Chapter nine

The Musical Theatre
Music theatre is antirealistic & presentational
 All drama has always been partly musical
 Classic Greek drama was sung and danced
 Most renaissance performances were accompanied by songs
and instrumental music
 Shakespeare’s 38 plays contain singing...THE TEMPEST has
nine songs
 17th century comedies regularly ended with a dance
 Musical masques evolved over time into ballet and opera
 Asian forms of theatre involve singing, dancing and
instrumental music
 Still, musical theatre is widely regarded
as a genre into itself for the past 150 years
Broadway musicals dominate NY box offices and NYC
remains the international center of musical theatre
 Opened in 1960
 Ran for 42 years
 Closed in 2002
 17,162 performances
 Reopened in 2006
Pulitzer Prize Award-winners
 Of Thee I Sing, 1932
 South Pacific, 1950
 Fiorello!, 1960
 How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,
A Chorus Line, 1976
Sunday in the Park With George, 1985
Rent, 1996
Next to Normal, 2010
European influences of the musical include
Classical Greek Theatre
Greek Theatre’s were like modern sports stadiums
Greco-Roman Theatre
Shakespeare’s stage
Court of Louis XIV
Minuet at Court
Royal Ballet
Lully’s Ballet at French court
Commedia dell’ Arte – Italian renaissance
Size and spectacle in 18th Century Playhouse
19th Century German Opera House
Russian Ballet at turn of 20th century
Influences on the American musical
Niblo’s Garden, 1860
Niblo’s Garden produced “first” musical
The Extravagant Revue
Slayton Jubilee Singers
Christy’s Minstrels
Jazz Dance
Variety Acts
Comic Opera
Musical Comedy
Irving Berlin’s “The Cocoanuts”
No, No Nanette
Rodgers and Hart
Cole Porter
Show Boat (1927) by Jerome Kern
George and Ira Gershwin
Rodgers and Hammerstein with Irving Berlin
Broadway’s Golden Age
 Show Boat, 1927
 Of Thee I Sing, 1932
 Porgy and Bess, 1935
 Pal Joey, 1940
Oklahoma! - 1943
Agnes DeMille
Legacy of R&H
Memorable MUSICALS from the Golden Age
Irving Berlin’s ANNIE GET YOUR GUN (1946)
Cole Porter’s KISS ME KATE (1948)
Frank Loesser, GUYS AND DOLLS (1950)
Adler and Ross, DAMN YANKEES (1955)
Leonard Bernstein’s WEST SIDE STORY (1957)
Meredith Willson’s THE MUSIC MAN (1957)
Jule Styne’s GYPSY (1959)
Charles Strouse BYE, BYE BIRDIE (1960)
Lerner and Leowe, MY FAIR LADY (1964)
Bock and Harnick’s FIDDLER ON THE ROOF (1964)
Michael Bennett’s A CHORUS LINE (1974)
Stephen Schwartz
Butterflies Are Free
The Magic Show
The Baker’s Wife
Children of Eden
Pocahantas (film)
Hunchback of Notre Dame (film)
Prince of Egypt (film)
Enchanted (film)
Séance on a Wet Afternoon
Houdini (in process)
The Contemporary Musical
 In its heyday, the broadway musical was a star-maker:
 Jimmy Durante, Eddie Cantor, Mary Martin, Ethel Merman, Julie
Andrews, Carol Channing, Pearl Bailey, Bob Hope, John Raitt are
 As film and television became more popular, the golden age of
the musical came to an end.
 During the 70s and 80s, a new artist emerged...the
Jerome Robbins (1918-1998)
Gower Champion (1921-1980)
Bob Fosse (1927-1987)
Tommy Tune (born 1939)
Michael Bennett (1943-1987)
Susan Stroman
 Today’s pre-eminent Director-Choreographer
 Credits include
Crazy for You (1992)
 Show Boat (revival) 1995
 Big (1996)
 Steel Pier (1997)
 Oklahoma! (revival) 1999
 Contact (2000)
 The Music Man (revival) 2000
 The Producers (2001)
 Young Frankenstein (2007)
 The Scottsboro Boys (2010)
 Big Fish (2013)
Dress rehearsal – THE PRODUCERS
Production shot – THE PRODUCERS
Susan Stroman credits
The Producers
The Scottsboro Boys
Other Recent Credits
Stephen Sondheim (born 1930)
Company (1970)
The Rock Musical
The British Invasion
 Jesus Christ Superstar
 Cats
 Phantom of the Opera
 Les Misérables
 Miss Saigon
 Mamma Mia
Two men led the British Invasion
Andrew Lloyd Webber
Cameron Mackintosh
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Cult Musicals
Musicals of the 21st Century
Musicals – A “How to”
 Composer writes the music
 Arranger prepares for performance
 Music director prepares music for performance
 Lyricist writes the lyrics
 Stephen Sondheim writes both music and lyrics
 Cole Porter also wrote both music and lyrics
Musical Score
Pit Orchestra – THE PRODUCERS
The Lyrics of Stephen Sondheim
A Little Priest (from “Sweeney Todd”)
TODD: (spoken) These are desperate times,
Mrs. Lovett, and desperate measures are called for!
LOVETT: Here we are, now! Hot out of the oven!
TODD: What is that?
It's priest. Have a little priest.
Is it really good?
A Little Priest (continued)
Sir, it's too good, at least!
Then again, they don't commit sins of the flesh,
So it's pretty fresh.
Awful lot of fat.
Only where it sat.
Haven't you got poet, or something like that?
No, y'see, the trouble with poet is
'Ow do you know it's deceased?
Try the priest!
The Book of a Musical
 What is "The Book"?
The book – also called the libretto – is the least appreciated
and yet most dramatically important element of a musical. It
is the narrative structure that keeps the score from being
nothing more than a disjointed medley of songs.
 For many years, the main point of most shows was to
showcase a score and/or a major star. As a result, the books of
most Broadway musicals were a series of scenes, jokes and
sight gags designed to get from song to song. By the 1940s,
audiences were ready for something more, and shows like Pal
Joey and Oklahoma! made it imperative that the book and
score interweave to tell a cohesive story. This made for a
much more satisfying kind of theatrical entertainment.
 After all, the first job of every play or film – musical or not – is
to tell a good story.
Rehearsal studio
Albert Taylor Hall
ESU Theatre
October 16-19
Albert Taylor Hall

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