Arts and Media

Broadway: The American Musical

For those interested in Broadway, one tremendous resource on the subject is Broadway: The American Musical(, a companion site to the PBS film of the same name. It chronicles the Broadway musical’s evolution from 1904 to 2004. Students can discover the musical, historical and cultural influences of the musical, as they learn about hundreds of writers, performers, choreographers and designers. As well, they’ll be able to explore fifteen of some of America’s most popular musicals, including “The Producers”, “Porgy and Bess”, and “Showboat” without having to bundle up in North Face fleece jackets, boots, scarves, and gloves to face the elements in winter to get to the library for this information or carry a hand fan with a liter of bottled water so as no to succumb to heat prostration in the summer. No..all you need to do is go to the PBS site and sit in the comfort of your abode and watch at your leisure.

Some of the comprehensive essays you’ll find here cover the following:

* Elements of the Musical – covers music, lyrics and musical directors.

* Operetta – For early middle class America, operettas provided a dreamy in-between world of romance and pure escapism; it was the most popular type of musical theater during the 20th century’s first two decades.

* Rise of the Revue – The golden years between the two world wars are examined, as the Broadway musical took hold.

* Broadway & the Radio – The invention of the radio in the 1920s gave musicals a new, and perfect medium.

* Broadway & Hollywood – From the late 1920s to the early 1930s, film was introduced as a new medium for musicals.

* Political Satire – As a body of expression, the musical proved to be a perfect breeding ground for political and social satire, with Irving Berlin, Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman leading the charge.

* Post-WWII African-American Musicals – In the 1940s, Oscar Hammerstein II tried his hand at innovation: creating a new version of Bizet’s opera, “Carmen”, reset in the South with an all-black cast. The rest is history…

* Civil Rights Era on Broadway – The 1960s was the perfect decade for exploring civil right issues in musical form, which continued throughout the seventies.

* Broadway: the Rock Score – Rock musicians and the musical combine forces, beginning with “Hair” in 1968 and continuing throughout the seventies, with such rock-themed opuses as “Jesus Christ Superstar”, and to some degree “Evita” and “A Chorus Line”. Pop composers, like Elton John and Paul Simon, got into the act, too…

* Resurrection of 42nd Street – From the 1970s to the present, Broadway has seen a resurgence of amazing magnitude.

Trish Hart is a contributor to the underground mag “Culture Mashup” and is looking forward to traveling to Costa Rica to observe the Festival of Cats while there on a medical tourism jaunt this fall. She, along with Marcia Witt, have authored a comedic play, “Jacque and Jack” in preproduction in Chicago.

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