THE-2000 Lecture 10: Musicals & Broadway Today

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17 Sep 2018
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Musicals & Broadway Today
The Musical is Americas biggest and most unique (and only) contribution to world theatre
Background
Minstrel Shows radically racist, commentary on American culture, consisted of a lot of skits,
musical numbers, and dancing all put together
o Crucial part of what created the musical
o No plot though
The Black Crook (1866)
Niblo’s Garden Theatre
o Owner of theatre had a bad melodrama on hand, added a lot of spectacle and songs
from bad composers and see what happens
The first “Musical
o Series of happy events
Parisian Ballet dancers + Faust + lavish spectacle = new form
o Faust = selling soul to the devil
o Ballet dancers stuck in New York after dance academy burned down, they got added
into show
o Playwright was offended, but he was paid off so fuck him
o 25,000 dollars on show, show didn’t make much sense, but people loved it
o 5 and a half hours on opening night
Burlesque and the leg show
1869-1930s
Lydia Thompson & British Blondes
Florenz Ziegland
o Ziegland’s Follies series of elaborate productions on broadway, focus on glorifying
female form, pretty girls, expensive productions
The Many Shapes and Sizes of Musicals
Operas, Operettas, and Musicals, difference
Operas= Entirely sung through, no dialogue
o Examples = Mozart’s Cosi fan Tutte, Marriage of Figaro
Wagner
Sweeney Todd is technically an opera, since it is entirely sung through
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Operettas and Musicals contain some spoken dialogue
Operettas = performed by singers who act
o Gilbert and Sullivan The Mikado, HMS Pinafore
o Tend to be done by music companies
Musicals = performed by actors who sing
o Rodgers and Hammerstein The King and I, The Sound of Music
A couple of Major Musical Forms
Integrated or Book Musical
Concept or fragmented Musical
More, especially recently
Not Opposites
Book or integrated Musicals & The Golden Age of the American Musical (1943 late 1960s)
Characteristics
o Emphasis on plot and character
o Songs all enhance plot or character development
o Often end happily (optimistic) though not necessarily entirely clean
o Often a love story, return to harmony
o Not necessarily a book first, “book” means a focus on the story or plot
Examples
o Oklahoma! (1943)
Rodgers and Hammerstein Golden team
Pioneered idea of Book Musical
o West Side Story (1957)
Bernstein and Sondheim
Concept or fragmented Musicals
Characteristics
o Themes and ideas are primary
o Characters and plot are developed as needed
o Idea behind story and characters takes precedence
o Usually dark musicals, dark endings
o Happy theme seen as a sell out
Examples
o Hair (1968)
Ragni, Rado & Macdermot
o Assassins (1990)
Weidman and Sondheim
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