Introduction to Musicals
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Introduction to Musicals Hampton High Grade Ten Music
Musicals • Musicals were called musical comedy at the time when they were first developed during the late 1800’s. • A musical comedy is a type of play which tells a story with spoken dialogue, songs and dance. • Most musicals are not of a serious matter. They are generally light in tone and contain humor.
• Many of the best-known songs in popular music today came from the early musical comedies.
Cartoon Musicals • Walt Disney has been making animated motion pictures for years that copy the musical format. – The story is presented with both spoken dialogue and singing and there is usually dancing. – The only difference from a real musical is that the characters are not people but cartoons.
• Recent hits include: The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and The Little Mermaid.
The Music • The music in a musical can be performed using voice (singing), instruments or both. • The music is usually of a melodic form which is easier for the audience to remember (and hum to themselves afterwards). • When musicals were first performed, the music’s general purpose was to entertain the audience and show off the talents of the performers, but now, the music has a more dramatic purpose. It helps to create characterization and advances the plot. • The composer of the music works closely with the author of the story to determine where the music could be most effectively used.
Broadway vs. Opera • A musical differs from an opera because there is more spoken dialogue. (Operas are all singing.) • Also, most operas use classical music while most musicals use popular music. • Most major musicals are first presented on Broadway in New York City. • Other successful musicals are made into movies.
Elements of a Musical • A typical musical should contain four basic elements. • These elements are: • • • •
The Story The Music The Lyrics The Dancing
Lyrics • The lyrics (words) may be written by the composer of the music or by another person called a lyricist (song writer). • In many songs, the lyrics will help to tell the story or describe a character’s feelings.
The Story • The story is sometimes called the libretto or the “book”.
• It provides the structure to a musical. • A good story should easily integrate or combine the dialogue, music, lyrics, and dancing.
The Dancing • The dancing serves three purposes in a musical which are to: – help to set the mood. – help to tell the story. – entertain the audience.
• Most shows will hire a choreographer who creates dances especially for the musical.
The History of Musicals • 1866 - The Black Crook was noted for beautiful scenery & women and elaborate sets. • 1927 - Showboat was composed by Joseph Kern and the lyrics were by Oscar Hammerstein II.
• 1943 - Oklahoma was the beginning of the modern musicals. It was created by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. They also wrote Carousel in 1945, South Pacific in 1949 and The King and I in 1951. • 1956 - My Fair Lady was a Cinderella story about a poor flower girl who was groomed to become a proper English “lady”.
History continued… • 1957 - West Side Story was a modern version of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet set in modern-day New York. • 1958 - The Music Man was about a con-man, Harold Hill (a musical instrument salesman) who makes a small town come alive as he skillfully glides from one situation to another. • 1959 - The Sound of Music was the story of the Trapp Family singers made into a motions picture in 1965. • 1964 - Fiddler on the Roof was about the day by day life of Tevye, a Russian dairyman, and his family.
History continued… • 1967 - Hair focused on people of the 60s rebelling against society during the Vietnam War. It contained a controversial nude scene. • 1977 - Annie was about a red haired orphan who, along with her dog Sandy, got adopted by a bald headed millionaire. • 1978 - Grease was a rock n’ roll musical about high school life in the 50’s. It was made into a popular movie starring Olivia Newton John and John Travolta. • 1981 - Cats was the most popular musical of all time and was written by Andrew Lloyd Webber, a British composer. Excellent makeup. • 1983 - A Chorus Line became the longest running musical in Broadway history with 6137 performances before it closed in 1990. • 1986 - Phantom of the Opera was also written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and had amazing special effects.
More Recent Musicals
Rent • 1996 - a rock opera which chronicles the lives of several struggling young artists in the East Village. • This is the first Broadway musical to feature gay, bisexual, lesbian and transgender characters. • It is noted for its ethnically diverse cast and appeals especially to Generation X.
Mamma Mia • 1999 - the story of a young woman on the night before her wedding. • All she wants is to learn the identity of her father. • ABBA fans will recognize many familiar tunes.
The Producers • 2001 - this show has won more Tony Awards than any show in Broadway history, including Best Musical. • It’s about a couple of guys wanting to produce the best Broadway musical ever, but things take a turn for the worse.
Hairspray • 2002- this show is about a troubled, overweight teenage girl who tries to realize her dream of dancing on the popular Corny Collins show.
Wicked • 2003 - this show is a prequel to The Wizard of Oz . • It’s the story of Glinda (a perky prom queen ditz) and Elphaba, the wicked witch of the west.
Spamalot • 2005 - Spamalot tells the tale of king Arthur and the knights of the round table and their quest for the holy grail. • It has flatulent Frenchmen, killer rabbits and one legless knight.
The Jersey Boys • 2006 – this show is based on the life story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. • The four seasons were four blue-collar boys from the wrong side of the tracks. • They wrote their own songs and sold 175 million records before they were thirty.
Dreamgirls • 2006 – the film is adapted from the 1981 musical. • It is based on the history and evolution of American R&B music during the eras of doo-wop, soul, the Motown Sound, funk an disco.