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Burroughs1

ChrisBurroughs
English102
CourtneyOsborn
20September2016
Proposal
Havemodernmusicals(1980'spresent)transitionedmusicaltheatrefromareflective
andsymbolicperformingindustrytoaneffectiveandinstructiveoneandifso,howhasthisbeen
achieved?
Thereisadichotomyinwhatisunderstoodaboutmusicaltheatre1:therearethosewho
knowandthosewhodontknow.ThosewhodonotknowrememberwatchingHairsprayor
PhantomoftheOperaa fewyearsbackandthinkingitwasprettygood.Thosewhoknow
understandthefull,oratleastamajorityofthespectrumofentertainmentandgenreswithinand
withoutofwhichmusicalsarewrittenandperformed.Andthereisafurtherdivisionamongthe
knowers:thosewhoshrewdlyrefutethecharacterofmanygenresorpointsalongthespectrum
ofmusicaltheatre,andthosewhoofferimmediatewelcometofreshcontributionsinthe
musical/theatricalsphereofwork.JerryHerman,Tonyawardwinningcomposerandoneofthe
morediscriminatingknowers,stateshisdoubtsaboutthefutureofmusicaltheatreanditsendless
subdivisionintonewerandmoreexperimentalsubgenres:Themusicaltheatrewillgoon,and
theshowtunewillneverdie.ButIdontthinkwewilleverhavethatspecialkindofAmerican
entertainmentinquitethesameway.Butwhostosaythatthefruitfulepochofmusicaltheatre
isended.Perhapsthefaceoftheindustryisonlychangingandshifting.

F
romhereoninmyworkonthispaper,theatrewillrefertotheartandactionofstagedperformanceand
theaterwillrefertoaphysicalspaceinwhichtheatreisperformed.

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MyGapwillinvolveacloseobservationandanalysisofthesechangesandshifts.Itis
myconceitthatthepurposeandsocietalvalueofmusicaltheatrehasbeenmorphedovertime.In
theearlieryearsoftheindustry,musicaltheatrewas,inaway,amirrorheldtosociety.The
strugglesofmankindwereportrayedonthestageor,evenlesshelpfully,thestrugglesofman
manyyearsprior.Musicalsthenweremereperformancesofwhatalreadydidexist.Yetnowwe
arefacedwithanewgenerationofmusicalsandperformanceswhichtranscendthepurposeof
theirpredecessors.Whilesomeremainhistoricalandreminiscent,moderncomposersandwriters
havenowfullyenvelopedanddevelopedtheartofallegoryandhaveexpandedthescopeof
theatretobetterunderstand,processandthenbuilduponthemodernworldsdownfallsand
desires.TheyetnarrowingquestionsIwillattempttoanswerareWhorevolutionizedtheworld
ofmusicaltheatre,Howhavetheydoneit,andWhatimpacthasthishadontheatres
relationshipwithgeneralpublicorsociety?How,indeed,diditcometobethatmusicaltheatre
nolongertakescuesfromtheworldbuttheworldtakescuesfrommusicaltheatre?
Inpursuingtheanswerstothesequestions,myresearchwillrequirelessresearchbased
inquirythanwouldbeassumed.Myownartisticanalysesandreviewsofmusicalsfromdifferent
eras(preandpost1980)shouldbethemostinformativeasIwillbeabletocompareand
contrasttheliterary,musicalandproductionvaluesoftheseshows.Icanthentakethishesitantly
subjectiveinformationandsuperimposeituponthethousandsofprofessionalreviewsand
critiquesaswellasstatisticsregardingpublicintrigueinordertohaveasomewhatdefinitive
markingofpublicreceptionversuspublicinfluence.Acloser,still,observationof(original)
landmarkmodernmusicalsincludingL
esMiserables,Rent,AChorusLine,Hamiltonand[ title
ofshow]a swellastheirreceptionwillprovideabetterunderstandingofhowexactlythese

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showscametobesoinfluentialandgamechanging(forexample,H
amiltonwasoneofthe
primaryreasonsthatAlexanderHamiltonremainsthefaceofthe$10bill).Fromthere,deeper
readingsinscholarlyjournals,blogsandessaysontheinfluence,appealandcorenatureof
musicaltheatrewillsupplementmyfinalproduct.
Throughthisresearchandfinalsynthesis,Ihopetopinpointthemajordifferences
betweenmodernandclassicalmusicals.Ononelevelitwillbeinterestingtoobservehowthey
differstylisticallyandhowtheyhavetailoredtheirtechnical,auditoryandvisualcomponentsto
appealtothemassesandincreasenotabilityformusicaltheatreasawhole.Andwhatsmore,
cleardivisionsshouldcometolightbetweentheaudience/publicrelationshipthatwentonduring
eacheraofmusicaltheatre.Iwishtoidentify,ifpossible,justhowdifferentlymusicaltheatrehas
affecteditsspectators,andhowithasbeenitselfaffectedbyitsspectators,overtime.Itismy
hopethatthispaperwillrevealthetenetsofarevolutionarymusical,howoneachievesthis
definitionofrevolutionaryandwhatthatmeansforthecurrentcultureofmusicaltheatre.