Sydney Recording Studio: The musical as we know it has some of its roots in the French and Viennese Operettas of the 1800s. The satiric works of Jacques Offenbach (Paris) and the romantic comedies of Johann Strauss II (Vienna) were the first musicals to achieve international popularity. Continental operettas were well received in England, but audiences there preferred the looser variety format of the Music Hall.
Sydney Recording Studio: Broadway
While the contemporary Broadway musical took its form from operetta, it got its comic soul from the variety entertainments that delighted America from the mid-1800s onward. Crude American Variety and Minstrel Shows eventually gave way to the more refined pleasures of Vaudeville — and the rowdy spirit of Burlesque.
The success of The Black Crook (1860) opened the way for the development of American musicals in the 1860s, including extravaganzas, pantomimes, and the musical farces of Harrigan & Hart. The comic operettas of Gilbert & Sullivan (1871-1896) were witty, tuneful and exquisitely produced – leading to new standards of theatrical production. After Gilbert and Sullivan, the theatre in Britain and the United States was re-defined – first by imitation, then by innovation.
Sydney Recording Studio: Musical comedy
In the 1920s, the American musical comedy gained worldwide influence. Broadway saw the composing debuts of Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hart, the Gershwins and many others. The British contributed several intimate reviews and introduced the multi-talented Noel Coward. Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II wrote the innovative Showboat (1927) the most lasting hit of the 1920s.
Sydney Recording Studio: Broadway
The Great Depression did not stop Broadway – in fact, the 1930s saw the lighthearted musical comedy reach its creative zenith. The Gershwin’s Of Thee I Sing (1931) was the first musical ever to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Rodgers & Hart (On Your Toes – 1936) and Cole Porter (Anything Goes – 1934) contributed their share of lasting hit shows and songs.
The 1940s started out with business-as-usual musical comedy, but Rodgers & Hart’s Pal Joey and Weill and Gershwin’s Lady in the Dark opened the way for more realistic musicals. Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma (1943) was the first fully integrated musical play, using every song and dance to develop the characters or the plot. After Oklahoma, the musical would never be the same – but composers Irving Berlin (Annie Get Your Gun – 1946) and Cole Porter (Kiss Me Kate – 1947) soon proved themselves ready to adapt to the integrated musical.
During the 1950s, the music of Broadway was the popular music of the western world. Every season brought a fresh crop of classic hit musicals that were eagerly awaited and celebrated by the general public. Great stories, told with memorable songs and dances were the order of the day, resulting in such unforgettable hits as The King and I, My Fair Lady, Gypsy and dozens more.
At first, the 1960s were more of the same, with Broadway turning out record setting hits (Hello, Dolly!, Fiddler on the Roof). But as popular musical tastes shifted, the musical was left behind. The rock musical “happening” Hair (1968) was hailed as a landmark, but it ushered in a period of confusion in the musical theatre.
Composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim and director Hal Prince refocused the genre in the 1970s by introducing concept musicals – shows built around an idea rather than a traditional plot. Company (1970), Follies (1972) and A Little Night Music (1973) succeeded, while rock musicals quickly faded into the background. The concept musical peaked with A Chorus Line (1974), conceived and directed by Michael Bennett. No, No, Nanette (1973) initiated a slew of popular 1970s revivals, but by decade’s end the battle line was drawn between serious new works (Sweeney Todd) and heavily commercialized British mega-musicals (Evita).
Sydney Recording Studio: Mega Musicals
By the 1990s, new sydney recording studio mega-musicals were no longer winning the public, and costs were so high that even long-running hits (Crazy for You, Sunset Boulevard) were unable to turn a profit on Broadway. New stage musicals now required the backing of multi-million dollar corporations to develop and succeed – a trend proven by Disney’s Lion King, and Livent’s Ragtime. Even Rent and Titanic were fostered by smaller, Broadway-based corporate entities.
What lies ahead in the future? It’s hard to say, but there will most assuredly be new musicals. The musical may go places some of its fans will not want to follow, but the form will live on so long as people like a story told with sydney recording studio songs.