By John Bush Jones
Our Musicals, Ourselves is the 1st full-scale social background of the yankee musical theater from the imported Gilbert and Sullivan comedian operas of the overdue 19th century to such fresh musicals because the manufacturers and Urinetown. whereas many aficionados of the Broadway musical affiliate it with really good, diversionary exhibits just like the track guy or My reasonable girl, John Bush Jones as a substitute selects musicals for his or her social relevance and the level to which they interact, at once or metaphorically, modern politics and tradition.
Organized chronologically, with a few liberties taken to maintain jointly equally themed musicals, Jones examines dozens of Broadway indicates from the start of the 20 th century to the current that display various hyperlinks among what performed on Broadway and what performed on newspapers’ entrance pages throughout our kingdom. He reports the productions, lyrics, staging, and casts from the lesser-known early musicals (the “gunboat” musicals of the Teddy Roosevelt period and the “Cinderella indicates” and “leisure time musicals” of the Twenties) and maintains his research with better-known indicates together with Showboat, Porgy and Bess, Oklahoma, South Pacific, West facet tale, Cabaret, Hair, corporation, A refrain Line, and plenty of others.
While so much examinations of the yankee musical concentrate on particular exhibits or emphasize the improvement of the musical as an paintings shape, Jones’s ebook makes use of musicals as a manner of illuminating broader social and cultural issues of the days. With six appendixes detailing the long-running diversionary musicals and a foreword via Sheldon Harnick, the lyricist of Fiddler at the Roof, Jones’s entire social historical past will entice either scholars and lovers of Broadway.
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Extra info for Our Musicals, Ourselves: A Social History of the American Musical Theatre
E. Campbell describes Roosevelt as “cocky, pugnacious, forthright, physically active, morally courageous—and not, perhaps, over-sensitive” (8). 18 our musicals, ourselves These adjectives apply equally to George M. Cohan, in many ways TR’s musical-theatre equivalent, whose career ﬂourished during the same years as Roosevelt’s. Cohan was a phenomenon—granted, thanks to his temperament, sometimes a less than popular one, but still a phenomenon. He acted, he sang, he danced. He wrote, directed, and starred in numerous musicals (and plays), which he usually produced or co-produced with his partner Sam Harris.
According to historian Francis Russell, “Roosevelt at the end of his ﬁrst term could claim to be the most popular man in the country. . [His] new term would make him not only the most dynamically popular president since Andrew Jackson but the most conspicuous public ﬁgure in the world” (348, 358). Yet TR’s popularity—and strong personal inﬂuence on crafting the upbeat mood of America—began long before his presidency. Prior to becoming William McKinley’s running mate and then succeeding him to the presidency upon McKinley’s assassination, Roosevelt’s political service had included stints as a New York state assemblyman, New York City police commissioner, assistant secretary of the Navy, and governor of New York.
Because the minstrel show’s deleterious effects on black musicals and performers lingered well into the twentieth century, a brief overview of minstrelsy is in order. Blackface Minstrelsy Robert C. Toll’s assertion that from the 1840s to the 1890s the indigenous minstrel show “remained the most popular entertainment form in the country” is absolutely incontestable ([v]). At its inception, blackface minstrelsy was exclusively a white, urban, male, Northern phenomenon. While there had been white blackface solo performers (notably Thomas D.