Tin Pan Alley – musical theatre song pluggers would go there o A lot of song writers got there future here  Tells of the theatrical troupes that travelled on boats on the Mississippi. o Stage in the middle of the boat o Rich people get star power and best cabins to sleep in  Book (and show) take realistic look at class and race divisions in nineteenth century South  Black performers on the Show Boat w/ white people o Post abolition (weren’t paid wages, not slave labor but living conditions and wages bad)  OPENING: Black dock workers setting up for the day singing about hardness of life and how they had to serve white people and it ends unhappily o Different opening – usually line of chorus girls, this show is serious  Merges all 3 elements What Musical Theatre Scholars Say About Show Boat:  First successful “musical play” – the fist outstanding precursor to Oklahoma  Importance placed on a superior libretto, based on a literary source, serious topic, complex plot  Integration of popular music styles o Jazz and other African-American musical idioms  Lyrics and dialogue in colloquial language  Brings up racism o Comments, which make it a successful musical play  Philosophy and disparaged fundamentally European race and caste sensibilities  These songs are specifically written for this show and they can stand on their own and are strongly linked to the narrative  Mark Lubbock, American Musical Theatre: An Introduction o “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.” What Operetta Scholars Say About Show Boat:  Argue that distinction of “musical play” was developed well after Show Boat’s composition, and is therefore meaningless o Operetta scholars: musical play didn’t exist so writers did not write a musical play because they had an operetta in mind. But when something new happens, it is usually scholars who say so.  Most voices needed for the show are legit (i.e. classically-trained), which is why so many opera companies choose to produce it now.  Rather than musical theatre, Show Boat is the first real All-American operetta. o American – musically based on American songs and speech but based on melodies and romantic story  Racial o Characters of different race do not interact – segregation on stage o Gerald Boardman, American Operetta  “It was totally American not merely because all its authors were native, or because its setting was American, but because its music leaned heavily on native patterns, its lyrics and dialogue were totally colloquial…Show Boat was operetta by virtue of its expansive musical lines and its gorgeously lyrical melodies as well as its highly romantic, sentimental story. That this story moved back in time and into worlds its audiences could view as mildly exotic further linked it with previous decades of comic opera and operetta.” o Article; Is it racist by depicting this on stage through historical context? Are you doing something positive by making the white person the villain? Is that wrong? SONG: COTTON BLOSSOM (CAP’N ANDY’S BALLYHOO):  Sung by Full Chorus and Cap’n Andy o As the show boat pulls into the first town we hear sounds of people waking up and see people get ready for the day o Cap’n Andy calling crowds to see his show  Gives a description of show you’re going to see  Name of the boat (Cotton Blossom) and the captain is Andy Ballyhoo  This showboat travels Mississippi and docks to perform shows.  1860’s shows people on the boat working and Captain Andy is telling people about the show.  Thinking in terms of narrative in this song, not just an excuse for a musical number. SONG: CAN’T HELP LOVIN’ DAT MAN  Sung by Julie La Verne and Queenie, Ol’ Joe, Chorus  Magnolia is daughter of Cap’n Andy but can’t perform  Julie and Queenie showing Magnolia that her song is really their song.  She’s mixed race – an 8 black. Black blood people not allowed to marry white people, but her lover Steve is and she did anyway. Another guy loves Julie so he goes to the sheriff and rats them out. Steve cuts Julies hand to suck the blood. He therefore now has a drop of Black blood.  Julie is talking about her crazy husband and Queenie is a black maid talking about her husband Joe.  “Can’t live with them. Can’t live without them.”  Julie has a different voice from an operetta o Very smokey and jazzy quality to her voice o Relates to her character – later on in the show when they find out about her marriage, and she’s forced to quit the show boat and her and husband split up. Julie ends up a broken women (star on show boat).  Queenie has a legit trained voice.  Solo sings adlibbing with tempo  Chorus = Tempo becomes strict. o Different styles SONG: MAKE BELIEVE  Sung by Gaylord Ravenal and Magnolia Hawks  Magnolia is daughter of Cat and Andy (Boat leaders), Gaylord, gambler on boat when they first meet. When conflicts go down between Julie and Stevie, they want to leave the South because it’s wicked, and Magnolia ends up being the new leading lady on boat.  When Gaylord first sees Magno
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