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Musical Theatre History Development of the Musical

Musical Theatre History

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Musical Theatre History. Development of the Musical. Primitive Man -Medieval Europe. Caveman - explained customs through music, song, dance, and acting 5th Century B.C. - sang (chanted) lines, chorus moved rhythmically to music - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Page 1: Musical Theatre History

Musical Theatre History

Development of the Musical

Page 2: Musical Theatre History

Primitive Man -Medieval Europe

Caveman - explained customs through music, song, dance, and acting

5th Century B.C. - sang (chanted) lines, chorus moved rhythmically to music

Rome - pantomimes used a dancer to relate story through movement as chorus sang narration

Medieval Europe - wandering performers provided entertainment for castles (nobles) and town festivals (everyone else)

Page 3: Musical Theatre History

Renaissance - 18th Century

Italian Commedia dell’arte used singing and dancing Intermezzo (between acts) used songs, dancers, music,

scenery, SFX 1st opera: Dafne 1597 (chanted lines to music)

English Used masques, intermezzos and background musicians for

entertainment as well as pantomime (the English version of commedia dell’arte)

Burlesques which featured scantily dressed women Ballad Operas which featured plots, dialogues songs with

new lyrics to old melodies (A Beggars Opera) Comic Opera which featured original music (Pirates of


Page 4: Musical Theatre History

19th Century - USA

Comic Operas and Pantomimes performed

Minstrel shows - played banjos, tambourines, “bones”, sang, danced, and made jokes

Music Halls and Vaudevilles - unrelated acts, magic, jugglers, acrobats, sketches, animals, singers, and dancers

Page 5: Musical Theatre History

1st Musical

The Black Crook - Sept 12, 1866 in New York Ran 474 performances 5 1/2 hours long Mixture of drama, spectacle, scenery,

transformations with ballet and scantily clad dancers

Lots of scenic special effects

Page 6: Musical Theatre History

Early 20th Century - USA

Ziegfield Follies (and other revues) were the main source of entertainment

Composers such as Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Jerome Kern, Victor Herbert, Richard Rodgers, and George Gershwin got their start in these venues

Foreshadowed our demands for glitz, glamour, and expense in entertainment

Preproduction expenses topped $250,000 with $123,000 going to costumes alone (the average American earned $19.20 per week in 1920)

Page 7: Musical Theatre History


By the time the “Roaring 20s” came around…

Melodramas took riseRealism and naturalism were introducesLots of pressure on technical theatre to

accommodate both styles of theatreIn reaction to these styles, anti-realistic and

anti-traditional modes of theatre began to arise

Page 8: Musical Theatre History

1920s (continued)

“New age of American Musical” Showboat in 1927 by Jerome Kern and

Oscar Hammerstein IIEvents span 40 yearsSerious theme with musical #s and plotRepresented the departure from standard

musicals by introducing new elements including spectacle, details,realism, in depth characters

Influenced by Opera, Blues, and current dances (Charleston)

Grossed $50,000/wk for 2+ year runRevived in 1966 where it grossed $100,000/wk

Page 9: Musical Theatre History


The public became more aware that quality theatre was more important than it being cheap, thoughtless entertainment.

By the time the Great Depression too hold of NY, theatre in general began to suffer. More than 1/3 of the 68 commercial theatres in the Broadway district closed by the end of the 30s. (the only other time in American history this many theatre companies closed at one time was right after 9/11)

Page 10: Musical Theatre History


Technically: Spectacle and razzle-dazzle OR Realistic details

1st Pulitzer Prize for Best Play of the Year Of Thee I Sing 1931 George and Ira Gershwin, Geory Kaufman and

Morrie Ryskind Raised the status of what musicals should be

Page 11: Musical Theatre History


1st Innovative Operatic Musical Porgy and Bess 1935 By Gershwins and Heyward

Other 30s Hits The Bandwagon 1931 Anything Goes 1934 Dead End 1935 The Boys from Syracuse 1938 DuBarry Was A Lady 1939

Page 12: Musical Theatre History


As the Depression ended, so did the falling economy.

WWII left an impression on Broadway - one of pride and nationalism

This was reflected in Theatre of this decade 1st Book Musical - Oklahoma! 1943 Rogers and

Hammerstein - 2 year runReflected foundations previously set by Show BoatNew Element - Opening NumberEmphasis on character and book rather than spectaclePlot progressed through songs closely integrated w/bookFull Orchestra, large cast of singers, dancers, and actors

Page 13: Musical Theatre History


Other 40 hits Carousel - 1945 Annie Get Your Gun - 1946 Kiss Me, Kate - 1948 South Pacific - 1949 Brigadoon - 1947 State Fair - 1945

Page 14: Musical Theatre History


War was over - economy healthy Average ticket price for a show - $6.00-$8.00 Musicals during this decade were a strong mix

of script and music Movie versions of live musicals start to happen Focus - less on spectacle and more on Dance

West Side Story - 1957Specific dancing as a means to advance the plot and

reveal characters (Jerome Robbins)Based on Romeo and Juliet

Page 15: Musical Theatre History


Other 50s Hits Guys and Dolls - 1950 (Best Director, Best

Musical, Best Producers) The King and I - 1951 My Fair Lady - 1956 Gypsy - 1959 The Sound of Music - 1959

Page 16: Musical Theatre History


Broadway money-making machine Went from Artistic to business-driven The Rock Musical is born

1st Rock Musical - Hair 1968Minimal plot - sharp political commentary (anti-

Vietnam war)Simple scenery and propsActors change costumes and roles in front of audienceInformal and spontaneousFull frontal nudity Amplified sound

Page 17: Musical Theatre History


Hits of the 60s Bye Bye Birdie - 1960 Camelot - 1960 How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying - Hello Dolly - 1964 Funny Girl - 1964 Fiddler on the Roof - 1964 Man of LaMancha - 1965 Mame - 1966

Page 18: Musical Theatre History

1970s Undertones of the 60s carried over to the 70s Pushing the limit technically Large-scale musicals and spectacle sets Emphasis on concept - idea or theme not “boy gets girl”

plots Not melodic/singable tunes Episodes = illustrate concept Songs reveal character’s feelings, comment on action

and are tailored for the situation Workshop method

Writers and Composers write with performers Potential backers go to the workshops

Page 19: Musical Theatre History


Cabaret - 1972 - Bob Fosse choreographer

Stephen Sondheim and Harold Prince take control Company - 1970 A Little Night Music - 1973 Sweeney Todd - 1979 Sunday in the Park With George - 1984 Into the Woods - 1987

Page 20: Musical Theatre History


Other 70 Hits Jesus Christ Super Star - 1971 Godspell - 1971 Grease - 1972 Pippin - 1972 The Rocky Horror Show - 1974 A Chorus Line - 1975 Chicago - 1975 Annie - 1977 Evita - 1978

Page 21: Musical Theatre History


Lots of musicals being imported from England Costs continue to rise, making it more difficult

to recover investments. Decline was so sharp in 1987-88 only 31 new

productions were mounted (compare to the 34 new musicals and 57 plays that opened in 2009)

Page 22: Musical Theatre History


80s Hits Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor

Dreamcoat - 1982 Cats - 1982 (grossed over $915 million by

April 1991) Phantom of the Opera 1988 ($8 million

initial investment - grossed $413 million by 1991)

Page 23: Musical Theatre History


Other 80 Hits Les Miserables - 1980 Little Shop of Horrors - 1982 Sunday in the Park - 1984 Big River - 1985 Into the Woods - 1987 Fame - 1988 Miss Saigon - 1989

Page 24: Musical Theatre History


Lots of Technical Overkill The Corporate Musical is created Hits of the 90s

City of Angles - 1990 Jekyll & Hyde - 1990 Kiss of the Spider Woman - 1993 The Lion King - 1994 Rent - 1996 Titantic - 1997 Ragtime - 1998

Page 25: Musical Theatre History

2000sMusicals run the gamete between

technical overkill and very simple. Movies are becoming sources“Jukebox” Musicals also becoming

popular“Disneyfication of Broadway”

Page 26: Musical Theatre History

2000s Hits from this era include:

Aida - 2000 The Full Monty - 2000 The Producers - 2001 Urinetown - 2001 Mama Mia - 2001 Hairspray - 2002 Thoroughly Modern Millie - 2002 Wicked - 2003 Avenue Q - 2003 25th Annual Putman County Spelling Bee -

2004 Mary Poppins - 2004

Page 27: Musical Theatre History

2000s Continued

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels - 2004 Billy Elliot - 2005 Spamalot - 2005 Jersey Boys - 2005 The Drowsy Chaperone -2006 Spring Awakening - 2006 The Wedding Singer - 2006 Legally Blonde - 2007 Next to Normal - 2008

Page 28: Musical Theatre History

The Future of Musicals

“Musicals flourished into the early 60s, but there were few new playwrights and there seemed room for only one new writer of musicals, Stephen Sondheim. By the early 80s Broadway became a tourist attraction mounting fewer shows each year, some years not even 10, and these 10 were often star vehicles or extravaganzas that depended on sensational stage effects…It is difficult to imagine when Broadway will again play a significant role in NY’s literary life”

Page 29: Musical Theatre History


“You have 2 kinds of shows on Broadway - revivals and the same kind of musicals over and over again, all spectacles. You get your tickets for The Lion Kin a year in advance, and essentially a family comes as if to a picnic, and they pass on to their children the idea that that’s what the theatre is - a spectacular musical you see once a year, a stage version of a movie. It has nothing to do with theatre at all. It has to do with seeing what is familiar. We live in a recycled culture…. I don’t think the theatre will die per se, but it’s never going to be what it was. You can’t bring it back. It’s gone. It’s a tourist attraction.” Stephen Sondheim