FT 012-E Everyone Suddenly Burst Out Singing: The American Musical
Richard Bowen, Department of Music
American audiences have an ongoing love affair with musical theater. During a recent season in New York City, for example, more than 12 million tickets were purchased for Broadway shows at a total price of almost one billion dollars. Musicals are regularly included in the offerings of professional theater companies, colleges, universities, high schools, and community organizations. It is, in fact, difficult to find a place in America where, at any given time, a musical is not being produced nearby. In this tutorial, we will explore the world of the American musical, from its infancy and development, through its “golden age,” and into the present. We will take in the glitz and glamour, we will enjoy the diversion and extravagant entertainment, we will revel in the spectacle of some of the most successful musicals that conquered Broadway. At the same time, we will look beneath the fluff, beyond the footlights, in order to discover more substantial connections between the musical and American history, politics, and culture. We may even discover a bit more about ourselves along the way. Grab your program; take your seat—the curtain’s about to rise.