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   Lecture:  Musical Theater   

Musical theater in America goes all the way back to 1735.  But we're not going to go back that far.

Be sure and read your text for the history info.


For the purpose of this class and our discussions, let's clarify the difference between musical theater and a musical review.


Musical Theater has a plot, singing and dancing.  It's like a play, but includes song and dance.


A Musical Review may have songs (and even dances) , but does not have a plot.  It's more like a variety show.  The musical review may even be thematically related (patriotic, '50s) but is not like a play.


Musical theater was instrumental in the development of popular music in America because many songs became popular through these shows.  And as you know, if enough people will buy it (pay for it) they will make more!



There were a few songwriter/lyricist teams who were very successful in this genre.



Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart

Pal Joey

By Jupiter

A Connecticut Yankee






Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II



South Pacific




The King and I


The Sound of Music





George and Ira Gershwin 


Strike Up the Band


Of Thee I Sing


Porgy and Bess

"Bess, You Is My Woman Now" (from Porgy and Bess)



The brothers Gershwin were instrumental (pun alert) in introducing jazz elements into musical theater.





Leonard Bernstein

West Side Story (with Stephen Sondheim)


"America" from West Side Story





Composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim in 1974. He had won Tony Awards for Best Music and Lyrics in a Broadway musical for each of the three previous years. 

Stephen Sondheim




A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum


Sweeney Todd






Andrew Lloyd Webber

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (with Tim Rice)

"Song of the King"  from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat


Jesus Christ Superstar (with Tim Rice)





"Mr. Mistoffelees" from Cats


Phantom of the Opera






Beauty and the Beast


The Lion King (music by Elton John)

"The Circle of Life" from The Lion King




(This info will be helpful on your first exam)


What was important about the following musicals?






Porgy and Bess




Jesus Christ, Superstar



What is the difference between a musical and an opera?


Take a look at what the experts say.

Be sure to click on the quotes to get the full answer.


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