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Broadway Musicals What is a musical and how is one created


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Title: Broadway Musicals What is a musical and how is one created

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).
  • Book musicals have gone by many names comic
    operas, operettas, opera bouffe, burlesque,
    burletta, extravaganza, musical comedy, etc.

What is a Musical?
  • Revues have their roots in variety, vaudeville,
    music halls and minstrel shows.
  • The best musicals have three essential qualities
  • Brains intelligence and style
  • Heart genuine and believable emotion
  • Courage the guts to do something creative and

How Long Has This Been Going On?
  • We know that the ancient Greeks included music
    and dance in their stage comedies and tragedies
    as early as the 5th Century B.C.
  • The Romans copied and expanded the forms and
    traditions of Greek theatre.
  • Although performed in enclosed wooden structures
    far smaller than Greek theatres, Roman stagecraft
    stressed spectacle and special effects, a trend
    that echoes into our own time.

How Long Has This Been Going On?
  • If the Roman theatre contributed little to the
    Greek literature that today's dramatic theatre
    rests on, musical comedy inherited spectacle and
    numerous technical achievements from this
    austere, mechanical, and jaded society.- Denny
    Martin Flynn, Musical A Grand Tour (New York
    Schirmer Books, 1997), p. 22.

How Long Has This Been Going On?
  • In the Middle Ages, there was also a tradition of
    religious dramas. Intended as liturgical teaching
    tools set to church chants, these plays developed
    into an autonomous form of musical theatre.
  • The process was occasionally carried to such
    extremes that almost the entire text was cast in
    poetic forms, with little or no dependence on
    liturgical texts and melodies. The result of this
    process is nowhere more evident than in The Play
    of Daniel, perhaps the best known because the
    most widely performed of medieval dramas. Except
    for two concluding items one stanza of a hymn
    and the Te Deum the texts and melodies of this
    play are entirely nonliturgical.- Rochard H.
    Hoppin, Medieval Music (New York W.W. Norton
    Co, 1978), pp. 180-181.

How Long Has This Been Going On?
  • This reached its apex during the Renaissance in
    the commedia dell'arte, an Italian tradition
    where raucous clown characters improvised their
    way through familiar stories.
  • By the Baroque, two forms of musical theater were
    common in Britain, France and Germany ballad
    operas like John Gay's The Beggars Opera (1728)
    that borrowed popular songs of the day and
    rewrote the lyrics, and comic operas, with
    original scores and mostly romantic plot lines,
    like Michael Balfe's The Bohemian Girl (1845).  

Are Musicals Descended From Opera?
  • Opera has been with us since the late 1500s, but
    contemporary musical theatre and film are not
    direct descendants of grand opera.
  • However, opera can be called a descendant of
    classical theatre. When Renaissance writers and
    composers tried to resurrect the forms of Greek
    drama, they added music. This eventually led to
    the birth of grand opera.
  • From its birth in the 1800s, the musical has
    often spoofed opera, but it traces its main
    lineage to other sources. Vaudeville, burlesque,
    and many other forms are the true ancestors of
    the modern musical -- not opera.

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.

The American Stage Musical
  • Burlesques were also for the most part foreign
    importations and so were the extravaganzas and
    spectacles that crowded the New York stage just
    before and immediately after the Civil War.
  • The accent on female physical beauty (usually in
    flimsy attire), so important an element in later
    American musical productions, dates from one of
    these foreign importations Ixion, in 1869, in
    which Lydia Thompson and her English blondes
    shocked New York by having girls appear in
    skin-colored tights.

The American Stage Musical
  • After the middle 1860s, and for the rest of that
    century, the American stage was literally flooded
    with foreign operettas
  • the opera-bouffes of Offenbach and Lecocq among
  • the operettas of Suppé and Johan Strauss II
  • the comic operas of Gilbert and Sullivan.

The American Stage Musical
  • The American musical comedy, however, did not
    emerge with its familiar aspects until after the
    turn of the twentieth century.
  • Its parent was George M. Cohan --librettist,
    lyricist, composer.
  • Any plot, however far-fetched and improbable, was
    serviceable just so long as it could be the frame
    for songs, dances, routines and humorous
  • The play was not the thing, but the elements
    within the play.
  • And for many years American musical comedy was
    governed by this principle.

The American Stage Musical
  • Rodgers and Hart lifted musical comedy out of the
    nursery and carried it to adult maturity b y
    using themes of dream psychology, American
    history, American literature. (topics considered
    taboo up to that time)

Richard Rodgers Oscar Hammerstein II
  • 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
  • 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

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
  • 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.

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.

  • 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
  • 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

  • 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
    daughters 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 -

The King and I
  • Setting On the docks and in and around the Royal
    Palace in Bangkok. It is 1862 in Siam when an
    English widow, Anna Leonowens, and her young son
    arrive at the Royal Palace in Bangkok, having
    been summoned by the king to serve as tutor to
    his many children and wives. The king is largely
    considered to be a barbarian by those in the West
    and he seeks Anna's assistance in changing his
    image, if not his ways. With both keeping a firm
    grip on their respective traditions and values,
    Anna and the king grow to understand and,
    eventually, respect one another, in a truly
    unique love story.
  • Book Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
  • Music by Richard Rodgers.
  • Original Production Mar 29, 1951 - Mar 20, 1954
  • Show has had 3 revivals 1977 - 78, 1985, 1996

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
  • 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

My Fair Lady
  • Setting In and around London, 1912. Professor
    Higgins, a world renown phoneticist, makes a bet
    that he can pass a London street urchin with a
    horrendous cockney accent, Eliza Dolittle, off as
    a lady to the Queen of England.
  • Book by Alan Jay Lerner
  • Lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner
  • Music by Frederick Loewe.
  • Based on Pygmalion.
  • Original Production Mar 15, 1956 - Sep 29, 1962
  • Show has had three revivals 1976 -
    77, 1981, 1993 94.

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.

  • 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
  • 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

  • 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 Annies 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

  • 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

Les Miserables
  • Setting In France Jean Valjean is released from
    prison after 19 years in a quarry for stealing
    bread. He is hardened till he met a Bishop who
    let him stay for a night. Valjean changes and
    becomes the mayor after 9 years. Inspector Javert
    recognizes him and tries to reveal who he is.
    Fantine, a factory worker is fired because she
    has a child out of wedlock. As a result, Fantine
    becomes a prostitute and becomes sick. Valjean
    realizes what has happened to her and takes care
    of her. Inspect Javert finally manages to reveal
    Valjean for who he was. Fantine dies and give
    Valjean the authority to take care of her child,
    Cosette. Valjean escapes and finds the child and
    they live in a church for 10 years. Cosette, now
    a woman, goes to Paris with Valjean during a
    revolution. Cosette meets a man, Marius, and they
    fall in love. Inspector Javert finally realizes
    that Valjean is in Paris and tries to find him
  • Book by Alain Boublil, Claude-Michel Schönberg
  • Lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer
  • Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg.
  • Original production Mar 12, 1987 - May 18, 2003
  • Show had one revival Nov 9, 2006 - Jan 6, 2008

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.

Miss Saigon
  • Setting Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) USA Bangkok.
    1975 - October 1978. Miss Saigon relates the
    story of Puccini's Madama Butterfly set during
    the Vietnam War. As the war turns against the
    Americans, villagers are rushing to Saigon for
    refuge. One of them is Kim, a 17-year-old girl
    whose family was killed. She becomes a stripper
    at the Dreamland club where she meets a young
    American GI, Chris. The two quickly fall in love
    and move in together. When Saigon falls however,
    Chris is evacuated. Thinking he would never see
    Kim again, he marries an American woman, Ellen.
    Two years later, Chris's friend, John, informs
    Chris that he has fathered Kim's child. After
    Chris and his wife meet Kim in Bangkok, Thailand,
    Kim gives Chris the child, and then commits
  • Book by Alain Boublil, Claude-Michel Schönberg
  • Lyrics by Alain Boublil, Richard Maltby, Jr.
  • Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg.
  • Original and only production Apr 11, 1991 -
    Jan 28, 2001.
  • Show is famous for a life-size helicopter that
    descends from the top of the stage.

Sweeny Todd The 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

Seussical The Musical
  • A musical adaptation of the children's books by
    Dr. Seuss. His characters come to life to restore
    harmony in the Jungle of Nool after chaos erupts.
  • Book by Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty
  • Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens
  • Music by Stephen Flaherty.
  • Original Production Nov 30, 2000 - May 20, 2001
  • No revivals as of yet.

  • 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

Musicals Currently on Broadway
  1. A Little Night Music
  2. American Idiot
  3. Billy Elliot the Musical
  4. Chicago
  5. In the Heights
  6. Jersey Boys
  7. La Cage aux Folles
  8. Mama Mia!
  9. Mary Poppins
  1. Memphis
  2. Million Dollar Quartet
  3. Next to Normal
  4. Rock of Ages
  5. Spider-Man
  6. The Addams Family
  7. The Lion King
  8. The Phantom of the Opera
  9. Wicked