Showing posts with label Broadway Musical. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Broadway Musical. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

RODGERS and HAMMERSTEIN II, the Greatest Musicals Partnership of all Time

Richard Rodgers, Irving Berlin, Oscar Hammerst...
Richard Rodgers, Irving Berlin, Oscar Hammerstein II, and Helen Tamiris (back), watching hopefuls who are being auditioned on stage of the St. James Theatre (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Over the weekend, I drifted to my nearest local EZY video shop. While waiting to be served, I drifted to the comedy, musicals, and the crime sections. It was the musicals that greatly attracted my interest. I've always loved musicals, something amiss nowadays, replaced by films with much violence, sexual overtones, political, science fiction and other action-packed Hollywood offerings. Slowly, my thoughts lingered to refreshing movies with music - The Sound of Music, Carousel, South Pacific, Camelot, My Fair Lady, and Mary Poppins among others. Yes, I particularly mean movie musicals!

Soon enough my memories wafted to the greatest musical collaboration of all time, that of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, the most successful legendary songwriting team in musical theatre history. Rodgers wrote the music, and Hammerstein wrote the lyrics. Most of the stage musicals of Rodgers and Hammerstein were made into movies, also with phenomenal success, in particular, The Sound of Music.  

At 16, Richard Rodgers (1902-1979) initially wrote a number of successful songs with Lorenz Hart, a partnership that lasted for over twenty years. Hart died in 1943. The same year Rodgers and Hammerstein (1895-1960) teamed up and started their first musical collaboration with Oklahoma! based on a play called 'Green Grow the Lilacs' by Lynn Riggs. Oklahoma! is very different from most musicals written up to that time where they were mainly songs and comedy, with little plot. Usually, the songs had little to do with the story. Oklahoma! has a plot. The songs either help move the plot along or help the audience understand the characters. The story is partly fun and has a serious side too. This is because Rodgers's background was mostly in the old-style, "fun" musicals, while Hammerstein's background was in opera and operetta--more "serious" types of music. When Rodgers worked with Hart, he wrote the music first, and then Hart wrote the lyrics. But in this new team, Hammerstein wrote the lyrics first and Rodgers created the music to fit.

Audiences loved Oklahoma!. It played on Broadway for 2,248 performances, breaking all Broadway box office records for shows until that time. It also won the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1944, which changed the face of stage musicals - an emotional story told through music, dance and lyrics as never before. After Oklahoma! Rodgers and Hammerstein went on to create Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I and The Sound of Music. The impact on these shows for Broadway and amateur stage, both in terms of popular appeal and their influence on other writers, was overwhelming.

Carousel, the duo's next big hit in 1945, had an even more dramatic plot than Oklahoma!. Instead of the usual overture before the show begins, the show opens with the whole cast performing a ballet as the orchestra plays.
South Pacific, written in 1949, and based on 'Tales from the South Pacific' by novelist James A. Michener, is set during World War II. It has the most serious plot of any Rodgers and Hammerstein show because it confronts both war and racism. South Pacific also won the Pulitzer Prize.

The King and I is about conflicts between cultures. It is based on a true story about Anna Leonowens, a British governess who went to Siam (now Thailand) to teach the king's children. Anna finds life in Siam very different from what she is accustomed to, but she and the king come to like each other despite their differences.

Rodgers and Hammerstein's final collaboration was The Sound of Music, in 1959. It is also based on a true story, about a young novice nun who becomes the governess for seven children of a widower, Captain Von Trapp. This musical also has a serious side--it is set in the days of Nazi Germany, and the Von Trapp family's freedom is at stake. The beautiful song "Edelweiss" from The Sound of Music was the last song Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote together. Hammerstein died of cancer on August 23, 1960. After Hammerstein's death, Rodgers wrote other shows with other lyricists, including Stephen Sondheim, but none reached the heights of his work with Hammerstein.

For always, I will relish the most beautiful and poignant legacy of their partnership. How can I forget such immortal, refreshing, and most wonderful hit songs on stage and film history as these:

Oklahoma! - "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'," "People Will Say We're in Love," "Many a New Day," "I Can't Say No," and the final rousing chorus of "Oklahoma!" itself.
Carousel - "You'll Never Walk Alone" and "If I loved You."
South Pacific - "There is Nothin' Like a Dame," "This Nearly Was Mine," "Younger Than Springtime" and "Some Enchanted Evening."
The King and I - "Getting to Know You," "I Whistle a Happy Tune," "Something Wonderful" and "Hello, Young Lovers."
The Sound of Music - "Edelweiss," "My Favorite Things", "Climb Ev'ry Mountain," "The Lonely Goatherd", as well as the title song.

Who knows, we might yet have another Rodgers and Hammerstein in the making, an anodyne to all these turbulence and disarray in our world today. As I write this, nearby, my sound system is playing Carousel, softly beckoning me to join in. That I never cease listening to their music and at times singing their songs is a privilege. I'm at it now, " ... how I loved you... if I loved you."

Sunday, December 31, 2017


Richard Rodgers, Irving Berlin, Oscar Hammerst...
Richard Rodgers, Irving Berlin, Oscar Hammerstein II, and Helen Tamiris (back), watching hopefuls who are being auditioned on stage of the St. James Theatre (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There are many places where you can go to have a great time but none of these will provide you hours of magic like Broadway. Now even though we have all at one time or another seen musical shows and plays on Broadway there must have been a time when Broadway was just a dream. To really know the Broadway history you may have to look in various places.

You can, however, be assured that you will find rich facts which will make visiting this period in time quite fascinating. You will find out the time when Broadway has first created and the various plays which have been shown. You can find out the ways in which Broadway has managed to withstand the advances in technology.

While you are looking through Broadway history you might also want to see the various plays which have helped to keep the history of this place alive. Now even though this part of the Broadway history can be quite fascinating you should look at the different aspects of producing a show. This will illustrate just how well a place like Broadway has the capability of keeping audiences coming.

One of the facts that you will find in the Broadway history files is the fact that Broadway has been around to help people understand and get involved in various national crisis issues. While the media dominates the mainstream of today’s entertainment there is still a place for Broadway entertainment. The many wonderful plays and musical shows that you will see are a testament to the popularity of Broadway.

One tiny note which should be mentioned is that despite its popularity Broadway has never been able to regain the popularity that it enjoyed in the 1920s. Even so, you can still see many great plays which have been produced by a number of talented people. These people are ones like Oscar Hammerstein, George Gershwin, Richard Rodgers, and Cole Porter to name a few.

In the Broadway history, you will find that besides these individuals there are many great composers, playwrights, songwriters and others who have all helped produce fantastic plays which still have the ability to captivate audiences no matter what their ages. What this small tour of Broadway history shows you is that despite the many advances in technology there is still a place for live entertainment. The best of these can be found on Broadway.

And so long as there are people who are interested in seeing quality entertainment Broadway will continue to turn out superb musical shows and great plays. The Broadway history will continue as long as people still enjoy this form of live entertainment.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

COLE PORTER - Composer Extraordinaire

Most people know Cole Porter for 1948's Tony Award-winning Broadway musical "Kiss Me Kate." Based on William Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew," this was neither Cole Porter's first or last work.

A very accomplished musician, Cole Porter was born to a wealthy pharmacist and his wife on June 9, 1891, in Peru, Indiana. Cole was the only surviving child of three. His siblings died in infancy. His mother doted on him, and she began his musical training at the early age of six with the violin. He began piano at eight, and with the help of his mother wrote his first song, "Song of the Birds," by age ten.

Cole Porter - Photo: Wikipedia
Even though his talent as a musician was evident at an early age, it was his father's wish for Cole to become a lawyer. Cole went on Yale and Harvard. Cole was never to become a lawyer, however, and at a dean's suggestion, he switched his major to arts and sciences.

Cole wrote his first hit song in 1916, entitled "Esmeralda." This was quickly followed with a taste of failure, however, when his first Broadway production, "See America First," based on a book by Larrason Riggs, ran for only two weeks before closing as a complete flop.

Cole then moved to Paris, France, where he lived on an allowance provided by his mother and grandmother. It was there he met and married Linda Lee Thomas, a wealthy Kentucky born divorcee. The marriage was rumored to be a business arrangement, as he was known throughout his career to have had many male lovers. Many of his hit songs were supposedly written for several of these men.
Although still writing songs, Porter sat out most of the 1920's. Reportedly, he helped with war efforts throughout Europe. He has even joined the French Foreign Legion, and his uniform can still be seen on display today.

Cole Porter reintroduced himself onto Broadway in 1928 with his musical, "Paris." The score included the hit song, "Let's Do It, Let's Fall in Love."

Continuing to work on Broadway, Porter introduced Ethel Merman in 1935 with "Jubilee," after which he included her in five more of his productions because he loved her brassy voice and wrote songs to showcase this trait. Cole then wrote several musical productions which included Fred Astaire's last stage show, "Gay Divorce," in 1932. Over these years he also worked with Bob Hope and Jimmy Durante.

In 1937, tragedy struck. Cole Porter's legs were crushed during a riding accident. While awaiting rescue, Porter wrote the song "At Long Last Love." Cole was hospitalized for two years and restricted to a wheelchair for five. Over the remainder of his life, this talented musician endured over thirty surgeries to his legs.
During the next twenty years, Cole Porter was nominated for four Oscars. In 1961, he finally won a Grammy for best soundtrack album from a motion picture for 1960's "Can-Can."

"Can-Can" was Cole Porter's last major production. He lived out the rest of his 73 years in relative seclusion, refusing even to attend events held in his honor. Cole Porter followed his wife in death. She died in 1954 from emphysema. He died on October 15, 1964, in Santa Monica, California. He was returned to Peru to be buried at Mount Hope Cemetery between his wife and his father. His mother preceded him in death from a cerebral hemorrhage in 1952. Upon his death, Cole Porter left his 350-acre estate, known as Buxton Hill, to William's College.

Remembered for his sophisticated, sometimes ribald lyrics, clever rhymes and complex forms, Porter was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970. His estate continues to bring in revenue in excess of three million dollars per year, which is dispersed among several family members.

Monday, October 9, 2017


Leonard Bernstein by Jack Mitchell.jpg
 "Leonard Bernstein by Jack Mitchell" by Jack Mitchell.Photo Wikipedia
At the age of 15, Louis became Leonard Bernstein. As a child, Leonard was always interested in music and was frequently taken to concerts. He began to play piano and attended the Garrison School, Boston Latin School, Harvard University, and the Curtis Institute of Music. In his life, Bernstein accomplished a great deal. When "West Side Story" came to life, his career skyrocketed.

Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" has been a classic love story for hundreds of years. In 1957, the classic masterpiece of love, death, and fury was given a new flare. Leonard Bernstein composed the music for the cast of main characters. With a plot similar to "Romeo and Juliet," the musical amazed audiences worldwide. Arthur Laurents wrote the book. Bernstein composed the music, and Stephen Sondheim created the lyrics for Bernstein's music.

The love story is set in 1950's upper west side Manhattan. The plot, similar to Shakespeare's infamous love story, surrounds two gangs. A member of each gang falls in love. Tony, who is a Manhattan gang member, falls in love with Maria, a Puerto Rican gang leader's sister. Like Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet," "West Side Story" illuminated themes of juvenile delinquency, but the delinquency was represented through the gang wars and mischief instead of rival families.

The music by Leonard Bernstein from the play has become quite popular over the last 51 years, especially with the 1961 release of "West Side Story" the film. Bernstein's most famous numbers include the following: "Maria," "America," "Somewhere," "Jet Song," and "I Feel Pretty".

Starting on September 26, 1957, "West Side Story" was performed 732 times prior to going on tour. It was nominated for Best Musical in 1957's Tony Awards, but it did not win. However, the Tony Award for Best Choreography did go to "West Side Story" that year. 2008 marks the 50th-anniversary revival of "West Side Story." The revival begins July 22 at Sadler's Wells Theatre in London. While the original cast will not be performing, the new cast is eager to perform this amazing play, which has been staged in numerous theatres and opera houses all over the world. Another revival is set for Washington, D.C.'s National Theatre and in mid-December.

National tours for "West Side Story" have crossed the United States, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Australia, Israel, and Africa. Adaptations of the play have also been written. Philippe Gobeille presented a French version of this play in 2008 in Quebec and a Philippine version is scheduled to begin performances in September 2008.

References to "West Side Story" and many of the musical pieces in it have influenced many facets of music and culture. "I Feel Pretty" has been featured in the films "Anger Management" and "Dirty Dancing." References to the play can also be exhibited in "Analyze That," "Shrek," Michael Jackson's "Beat It" music video, Saturday Night Live, and Friends.

References to the play can also be heard in modern music. Santana's "Maria Maria," Kiss's "Hide Your Heart," Metallica's "America," Dire Straits' "Romeo and Juliet," and Alice Cooper's "Gutter Cat vs. the Jets" all have ties or references to "West Side Story." Bernstein's legendary music will remain a staple of pop culture for centuries to come.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

MARY POPPINS - Inspired from Children’s Series Book

Mary Poppins on Broadway today is only an inspired version from the book written by P. L. Travers which was illustrated by Mary Shepard. That book talks about the strange and magical English nanny named Mary Poppins. She came to Seventeen Cherry Tree Lane, London in the family of Banks. She takes care of their children. The kids experience different adventures with chimney sweeps and shopkeepers until Mary Poppins suddenly pops out.

Mary Poppins
Photo  by Sam Howzit 
The adventure does not only take place in one book but up until to the eight book. Mary Poppins can only be seen arriving and leaving in the first three books. It is explained by P. L. Travers that "She cannot forever arrive and depart" in that next five books.

It was then brought to musical Disney film in 1964 which starred by Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke. Then there was a stage musical adaptation in the West End theatre during the year 2004. By the year 2006, it was transferred to Broadway. Till now it is still running and more people are coming to watch the show. It is as successful as the classic 1964 film.

In fact, by the year 1938, there was already an attempt to purchase the film rights to Mary Poppins from P. L. Travers. Unluckily, Travers rejected the offer due to his belief that the film is not capable of giving justice to her work and she did not want an animated cartoon based on it. Fortunately, in the year 1961 Walt Disney succeeded but Travers demanded script approval rights.

It consumed two years of planning the film and composing the songs. Sherman Brothers created the songs in the film. The casts were played by Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins, Dick Van Dyke as supporting the role of Bert, Karen Dotrice and Matthew Garber as the Banks children and David Tomlinson and Glynis Johns as Mr. and Mrs. Banks. The film is rated G by the MPAA. It was observed that Mary was kinder than in her character in Traver's novels.

You can see all the adventures from the book in the films. You will witness additional adventures added by Walt Disney and his associates.

Six years ago a musical version of Mary Poppins opened at the Prince Theatre, London which is inspired by the Disney film and the books. It was praised by many viewers and luckily recommended for nine 2005 Olivier Awards. They won awards for Best Actress in a Musical for Laura Michelle and Best Theatre Choreography for Matthew Bourne and Stephen Mear. The original music and lyrics by Sherman brothers was use and was added with new songs and lyrics by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe.

By the year 2006, a Broadway production opened at the New Amsterdam Theatre, New York. It was a box office success and even nominated for Tony Awards for seven times. In fact, they won Best Scenic Design of a Musical for Bob Crowley. There are tour productions to many places among are National UK tour and National US tour.

Mary Poppins continue being friendly and helpful from the Disney film. She became vainer than her film portrayal following the books.

    Sebastian Mayer has watched some great shows of Broadway. - Article Source: GoArticles

Tuesday, May 23, 2017


Some of the greatest Broadway shows are no longer available as live performances but have been recorded so that they bring out people get to see them even in future, long after the show as already has been performed.

This is a logo owned by RUG Ltd. for illustration of the article on the subject indicated by this logo.

A playwright by the name Andrew Lloyd Webber created a show that was known as the Broadway musicals cats. This has been proven to be one of the most exhilarating shows to ever have been made. It grasped audiences in multitudes. People could not stop talking about it long after it was performed. This is always a great reward for the playwrights. The reviews for this show were also very worthwhile.

A script could be amazing but the troupe meant to bring out the story could be horrendous. It is therefore of great importance that the troupe act out the story well. The troupe who did the story of the Broadway musicals cats was magnificent. The story being about how cats survive in the world, you could actually be forgiven to think the cats themselves did the acting. This tells you how well the troupe played the roles.

Some people are skeptical about Broadway shows and think that they are only for a certain age limit. The truth is that a show like the Broadway musicals cats is for everyone, be it young or old. The younger ones however seem to have much more fun with the shows than the adults. This is true because of the strong imagination they have. The cats in the show are not like your ordinary Garfield, they have different colors like red and blue. How is that for imagination!

By Peter Gitundu
Peter Gitundu Creates Interesting And Thought Provoking Content on Broadway Dancers. 
Article Source: EzineArticles