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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Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical is a rock musical with a book and lyrics by James Rado and Gerome Ragni and music by Galt MacDermot. A product of the hippie counter-culture and sexual revolution of the 1960s, several of its songs became anthems of the anti-Vietnam War peace movement. The musical's profanity, its depiction of the use of illegal drugs, its treatment of sexuality, its irreverence for the American flag, and its nude scene caused much comment and controversy. The musical broke new ground in musical theatre by defining the genre of the "rock musical", utilizing a racially-integrated cast and inviting the audience onstage for a "Be-in" finale.

Hair tells the story of the "tribe", a group of politically active, long-haired "Hippies of the Age of Aquarius" fighting against conscription to the Vietnam War and living a bohemian life together in New York City. They struggle to balance their young lives, loves and the sexual revolution with their pacifist rebellion against the war and the conservative impulses of their parents and society.

After an off-Broadway debut in October 1967 at Joseph Papp's Public Theater and another run in a midtown discothèque space, the show opened on Broadway in April 1968 and ran for 1,750 performances, followed by a successful London production, which ran for 1,997 performances. Numerous productions have been staged around the world since then, and numerous recordings of the musical have been released. Several of the songs from its score became Top 40 hits, and a successful movie adaptation was released in 1979.

Selected biography

Anthony Rapp at BCEFA.jpg

Anthony Dean Rapp (b. October 26, 1971, Chicago) is an American stage and film actor best known for originating the role of Mark Cohen in the Broadway production of Rent in 1996 and later for reprising the same role in the film version. He also performed the role of Charlie Brown in the 1999 Broadway revival of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown.

He first performed on Broadway in 1981, at the age of ten, in The Little Prince and the Aviator, a musical based on Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's novel The Little Prince that closed during previews. He also appeared as a teenager in the 1987 movie Adventures in Babysitting, which was directed by Chris Columbus. Columbus would later direct Rapp in the film version of Rent.

Rapp has gone on to appear in several movies and Broadway shows. His notable work includes films Dazed and Confused where he played one third of a teenaged intellectual triumvirate, A Beautiful Mind as one of John Nash's colleagues, Road Trip as the villainous Greek philosophy TA, Jacob, the stage and film versions of Six Degrees of Separation, as Van Dyke Parks in "An American Family", and You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown. Also in this production was Kristin Chenoweth as Sally Brown.

Rapp is probably best known for playing Mark Cohen in the Off-Broadway and original Broadway casts of Jonathan Larson's musical Rent. He reprised that role in the film version of Rent, which was released on November 23, 2005. Fans of Rent closely associate Rapp with that show, in part because his character is semi-autobiographical of the deceased composer and playwright Jonathan Larson. Rapp has embraced his role as an unofficial spokesperson for the musical and has given numerous television and print interviews regarding the show and its development. Some of Rapp's photographs from rehearsals of Rent have been published.

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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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