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date: 12 November 2019


  • Jessica Sternfeld


The term “megamusical” began as one of several (“blockbuster musical,” “spectacle show”) that the media used casually in the 1980s to describe the new trend of popular, large-scale musicals with epic plots and a great deal of publicity. As scholars began to use it as a handy way of identifying the repertoire in question (see especially Sternfeld, The Megamusical), a somewhat concrete definition set in, established by both internal features and surrounding cultural context. In their first wave, megamusicals were imported from England, thanks to composer Lloyd Webber family and the team of Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil (whose work arrived from France by way of England). The fact that they were imported—and wildly successful on Broadway, thought of as the musical’s home turf—made them noticeable. But what makes them “mega” includes shared features such as an epic, sweeping plot of romance, war, and redemption; a score that is sung throughout or features almost no spoken dialogue, and carries the action of the show with fluid transitions and perpetual underscoring; and expensive, complicated, moving, or otherwise impressive sets, which along with the score help move the action in a flowing or cinematic way....

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