Broadway Musicals What is a musical and how is one created, produced and performed?
What is a Musical? • Musical (noun):a stage, television or film production utilizing popular-style songs - dialogue optional - to either tell a story (book musicals) or showcase the talents of the writers and/or performers (revues).
The American Stage Musical • The first musical production in the Colonies was Flora, a performance that took place in a court room in Charleston, South Carolina, on February 8, 1735. • The English ballad opera remained popular in the Colonies for several decades. After the Colonies had become a nation, a new kind of stage production began to attract interest: the burlesque. (any broadly comic or satirical imitation, as of a writing, play, etc…)
The American Stage Musical • At that time, burlesque consisted of travesties(a crude, distorted, or ridiculous representation) on or parodies(literary or musical composition imitating the characteristic style of some other work; treating a serious subject in a nonsensical manner, as a ridicule) of famous plays, performers or dancers--in song, dance, pantomime(action or gestures without words as a means of expression)and dialogue.
Show Boat • The greatest revolution in the American musical theatre up to that time came in 1927 with Show Boat, by Oscar Hammerstein II and Jerome Kern. Here we come to a completely new genre--the musical play as distinguished from musical comedy. • Now, at long last, the play was the thing, and everything else was subservient to that play. • Now, at last, came complete integration of song, humor and production numbers into a single and inextricable artistic entity. Here, finally, was a musical with a consistent and credible story line, authentic atmosphere and three-dimensional characters.
Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein II • The first of the Rodgers and Hammerstein masterworks, Oklahoma!, with which the musical play finally became a significant American art form. • After Oklahoma!, Rodgers and Hammerstein were the most important contributors to the musical-play form--with such masterworks as Carousel, The King and I and South Pacific. The examples they set in creating vital plays, often rich with social thought, provided the necessary encouragement for other gifted writers to create musical plays of their own, men like Lerner and Loewe, Frank Loesser and Leonard Bernstein among others.
Vocabulary • Producer:The person who puts up the money to get a show started. Every show needs financial backing before rehearsals can begin. Producers can be as involved or discreet as they want to be. • Director:This is the person who makes all the decisions regarding the way actors deliver their lines and where they are positioned on stage. The director is responsible for all aspects of the show and works closely with the choreographer, composer, music director and stage manager. • Choreographer:This person creates all the dances and teaches them to the cast. It is the choreographer’s job to make sure the dances reflect the action and mood of a particular scene.
Vocabulary cont. • Music Director:Once a show has started, the music director is in charge of the pace of the show. He conducts the orchestra and gives the actors/singers on stage their cues for entrances and cut-offs. • Stage Manager:The person is responsible for making sure everyone involved in the show knows the rehearsal and performance schedule. She also serves as the main resource person during rehearsals and the run of the show, and to make sure everyone connected with the production gets along and behaves professionally. • House Manager:This person is responsible for everything that happens on the audience side of the curtain (or the “house”). The house manager is in charge of the ushers, ticket takers, box office workers, and even the theatre custodians.
Last of Vocabulary • Book (or libretto):This is the story, or script, of the show. All the dialog and stage directions are part of the book. • Critic (or reviewer):A critic is a person from a newspaper or television show that attends a Broadway show on opening night and then offers her opinion on the strengths and weaknesses of the show.
The Shows 1927-present
Show Boat • Description: A musical in two acts; It is a musical treasure that beautifully paints a portrait of the ugliness of racism, marital discord and abandonment. And it is a story of love proclaimed in songs that have become standards in American musical literature SHOW BOAT covers one of the most dramatic eras in American history and spans four decades to tell its panoramic, romantic story of the Cotton Blossom floating theater, the Hawks family and their show boat troupe of actors. • Setting: Natchez, on the Mississippi River, on the Cotton Blossom, and Chicago. 1887-1927. • Book & Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II; • Music by Jerome Kern. • Original Production: Dec. 27, 1927-May 4, 1929 • Show has had 6 revivals: 1932, 1946-47, 1948, 1954, 1983, 1994-97.
Oklahoma! • Setting: Indian territory (now Oklahoma) just after the turn of the century, tells of fun, love and romance in the lives of the families living in the Oklahoma territory at the turn of the century. • Book & Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II; • Music by Richard Rodgers. • Based on: Green Grow the Lilacs. • Original Production: May 31, 1943 – May 28, 1948 • Show has had 4 revivals: 1951, 1953, 1979 – 80, 2002 - 03
Carousel • Setting: New England. 1873 - 1888. Billy Bigelow, a smooth-talking carny barker falls in love with a millworker, Julie Jordan. Right before the birth of his daughter, Billy is killed while committing a robbery. Now in heaven, years later, he returns to earth for one day to attend his daughter’s graduation and teach her one very important lesson. • Book & Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II; • Music by Richard Rodgers. • Based on: Liliom. • Original Production: Apr 19, 1945 - May 24, 1947 • Show has had 4 revivals: 1949, 1954, 1957, 1994 - 95
South Pacific • Setting: Set in an island paradise during World War II, two parallel love stories are threatened by the dangers of prejudice and war. Nellie, a spunky nurse from Arkansas, falls in love with a mature French planter, Emile. Nellie learns that the mother of his children was an island native and, unable to turn her back on the prejudices with which she was raised, refuses Emile's proposal of marriage. Meanwhile, the strapping Lt. Joe Cable denies himself the fulfillment of a future with an innocent Tonkinese girl with whom he's fallen in love out of the same fears that haunt Nellie. When Emile is recruited to accompany Joe on a dangerous mission that claims Joe's life, Nellie realizes that life is too short not to seize her own chance for happiness, thus confronting and conquering her prejudices. • Book by Joshua Logan, Oscar Hammerstein II; • Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II; • Music by Richard Rodgers. • Original Production: Apr 7, 1949 - Jan 16, 1954 • Show has had two revivals: 1955, 2008-2010
The Sound of Music • Setting: Austria. Early in 1938. When a postulant proves too high-spirited for the religious life, she is dispatched to serve as governess for the seven children of a widowed naval captain. Her growing rapport with the youngsters, coupled with her generosity of spirit, gradually captures the heart of the stern captain, and they marry. Upon returning from their honeymoon they discover that Austria has been invaded by the Nazis, who demand the captain's immediate service in the German navy. The family makes a narrow escape over the mountains to Switzerland on the eve of World War II. • Book by Howard Lindsay, Russel Crouse; • Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II; • Music by Richard Rodgers. • Original Production: Nov 16, 1959 - Jun 15, 1963 • Show has had one revival: Mar 12, 1998 - Jun 20, 1999
West Side Story • Setting: The West Side of New York City during the last days of Summer. 1957. West Side Story transposes Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet to the gang-ridden streets of Manhattan in the 1950s. Instead of the Capulets and Montagues, we have the Puerto Rican Sharks versus the Anglo Jets. In place of Romeo and Juliet are Tony and Maria, two teens torn between ethnic loyalty and their intense, abrupt love for one another. • Book by Arthur Laurents; • Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim; • Music by Leonard Bernstein. • Based on: Romeo and Juliet. • Original Production: Sep 26, 1957 - Jun 27, 1959 • Show has had four revivals: 1960, 1964, 1980, 2009 - present
Fiddler on the Roof • Setting: The eve of the Russian Revolution. Fiddler on the Roof is set in the small Jewish village of Anatevka, Russia, in 1905 and is concerned primarily with the efforts of Tevye, a dairyman, his wife, Golde, and their five daughters to keep to Jewish traditions and cope with their harsh existence under Tsarist rule. • Book by Joseph Stein; • Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick; • Music by Jerry Bock. • Original Production: Sep 22, 1964 - Jul 2, 1972 • Show has had four revivals: 1976 - 77, 1981, 1990 - 91, 2004 – 06.
Chicago • Setting: Chicago, Illinois. The late 1920s. What becomes a legend most? For a couple of Jazz Age entertainers, it's all about fame, fortune - and murder. • Book by Bob Fosse, Fred Ebb; • Lyrics by Fred Ebb; • Music by John Kander. • Based on: Chicago. • Original production: Jun 3, 1975 - Aug 27, 1977 • Show is currently on Broadway as a revival: Nov 14, 1996 - Present
Annie • Setting: December 11-25, 1933. New York City. During the Great Depression era, Annie, an orphan that sneaks out of a Manhattan orphanage, is caught and returned to Miss Hannigan, the wicked lady that runs the place. An opportunity arises in which Annie is allowed to spend the Christmas holidays with the richest man in America, Oliver Warbucks. Annie warms the heart of Warbucks and a massive search for Annie’s parents ensues. This raises the opportunity for Hannigan, her brother Rooster and his girlfriend to try and con Warbucks out of a reward. • Book by Thomas Meehan; • Lyrics by Martin Charnin; • Music by Charles Strouse. • Original Production: Apr 21, 1977 - Jan 2, 1983 • Show had one revival: Mar 26, 1997 - Oct 19, 1997
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat • Setting: Jacob lived in Biblical times and had twelve sons of whom Joseph was his favorite. Joseph's brothers resented the favoritism and the fact that Joseph had high aspirations. Jacob gave Joseph a beautiful coat and that was the last straw for his brothers. They threw him in a pit and were going to leave him when they were approached by Egyptians. They changed their minds and sold Joseph off to slavery in Egypt, telling their father he had been killed. Through hard work and his ability to interpret dreams, Joseph works his way up the Egyptian social ladder until he is the assistant to the Pharaoh. When a famine strikes, Joseph's brothers end up in Egypt begging Joseph for food. After testing them, Joseph gives them food and reveals his identity and the whole family moves to Egypt. • Book and Lyrics by Tim Rice; • Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. • Original Production: Jan 27, 1982 - Sep 4, 1983 • Show had one revival: Nov 10, 1993 - May 29, 1994
Cats • Setting: An all-singing, all-dancing musical spectacular based on the poems from T.S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats. Directed by Trevor Nunn and with musical staging by Gillian Lynne, Cats has conquered the world with a score which includes the hit song "Memory". • Lyrics by T.S. Eliot; • Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. • Original Production was the only production and stands as the second longest running musical in Broadway history. • Oct 7, 1982 - Sep 10, 2000 • Total Performances: 7485
Phantom of the Opera • Setting: Paris Opéra House. 1881-1911. The musical tells the story of the hideously deformed Phantom who lurks beneath the stage of the Paris Opera, exercising a reign of terror over all its occupants. He falls fatally in love with the young soprano Christine, devoting himself to creating a new star for the Opera by nurturing her extraordinary talents and employing all the skills at his disposal. • Book by Richard Stilgoe, Andrew Lloyd Webber; • Lyrics by Charles Hart; • Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. • Only production: Jan 26, 1988 - Present • Phantom is currently the longest running musical in Broadway history with a total number of performances at 9539 as of January 2, 2011.
Sweeny ToddThe Demon Barber of Fleet Street • Setting: The 19th Century. London. Fleet Street and environs. Sweeney Todd, aka Benjamin Barker, returns to London after being sent away by Judge Turpin. He opens a barber shop above Mrs. Lovett's Meat Pie Shop where she sells 'the worst pies in London'. Todd kills all the people who have ever done him wrong and, with the help of Mrs. Lovett who puts the bodies in her pies, hopes to be reunited with his daughter, Joanna, who is now Judge Turpin's ward. • Book by Hugh Wheeler; • Music & Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim; • Original production: Mar 1, 1979 - Jun 29, 1980 • Show has had two revivals: 1989 - 90, 2005 - 06
Wicked • Setting: Oz: Shiz; the Emerald City; If you think you know the two iconic witches from Oz — the Wicked Witch (Elphaba) and the Good Witch (Glinda) — think again. • Book by Winnie Holzman; • Music & Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz; • Only production: Oct 30, 2003 - Present
A Little Night Music American Idiot Billy Elliot: the Musical Chicago In the Heights Jersey Boys La Cage aux Folles Mama Mia! Mary Poppins Memphis Million Dollar Quartet Next to Normal Rock of Ages Spider-Man The Addams Family The Lion King The Phantom of the Opera Wicked Musicals Currently on Broadway