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Wilfrid Mellers, Walter Wells and Madeleine Ladell

Jazz and opera are generally viewed as separate traditions, too diverse in cultural origin to come together successfully. Yet throughout the 20th century both traditions have borrowed from each other, and have spawned a number of cross-breeds, which often find no home in either camp and end up on Broadway. In most cases musicians have tended to incorporate gestures rather than develop common ground.

Jazz, an amalgamation of tribal African musics with Euro-American styles, emerged at the beginning of the 20th century; created mainly by black musicians, it was essentially an urban American folk art. Aspirations to western art-music respectability came less from mainstream New Orleans jazz or blues musicians than from ragtime composers. This is not surprising, as ragtime itself is a hybrid of African rhythm and European harmony, and its best-known publicist, Scott Joplin, was trained by a German music teacher. Having started as an improvising bordello pianist, Joplin earned modest fame for his rag time compositions which he disseminated as sheet music. Gaining confidence from his success, he soon formed his own opera company, for whom he wrote ...

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M. Elizabeth C. Bartlet and Thomas Bauman

Both universalist and emphatically humanist in outlook since its founding in 1540, the Society of Jesus has always functioned as one of the principal educational arms of the Catholic Church and the papacy. This role developed most fully in the colleges and seminaries established by the Jesuits in Catholic lands. Here instruction stressed not only theology and philosophy but also literature. As early as the 16th century, dramatic representations were staged at these institutions, drawing together elements from the humanist theatre, medieval mystery plays and Shrovetide entertainments. The Bible served as the basic source material, but secular and often local subjects were used too, invariably with a strong emphasis on the allegorical and symbolic, and music often had an important role.

Early examples of Jesuit drama with music are recorded from the Low Countries (Josephus by Georg Maropedius, given in 1544 in Antwerp and published in Utrecht, 1552–3), Spain (...

Article

(b Littlefield, TX, Feb 17, 1928). American lyricist and composer. He has often worked with the composer harvey Schmidt , and the duo bear the distinction of writing The Fantasticks, which in the early 2010s was the longest-running off-Broadway musical of all time. It opened on 3 May 1960 and ran 17,162 performances before closing on 13 January 2002. It received a Special Tony Award in 1992 for its staying power and status as a musical theater icon, and a film version was released in 1995. Jones and Schmidt had met at the University of Texas, Austin, and collaborated on a few projects, but were mired in a complicated, overly large project based on an Edmond Rostand play (a spoof of Romeo and Juliet) when they got the offer to create the musical one-act that became their signature piece. They kept their play’s basic concept but jettisoned all of their material except the song “Try to Remember,” and the result was ...

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Article

Gerald Bordman

(b Pittsburgh, PA, Nov 16, 1889; d New York, NY, June 2, 1961). American librettist and director. He first worked as a journalist, serving for a time as head of the drama desk at the New York Times, but resigned in order to write his own plays. His first libretto, produced in collaboration with Marc Connelly, was for Helen of Troy, New York (1923; music by B. Kalmar and H. Ruby) and established his reputation for witty and satirical writing. He then created two important shows for the Marx Brothers, The Cocoanuts (1925; I. Berlin) and, with Morrie Ryskind, Animal Crackers (1928; Kalmar and Ruby), and also collaborated with Ryskind on the libretto for the highly successful Of Thee I Sing (1931; G. Gershwin), the first musical to be awarded a Pulitzer Prize for drama, and Let ’Em Eat Cake (1933; Gershwin). Kaufman contributed both libretto and lyrics for ...

Article

Paul R. Laird

(b Chicago, IL, March 31, 1922; d Warwick, NY, March 5, 1999). American actor and singer. Kiley attended Loyola University and acting school in Chicago before serving in the US Navy from 1943 to 1946. He began his acting career in radio and eventually settled in New York. Kiley toured in the play A Streetcar Named Desire before embarking on several television projects in the early 1950s. His Broadway debut was in the play Misalliance (1953). Later that year he played the Caliph in the musical Kismet, singing “Stranger in Paradise.” The play Time Limit! (1956) and work in Hollywood preceded his appearance in the musical Redhead (1959) opposite Gwen Verdon, for which he won his first Tony Award. Kiley continued his musical career as Diahann Carroll’s lover in No Strings (1962), the substitute male lead in Here’s Love (...

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Sharon O’Connell Campbell

(b New York, NY, May 20, 1958). American singer and actor. A graduate of Oberlin Conservatory, Judy Kuhn made her Broadway acting debut in The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1985). She was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for her performance as Bella Cohen in the four-performance run of Rags (1986). Tony and Drama Desk nominations followed for her portrayal of Cosette in Les Misérables (1987) as well as of Florence in Chess (1988). She received a Tony nomination for Amalia Balash in the She Loves Me (1993) revival, performed as Michal in King David (1997) and as a replacement for Fantine in the 2006 revival of Les Misérables. Other non-Broadway musical theater credits include an Olivier Award-nominated turn as Maria/Futura in Metropolis (London, 1989), Betty Schaefer in Sunset Boulevard (Los Angeles, 1994), and Fosca in ...

Article

Peter Purin

(b Chautauqua, NY, July 24, 1962). American composer and lyricist. He developed an interest in composing musical theater from a very young age. When he could not afford to attend the Juilliard School as a teenager, he became an accompanist at SUNY Fredonia. He then made his way to New York City in 1980 as a gigging pianist. ASCAP and BMI workshops for musical theater writing provided opportunities to hone his craft. His first full-length musical, Ballad of the Sad Café (1984), went unproduced. He began writing one-act musicals, including Agnes and Eulogy for Mister Hamm, which helped him secure the Richard Rodgers Development Award. Four of his one-act musicals were produced by Playwrights Horizon in 1991. There he met Ira Weitzman, who helped him obtain funding to continue writing. In the early 1990s, he did libretto work for opera composers Robert Moranon and Anthony Davis. His own through-composed ...

Article

Sylvia Stoner-Hawkins

[Lahrheim, Irving ]

(b New York, NY, Aug 13, 1895; d New York, NY, Dec 4, 1967). American performer. At age 15, Lahr began his career in an act called the Seven Frolics that played the burlesque circuit. Later in 1910 he toured with the Whirly Girly Musical Comedy Success. Lahr began as a solo performer in vaudeville, then became a team (with his first wife) known as Lahr and Mercedes (1922). He debuted on Broadway in Harry Delmar’s Revels (1927), yet Hold Everything (1928) was considered his big break. The 1936 production of The Show is On included Lahr’s performance of Harburg and Arlen’s “Song of the Woodman,” which became his trademark. Lyricist Yip Harburg recommended Lahr for the role of the Cowardly Lion in the MGM film The Wizard of Oz (1939). Lahr returned to Broadway to co-star with Ethel Merman in ...

Article

Dominic McHugh

[Levy ]

(b New York, NY, Feb 2, 1912; d New York, NY, Jan 5, 1997). American musical theater and film composer. After studying the piano as a child, Lane started to write for his school band. At age 14, he was commissioned to compose for an unproduced version of the off-Broadway revue, Greenwich Village Follies. While still in his teens, he joined the Remick Music Company as a song plugger and was encouraged by the Gershwins. He wrote songs with Howard Dietz for the revue Three’s a Crowd (1930), and one with Harold Adamson for The Third Little Show (1931). He then joined forces with Adamson to compose the score for Earl Carroll’s Vanities of 1931.

With the onset of the Great Depression, Lane moved to Hollywood and composed for films, often with Adamson. With Frank Loesser he wrote “The lady’s in love with you” (...

Article

Hsun Lin

[Lane, Joseph ]

(b Jersey City, NJ, Feb 3, 1956). American actor and singer. He changed his name in honor of his favorite character, Nathan Detroit, from Guys and Dolls. Lane began his theatrical career with the revival of Noel Coward’s Present Laughter in 1982. His second appearance on Broadway was in the musical Merlin (1983), which was a commercial failure. His career took off in the early 1990s. He starred as Nathan Detroit in the revival of Guys and Dolls (1992), for which he received his first Tony nomination. He won his first Tony for Best Actor as Pseudolus in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (revival, 1996) and his second Tony as Max Bialystock in The Producers (2001). Coincidentally, both roles were originated by Zero Mostel. Besides musical comedies, Lane has also appeared in several plays, such as the revival of Simon Gray’s ...

Article

Lara E. Housez

(Elliot )

(b Mansfield, OH, Jan 10, 1949). American playwright, director, and photographer. He attended Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where he majored in Middle Eastern history, and the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California, where he graduated with an MFA in Design. Lapine moved to New York to work as a freelance photographer and graphic designer. He eventually left the visual arts for a career in theater, where he wrote and produced a workshop version of Twelve Dreams (1978) and authored and directed the plays Table Settings (1978); Luck, Pluck and Virtue (1994); The Moment When (2000); Fran’s Bed (2005); and Mrs. Miller Does Her Thing (2008). Lapine collaborated with composer william alan Finn on the musicals March of the Falsettos (1981) and Falsettoland (1990), later presented together as ...

Article

Elizabeth L. Wollman

(b White Plains, NY, Feb 4, 1960; d New York, NY, Jan 25, 1996). American composer, lyricist, and playwright. Larson attended Adelphi University, where he earned a BFA in 1982. Influenced by rock and popular musicians such as the Beatles, Billy Joel, Elton John, Prince, and the Police, he also loved musicals, and held Stephen Sondheim, with whom he frequently corresponded, in particularly high esteem. After moving to Manhattan, Larson wrote a musical based on 1984. When the Orwell estate refused to grant him the rights, Larson rewrote the piece as Superbia. The work received a staged reading at Playwrights Horizons in 1988 and was performed in concert at the Village Gate in 1989. He performed his autobiographical rock monologue Tick, TickBoom! at Second Stage in 1990 and in various Off Broadway locales through the mid-1990s; the show was staged as a three-character musical at the Jane Street Theater in ...

Article

Paul R. Laird

(b Brooklyn, NY, July 14, 1917; d New York, NY, May 5, 2011). American writer and director. After attending Cornell, Laurents wrote for radio before creating the plays Home of the Brave (1945) and The Time of the Cuckoo (1952) for Broadway. He was blacklisted for political reasons in the early 1950s and lived abroad for a few years. Laurents’s most famous writing credits in the musical theater are the books for West Side Story (1957) and Gypsy (1959), two of the most powerful musical plays in the genre’s history. He revealed his ability to craft a terse, explosive book for the former, effectively setting up the songs and dances while also delineating characters. In Gypsy, Laurents helped create memorable characters and nostalgically evoke the worlds of vaudeville and burlesque. His continuing Broadway work included directing I can get it for you wholesale...

Article

Paul R. Laird

[Lichtman, Joseph ]

(b Brooklyn, NY, May 3, 1931; d Key West, FL, May 5, 1994). American dancer, choreographer, and director. Layton joined the dancing chorus of Oklahoma! in 1947, followed by appearances as a dancer in such shows as High Button Shoes (1947), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1949), Miss Liberty (1949), and Wonderful Town (1953). While in the army in the early 1950s, Layton started to choreograph and direct. He spent two years in the mid-1950s in France as a dancer and choreographer with the Ballet Ho de George Reich. Returning to the United States in 1956, Layton was a featured dancer in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s televised Cinderella (1957) and worked in summer stock. His New York choreography debut was an off-Broadway revival of On the Town (1959). Layton choreographed Once Upon a Mattress off-Broadway and then on Broadway and in London, and continued his work on Broadway with dances for ...

Article

Paul R. Laird

[Mitchnick, Irwin ]

(b Brooklyn, NY, Jan 30, 1928). American composer, producer, and director. After earning a BA and MA from the Yale School, where he studied with paul Hindemith , he worked as a jazz musician and from 1954 wrote music for television and commercial jingles, such as “Nobody doesn’t Like Sara Lee.” In 1957 Leigh formed the company Music Makers as a focus for these efforts. He wrote incidental music for two plays, Too Good to be True (1963) and Never Live over a Pretzel Factory (1964), and then composed with the lyricist Joe Darion the score for the Broadway hit Man of La Mancha (1965). Their Tony Award-winning score includes spirited “Spanish” gestures and songs that effectively describe characters and situations. The show itself, which won a Tony Award for Best Musical, ran 2328 performances and has remained popular. Leigh also wrote the scores for ...

Article

Edward A. Langhans and Robert E. Benson

Edward A. Langhans and Robert E. Benson

Modern assumptions – that an audience usually sits in a darkened auditorium watching a brightly lit stage – apply only since the late 19th century. Before then, the audience normally sat in a house that was dimly lit, peering at a dimly lit stage, and earlier still spectators needed individual candles in the light of which they could read their librettos (or other literature). Period prints showing brilliantly illuminated stages and auditoriums are misleading. It has been estimated that at Drury Lane Theatre in London during the 17th and 18th centuries there may have been about 88 candles in the auditorium, giving a total illumination approximately equivalent to one 75-watt lamp.

When Renaissance theatrical performances began to take place indoors, in academies and palace banquet halls in late 15th-century Italy, the illumination came from oil lamps and candles in chandeliers and sconces (and, if it was daylight outside, windows). Revived classical plays made use of the new Renaissance toy, perspective scenery. In his ...

Article

Callum Ross, John Snelson and Margaret Campbell

Article

Margaret Campbell

Member of Lloyd-Webber family

(b London, April 14, 1951). Cellist, son of William Lloyd Webber. He studied with Douglas Cameron, Joan Dickson and Harvey Phillips at the RCM and Fournier in Geneva. He made his London recital début in 1971 and his concerto début the following year with the first London performance of Bliss's Cello Concerto, of which he subsequently made the first recording. Lloyd Webber has appeared widely as a soloist in Britain and abroad and has given many premières, including Rodrigo's Concierto como un Divertimento (1982), Arnold's Fantasy for Cello (1987) and Cello Concerto (1989), and Gavin Bryars's Farewell to Philosophy (1995), of which he is also the dedicatee. He was appointed professor of the cello at the GSM, London, in 1978, and was artistic director of Cellothon 88 at the South Bank in 1988. Lloyd Webber is known for his exploratory approach to repertory, introducing many neglected masterpieces into his programmes and recording his brother Andrew’s ...

Article

Callum Ross

(Southcombe)

Member of Lloyd Webber family

(b London, March 11, 1914; d London, Oct 29, 1982). Composer and organist. By the age of 14 he was well known as an organ recitalist. He won an organ scholarship to Mercer’s School and subsequently to the RCM (FRCO 1933), where his teachers included Vaughan Williams, among others. Although World War II interrupted his compositional development, the conclusion of the war marked the beginning of his most prolific years. His works from 1945 to the mid-1950s include the oratorio St Francis of Assisi (1948), the orchestral tone poem Aurora (1951) and the Sonatina for viola and piano (1951). Writing in a style firmly embedded in the Romanticism of such composers as Rachmaninoff, Sibelius and Franck, he became increasingly convinced that his music was ‘out of step’ with the prevailing climate of the time. Rather than compromise his approach, he virtually stopped composing, turning instead to academic music. He taught at the RCM and in ...