History of Musical Theatre PPT

Musical Theatre
A Brief History – Part 1
Early Influences
Early Influences - English ballad opera
The Beggar’s Opera – 1728; Flora – 1735
 No historical scenery or costumes
 Spoken play with preexisting popular songs amid dialogue
Musical parody - Late 18th, early 19th century
 Satire of famous story or performer – burlesques
 Pantomime with songs and dances for entertainment and
 1828 – Hamlet
The Beggar’s Opera – 1728
by John Gay & John Christopher Pepusch
Music Clip "Fill Every Glass"
Early Influences - Minstrel Show
 First major contribution to theatre by blacks in America
 Product of black slave culture mingled with white colonial
 Dan Emmet, composer “Old Dan Tucker”, “Blue-Tail Fly”,1843,
brought Virginia Minstrels to NY – touring show
 Three part show performed in “blackface”
1- Fantasia - The Walkaround (Cakewalk) singing & dancing
2 - Olio – snappy banter, jokes, solo musical
(banjo, fiddle, tambourine, singing, bone castanets)
3 - Burlesque (parody) – one-act vignette; satire of plays or carefree
life on the plantation
Blackface performer
The Cakewalk
1929 audio recording that follows the classic format of a
minstrel show
“Camptown Races” by Stephen Foster - Al Jolson performing
Early Influences - Minstrel Show
 Ed Christy Minstrel Show – featured
Stephen Foster, composer “My Old
Kentucky Home” – touring show
 Olio grew into variety or vaudeville
 Fantasia became Broadway Revue
 Satire became used as themes for
later musicals
Christy Minstrels - 1847
Part 2 – The Olio
Early Influences – New York City
 Shift from rural to city life created a demand for permanent
theatres and pleasure gardens
 1866 – The Black Crook – used theatrical effect and sensual
pleasures to become a theatre extravaganza
 Showed producers and investors that frivolity could substitute
for dramatic and musical substance (as in European opera)
 1874 – Evangeline was first to use an original musical score –
first musical comedy
 1879 – The Brook used a common locale or event to interweave
stories (like a sitcom/serial) – first desire for meaningful story
 Mulligan Shows – 1880’s was a burlesque on the common
people of NY – tales of the ordinary became important
The Black Crook – 1866
First American Acting Troupe Using Women - 1893
Early Influences - Operetta
 1890’s – 1920, European
Operetta was an instant
success as it toured U.S.
 Gilbert & Sullivan’s satirical
operetta was especially
 Gave way to American
imitations (Sousa)
HMS Pinafore “Captain of
the Pinafore” 9:30
Musical Theatre
A Brief History – Part 2
American Influence
American Influences
– 1918-1929
 U.S. was the economic world leader
 U.S. was victorious after WWI
 Optimistic society – an American not European culture
was developing
 Development of American Writers and Performers
 Women and Black performers allowed onstage
 Revues/Follies were dominant form of entertainment
American Songwriters
 Wrote for major music publishing
houses in New York City (“Tin Pan
Alley”) – before the phonograph,
people used to purchase sheet
music to sing around the piano
 The rise of Tin Pan Alley—as music
and institution—depended on the
mass immigration of East
European Jews to New York
beginning in the early 1880s
Tin Pan Alley 1910
Birth of American
 Also the historical shift of America's
black population from South to North
where cultures interacted informally in
neighborhoods, music halls and
businesses created a new American
 Wrote swinging optimistic melodies –
“Take Me Out to the Ballgame”, “In the
Good Old Summertime”, “By the Light
of the Silvery Moon”
Songs of Tin Pan Alley
George M. Cohan
George Gershwin
1911 Irving Berlin
Early Composers
 Victor Herbert – Irish/German - continued American
Operetta style – Babes in Toyland 1903
 George M. Cohan – Little Johnny Jones 1904
 Irving Berlin – Russian/Jewish songwriter
 George Gershwin – American born songwriter
 Rudolf Friml – Austrian - brought European Opera
style – Rose-Marie 1924, The Vagabond King 1925
American Revues – the Follies
 Featured stars of the day and a chorus of beautiful
women in elaborate costumes and scenery such as
in the
(1907-1931) and George
White’s Scandals (1919-1939)
American Musical Comedy
 Showed a picture of contemporary America
 Had a shallow insubstantial look
 Had happy endings
 Music and plot were not integrated - Songs were
recycled and moved from one revue to another
 In 1924, ASCAP (co-founded by Herbert, Cohan,
Berlin, Kern and others) won a long battle to give
American composers creative control over their
stage scores.
Vincent Youmans
 Influenced by popular music; worked as a rehearsal
pianist for many songwriters
 Wrote the most produced musical in the 1920’s “Tea
for Two” and ” I Want to Be Happy” from:
Musical Theatre
A Brief History – Part 3
Age of Development
The Age of Development 19251945
 Factors that influenced the development of musical
theatre during this period were:
 Global economic crisis (depression)
 Global warfare (WWII)
 Since theatre often mirrors its environment,
operettas and large scale productions seemed out-of
 A new kind of musical was developed using great
literature as the story base
Jerome Kern - Showboat - 1927
 Music by Jerome Kern, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein
 Based on the novel by Edna Ferber was a social
documentary based on serious and profound themes;
“Can’t Help Lovin’Dat Man”
 Music was integrated with the libretto
 “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."
George Gershwin 18981937
 Influenced by jazz music
 Music was strongly syncopated, “swingy” using a
jazz offbeat (emphasis on the 2 and 4)
 1924 wrote “Rhapsody in Blue”
 1931 - Of Thee I Sing – serious satire on American
 1935 –
–wrote jazz opera that
examines racism in America ; “Summertime”
Cole Porter - 1927
 Cole Porter, composer,
introduced an era of social
grace and upper class charm
 1930
 Popular Songs: “Let’s Do It,”
“Love for Sale,” “Night and
Richard Rodgers 19021979
 Influenced by operetta tradition;
Worked with Lorenz Hart as his early
 Rodgers & Hart continued to use
meaningful literature as the basis of
the story such as: A Connecticut Yankee
in King Arthur’s Court 1927 based on
novel by Mark Twain;
based on The Comedy of
Errors by Shakespeare
Kurt Weill
 Refugee from fascist Europe
 His work reflected the awareness of
social and political issues
 Made serious avant-garde attempts
with setless, costumeless,
orchestraless, political satires
 Most famous was The ThreePenny
New Broadway
Version Three
Penny Opera
Opera made “Mack the Knife” a hit
Musical Theatre
A Brief History - Part 4
The Golden Age
Golden Age of Musicals
 Musicals lost their innocence by the end of
 Broadway activity was reduced to a trickle
 In 1943 Richard Rodgers and Oscar
Hammerstein formed a partnership to
produce a musical on the play Green Grow
the Lilacs
Reign of R & H
 Oklahoma! developed a new formula for a new
Era. (3:30 “Oh What a Beautiful Morning”)
 Song and dialogue were interspersed
 Used Agnes de Mille ballet as dance form
(1:30:30 “Dream Ballet”)
 Had a sympathetic villain
 Threw out much of the rules of the previous era
(unrelated song, music and dance, happy
endings, small scale)
R & H Domination
 R & H continued to dominate the American
musical for the next 20 years
 Musicals were based on great literature
 Had profound, universal, humanistic theme:
 Carousel (domestic violence), South Pacific (racial
bias), The King & I (role of women), The Sound of
Music (anti-Semitism)
 Characters were rarely trite; plots rarely
predictable; endings not always happy
Other Golden Age Composers
 In 1950’s music of Broadway was popular music of
western world
 1950 Frank Loesser – Guys & Dolls
 1956 Lerner & Lowe – My Fair Lady
 1957 Leonard Bernstein – West Side Story
 1957 Meredith Wilson – The Music Man
 1964 Sheldon Harnick - Fiddler on the Roof
Hair – the era of “rock”
James Rado and Jerome Ragni
 The musical broke new
ground in musicals by
creating the “rock musical”
 Racially integrated cast
 Invited audience onstage
 Much controversy due to
profanity, use of drugs’
irreverence for American
flag and onstage nudity

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