The History of Musicals

Document Sample
The History of Musicals Powered By Docstoc
					The History of
• 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
• 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:
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

    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.
• Variety was a popular
  form of American
  stage entertainment
  in the mid-1800s.
  These shows
  included circus acts,
  singers, dancers,
  chorus girls and
• 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
•  mind readers
•  instrumentalists
•  escape artists
•  flash acts - any "showy" act boasting its own
   lavish set, a large chorus, special effects,
•  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
                                                     An autographed photo of vaudeville legend
                                                     Sophie Tucker
• 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-
• 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
• 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
• 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

          • Have a great day!