American Musicals Performance Revision

A detailed booklet covering the main points, key features and social, historical and cultural features on 7 american musicals. These helped a lot during exam so use if you are looking for a good piece of help.

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Performance Studies Revision


Key: Dance, Drama, Music elements will be written in the colour of subject.

Key Info will be highlighted.

Showboat (1927)
Music by Jerome Kern

Book & Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II

Lyrical Masterpiece which explores love and the lives of show folk on the
Mississippi in…

Page 2

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Links to the slave trade that happened ­ black slaves shipped across countries ­ sold to
work ­ kidnapped from homes ­ white people seen black people as slaves

Key Features

Plot has a logical and a believable through line

Threedimensional, believable characters (stereotyped in Revue's and Minstrel shows)

Page 3

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Social, Historical & Cultural Features

Showboat and Oklahoma! Both set in the same Historical period so Hammerstein can easily
use references from Showboat and integrate them with Oklahoma!
Social Commentary ­ Class issues raised ­ Jud is a farm hand, lower form of status to Curley
who is a cowboy…

Page 4

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Songs almost more important than the plot in carrying the action forward.
Powerful and Dynamic songs and dances due to partnership ­ Bernstein & Robbins

In the song `New York, New York' the atmosphere of the city is captured through a strong
bass line giving the sense of moving purposefully…

Page 5

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Key Features

Drama arises from clash within cultures

Theme of love developed from this conflict

Hammerstein's musical developed on conflict

Death of King known as Cathartic (relieve) ­ he is aware of his human failings and frailties ­
dies knowing he cannot come to terms with them
Dance used as…

Page 6

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Key Features

Instrumental Prologue ­ Started with Chorus girls ­ Oklahoma! Shows a lone cowboy ­ WSS
is purely instrumental (shows the importance of the music ­ no words need to be said to see
the tension between the gangs.
Significant amount of confrontational dialogue is spoken over orchestral accompaniment…

Page 7

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Key Features

Lyrics reflect charity's hopes in life and the dancing helps illustrate her character

Now a pure entertainment factor brought back in dance

Fosse has strong ideas about physique and costume ­ wants dancers to cut a sharp
image(focus on hips, knees, elbows, wrists) ­ plays a vital part…


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