Broadway: The American Musical Poster

Episode List


Season 1

19 Oct. 2004
Give My Regards to Broadway: 1893-1927
At the beginning of the twentieth century, Broadway was dominated by two names: George M. Cohan and Florenz Ziegfeld Jr.. Cohan wrote and starred in his own shows. Ziegfeld pioneered the revue show, most notably The Follies fashioned after the Follies Bergere of Paris. His shows were an amalgam of American life at the time, most notably what was happening in New York. The show also borrowed heavily from musical theater of the period, namely vaudeville and minstrel shows. From these came many of Ziegfeld's biggest acts, such as Fanny Brice and Bert Williams, who broke the color barrier. But what the Ziegfeld Follies did more ...
19 Oct. 2004
Syncopated City: 1919-1933
The radical cultural changes that occurred in the 1920's were reflected in the Broadway musical. Musically, jazz ruled the Broadway musical stage. There was also a sense of liberation in the style of the performances, in part as a reaction to the supposed strictness of Prohibition. What ended up on stage were primarily musical comedies, still revue style, more often than not featuring stories of the newly liberated woman, often poor, who ends up with a rich husband. These stories reflected the newly mingling classes that spent time together in the speakeasies in New ...
20 Oct. 2004
I Got Plenty o' Nuttin': 1929-1942
The Great Depression ushered in a new era of the Broadway musical. Gone were the frothy, nonsensical shows of the 1920s. Broadway musicals were now either reflective of the harsh times (such as "Americana" which featured the unofficial anthem of the era, 'Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?'), political (such as the Gershwin's satire "Of Thee I Sing", the first musical whose book won the Pulitzer Prize) or earthy (such as the Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess"). Shows even dared to have as the leads unsavory characters, such as in "Pal Joey". When the shows were lighter in fare, ...
20 Oct. 2004
Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin': 1943-1960
Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II - a newly formed songwriting team due to Lorenz Hart's ill health - ushered in a new era of the Broadway musical with the revolutionary production of "Oklahoma!", in what was called the first integrated musical where the songs, musical score and choreography were all in support of moving the story forward. For Hammerstein, stories previously thought of as taboo were now ripe for transformation into Broadway musicals. Rodgers and Hammerstein were the premier songwriters of this form. What they also pioneered was the first act conditional ballad, where the romantic leads ...
21 Oct. 2004
Tradition: 1957-1979
The new innovative musical on Broadway starting this era was "West Side Story", the first musical to integrate dance movement into the everyday movement of the characters. The movement was matched by Leonard Bernstein's frenetic score. It also marked the start of the renown of the choreographer/director Jerome Robbins. The era also introduced a plethora of some of what are now considered the most popular but what would have then been also considered traditional musicals, such as "Bye Bye Birdie", "Camelot", "Funny Girl", "Gypsy", "Hello, Dolly!", "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying", ...
21 Oct. 2004
Putting It Together: 1980-Present
It is fitting that "The Producers", an homage to the making of Broadway musicals, is one the biggest hits to end this era of Broadway musicals as the producer once again comes to the forefront. Three producers dominate the era. Nicknamed the Abominable Showman, David Merrick, who was at the tail end of his career, was known as the type of producer who would do anything needed to get what publicity he wanted for his shows. Cameron Mackintosh, the producer of four of the top six most successful musicals ever in "Cats", "The Phantom of the Opera", "Les Misérables" and "Miss Saigon", revolutionized the...

 Season 1 

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