Showboat: A Revolutionary Production

Powerful Essays
Showboat; a Revolutionary Production

The 1900’s were a time for great transformations and growth within the theatrical community. Of all types of theater that were developed during that period, musical theater matured into a more respected and widely desired form of entertainment. Musical theater transformed from blackface minstrel shows with gag productions into pieces of reputable theater. One of the most influential productions in making that turn into sophistication is Showboat. Based on the novel by Edna Ferber Showboat was written by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II (Smith 627). Showboat was premiered in the Ziegfeld Theatre on December 27, 1927 (Smith 627). The 1926 novel chronicled the lives of a musical and racially integrated cast upon the Cotton Blossom. The production of Showboat marked the rebirth of musical theater because it set the standards for any American Musical by shattering theatrical traditions. For the first time Showboat would introduce a well written production with incorporated and advanced music and lyrics that furthered the plot. The caricature style of gaudy actions and unrealistic productions were gone. For the first time the plot was just as important as the music. The new format of an elevated production along with the controversial topics of the time shook the customs of musical theater. Showboat is often considered one of the most influential American productions because it made a timeless statement about the Civil War era culture of the American south and established a new genre of theater.

Showboat is a production that paved the way for new genre of musical theater. Even today the majority of viewers cannot classify Showboat; “Smith calls it a musical comedy; McSpadden a ...

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