Gower Champion: Dance and American Musical Theatre

Gower Champion: Dance and American Musical Theatre



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Gower Champion: Dance and American Musical Theatre by David Payne-Carter, Brooks McNamara, Steve Nelson

Gower Champion's career spanned the years during which American musical theatre was transformed from a crude popular entertainment into a sophisticated art form. As the director and choreographer of Hello, Dolly!, 42nd Street, and other Broadway musicals, he was central to that transformation. He came of age during the zenith of American musical theatre production and made his mark on both sides of the curtain. As a dancer, he gained notoriety through his work with Jeanne Tyler and Marjorie Belcher, and his experience as a performer gave him a solid foundation for his later success as an organizer of memorable productions. As a choreographer and director, he became known for spectacular numbers that blended dance, staging, and elaborate scenography. More than anyone else, he seemed to realize that the achievement of a musical depended on those spots where music, dance, lighting, costumes, and staging created a sustained narrative and emotional flow through sound and motion rather than words. This book provides the first extensive treatment of Champion's life and legendary career.

The book falls neatly into two main sections. The first discusses Champion's career as a performer, with chapters on his early Broadway appearances and his work for MGM Special attention is given to how his experiences as a dancer prepared him for the later half of his career. The second examines his work as a choreographer and director and is organized around the musicals with which he was involved. Each chapter consists of a history of one or more of those productions, from original concept to opening night and sometimes beyond, as Champion, ever the perfectionist, sought to improve on what everyone else thought was already perfect. The volume is fully documented, with basic historical research conducted at several special collections. In addition, the book is based on a careful analysis of Champion's scripts, which include numerous revisions and thus illuminate how he crafted his productions. Finally, the study depends on interviews conducted with various individuals who knew and worked with Champion throughout his impressive career.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780313304514
Publisher: Greenwood Publishing Group, Incorporated
Publication date: 03/28/1999
Series: Contributions in Drama and Theatre Studies: Lives of the Theatre Series
Pages: 216
Product dimensions: 6.36(w) x 9.50(h) x 0.90(d)
Lexile: 1400L (what's this?)

About the Author

DAVID PAYNE-CARTER was an Assistant Professor of Drama at New York University at the time of his death in 1991. He previously taught at Oberlin College and at the University of Delaware. He traveled extensively as a performer, writer, musician, and director for a USO tour in Central and South America. He studied at the Catholic University of America, Southwest Texas State University, St. Vincent Benedictine Monastery, and the Royal Conservatory of Music in Madrid, and continued to write and direct during his career as an educator.

BROOKS McNAMARA is Professor of Performance Studies at New York University, and Director of the Shubert Archive. He is the author or editor of 12 books, numerous articles on the theater and related subjects, and a contributing editor of Film History. He has lectured at many universities and museums, and has appeared on radio and television. Professor McNamara has been a Fulbright Scholar and a Guggenheim Fellow.

STEVE NELSON teaches musical theatre and popular performance in the Department of Drama at New York University and produces an historical recordings series of noted songwriters performing their own songs, including Cole Porter, Frank Loesser, and Yip Harburg. He is also co-editing (with Robert Kimball) The Complete Lyrics of Frank Loesser, scheduled for publication in 2000.

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