Spamalot Musical Theatre Analysis

Improved Essays
There is a line in the musical Spamalot where Sir Robin sings to King Arthur; “In any great adventure, if you don 't want to lose ... you won 't succeed on Broadway if you don 't have any Jews!" (PBS, Broadway Musicals). If you can look past the sweeping generalization, Sir Robin’s surprising lyric turns out to be very true about musicals. Historians have recognized that Jewish immigrant culture heavily influenced the content of musical theatre when it was popularized in America during the early twentieth century. But in turn, it was the sociopolitical and racial climate of the 20th century that inspired the creative and thematic content of Jewish productions as well. Because a majority of established writers, producers, and composers of the …show more content…
Commercialized music was, for the first time in American history, used to help listeners confront and digest pressing moral and racial issues.
Second generation Ashkenazi Jews (the children of Eastern European Jewish Immigrants) would unintentionally assimilate into American culture during the 1920s both in and through their influence on popular culture. Following the result of effective cultural translation and representation on the Broadway stage, 2nd generation Jews would make a name for themselves (as they had been doing for generations prior) not by discarding their heritage for a more appropriate one, but by adapting it into the culture which they found themselves in. How Jewishness was and continues to be represented in popular culture plays a large role both in defining and sustaining Jewish identity and also in likening attitudes toward Jews in American society. Additionally Jews, while in the process of discovering their post- immigration identity, would also challenge Americans to consider
…show more content…
There was rarely a stage production, like The Jazz Singer, that specifically represented Jewish characters in the story. More frequently the characters that explored the stories themes were non-Jews who were representatively groping, like the Jews, for new roles. It became methodical for Jews to write for non-Jewish audiences; they would just disguise their hunger to assimilate in the narrative text. For example, writing for the voice of a half-black woman in Show Boat, music by Kern, book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein (raised Episcopalian but the grandson of a German-Jewish impresario) (Leiter). In plays like Annie Get Your Gun, Oklahoma! and South Pacific, whose heroes would make a point to disguise or redefine their identities, were written as veiled meditations on race and assimilation. “They 're love stories, yes, but they 're really sagas”, writes Ms. Most in Making Americans: Jews and the Broadway Musical, about "outsiders who need to be converted, assimilated, or accepted into the group. “The King and I, by Rodgers and Hammerstein, has an exotic setting but nevertheless delivers a rewrite of the American immigrant melodrama that goes back to The Jazz Singer and beyond’ (Fulford). It focuses on a racially defined “old world father”, the king, who can 't assimilate into the new ways of democracy

Related Documents

  • Improved Essays

    Musical Theatre Essay

    • 1512 Words
    • 7 Pages

    It has found itself at the center of this outbreak of musical theatre from its once niche market to popular culture. The show introduced completely diverse casting, the musical genres of Hip-Hop and R&B, and the adaptation of an unlikely story into an unlikely medium. These introductions to the musical theatre community were an important step in the way of becoming a more inclusive, accessible, and innovative art form for the population. However, Leslie Odom Jr., one of the stars made famous by this production, stated in a recent interview that even though Broadway has just finished arguably its most diverse, innovative, and game-changing season in history, he does not see the future of musical theatre reflecting these advents at all. He fears a future series of Broadway seasons where producers…

    • 1512 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Many musicals have romance at their core, including cross-overs from other sub-genres, such as Mamma Mia. Phantom of the Opera, though a darker sort of musical that borders on obsessive love, and Grease are prime examples - though Grease 2 was a flop. Musicals also sometimes take on social issues. West Side Story (1961), though an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, shows gang wars and the damage they can cause. Evita (1996) highlights the short life of Eva Peron, First Lady of Argentina from 1946 to her death in 1952, and how she influenced the people of Argentina.…

    • 1568 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Harlem Renaissance Impact

    • 692 Words
    • 3 Pages

    People also brought forth the musical aspect of the Renaissance, the birth of “Shuffle Along” introduced white New Yorkers to Black music, entertainment, and theatre (Wintz 7). It also helped to rejuvenate and redefine music and nighttime life in Harlem. “Shuffle along” bought jazz to Broadway, it ran over four hundred seventy-four performances on Broadway and created three touring companies. The Visual arts phase of the Harlem Renaissance released later from its musical part. A noticeable artist during this period was Aaron Douglas, who arrived in Harlem from Kansas City.…

    • 692 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Great Essays

    Juke Box Musical Analysis

    • 2396 Words
    • 10 Pages

    Because the Musical is told like a documentary you get to see the ways that the band interacted and what caused some of these hits to be created. Jersey Boys can be entertaining heart breaking and fascinating at the same time. Jersey Boys is by far one of the best Juke Box Musicals. After Jersey Boys it seemed as though there wasn’t going to be a Juke Box Musical that could out do it, and there wasn’t. After the Successes of Mamma Mia and Jersey Boys Broadway became over saturated by Juke Box Musicals and there became less and less original works.…

    • 2396 Words
    • 10 Pages
    Great Essays
  • Great Essays

    Fine Clothes to the Jew, a book of Hughes’s poetry, was castigated for the title and honesty of the content. But Hughes thought it was a step in the right direction (Webster 209). Hughes was first noticed when his poem “The Negro Speaks of Rivers,” which was written after he graduated high school. It was published in the NAACP journal Crisis in 1921 (Webster 209). “Let the blare of Negro jazz bands and the bellowing voice of Bessie Smith singing/Blues penetrate the closed ears of the colored near-intellectuals until they listen and perhaps understand/We younger Negro artists who create now intend to express our individual dark-skinned selves without fear or shame,” Hughes wrote proudly in “The Negro Speaks of Rivers.” Hughes’s literature wasn’t all poetry, though.…

    • 1971 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Great Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Mendelssohn ultimately brought Judaism into modernity as a result of his active role in introducing reforms and new ideologies into society. In introducing such reforms, Moses Mendelssohn bridged the gap between Jewish and secular German culture. Contrary to popular trend in pre-Modern Jewish life, Mendelssohn received a strong secular education in addition to his vast knowledge in Judaic matter. His love of learning was paramount to his success, evident in his poetic skill displayed at the young age of ten (Allen). Moreover utilizing such an education, Mendelssohn translated the Tanach into…

    • 1145 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Before World War I, people came to the United States because they wanted to build a new life. When the 1920s came about, the american lifestyle began to drastically change, society’s morals were suddenly becoming flawed. This corrupt way of living became the norm of society and is evident through the voice of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald was suddenly speaking very prominently through his works of the jazz age. The Great Gatsby, one of his most significant novels of this time, exemplifies the era perfectly, proving that happiness was only to be found in the joys of human desires.…

    • 1223 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Great Essays

    Works from the French playwright Jacques Offenbach and the romantic comedy playwright Johann Strauss II were the first musicals to gain nationwide popularity. Continental operas were very popular in England, but many people preferred the looser setting of the variety shows and musicals in the Music Hall. Broadway musicals originated its roots from…

    • 1360 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Great Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Summertime Song Analysis

    • 835 Words
    • 4 Pages

    According to Floyd, “summertime” was the opening song written by George Gershwin for his folk opera porgy and Bess in 1935 which was an easy lullaby (218). Summertime was an aria and it is somewhat attributed to Ira Gershwin. The song became a well-liked hit and to a great extent recorded jazz standard and its lyrics written by Dubose Heyward who is the author of novel porgy. This song was been labeled as on the classics by many and to a large extent a xenophobic minstrel by others. Regardless of Gershwin’s good will, Floyd exemplifies that George’s work was contentious and was damned for its so-called orthodox representation of the black American life (219).…

    • 835 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    The song was from the Broadway hit musical "Sinbad" and gave George an overwhelming amount of success and fame (The Editors of Encyclopedia). By the age of 20, George had already made a name for himself in the classical music world and Broadway music. What came next was his most famous piece of work on Broadway, "Porgy and Bees". The play is about the lifestyle of African-Americans in 1912 in South Carolina (The Editors of Encyclopedia). George started to get musical inspiration from the bestseller book Porgy (Zax, David).…

    • 599 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Improved Essays