A musical, or musical comedy, is a stage work in which songs and dialogues, music and dances are mixed. The ancestors of this genre are operetta, vaudeville and burlesque. Musicals are one of the most commercial theatrical arts. This is due to their entertainment and expensive special effects. It is believed that the first musical was staged in 1866 in New York and was called Black Crook.
The beginning of the 20th century gave an impetus to the development of the genre in America, and the 30s, along with the work of talented composers Gershwin, Porter and Kern. The 60s brought new ideas to musicals, with time the number of performances began to decrease, but the decorations and costumes became more lavish.
In 1985, the monopoly of the United States and Britain for musicals was violated by the French with their “Les Miserables”. Today musicals, timidly born in the USSR in the 70’s, are popular in Russia. Let’s talk about the ten most famous works of this genre in the history of its existence. “My Fair Lady.”
To write the musical Frederick Lowe, the author of music, and Alan Lerner, the author of the libretto and lyrics, the drama of Bernard Shaw “Pigmillion” came upon. Not surprisingly, the plot of their joint creativity repeats the drama Shaw, which tells how the main character, being originally a flower girl, becomes a young charming lady. According to the plot of the musical in the course of the dispute between the professor of phonetics and his friend the linguist, such a transformation took place. Eliza Doolittle moved to the house of the scientist to go through a difficult path of study. In the end, at the embassy ball, the girl with brilliance stands a hard exam. The premiere of the musical took place on March 15, 1956. In London, the performance was given only in April 1958. The role of Professor-teacher was made by Rex Harrison, and the role of Eliza went to Julie Andrews. The show immediately won furious popularity, tickets for it were sold out for six months ahead. This turned out to be a real surprise for the creators. As a result, on Broadway performance was given 2717 times, and in London – 2281. The musical was translated into eleven languages and was held in more than twenty countries. “My Fair Lady” received the “Tony” awards. In total, more than 5 million records of the musical with the original Broadway cast were sold. In 1964, the movie of the same name was released, for the right to film the musical, the bosses of Warner Brothers paid a record for that time 5.5 million dollars. Elise played Audrey Hepburn, and Rex Harrison became her partner, moving to the cinema from the theatrical stage. And the success of the film was stunning – he was nominated for 12 Oscars and got 8 of them. The musical is so loved by the audience that it can now be seen in London.
“Sounds of Music”.
German film “Family von Trapp” became the basis for this musical. In 1958, the idea was moved from the cinema to the theatrical stage by scriptwriters Howard Lindsay and Russell Cruise, the producer Richard Holliday and his wife Mary Martin, who was an actress. The picture told about the Austrian family, which, fleeing from the Nazis, went to America. The plot of the film was not invented, it was based on the book of Maria von Trapp, who was directly involved in those events. Mary Martin herself was at that time a celebrity of the musical theater, in the same case it was a serious dramatic role. However, the actress could not refuse to perform in a new role for herself as a singer. First, the authors decided to arrange the production with the help of folk songs and religious hymns of the von Trapp family. However, Mary insisted that there was a song written specifically for her. With the help of composer Richard Rogers and librettist Oscar Hammerstein, new musical numbers appeared in the play, and a musical arose. He premiered on Broadway on November 16, 1959. The partner of Mary Martin was Theodore Bickel, who played the role of Captain von Trapp.Mary Martin was so popular that the public from all sought to see the premiere of the musical with her participation, providing generous gatherings. “Sounds of Music” received 8 Tony Awards, this work was played 1443 times. The original album also received a Grammy award. In 1961, the musical began its tour of the United States, at the same time the show was opened in London, where it was staged for 6 years, becoming the longest-running American musical in the capital of England. In June 1960, filmmakers from 20th Century Fox acquired the rights to film the production for $ 1.25 million. Although the plot of the film differed from the play, but it was he who brought “The Sound of Music” truly world fame. The premiere of the film took place March 2, 1965 in New York, he was able to win 5 Oscars out of 10, which was nominated. Subsequently, attempts were made to film the musical, but this did not prevent its popularity, as an independent representation. In the 90s “Sounds of Music” were held in Greece and Israel, Finland and Sweden, Peru and China, Iceland and the Netherlands.
For this legendary performance, the stories “Christ stories” by Christopher Isherwood, telling about life in Germany in the early 30s, were taken as the basis. Another part of the narrative came from John Van Druent’s play “I am a camera”, which tells of the love of a young American writer and singer of the Berlin cabaret Sally Bowles. Fate brought young Brian Roberts, an aspiring writer, who worked as a tutor in the capital of Germany in the early 1930s. Here he meets Sally, falls in love with her, receiving a lot of new and unforgettable sensations. Only now the singer refuses to follow the guy to Paris, breaking his heart. Cabaret, which was once a symbol of freedom, begins to gradually fill up the people with a swastika on their sleeves … The premiere of the musical took place on November 20, 1966. The performance was performed by the famous Broadway director Harold Prince. The music of John Kantser lay on the texts of Fred Ebb, and the libretto was written by Joe Masteroff. The original line-up included Joel Gray, in the role of entertainer, Jill Havorth, who played the role of Sally, and Burt Cliff, who played Cliff. The performance sustained 1165 performances, having received all the same 8 “Tony”. In 1972, the screen saw the movie “Cabaret” directed by Bob Foss. Joel Gray played the same role, but Sally brilliantly embodied Lisa Minelli, Bryan also played Michael York. The film received 8 Oscars. An updated version of the musical appeared before the audience in 1987, and where without Joel Gray? But in 1993 in London and 1998 on Broadway, a new musical “Cabaret”, staged by Sam Mendes, had already begun its own way. And this version received many awards, being submitted 2377 times. Finally, the musical was closed on January 4, 2004, for how long? “Jesus Christ is a superstar.”
The music for the piece was written by the legendary Andrew Lloyd Weber, and Tim Rice created the libretto. Initially, it was planned to create a full-fledged opera, using the modern musical language and all the relevant traditions – there should have been arias of the main characters. The difference between this musical and the traditional is that there are no dramatic elements, everything is based on recitative and vocal. Here, rock music combined with classical history, modern vocabulary is used in the texts, and the whole story is told solely with the help of songs. All this made “Jesus Christ – superstar” the greatest hit. The narrative is about the last seven days of Jesus’ life that pass before the eyes of Judas Iscariot, disappointed with the teachings of Christ. The plot begins with the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem and ends with his execution. For the first time the opera was performed in the form of an album in 1970, with the lead role performed by Deep Purple vocalist Ian Gillan. The role of Judas was played by Murray Head, and Yvonne Ellimen voiced Mary Magdalene. In 1971 the musical appeared on Broadway.Many note that in the production of Jesus depicted in the form of the first hippie on the planet. The performance lasted only one and a half years on the stage, however, she received a new breath in London in 1972. The main role was played by Paul Nicholas, and Judas was embodied by Stefan Tate. This version of the musical became more successful, lasting for eight whole years. Based on the work, as usual, the feature film was directed by Norman Jewison. Oscar 1973 for the best music went to this particular work. The film is interesting not only for great music and vocals, but also for the unusual treatment of the theme of Jesus, which appears in an alternative traditional view of light. This musical is often referred to as a rock opera, the work has generated a lot of controversy and has become a cult for the hippy generation. “Jesus Christ is a superstar” is relevant today, he is translated into many languages. For more than 30 years the musical has been staged all over the world – on the stages of Australia, Japan, France and Mexico, Chile and Germany, Great Britain and the USA.
The basis for the musical was an article in the newspaper “Chicago Tribune” on March 11, 1924. Journalist Maureen Watkins spoke about the actress of a variety show that killed her lover. In those days, stories about sexual crimes were very popular, it’s no wonder that Watkins continued to write on similar topics. April 3, 1924, she published her new article on a married woman who shot and killed a boyfriend. These criminal stories were accompanied by a noticeable hype, this had an impact on Maureen, who eventually left the newspaper and began studying law at Yale University. There’s a woman, as a teaching task, and created a play “Chicago”. The day before the onset of 1927 on Broadway premiere of the play “Chicago” was held, he stood 182 performances, in 1927 and in 1942 the film was filmed. The second birth of the story was given by Bob Foss, the famous Broadway director and choreographer. He drew composer Dozhna Kander, the libretto was worked by himself and Fred Ebb. The very scores of “Chicago” was a brilliant stylization for American hits of the 1920s, and the supply of musical material was similar to vaudeville. The story tells of the dancer corps de ballet Roxy Hart, who cold-bloodedly dealt with her lovers. In prison, a woman gets acquainted with Velma Kelly and other criminals. Roxy was able to escape punishment with the help of the sly lawyer Billy Flynn – the court found her innocent. As a result, the world of show business was enriched with “a duet of two sparkling sinners”, Velma Kelly and Roxy Hart. The premiere of the musical took place on June 3, 1975 at the 46th Street Theater. The role of Roxy went to Gwen Verdon, Velma played Chita Rivera, and Billy – Jerry Orbach. In London, the musical appeared only four years later, and the production had nothing to do with the brainchild of Bob Foss. The show survived 898 shows in America and 600 in the West End and was eventually closed. However, the show revived in 1996 under the guidance of Walter Bobby and choreographer Anne Rinking. The first performances at the City Center caused such an agiotage that it was decided to continue the shows on Broadway. The role of Roxi was performed by Rinking herself, Bebe Newwirt played Velma, and James Noton – Flynn. This production received 6 Tony awards, as well as a Grammy for Best Album. In 1997, the musical came to the London Adelphi Theater, the production received the Laurence Olivier Award as the best musical. In an updated form, the performance was held around the world – Canada, Australia, Holland, Argentina, Japan, Mexico, Russia and other countries. In 2002, a film of the Miramax movie studio with starring Renée Zellweger (Roxy), Catherine Zeta-Jones (Velma) and Richard Gere (Billy Flynn) was released. The director and choreographer of the project was Rob Marshall. The picture received the Golden Globe in the nomination “Best Musical or Comedy” and won 6 “Oscars” of 12, on which it was nominated. In Russia, the musical was staged by Philip Kirkorov, who himself embodied the role of a skilful and corrupt lawyer.
The idea of creating a musical appeared accidentally – in October 1973, Tim Rice in the car heard the end of some radio program, in which it was about Evita Peron. The woman was the wife of the Argentine dictator Juan Peron, the history of her life interested the poet. His co-author, Lloyd Webber, at first treated history with little enthusiasm, but eventually agreed to work on it. Rice thoroughly studied the history of his main character, for this he spent a lot of time in London’s libraries and even visited distant Argentina. There, then, was born the main part of the storyline. Tim Rice introduced into the musical of the narrator, a certain Che, whose prototype was Ernesto Che Guevara. The story itself tells about Eva Duarte, who came to Buenos Aires at the age of 15 and became a famous actress and then wife of the president of the country. The woman helped the poor, but also contributed to the reign of the dictatorship in Argentina. In “Evita” combined various musical styles, the basis of the score became Latin American motifs. The first demos of the musical were presented to critics at the first festival in Sidmonton, then the recording of the album at the “Olympic” studio began. Evita was the actress Julie Covington, and Che is the young singer Colm Wilkinson. The role of Peron went to Paul Jones. The album was a great success – in three months it sold half a million copies of it. Despite the fact that “Evita” was officially banned in Argentina, getting a record was considered a matter of prestige. The musical was released on June 21, 1978, directed by Hal Prince. In his production of the role of Evita went to Elaine Page, and Che played the famous rock singer David Essex. The performance was so successful that it was named the best musical of 1978. The very same actress received the award for her game in “Evita”. The first weeks after the release of the musical on the disc made it gold. May 8, 1979 saw the premiere of “Evita” in America, in Los Angeles, and four months later the show also came to Broadway. The popularity of “Evita” proved the 7 “Tony” awards it received. The success of the musical allowed him to visit many countries – Korea, Hungary, Australia, Mexico, Japan, Israel and others. In 20 years after the birth of the musical it was decided to make a film based on his motives. The director was Alan Parker, the main role, Evita Peron, played Madonna, Che’s role was entrusted to Antonio Banderas, Perona played Jonathan Price. The film featured a new song by Webber and Rice “You Must Love Me”, which eventually won an Oscar for the best original song.
Composer Claude-Michelle Schonberg and librettist Alain Bubyll gave a second birth to the now-defunct Victor Hugo classic “Les Miserables”. Work on the creation of the musical was conducted for two years. The result was a two-hour sketch, then transformed into a concept album with a circulation of 260,000 copies. An original business card of the musical was an engraving featuring a small Cosette. Scenic version was presented September 17, 1980 in the Parisian Palace of Sports. As a result, the show was watched by more than half a million people. The role of Jean Valjean was played by Maurice Barrier, Jaquer played Jacques Mercier, Fantina – Rosa Laurence, and Cosette – Fabienne Guyon. The concept album “Les Miserables” attracted the young director Peter Ferago, who attracted the English producer Cameron Mackintosh to work. This allowed to create a truly high-end show. The production was worked by the professional team – the directors Trevor Nunn and John Kaed, and adapted the text into English by Herbert Kreczmer with the help of the creators of the musical. As a result – premiere performance under the auspices of the Royal Shakespeare Company in the theater “Barbican” October 8, 1985. For today, “Les Miserables” were most often shown at the London Palace Theater, there were more than 6,000 musicals. In 1987, the Les Miserables came to Broadway, so began their march around the world. Although the play is more than twenty years old, he is still on the stages of world theaters.”Les Miserables” have been translated into many languages, among which there are even such exotic ones as Japanese, Moorish and Creole. In total, this musical was staged in 32 countries around the world. Shonberg and Bublil’s creations eventually saw more than 20 million people.
The basis for this popular musical was the cycle of children’s verses TS. Eliot “The book of the old Possum about practical cats”, which was released in England in 1939. The collection was told with irony about the habits and habits of cats, but behind these traits human traits could be guessed without difficulty. Elliott’s poems attracted Andy Lloyd Webber, who throughout the 70s composed music to them slowly. And now, by 1980, the composer has collected enough material to transform it into a musical. Since the English are very fond of cats, the show was just doomed to succeed. In addition to Webber, the producer included Cameron McIntosh, director Trevor Nunn, artist John Napier and choreographer Gillian Lynn. But with the scenic embodiment of the songs it turned out that the story is not sensible. However, thanks to Eliot’s widow, drafts and letters from the poet were found, from which the authors of the musical were able to collect ideas for drawing up the plot of the performance. In the “Cats” the artists were presented with special requirements – it was not enough to sing well and speak clearly, it was also necessary to be very plastic. It turned out that in England itself, to recruit a troupe of 20 such actors was almost impossible, so the performers included pop singer Paul Nicholas, actress Elaine Page, a young dancer and singer Sarah Brightman, as well as star of the Royal Ballet Wayne Slip. The theater “Cats” created its designer – John Napier, as a result there is absolutely no curtain, and the stage and the hall merge into a single space. The action is not frontal, but the whole depth. The scene itself is framed as a dump – there are mountains of picturesque debris on it, but in fact the scenery is equipped with sophisticated equipment. Actors with the help of a complex multi-layered makeup appear in the form of graceful cats. Their tights are painted by hand, wigs are made of yak wool, tails and collars of wool, in addition, the shiny collars are worn. The musical first appeared in front of the public on May 11, 1981 in London, and on Broadway came a year later. As a result, “Cats” were able to become the most “long-playing” staging in the history of the British theater until its closing on May 11, 2002. A total of 6,400 performances were given, the production was seen by more than 8 million people, and the creators were able to earn about 136 million pounds sterling. And in the States the musical has broken all possible records. Already in 1997, the number of submissions exceeded 6100, which allowed to call the show the main Broadway long-liver. As a result, all the time, “Cats” were delivered more than 40 times, the total number of viewers in 30 countries exceeded 50 million, the songs were played in 14 languages, and the total amount of fees was 2.2 billion dollars! The musical has received many awards, among them the most famous are the Lawrence Olivier Prize, the Evening Standard Award for Best Musical, 7 Tony Awards, the Molière Prize in France. Recordings of the same Broadway and London original compositions received “Grammy”.
“The Phantom of the Opera.”
The collaboration of Sarah Brightman and Andrew Lloyd Webber in the “Cats” led to their wedding in 1984. For the wife the composer created “Requiem”, however this work could not scale the talent of the singer. Webber therefore planned to create a new musical, which became the “Phantom of the Opera”, created according to the novel of 1910 with the same name of the Frenchman Gaston Leroux. Romantic, but gloomy story tells about a mysterious creature with supernatural abilities living in a cave under the Paris Opera. The main role in the production, Christine Dae, went, of course, to Sarah Brightman. The executor of the men’s party was Michael Crawford. In the first part of the beloved Christina, Raúl, Steve Barton played.Over the libretto, along with Andrew Lloyd Webber worked as Richard Stilgow, and the lyrics were written by Charles Hart. The theatrical artist Maria Bjornson endowed the Ghost with a famous mask and insisted on the decision to lower the notorious falling chandelier not on the stage, but directly to the audience. The premiere of “The Phantom of the Opera” was held on October 9, 1986 at the Royal Theater, attended by even members of Her Majesty’s family. And in January 1988 the first Broadway production of the musical took place, it was held at the New York Majestic Theater. “Phantom of the Opera” was the second longest-running musical for the entire history of Broadway, after the “Cats”. As a result, only in New York the show was watched by about 11 million people. The musical was staged in 18 countries, about 65 thousand performances were given, more than 58 million people watched it, and the total number of viewers around the world exceeded 80 million already. As a result – deserved awards and awards, more than 50. The musical received three awards Lawrence Olivier and 7 Tony Awards, 7 awards “Drama desk”, the award “Evening Standard.” Total revenues from the “Phantom of the Opera” amounted to 3.2 billion dollars. The novel inspired directors to create seven films, the last one, shot in 2004, was nominated three times for an Oscar, the producer and composer was all the same Webber.
The popularity of the ABBA band’s songs is so great that the idea of creating a whole musical based on producer Judy Kramer is not surprising. The basis of the musical was 22 songs of the legendary group. In the original, all the songs were performed by women, so a story was written about the mother and daughter – people of two different generations. In order for the story to be worthy of famous hits, writer Katerina Johnson was invited, who invented a story about a family living on the Greek islands. As a result, the audience is attracted not only by musical hits, but also by a plot in which music is closely intertwined. The songs were split into dialogues, receiving new intonations. The director of the production was Phyllida Loyd, and the composers were the participants of “ABBY” Bjorn Ulveus and Benny Anderson. The result was a romantic comedy, ironic and quite modern. In the musical there are two main lines – the love story and the relationship of two generations. The plot of “Mama Mia” is filled with comic situations that occur against the backdrop of cheerful compositions “ABBY”, the characters communicate fairly witty, and their costumes are vivid and original. The characteristic logo of “Mama Mia” was the image of a happy bride, as a result, it became a kind of brand recognized throughout the world. The plot of the musical is as follows. Young Sophie soon prepares to become a bride. At the wedding, she is going to invite his father to take her to the altar. Only the girl’s mother, Donna, never talked about him. Sophie found her mother’s diary, where she talked about her relationship with three different men, as a result, the invitation is sent to all of them. When the guests start arriving at the wedding, the most interesting thing happens … In the final of the action, the mother marries with Sophie. The first test of “Mama Mia” was his pre-premiere show in London on March 23, 1999. The audience was delighted – they did not sit still in the whole scene, but danced in the aisles, clapped and sang along. The present premiere was held on April 6, 1999. The London successful production led to the fact that the musical was staged in 11 other countries of the world, and the fees from the hire of the musical there reach $ 8 million every week! Today, “Mama Mia” saw more than 27 million people, daily visits are increased by 20 thousand. The total amount of box office musicals worldwide exceeded $ 1.6 billion. During the show, the show traveled to 130 major cities, and the first-ever album was platinum in the US, Korea and Australia, twice platinum in the UK, and in Sweden, New Zealand and Germany – gold.In 2008, the musical was filmed, it was attended by such stars as Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan, and the director was all the same Phyllida Loyd.