Musical theatre is a form of theatre that combines songs, spoken dialogue, acting, and dance. The story and emotional content of the piece – 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 of the works. 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, culminating with 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. The Princess Theatre musicals 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 and iconic 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 (1994), The Producers (2001) and Wicked (2003).
Musicals are performed all around the world. They may be presented in large venues, such as big budget West End and Broadway theatre productions in London and New York, or in smaller fringe theatre, Off-Broadway or regional theatre productions, on tour, or by amateur groups in schools, theatres and other performance spaces. In addition to Britain and North America, there are vibrant musical theatre scenes in many countries in Europe, Latin America, Australasia and Asia.
Famous quotes containing the words musical and/or theatre:
“Each child has his own individual expressions to offer to the world. That expression can take many forms, from artistic interests, a way of thinking, athletic activities, a particular style of dressing, musical talents, different hobbies, etc. Our job is to join our children in discovering who they are.”
—Stephanie Martson (20th century)
“I can get dressed earlier in the evening with every intention of going to a dance at midnight, but somehow after the theatre the thing to do seems to be either to go to bed or sit around somewhere. It doesnt seem possible that somewhere people can be expecting you at an hour like that.”
—Robert Benchley (18891945)