Stage work that combines songs, music, spoken dialogue, acting, and dance
Musical theatre is a form of theatrical performance that combines songs, spoken dialogue, acting and dance. Since the early 20th century, musical theatre stage works have generally been called, simply, musicals. These were followed by the numerous Edwardian musical comedies and the musical theatre works of American creators like George M. Cohan at the turn of the 20th century. Musicals are performed around the world. The three main components of a book musical are its music, lyrics and book. The music and lyrics together form the score of a musical and include songs, incidental music and musical scenes, which are "theatrical sequences set to music, often combining song with spoken dialogue.The interpretation of a musical is the responsibility of its creative team, which includes a director, a musical director, usually a choreographer and sometimes an orchestrator. There is no fixed length for a musical. Moments of greatest dramatic intensity in a book musical are often performed in song. First, musicals generally have a greater focus on spoken dialogue. Third, musicals often use various genres of popular music or at least popular singing and musical styles. Finally, musicals usually avoid certain operatic conventions. Composers of music for musicals often consider the vocal demands of roles with musical theatre performers in mind. In practice, it is often difficult to distinguish among the various kinds of musical theatre, including "musical play", "musical comedy", "operetta" and "light opera". Rock musicals usually employ a small group of mostly rock instruments, and some musicals may call for only a piano or two instruments. India has, since the 20th century, produced numerous musical films, referred to as "Bollywood" musicals, and in Japan a series of 2.5D musicals based on popular anime and manga comics has developed in recent decades. In England, Elizabethan and Jacobean plays frequently included music, and short musical plays began to be included in an evenings' dramatic entertainments. Around 1850, the French composer Hervé was experimenting with a form of comic musical theatre he called opérette. Adaptations of the French operettas (played in mostly bad, risqué translations), musical burlesques, music hall, pantomime and burletta dominated the London musical stage into the 1870s. A hugely successful musical that premiered in New York in 1866, The Black Crook, was an original musical theatre piece that conformed to many of the modern definitions of a musical, including dance and original music that helped to tell the story. The first musical theatre piece to exceed 500 consecutive performances was the French operetta The Chimes of Normandy in 1878. Gilbert and Sullivan's influence on later musical theatre was profound, creating examples of how to "integrate" musicals so that the lyrics and dialogue advanced a coherent story. These shows were immediately widely copied in America, and Edwardian musical comedy swept away the earlier musical forms of comic opera and operetta. The Princess Theatre musicals brought about a change in approach. The 1919 hit musical Irene ran for 670 performances, a Broadway record that held until 1938. These spectacles also raised production values, and mounting a musical generally became more expensive. One historian wrote, "Here we come to a completely new genre – the musical play as distinguished from musical comedy. Popular Hollywood films were made of all of these musicals. the first two-character Broadway musical. Two men had considerable impact on musical theatre history beginning in this decade: Stephen Sondheim and Jerry Herman.
Tolerance as an important theme in musicals has continued in recent decades. More varied musical genres and styles were incorporated into musicals both on and especially off-Broadway. Broadway audiences welcomed musicals that varied from the golden age style and substance. The most important writers of mega-musicals include the French team of Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil, responsible for Les Misérables, whose London production became the longest-running musical in West End and Broadway history. The 1990s also saw the influence of large corporations on the production of musicals. The Lion King is the highest-grossing musical in Broadway history. Typically, off-Broadway and regional theatres tend to produce smaller and therefore less expensive musicals, and development of new musicals has increasingly taken place outside of New York and London or in smaller venues. Examples include the musical adaptations of Lord of the Rings (2007), This style is often referred to as the "jukebox musical". In the new century, Baz Luhrmann began a revival of the film musical with Moulin Rouge! In Asia, India continues to produce numerous "Bollywood" film musicals, and Japan produces "Anime" and "Manga" film musicals. Additionally, several musicals were filmed on stage and broadcast on Public Television, Some television shows have set episodes as a musical. South Africa has an active musical theatre scene, with revues like African Footprint and Umoja and book musicals, such as Kat and the Kings and Sarafina! touring internationally. The first Chinese production in the style of Western musical theatre was The Gold Sand in 2005. Also, the international musicals scene has been particularly active in recent years.
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