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date: 05 December 2019

Musical theaterlocked

  • Geoffrey Block,
  • Kate Van Winkle Keller,
  • Anne Dhu McLucas,
  • Sandra Jean Graham,
  • Orly Leah Krasner,
  • Todd Decker,
  • Paul R. Laird,
  • Jessica Sternfeld,
  • Garrett Eisler,
  • John Koegel,
  • Nancy Rao,
  • Charles Hamm
  •  and William A. Everett

Extract

Geoffrey Block and Kate Van Winkle Keller

What was called light opera and musical comedy in the 19th and earlier 20th centuries has since the 1960s been most commonly referred to as the “musical,” a genre which is often neither light nor an opera nor a comedy (though it can be all or none of these). The musical is a difficult genre to define inclusively, except geographically. Most works so designated originated in or eventually inhabited the New York City theater district known as Broadway, which gradually shifted northward from 14th Street in the second half of the 19th century, eventually settling in the area near 42nd and 55th Streets within the first few years of the 20th, including a city block or more on either side of the angled avenue called Broadway that cuts across the island of Manhattan from top to bottom. What became known simply as musicals are works for the musical stage that alternate between spoken dialogue and songs, the latter mainly composed for individual characters but also featuring duets, choruses, or other less common combinations. From the musical’s recognizable origins in the mid-19th century, dance has also played an important role in embroidering, dramatically enhancing, or replacing a story line. Among its many subgenres such 19th-century forerunners of the revue as the minstrel show, burlesque, variety, and vaudeville tend to minimize story lines; musical comedies, musical plays, operettas, and operas more typically present unmistakable and often compelling narratives, even when, as in operas (whether adopting European or American rock styles), the stories are sung throughout....

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