Broadway history

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Broadway history

  1. 1. The History The Contributors Competing with Motion Pictures 1890 – 1900 Early 20th Century 1950 – 1970 1980s Longest – Running Broadway Show Bibliography
  2. 2. Countless songs have been written about it, movies have centered on it, and even a few television shows have focused on it…the dream of starring on Broadway. The name Broadway has become a synonym for having achieved stardom. People from all over the world arrive in New York City with the hope of one day seeing their name in lights on “The Great White Way”. In the late 1800’s, as transportation increased, poverty decreased, and the invention of street lights provided safer travel at night, attending a play or a vaudeville production became more common. Eventually, attending the theatre became increasingly more fashionable, with the result that, today, the Theatre District in New York City is a major tourist attraction that generates billions of dollars in ticket sales.
  3. 3. Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II were an influential, innovative and successful American musical theatre writing team, usually referred to as Rodgers and Hammerstein. They created many popular Broadway shows in the 1940’s and 1950’s such as Oklahoma!, Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I and The Sound of Music, creating what is now called the “golden age” of musical theatre. Their musical theatre writing partnership has been called the greatest of the 20th century. Their productions were known for closely following the literature they were based on, including powerful themes, such as racism, and love. Also, Bob Fosse was a renowned choreographer on Broadway who contributed to the hugely successful “All That Jazz”, “Cabaret”, and “Chicago”. His unique choreography has been appreciated and copied for decades.
  4. 4. In the 1920’s, motion pictures became a source of competition with the theatre. At first, films were silent and presented only limited competition. By the end of the 1920s, however, films like “ The Jazz Singer” had synchronized sound, and critics were wondering if the cinema would eventually replace live theatre. Musicals in the 1920’s tended to ignore plot in favour of emphasizing actors, dance routines, and popular songs. They often borrowed from vaudeville, and while the books they were based on were usually forgettable, the musicals highlighted the enduring talents of George Gershwin, Cole Porter, and Noel Coward. There were several Broadway shows in this period of time with extravagant sets and elaborate costumes, such as “Oh, Kay!” and “Funny Face”. While critics were initially concerned, ultimately, live theatre survived the invention of cinema.
  5. 5. During the late 1800’s, Charles Hoyt’s “A Trip to Chinatown” (1891) became Broadway’s long-run champion with 657 performances. In 1919, “Irene” surpassed “A Trip to Chinatown” with 675 performances. Although this was certainly not the longest running show on Broadway, it was still quite exceptional in the 1900’s. A “Trip to Coontown” (1898) was unique as the first musical comedy entirely produced and performed by African Americans in a Broadway theatre. Vaudville and “ragtime” were the common thread of Broadway shows during this time period.
  6. 6. Beginning with the operetta (which was a trend in musical theatre at this time) “The Red Mill”, Broadway shows installed electric signs outside the theatres. Since colored bulbs burned out too quickly, white lights were used, and Broadway was nicknamed "The Great White Way”. During this time, the play “Lightnin’”, by Winchell Smith and Frank Bacon, became the first Broadway show to reach 700 performances. From then, it would go on to become the first show to reach 1,000 performances. “Lightnin’” was the longest-running Broadway show until being overtaken in performance totals by Abie's “Irish Rose” in 1925.
  7. 7. After a lack of theatre productions during the Great Depression in the 1930’s, Broadway rebounded with the creation of “Oklahoma” in 1943 with 2,212 performances! While productions in the 1950’s provided the core of modern day theatre, “The late 1960’s marked a time of cultural upheaval”, according to writer John Kenrick, and it seemed that Broadway musicals were sadly out of fashion. This trend persisted somewhat in the 1970’s. While in the twenties, there were 70 – 80 theaters, unfortunately, by 1969, there were only 36 left.
  8. 8. In 1982, Joe Papp, a theatrical producer and director, led the “Save the Theatres” campaign. It was a not-for-profit group to save the theatre buildings in the neighborhood from demolition by Manhattan development interests. Papp provided resources, recruited a publicist and celebrated actors, and provided audio, lighting, and technical crews for the effort. The “Save the Theatres” campaign then turned their efforts instead to supporting establishment of the Theater District as a registered historic district. In December 1983, “Save the Theatres” prepared "The Broadway Theater District, a Preservation Development and Management Plan", and demanded that each theater in the district receive landmark designation. Mayor Ed Koch reacted by creating a Theater Advisory Council, which included Joe Papp. The cultural legacy of the “The Great White Way” would continue to prosper thanks to his perseverance.
  9. 9. As productions on Broadway have continued to evolve, one of the most notable changes is the idea of casting famous film actors on stage in an effort to draw a larger audience and create more revenue. While many actors prefer to be known as “stage actors”, or “film stars”, many are recognized for their work in movies and “the boards”, such as the actor Liev Schreiber, and the actress Scarlett Johannsen Performances on Broadway are typically 8 weeks, including matinees, with Monday being known as a “dark” day when the theatres are closed. While Academy Awards are given to acknowledge an exceptional performance in a film, a Tony award is given to an outstanding performance on stage.
  10. 10. The longest – running Broadway show is “The Phantom of the Opera”, with a record of 10,807 performances! The opening date was January 26, 1988. This musical won seven Tony awards and seven Drama Desk awards. The second longest – running show is “Cats” with 7,485 performances, and the third is “Chicago” (7,133 performances). Here is a short clip of The Phantom of the Opera!
  11. 11. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broadway_theatre. Wikipedia, January 24, 2014. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZwoVJgI5Zg. Youtube, August 4, 2009. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_the_longestrunning_Broadway_shows. Wikipedia, January 26, 2014. http://www.newyork.com/resources/broadway-and-theaterhistory/. NewYork, September 2, 2013. http://www.theaterseatstore.com/history-of-broadway. Theatre Seat Store, May 18, 2012.

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