The History of Musicals • a stage, television or film production that uses popular-style songs and dialogue to tell a story. What Came First? • The ancient Greeks had plays with songs, and Roman comedies included song and dance routines. And, the Middle Ages had musical “morality” plays. But we don’t know much about these. • SOOOOOO?????????? ?????? Comic Opera • By the 1700’s, comic opera was very popular in Great Britain, France, and Germany. The musical as we know it has its roots in the French and Viennese Operettas of the 1800's. • This led the way to: BRITISH MUSIC HALLS Weston’s Music Hall: One of the earliest in Britain These music halls were very popular with the workers that came out during the Industrial Revolution. It was a great place for inexpensive entertainment Marie Lloyd, one of the most popular music hall stars • Music hall performers found their comedy in the kind of characters and situations that audiences encountered as part of their everyday lives. • Stage stars Vesta Tilley, Lupino Lane and Gracie Fields as well as film legends Stan Laurel and Charlie Chaplin got their Charlie Chaplin start in the music halls. • BUT WHAT ABOUT THE U.S.????? AMERICAN VARIETY SHOWS • Variety was a popular form of American stage entertainment in the mid-1800s. These shows included circus acts, singers, dancers, chorus girls and comics. VAUDEVILLE • Vaudeville was a type of variety show that was geared more towards families. The program cover for Keith's Palace Theater in New York City, the most desired booking in all vaudeville. Vaudeville Acts Vaudeville acts could be pretty bizarre. They included: • mind readers • instrumentalists • escape artists • flash acts - any "showy" act boasting its own lavish set, a large chorus, special effects, etc. • high divers • quick-change artists • strong men • living statuary • contortionists • balancing acts • freak acts - anyone acting crazy or silly - eccentric dancers, etc. • regurgitators - these individuals drank liquids and regurgitated to put out fires, fill fish tanks, etc. – or spew gasoline onto open flames! Not pretty, but audiences were fascinated. An autographed photo of vaudeville legend Sophie Tucker MINSTREL SHOWS • The American musical has one shameful chapter in its history – minstrel shows. The most popular musical stage shows of the early and mid 19th Century, minstrels was really racially based and unfair. Both white and black performers donned blackface, and audiences of all colors loved it. 1796-1866: Broadway Pioneers The first musicals performed in America were British ballad operas – comic plays with a little “teasing” of ballads. bona fide musical blockbuster. The Black Crook In 1866, William Wheatley was manager of Niblo’s Garden, With the fall season set to start, Wheatley held the rights to a dull melodrama that he wanted to add music and great sets to. Wheatley's salvation came in the unexpected form of a fire that destroyed New York's elegant Academy of Music, leaving promoters Henry C. Jarrett and Harry Palmer with a stranded Parisian ballet troupe and some handsome stage sets. They made a deal, and Wheatley spent the then-unheard of sum of $25,000 to produce The Black Crook (1866 - 474) The show was a hit! American Musical Theater: A Sum- Up • During the early 1900's, American composers George M. Cohan and Victor Herbert gave the American musical comedy a distinctive sound and style. • In the 1920's, the American musical comedy gained worldwide influence. Broadway saw the composing debuts of Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hart, the Gershwins and many others. Kern and Oscar George M. Cohan Hammerstein II wrote Showboat (1927) the most lasting hit of the 1920’s. • (The song you hear is “Make Believe” from Showboat) • The Great Depression did not stop Broadway – in fact, the 1930’s saw the lighthearted musical comedy reach a great high. Cole Porter (Anything Goes – 1934) contributed his share of lasting hit shows and songs. • The 1940’s started out with business-as-usual musical comedy, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma (1943) was the first fully integrated musical play, using every song and dance to develop the characters or the plot. • (That song is “Oh,What a Beautiful Mornin’” from Oklahoma!) • During the 1950’s, the music of Broadway was the popular music of the western world. Great stories, told with memorable songs and dances were the order of the day, resulting in such unforgettable hits as The King and I, My Fair Lady, Gypsy and dozens more. • At first, the 1960’s were more of the same, with Broadway turning out record setting hits (Hello, Dolly!, Fiddler on the Roof). But as popular musical tastes shifted, the musical was left behind. The rock musical "happening" Hair (1968) was hailed as a landmark, but it ushered in a period of confusion in the musical theatre. • (You’re listening to “If I Were a Rich Man” from Fiddler on the Roof”) • In the 1970’s ,composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim and director Hal Prince introduced concept musicals – like A Chorus Line (1974. • The public ruled heavily in favor of the mega- musicals, so the 1980’s brought a succession of long-running "Brit hits" to Broadway – Cats, Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera and Miss Saigon were light on intellectual content and heavy on special effects and marketing. These were all composed by the famous musical creator Andrew Lloyd Weber. WHAT NOW? • Tomorrow, we’ll learn a little bit about the musical you will be watching in class, its story background, and something about its writer. • Have a great day!