"Music and girls are the soul of musical comedy," one critic wrote, early in the 1940s. But this was the age that wanted more than melody and kickline form its musical shows. The form had been running on empty for too long, as a formula for the assembly of spare partsstar comics, generic love songs, rumba dancers, Ethel Merman. If Rodgers and Hammerstein hadn't existed, Broadway would have had to invent them; and Oklahoma! and Carousel came along just in time to announce the New Formula for Writing Musicals: Don't have a formula.
Instead, start with strong characters and atmosphere: Oklahoma!'s murderous romantic triangle set against a frontier society that has to learn what democracy is in order to deserve it; or Carousel's dysfunctional family seen in the context of class and gender war.
With the vitality and occasionally outrageous humor that Ethan Mordden's readers take for granted, the author ranges through the decade's classicsPal Joey, Lady in the Dark, On the Town, Annie Get Your Gun, Phinian's Rainbow, Brigadoon, Kiss Me, Kate, South Pacific. He also covers illuminating triviathe spy thriller The Lady Comes Across, whose star got so into her role that she suffered paranoid hallucinations and had to be hospitalized; the smutty Follow the Girls, damned as "burlesque with a playbill" yet closing as the longest-run musical in Broadway history; Lute Song, in which Mary Martin and Nancy Reagan were Chinese; and the first "concept" musicals, Allegro and Love Life. Amid the fun, something revolutionary occurs. The 1920s created the musical and the 1930s gave it politics. In the 1940s, it found its soul.
|Publisher:||Oxford University Press, USA|
|Edition description:||New Edition|
|Product dimensions:||6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.00(d)|
About the Author
Ethan Mordden is one of America's foremost authorities on the American musical and the author of Make Believe: The Broadway Musical in the 1920s and Coming Up Roses: The Broadway Musical in the 1950s, both from OUP. He lives in New York City.