Art of Theatre Week 8 Musical Theatre
Art of Theatre Week 8 Musical Theatre THEA 11000
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This 6 page Class Notes was uploaded by Janell Notetaker on Tuesday October 18, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to THEA 11000 at Kent State University taught by James A. Weaver in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 4 views. For similar materials see THE ART OF THE THEATRE in Theatre and Dance at Kent State University.
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Date Created: 10/18/16
MUSICICAL THEATRE WEEK 8 The Modern American Musical’s Antecedents The modern American musical had a number of antecedents in the theatre of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries including: Operetta Vaudeville Burlesque Operetta Operetta consists of music and spoken lines Compared with Opera, the subject matter is generally lighter, comedic and purely entertaining You may know operettas from The Gilbert and Sullivan works like The Mikado and The Pirates of Penzance Vaudeville Vaudeville was a series of variety acts music, sketches, juggling, animal acts, which made up an evening’s entertainment it was a fusion of centuriesold cultural traditions, including the English Music Hall, minstrel shows, and Yiddish theater. Burlesque Burlesque featured dramatic sketches and songs that satirized or made fun of other theatrical forms In the United States, burlesque became popular when Lydia Thompson and her British blondes arrived in 1868 with their English “burlesques,” attracting a number of people who went to watch Thompson’s “girls” cavort and catch a dirty innuendo 19001920 Many of the musicals created between 19001920 heavily depended on European scripts One exception was George M. Cohan, who wrote books, music, and lyrics for shows He also starred in his own musicals George M. Cohan The beginning of the book musical Cohan made his dialogue more realistic and downtoearth than the musicals of the time, and he moved his shows more toward the book musical, the term referring to a show that has a story, or book Cohan’s Little Johnny Jones Cohan’s books ere as American as Stars and Stripes For example, his little Johnny Jones (1904) portrays an American jockey who is vindicated after being accused of throwing an English race, and the hero of George Washington Jr. MUSICICAL THEATRE WEEK 8 (1906) changes his name of that of the first president of his country in protest against his own father’s loyalty to the English The 1920’s: Showboat Music and stories become extremely important to musicals in the 1920s and 1930s Some musicals even depicted serious stories and issues One example was Oscar Hammerstein II and Jerome Kern’s Show Boat Show Boat Produced in 1927, this musical portrays a series of romances among the members of the show boat, “Cotton Blossoms,” which has just arrived in Natchez, Mississippi A controversial subject of this musical was a romance of an interracial couple A white husband and a “half black” wife, who eventually left the company because it is against the law in Mississippi for black and white performers to appear on the same stage In order for the audience to follow and appreciate the story, songs were integrated into the plot and a chorus line, a group of dancers who together perform synchronized routines, was eliminated The 1930’s one of the most prominent composers in the 1920s and 1930s was George Gershwin unlike other composers, he could not be content writing successful scores for frivolous shows his endeavor to create musicals “with serious stories and themes” was most evident in, Of Thee I Sing and Porgy & Bess, the musicals he created in the 1930’s Of Thee I Sing (1931) Of Thee I Sing (1931) satirizes presidential politics by inventing a candidate who campaigns on a platform of “love” and vows to take as his First Lady the winner of a national beauty contest Porgy and Bess (1935) Porgy and Bess (1935) is centered upon a love triangle in “Catfish Row” in Charleston, South Carolina. Porgy falls in love with Bess, who is “owned” by the town’s brutal figure, Crown. Eventually porgy kills Crown in selfdefense The musical mesmerized the audience with its “ingredients for passionate tragedy in the grand opera tradition The 1940’s The golden era of the American book musicals arrived in the 1940’s Oklahoma! the first collaboration by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, was praised for its skillful integration of the songs into the story MUSICICAL THEATRE WEEK 8 The Choreography of Oklahoma! It was also known for its inclusion of ballet as a crucial element throughout the piece Agnes de Mille, a choreographer with classical ballet training, created several dances that actually carried the story forward 1940s Musicals Other representative musicals in the 1940’s include: The Rodgers & Hammerstein musical, Carousel (1945), Annie Get Your Gun (1946), a musical version of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew South Pacific (1949), another Rodgers/ Hammerstein musical set on a South Pacific island during WWII The Emergence of New Composers in the 1950s In the 1950’s a number of new composers, lyricists, and writers appeared on the American musical scene Frank Loesser wrote words and music for Guys and Dolls (1950) Frederic Loewe and Alan Jay Lerner created My Fair Lady (1956), a musical version of George Bernard Shaw’s Pigmalion, and the composer Leonard Bernstein and the lyricist Stephen Sondheim created West Side Story (1957) West Side Story West Side Story was a groundbreaking work, not only for its edgy themes, but also for Jerome Robbin’s extensive, athletic choreography Bye Bye Birdie (1960) The 1960s was the decade of new styles in every aspect Bye Bye Birdie (1960), a musical inspired by the famous rock & roll star Elvis Presley and his draft notice into the army in the 1958, is known for its catchy tunes and director Gower Champion’s legendary staging of the scene “The Telephone Hour” seen here Fiddler on the Roof (1964) one of the most famous American musicals was Fiddler on the Roof (1964), tells story of a Jewish family in a small village in Russia in the nineteenth century the father tries to uphold the traditions of the past while his daughters try to find new ways to establish their lives directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins, this musical proved that “art, universality, and popularity could all come of a musical produced on the commercial stage.” This musical is believed by many to mark the end of the golden era of book musicals The Choreographers Agnes de Mille was known for her classical style Jerome Robbins was famous for his athletic, energetic, and wellcalculated steps MUSICICAL THEATRE WEEK 8 Hair (1967) One of the noticeable changes found the 1960s was the emergence of concept musicals which are musicals driven by an idea or theme and not by a book or story One era example is the musical Hair which celebrated the informal, antiestablishment lifestyle of the young people in the 1960s Hair, written by Galt MacDermot and Gerome Ragni, did not have a real story line, marking a radical departure from the book musicals that had dominated the scene for the past 25 years Musicals in the 1970s As had been the case in the 1960s, the 1970s witnessed several new composers who introduced new styles and forms to American musical One who changed the direction of the musical theatre was the British composer, Andrew Lloyd Weber Jesus Christ Superstar One of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s early works was Jesus Christ Superstar, a so called, “rock opera” which he created with Tim Rice. It enjoyed enormous success in both New York and London Evita In the end of the decade, Weber created another smash hit, Evita, a musical that portrays the life of Argentine dictator Peron’s second wife, Eva. The Concept Musical A Concept musical is a musical in which the plot is not important and the emphasis is on the “ramifications of the central idea” Some other examples of concept musicals in the 1970’s include Stephen Sondheim’s Company (1970) and Follies (1971); and Bob Fosse’s Chicago (1975) and Dancin (1978) A Chorus Line (1975) A Chorus Line was another example of an early concept musical Produced in 1975 it portrayed a group of aspiring dancers auditioning for a Broadway show A Chorus Line, which was directed by Michael Bennet, ran until 1990 It was successfully revived on Broadway on 2006. Musicals in the 1980’s The 1980’s was the decade of “mega musicals” known for their breathtaking spectacles Musicals’ Highlights Although there are profound elements in those spectaclemusicals, like T.S. Eliot’s poem in Cats and the serious subject matterthe Vietnam War in Miss MUSICICAL THEATRE WEEK 8 Saigon, these musicals’ highlights are elaborate, acrobatic dance scenes and breathtaking scenery Musicals from 1990 to the Present So what happened to American theatre since the 1990’s? According to several theatre historians, there are four trends in the current American musicals Trend 1 Revivals of past musical successes The first is a number of major revivals of past musical successes, including Annie Get Your Gun, Chicago, Wonderful Town, Carousel, Oklahoma! Kiss Me Kate, Fiddler on the Roof, La Cage aux Folles, Sweet Charity, Porgy and Bess, and many more Oklahoma! Which revolutionized the American Musical in 1943 was reconceived by director Trevor Nunn and choreographer Susan Stroman for England’s National Theatre. The production arrived on Broadway in 2003 Trend 2 Appearance of Fresh Offbeat Musicals A second trend is the periodic appearance of fresh, offbeat musicals, indicating that the genre remains full of vitality Examples: Rent (1996) Urinetown Avenue Q Grey Gardens In the Heights The 25 Annual Putnam Country Spelling Bee Spring Awakening Trend 3 Musical Adaption of a Film A third trend is the musical adaption of a film This list would include: The producers Monty python’s spamalot Hairspray Legally blonde Young Frankenstein And musicals presented by the Disney corporation such as The Lion King Beauty and the Beast Mary Poppins The 2005 campymedieval pastiche, Monty Python Spamalot, adapted from the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail MUSICICAL THEATRE WEEK 8 Based on the 1966 John Waters film, the musical Hairspray opened in 2002 and received raving reviews Trend 4 Productions that feature popular songs and rock groups The fourth trend is the creation of productions that feature popular songs and rock groups of the past Examples include Mama Mia! Which used the music of ABBA, Moving Out which used the music of Billy Joel, Jersey Boys the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, and The Times They Are AChangin,” that presented the music of Bob Dylan. Four Current Trends (REVIEW) Revivals Quirky, offbeat New York’s Musical Adaptions of films Pop/rock tribute musicals