Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The American Musical

Ahh musicals, everyone loves a good musical. I have a slight background in musical theater, I was after all in a big role in a musical. Although one of my fellow classmates seems to disagree that the play I was in was acutally a musical, I believe any play with musical in it's name is more than likely a musical. Yes I was the famous skater chick number 1 in High School Musical on stage, performed at Atlantic highschool. YEAH!!! It was a really fun and yet aggrivating experience. I had a blast singing and dancing, and I was also part of the stage hand crew. That part was lame, no one was doing what they were supposed to and all the actors were all talking back stage.... so I had to be the one yelling at everyone to get them doing what they were supposed to do.... whatever.... anyway on to the blog! It's my pleasure to present to you a little bit about the American musical theater.
American musical theater can trace it's roots back to European Opera. From Opera stemmed Operetta in the 19th century. Operetta was basically Opera with a story and plot behind incorporated in. American musicals came from operetta blended with a mix of American melodrama, popular song, dance, and variety show entertainments. Recently however, the American musical has been returning toward the nonstory telling ways, more opera less dialogue (Felner and Orenstein 167-168, 170).

Let's talk about all the different components that are needed in order to produce a musical. There are many people involved in the production of a musical, like a recipie, without one component it just wouldn't be right. Some of the people involved are the composer, lyricist, choreographer, book writer, actors, light and sound operators, director, costume designers, producer, and stage hands (Bruch). Without any one of these, the musical really couldn't happen.

The Americal musical category was one of the first fields of theater to explore multiculturalism. This can be seen by looking at the African American's musicals. In the 1920's African American musicals appeared on Broadway. This was three more decades before any serious African American dramas were allowed on stage. The musical scene explored racial themes long before society as a whole was ready to confront the issues (Felner and Orenstein 170-171).

Now lets look at the American musical abroad. Broadway musicals are performed all over the world. Many cultures create their own versions of the musicals by combining the American musical texts with their own books and lyrics. What usually happens is America sends over plays to be viewed around the world and they do their little revise. Once they complete it, their revision comes back to America for our viewing pleasure (Felner and Orenstein 172, 174). Some examples of musicals that have been doing well internationally from other countries include; Notre Dame de Paris from France, Mozart! from Austria, even South Africa has some international successes such as Kat and the Kings (as seen to the right) (Musical Theatre).
Works Cited
  • Felner, Mira, and Claudia Orenstein. The World of Theatre. Boston: Pearson Education Inc., 2006. Print.
  • Wicked. 2007. Photograph. 25 Dec. 2007. Web. 15 Oct. 2009.

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