MUSICAL What I’m going to try and to do today is tell you a bit about Broadway musicals. I’d like to begin by giving you an overview of the musical’s history. After that I’ll move on to focus on some famous Broadway musicals and show you why they have become so popular. I’m interested in musicals, because it is a special and unusual theatrical genre, as it includes many other theatrical genres, such as opera, operetta, farce and more. Let’s start with a basic definition. Musical – a stage, television or film production utilizing popular-style songs. The best musicals have three essential qualities: Brains – intelligence and style Heart – genuine and believable emotion Courage – the guts to do something creative and exciting. Today I’d like to concentrate your attention on Broadway musicals. Why? You may ask. – Because Broadway is the heart of a musical, the place where musicals have lived since 19th century. But how long has the musical been going on? Musicals started both from the Greeks and the Romans. The main thing in the Greek performances was a story. The Romans copied and expanded the forms and traditions of Greek theater, but Roman Theater stressed spectacle and special effects. The Romans concentrated on shows. By the time of the Renaissance, musical theatre was rare. In the 1700s, there were 2 forms of musicals: ballad operas (popular songs with different lyrics) and comic operas (original music and romantic stories). They were common in Britain, France and Germany. At the end of the Civil War an actor named William Wheatley decided to keep this theatre open at the corner of Broadway and Prince Streets in New York City. He ran a melodrama play called “The Black Crook” to draw in crowds. The show lasted for five hours, but Wheatley’s audience loved every minute of the show. So in 1866, “The Black Crook” was the first staged Broadway musical. Broadway’s business peaked in the 1927-28 season. Many great musicals appeared in the 1940s particularly after Oklahoma (1943) redefined the genre. The 1990s saw the rise of big-name production corporations like Disney (Beauty and the Beast, Lion King). These hits brought theatergoers to Times Square, proving that the district had fresh commercial potential. Musicals like any other piece of art have their own award. I’m talking about the annual Tony Awards in theatrical arts. The Tony is Broadway's most prestigious award, even compared to the Academy Awards for Hollywood productions. There are the 94 longest running Broadway shows in history, which also makes them the most popular Broadway musicals ever. From standards like Chorus Line to newer hits like The Lion King, these longest running Broadway shows are classics that nobody can compete with. Some of the longest-running Broadway shows include “Cats”, “The Phantom of the Opera” and “The Fantasticks” with each having over 7,000 productions. I’d like to start with the musical “MY FAIR LADY” because it was a hit, an irresistible hit. My Fair Lady is a musical based on George Bernard Show's “Pygmalion”, created by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederic Loewe. The iconic film starring Audrey Hepburn is based on the musical. CATS is a musical composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber, based on Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot. The Broadway production ran for eighteen years. “Cats” is the second longest-running show in Broadway history. What is more, during the work on this musical Webber fell in love with Sarah Brightman, an English singer, famous for her classical soprano. She inspired him in the next work which became the legendary musical “The Phantom of the Opera”. The Phantom of the Opera is a British musical based on Gaston Leroux's famous novel; it has also a book and music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Four words sum up the unstoppable success of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s triumphant re-working of this melodrama: Stars, spectacle, score and story. Together they add up to that old magic ingredient. To give some ideas… It seems that Broadway musical theatre will always be popular. It has an ability to redefine itself and entertain anyone who comes to see a show. No matter how we treat the musical, it has become an essential part of western culture. Each year come new musicals, and there are no barriers for them. Although this kind of art is still young, a bright future has already been predicted, and in Russia today, you can see its rise. Some people think that seeing a musical means an escape from depression. Who knows, maybe when people immerse themselves in the bewitched world of theatre to the sounds of music and song, they forget their problems.
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