An over View of the Broadway Musical, Up to and Including Show Boat.
Early 1900’s New York City and the operetta was becoming quite popular; a mix of music and drama, it’s influences stretched back as far as Greek theatre and other types of European opera. No doubt at the time it held some sort of retro appeal.
In London a similar movement was taking place, more influenced by a vaudevillian styling, it was more comedic; designed specifically for soldiers on leave (the idea was to bolster morale, hence why theatres stayed open during the course of World War One) This style of musical comedy was also characterised by the incorporation of popular song and dance styles.
Fast forward to 1920’s/1930’s and, much like the emigration of …show more content…
There were also many collaborators over this period, such as Rodgers and Hart, another musically creative powerhouse, writing over 500 songs and working on approximately 28 musicals. The Gershwin Brothers are an interesting coupling, sibling rivalry usually stifling creativity!
I Joke! George, the younger of the brothers was an experienced classical composer and his numerous works have been used on radio and television since. He and his lyricist elder brother worked together on some dozen or so Broadway shows.
I finally come to Jerome Kern (from earlier) and Oscar Hammerstein II, better worded Kern and Hammerstein, who composed and wrote the lyrics for arguably the most seminal Broadway piece, a musical that would irrevocably influence all that came after. I am, of course, talking about showboat.
Dominant themes include racial prejudice and tragic, enduring love; such serious plot devices were completely radical for the American musical up until this point. The racial themes were best characterized by the heavy influence of ‘black’ musical types such as rag-time.
Showboat stood out for the quality of music especially, something which both critics and audience recognised, particularly its Libretto, seen as especially good for music of its time although the typically happy ending did attract some criticism for its apparently contrived nature.
In spite of the small