The Rebirth Of American Musical Theatre Essay

3229 Words 13 Pages
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
…show more content…
has been recognized as a new kind of musical play that denied its Broadway audiences many of their most treasured traditions, says David Ewen in American Musical Theatre. There was no opening chorus line, no chorus until midway through the first act, in fact. There was rather a serious ballet and other serious overtones, including a killing in act two. The story, which was so simple, seemed to engage the audience in more than mere evening diversion. (248) These changes, far from disappointing to viewers, were upheld by a success that had never been seen in the history of musical theatre.

He continued to say that with their first collaboration, Rodgers and Hammerstein ushered in a new era for the musical theatre. This beautiful folk play realized fully that which the earlier Rodgers and Hart musicals had been striving to obtain: a synchronization of all the elements of the musical theatre into a single entity. At best Oklahoma! could lay legitimate claim to have carefully woven a new element, dance, into the artful fabric of the modern musical. No longer would singers sing and then go into their dance, a purely decorative dance at that. (248)

Dance was not a new element in the theatre realm. It had been used for years as a way of interpretation of feelings of a character that the writer or director wanted the audience to feel visually. Through movement, expression of those feelings was portrayed and helped the audience to somewhat
Open Document