The Rebirth Of American Musical Theatre

Powerful Essays
Two great writers of American musical theatre, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, had one idea in common. They wanted to present to the American public a new and revolutionary musical that would stand out above the rest. They wanted to make an impact on the societies of the era. They wanted to be creative and do something that was considered rebellious. When they finally combined their ideas together they created an American masterpiece in musical theatre: Oklahoma!. It was the first Rodgers and Hammerstein collaboration, starting the most successful creative partnership in the history of American musical theatre. According to Joseph Swain in his book The Broadway Musical: A Critical and Musical Survey, there are a number of reasons why a particular work of art might be considered a milestone in the history in its genre. It might introduce innovations of technique and style so convincing that they may become extremely influential. It might attract such wide acclaim that it cannot be ignored by the artists who come after, even if the acclaimed fame eventually fades with time. It could stand as the first work of an important series. Or perhaps, it sets a new standard of artistry. (73) For whatever factors that influenced the writers to create the works they did, they produced some of the most successful and incredibly influential works of musical theatre in their time. In the years before Oklahoma! was created, Broadway was dying. New and refreshing musicals were a rare occasion and when an artist tried to create something that he hoped his audience would like, he was sadly disappointed. Broadway was suffering from a lack of what it was revered for: astounding plays and musicals. Its time of glamour and glitz was almost forgotten, and was in need of being saved. That is why Oklahoma! is considered a rebirth of the American musical theatre at the time. It brought Broadway back to life, filling theatre seats with enthusiastic audiences who embraced the changes of this new theatre musical with open arms and made it a legend. Oklahoma! set new standards for classic American theatre by introducing new techniques of presenting the musical to the audience, introducing a new genre of music into the theatre, and strayed away from the usual classic form and structure of a musical that audiences had grown used to. It was a time of change, a time of excitement,... ... middle of paper ... musical that riveted audiences and even continues to attract audiences all over the world to this day. Although Oklahoma! premiered some 40 years ago, and its style of music and dance have grown old with the passing of time, it still demands respect for its combination and imaginative ideas that revolutionized the musical industry at the time. Rodgers and Hammerstein were the dominate force in musical comedy in the 1940's and 50's. Even their flops had notable songs. Several of their shows became successful films. Oklahoma!'s importance in opening a new era in the American Musical Theatre will never be challenged. It has become an American classic that society will forever treasure for its beautiful integration of song and dance. Works Cited Bordman, Gerald. American Musical Comedy. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1986. ---. American Musical Theater: A Chronicle. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1986. Ewen, David. American Musical Theater. New York: Henry Holt, 1959. ---. The Story of America’s Musical Theater. New York: Chilton, 1968. Green, Stanley. The World of Musical Comedy. Washington, DC: Da Capo, 1980. Swain, Joseph P. The Broadway Musical: A Critical and Musical Survey. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1990.
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