Portal:Musical theatre

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Introduction

The Black Crook was a hit musical in 1866.

Musical theatre is a form of theatrical performance that combines songs, spoken dialogue, acting and dance. The story and emotional content of a musical – humor, pathos, love, anger – are communicated through the words, music, movement and technical aspects of the entertainment as an integrated whole. Although musical theatre overlaps with other theatrical forms like opera and dance, it may be distinguished by the equal importance given to the music as compared with the dialogue, movement and other elements. Since the early 20th century, musical theatre stage works have generally been called, simply, musicals.

Although music has been a part of dramatic presentations since ancient times, modern Western musical theatre emerged during the 19th century, with many structural elements established by the works of Gilbert and Sullivan in Britain and those of Harrigan and Hart in America. 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. The Princess Theatre musicals (1915–1918) and other smart shows like Of Thee I Sing (1931) were artistic steps forward beyond revues and other frothy entertainments of the early 20th century and led to such groundbreaking works as Show Boat (1927) and Oklahoma! (1943). Some of the most famous musicals through the decades that followed include West Side Story (1957), The Fantasticks (1960), Hair (1967), A Chorus Line (1975), Les Misérables (1985), The Phantom of the Opera (1986), Rent (1996), The Producers (2001), Wicked (2003) and Hamilton (2015).

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West Side Story is a musical written by Arthur Laurents (book), Leonard Bernstein (music), and Stephen Sondheim (lyrics). The story is based loosely on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, which was, in turn, based on a narrative poem by Arthur Brooke entitled The Tragicall Historye of Romeus and Juliet (1562).

Set in Manhattan's Upper West Side, the musical explores the rivalry between two teenage gangs of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. The young protagonist, Tony, who belongs to the white gang, falls in love with Maria, the sister of the leader of the rival Puerto Rican gang. The dark theme, sophisticated music, extended dance scenes and focus on social problems marked a turning point in American musical theater. Bernstein's score for the musical has become extremely popular, including "Something's Coming", "Maria", "America," "Somewhere," "Tonight", "Jet Song", "I Feel Pretty", "One Hand, One Heart", and "Cool".

The original 1957 Broadway production, directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins and produced by Robert E. Griffith and Harold Prince, marked Stephen Sondheim's Broadway debut. It ran for 732 performances (a very successful run for the time), before going on tour. The production garnered a Tony Award nomination for Best Musical in 1957, but the award ultimately went to Meredith Willson's The Music Man. The show has enjoyed an even longer-running London production, a number of revivals and international success, and spawned an innovative, award-winning 1961 musical film of the same name. West Side Story is produced frequently by local theaters and, occasionally, by opera companies.

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Angela Lansbury in Deuce 2007.jpg

Angela Lansbury CBE (born October 16, 1925) is a Tony-winning, Golden Globe-winning, Oscar-nominated, and Emmy-nominated English actress, best-known for playing mystery writer Jessica Fletcher on Murder, She Wrote.

On Broadway, Lansbury received good reviews from her first musical outing, the short-lived 1964 Stephen Sondheim musical Anyone Can Whistle, which co-starred Lee Remick. Two years later, she was offered what proved to be the biggest triumph of her theatrical career, the title role in Mame, Jerry Herman's musical adaptation of the novel and subsequent film Auntie Mame, which had starred Rosalind Russell. Opening at the Winter Garden Theater on May 24, 1966, Mame ran for 1508 performances. Lansbury's portrayal, opposite Bea Arthur as Vera Charles, earned her the Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical. She and Arthur became life-long friends.

Lansbury returned to the Broadway stage for the first time in more than 25 years in Deuce, a play by Terrence McNally, co-starring with Marian Seldes. The play previewed at the Music Box Theatre on April 11, 2007, and opened on May 6, 2007 in a limited run of 18 weeks. Lansbury received a Tony nomination in the category of Leading Actress in a Play for her role in this production, but did not win the Tony that year.

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The show is explicitly an homage to the PBS children's television program Sesame Street. Both Marx and puppet designer/original cast member, Rick Lyon have previously worked for Sesame Street, as have the other puppeteers in the original cast. However, unlike Sesame Street, Avenue Q openly addresses adult topics such as racism, infidelity, and masturbation; in fact, because of its adult language and content and "full puppet nudity" (including simulated sex between puppets), the show specifically disclaims any connection to the Children's Television Workshop or The Jim Henson Company. In an interview with Britain's The Times, addressing the question of potential conflicts with Henson, Marx claimed, “During early previews in the States we invited Jim Henson's widow and children and they could see that what we were doing was a homage and love letter to 'Sesame Street.'”

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