Jukebox Musicals Essay

Jukebox Musicals Essay

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Jukebox musicals began in film and later shifted to theatre. They had begun to make theatre more popular with the public, which had begun to gravitate towards film and music. By combining the two, they gain some of the same as well as a whole new audience. I will discuss how this came to be by speaking of the shift that occurred.
But what exactly is a jukebox musical? Well, the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a musical as “(n) a film or theatrical production typically of a sentimental or humorous nature that consists of musical numbers and dialogue based on a unifying plot”. This dictionary defines a jukebox musical as “(n) a musical that features popular songs from the past”. Classic musicals include “The Lion King”, “Aida”, and “Hairspray”. The subgenre of the jukebox musical comes in when the music begins to come specifically from one artist or time period that was popular. Examples of this include “Mama Mia”, “American Idiot”, and “Rock of Ages”.
Jukebox musicals tend to have a negative reception from scholars and critics in the musical theatre world. They tend to not view it in the same artistic glory as classic musicals but more as propaganda for the artist or the time the musical speaks to. The general misconception of these musicals is that the music will be unable to form a narrative. I believe this is false and a story can stem from music as effectively as music can stem from a story. Don’t most songs tell a story? I believe jukebox musicals can be just as good if not better if the audience is familiar with the music beforehand. If they are popular tunes, the audience members have more than likely put their own experiences in the context of the song prior to viewing the show. So when these songs appear in the mus...


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Ullom, Jeffrey. "There is am "I" in artist": dysfunctunal collaborations and the doomed 'Pop Musicals" Come (1994) and The Capeman (1998)." Studies in Musical Theatre 4.2 (2010): 211-225.
Webster, Andy. "Never Mind the Mullet; It's the Tunes." The New York Times 27 October 2008: 2.
William A. Evrett, Paul R. Laird. The Cambridge Companion to the Musical. Cambridge University Press, 2008.

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