Broadway musicals - Parts 1, 2, and 3

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Broadway Musicals - History of Broadway 1900s-early 1940s

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Broadway musicals - Parts 1, 2, and 3

  1. 2. The first true producer of the American musical revue was a first generation German immigrant named FLORENZ ZIEGFIELD
  2. 3. <ul><li>Florenz Ziegfield, Jr. was the son of the head of the successful Chicago College of Music. </li></ul><ul><li>In 1893, “Flo’s” father opened a nightclub in Chicago designed to coincide with the opening of Chicago’s World Fair. </li></ul><ul><li>Flo travelled to NYC to find a headliner for the club. </li></ul>
  3. 4. Travelling about NYC, he found that the entertainment downtown was made up of: <ul><li>Minstrel shows </li></ul><ul><li>Song and dance </li></ul><ul><li>European style operettas </li></ul>
  4. 5. Ziegfield’s Follies <ul><li>Ziegfield combined all that he saw into a new type of American performance: Ziegfield’s Follies </li></ul>
  5. 6. In 1904, something BIG happened to make Broadway what it is today… <ul><li>Times Square subway station opens. The IRT subway line brings New Yorkers rapid transit and access to the new theater district. </li></ul>
  6. 7. Ziegfield’s Follies <ul><li>Bert Williams </li></ul><ul><li>In 1910, Ziegfield took a characteristic RISK and cast Bert Williams, a black man, as one of the comics in his follies. This was the first instance of a black performer acting alongside white performers. </li></ul>
  7. 8. Other Performers of Note <ul><li>George M. Cohan: the first “song and dance man” </li></ul><ul><li>Fanny Brice: one of the first female comedians (the musical “Funny Girl” is based on her story) </li></ul>
  8. 9. The Depression and Broadway <ul><li>Actors and technicians were grateful to be working during this time. </li></ul><ul><li>Music and lyrics often were “escapist” – love songs, upbeat and happy. </li></ul><ul><li>Songs like “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” were rare, reflecting the social mood of the Depression. </li></ul>
  9. 10. Social Issue Shows <ul><li>Of Thee I Sing&quot; opened in 1931. It is the first full-length musical to spoof the presidency and the first to win the Pulitzer Prize. </li></ul><ul><li>Shows began to be produced that spoke to various “risky” social & political issues of the time. </li></ul>
  10. 11. Porgy and Bess <ul><li>Written by Gershwins (George and Ira) & DuBose Heyward. </li></ul><ul><li>Opened in 1935 – ran for 124 performances – although it was not financially successful. </li></ul>
  11. 12. Porgy and Bess <ul><li>Porgy and Bess tells the story of Porgy, a disabled black beggar living in the slums of Charleston, SC. </li></ul><ul><li>It deals with his attempts </li></ul><ul><li>to rescue Bess from the clutches </li></ul><ul><li>of Crown, her violent and </li></ul><ul><li>possessive lover, and Sportin' Life, </li></ul><ul><li>the drug dealer. </li></ul>
  12. 13. Porgy and Bess <ul><li>Porgy and Bess was a monumental folk opera: </li></ul><ul><li>Written by Gershwins (Jewish immigrant family) & Heyward (Russian) </li></ul><ul><li>Featured a classically trained all-black cast </li></ul>
  13. 14. Performer of Note (1930s) <ul><li>Ethel Merman: </li></ul><ul><li>Born Ethel Agnes Zimmermann </li></ul><ul><li>Untrained singer </li></ul><ul><li>“ Voice like a trumpet!” </li></ul><ul><li>Performed in “Anything Goes” </li></ul>
  14. 15. Not-so-fun Fact (1930s) <ul><li>The Great Depression officially “hit” New York City theaters in 1934. </li></ul><ul><li>Many theaters close or are renovated as movie theaters, which are less financially risky to run. </li></ul>
  15. 16. The Federal Theater Project <ul><li>The Federal Theatre Project an effort mounted by the Federal Government (FDR) to organize and produce theater events. </li></ul>
  16. 17. The Federal Theater Project <ul><li>The FTP was controversial. Its supporters hailed it as a wonderful experiment while critics saw it as a heavy handed propaganda effort for the New Deal. </li></ul>
  17. 18. The Cradle Will Rock <ul><li>Because of its pro-labor message, on the eve of opening night, federal authorities shut the production down. </li></ul><ul><li>A contemporary folk opera set against the backdrop of a steel strike. </li></ul><ul><li>Originally directed & produced by Orson Welles & John Houseman. </li></ul>
  18. 19. Orson Welles <ul><li>Welles found another venue the evening of opening night, and marches the audience 20 blocks to a new theater. </li></ul>
  19. 20. The Cradle Will Rock <ul><li>Equity rules prohibit union actors from acting in a non-union house. </li></ul><ul><li>Composer was pianist ONSTAGE; actors performed from the audience, exercising freedom of speech.  </li></ul>
  20. 21. Oklahoma! Broadway’s First “Book Musical” <ul><li>Hammerstein & Rodgers: Hamm. would write the lyrics first and Rodgers would set them to music. </li></ul><ul><li>In the decade before &quot;Oklahoma!&quot; opened, not a single hit show ran over 500 performances; &quot;Oklahoma!&quot; ran for 2,212. </li></ul>
  21. 22. Brainstorm! <ul><li>In groups of 2-3, you’ll be creating a “semi-original book musical” of no more than 10 minutes. </li></ul><ul><li>You’ll be choosing music, but rewriting lyrics and/or creating movement to fit with the music. </li></ul><ul><li>You’ll also be writing the scene ALONG WITH the music, a la Rodgers & Hammerstein. </li></ul>

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