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Broadway and the Musical


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Broadway and the Musical




I.               Broadway Avenue

1.1. History

1.2. Route

II.          Musical Theatre

2.1. Origin

2.2. Modern Musical

2.3. Post- World War II Era

III.     Famous Musicals

3.1.   The Cats

3.2.   The Phantom of the Opera

3.3.   Chicago

3.4.   Westside Story

3.5.   Les Miserable

3.6. The Producers

3.7.  Sound of Music

4.          Bibliography

I. Broadway Avenue

Broadway, as the name implies, is a wide avenue in New York City. While New York has several other Broadways, in the context of the city it usually refers to the Manhattan street. It is the oldest north-south main thoroughfare in the city, dating to the first New Amsterdam settlement. The name Broadway is an English translation of the Dutch name, Breede weg. A stretch of Broadway is famous as the pinnacle of the American theater industry.


1.1 History

Broadway was originally the Wickquasgeck Trail, carved into the brush land of Manhattan by its Native American inhabitants. This trail originally snaked through swamps and rocks along the length of Manhattan Island. Upon the arrival of the Dutch, the trail soon became the main road through the island from New Amsterdam at the southern tip. The Dutch explorer and entrepreneur David de Vries gives the first mention of it in his journal for the year 1642 ('the Wickquasgeck Road over which the Indians passed daily'). The Dutch named the road 'Heerestraat'. In the 18th century, Broadway ended at the town commons north of Wall Street, where Eastern Post Road continued through the East Side and Bloomingdale Road the west side of the island. In the late 19th century the widened and paved part of Bloomingdale Road north of Columbus Circle was called 'The Boulevard' but at the end of the century the whole old road (the Bloomingdale Road and what was previously called Broadway) was renamed Broadway.

In 1885 the Broadway commercial

district was overrun with telephone, A view of Broadway in 1909

telegraph, and electrical lines.

This view was north from Cortlandt

and Maiden Lane.


1.2. Route


Broadway runs the length of Manhattan Island, from Bowling Green at the south, to Inwood at the northern tip of the island. Diagonally crossing the Commissioners' Plan of 1811 of Manhattan streets, its intersections with avenues have been marked by 'squares' (some merely triangular slivers of open space) and induced some interesting architecture, such as the famous Flatiron Building.

The section of lower Broadway from its origin at Bowling Green to City Hall Park is the historical location for the city's ticker-tape parades, and is sometimes called the 'Canyon of Heroes' during such events. West of Broadway as far as Canal Street was the city's fashionable residential area until circa 1825; landfill has more than tripled the area and the Hudson shore now lies far to the west, beyond TriBeCa and Battery Park City.

Broadway marks the east boundary of Greenwich Village, passing Astor Place. At Union Square, Broadway crosses 14th Street and continues its diagonal uptown course from the Square's northwest corner.

At Madison Square, Broadway crosses Fifth Avenue at 23rd Street.

At Herald Square, Broadway crosses Sixth Avenue (the Avenue of the Americas). Macy's Department Store is located on the western corner of Herald Square; it is one of the largest department stores in the world.

Broadway and 38th Street Broadway at Times Square

One famous stretch near Times Square, where Broadway crosses Seventh Avenue in midtown Manhattan, is the home of many Broadway theatres, housing an ever-changing array of commercial, large-scale plays, particularly musicals. This area of Manhattan is often called the Theater District or the Great White Way, a nickname originating in the headline 'Found on the Great White Way' in the February 3, 1902 edition of the New York Evening Telegram. The journalistic sobriquet was inspired by the millions of lights on theater marquees and billboard advertisements that illuminate the area.

After becoming New York's de facto Red Light District in the 1960s and 1970s (as can be seen in the films Taxi Driver and Midnight Cowboy), since the late 1980s Times Square has emerged as a family tourist center, in effect being Disneyfied following the company's purchase and renovation of the New Amsterdam Theatre on 42nd Street in 1993. Until June 2007, The New York Times, from which the Square gets its name, was published at offices at 239 West 43rd Street; the paper stopped printing papers there on June 15, 1997.

At 99th Street Broadway passes between the controversial skyscrapers of The Ariel East and West.

At 107th Street Broadway intersects with West End Avenue to form Straus Park with its Titanic Memorial by Augustus Lukeman.

Further north, Broadway follows the old Bloomingdale Road as the main spine of the Upper West Side, passing the campus of Columbia University at 116th Street in Morningside Heights. Still in Morningside Heights, Broadway passes the handsome, park-like campus of Barnard College. Next, the beautiful gothic quadrangel of Union Theological Seminary and the brick buildings of the Jewish Theological Seminary with their beautifully-landscapped interior courtyards face one another across Broadway. On the next block is the Manhattan School of Music. Broadway then runs past the proposed uptown campus of Columbia University, and the main campus of CUNY-City College, the beautiful gothic buildings of the original City College campus are out of sight, a block to the east. Also to the east are the handsome brownstones of Hamilton Heights.

Broadway achieves a verdant, park-like effect, particularly in the spring, when it runs between the uptown Trinity Church Cemetery and the former Trinity Chapel, now the Church of the Intercession, New York near 155th Street. The springtime plantings in the median, maintained by Trinity Church, are spectacular.

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital lies on Broadway near 166th, 167th, and 168th Streets in Washington Heights. At this point, Broadway becomes part of US 9. The intersection with Saint Nicholas Avenue (Manhattan), at 167th Street forms Mitchell Square Park.

Broadway crosses the Harlem River on the Broadway Bridge to Marble Hill and then enters The Bronx, where it is the eastern border of Riverdale and the western border of Van Cortlandt Park. After leaving New York City, it is the main north-south street of Yonkers, New York.

Great White Way


Great White Way is a nickname for a section of Broadway in the Midtown section of the New York City borough of Manhattan, specifically the portion that encompasses the Theatre District, between 42nd and 53rd Streets. Nearly a mile of Broadway was illuminated in 1880 by Brush arc lamps, making it among the first electrically lighted streets in the United States.

The headline 'Found on the Great White Way' appeared in the February 3, 1902, edition of the New York Evening Telegram. The journalistic sobriquet was inspired by the millions of lights on theater marquees and billboard advertisements that illuminate the area, especially around Times Square.

II. Musical Theater

Musical theatre is a form of theatre combining music, songs, spoken dialogue and dance. The emotional content of the piece - humor, pathos, love, anger - as well as the story itself, is communicated through the words, music, movement and technical aspects of the entertainment as an integrated whole. Since the early 20th century, musical theatre stage works have generally been called simply, 'musicals'.

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 City, or in smaller Fringe Theatre, Off-Broadway or regional 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 and Asia.

Some famous musicals include Show Boat, Oklahoma!, West Side Story, The Fantasticks, Hair, A Chorus Line, Les Misrables, The Phantom of the Opera, Rent, Chicago, The Cats, The Producers.

2.1. Origins

The American musical actually began in 1796, with The Archers; or, The Mountaineers of Switzerland, composed by Benjamin Carr and with libretto by William Dunlap. The Black Crook, produced in 1866, is generally credited as the first musical; actually it was an extravaganza, combining melodrama with ballet. In the late 19th century, operettas from Vienna (composed by Johann Strauss, Jr., and Franz Lehr), London (by Sir Arthur Sullivan), and Paris (by Jacques Offenbach) were popular with Eastern urban audiences. At the same time, revues (plotless programs of songs, dances, and comedy sketches) abounded not only in theaters but also in some upper-class saloons, such as the music hall operated in New York City by the comedy team of Joe Weber and Lew Fields . The successful shows of another comedy team, Ned Harrigan and Tony Hart, were also revues, but with connecting dialogue and continuing characters. These in turn spawned the musical shows of producer-playwright-actor-composer George M. Cohan, the first of which appeared in 1901.

The Black Crook finale

In the years before World War I, several young operetta composers emigrated from Europe to the U.S. Among them were Victor Herbert, Rudolf Friml, and Sigmund Romberg. Herbert's Naughty Marietta (1910), Friml's The Firefly (1912), and Romberg's Maytime (1917) are representative of the new genre these composers created: American operetta, with simple music and librettos and singable songs that were enduringly popular with the public.

2.2. The Modern Musical

In 1914 the composer Jerome Kern began to produce a series of shows in which all the varied elements of a musical were integrated into a single fabric. Produced in the intimate Princess Theatre, Kern used contemporary settings and events, in contrast to operettas, which always took place in fantasy lands. In 1927 Kern provided the score for Show Boat, which had the first serious libretto; it was adapted from a successful novel by Edna Ferber (1887-1968). Such adaptations were common in post-1940 musicals.

Show Boat

Gradually the old musical formula began to change. Instead of complicated but never serious plots, sophisticated lyrics and simplified librettos were introduced; underscoring (music played as background to dialogue or movement) was added; and new American musical elements, such as jazz and blues, were utilized by composers. In addition, singers began to learn how to act. In 1932, Of Thee I Sing (1931) became the first musical comedy to be awarded a Pulitzer Prize. Composed by George Gershwin, with lyrics by his brother, Ira Gershwin (1896-1983), Of Thee I Sing succeeded in intelligently satirizing contemporary political situations.

Of Thee I Sing

In the 1920s and the '30s, satire, ideas, and wit had been the province of the intimate revue. These sophisticated shows were important as testing grounds for the young composers and lyricists who later helped develop the serious musical. One composer-lyricist pair who started in the intimate revues, Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, wrote The Girl Friend (1926), A Connecticut Yankee (1927), and Babes in Arms (1937). Their show, Pal Joey (1940), introduced many of the elements of later musicals, including a book with three-dimensional characters, but it was not a success until its 1952 revival. Rodgers, with Oscar Hammerstein II as his new lyricist, produced Oklahoma! (1943; Pulitzer Prize special citation, 1944), which had ballets, choreographed by Agnes de Mille, that were an integral part of the plot.

The choreographer-director was eventually to become vastly influential in the shape and substance of the American musical. Jerome Robbins, Michael Kidd, Michael Bennett, and Bob Fosse are among the skilled choreographers who went on to create important musicals, most notably Robbins's West Side Story (1957; film version, 1960), Bennett's A Chorus Line (1975), and Fosse's Dancin' (1978).

2.3. Post-World War II Era

As these and other innovations altered the face of musical theater, audiences came to expect more variety and complexity; a host of inventive composers and lyricists obliged. In 1949, Cole Porter, who had written provocative songs with brilliant lyrics for many years, finally wrote a show with an equally fine book: Kiss Me, Kate. The show won the first Tony for best musical in that year (its revival by the British director Michael Blakemore won the Tony Award for the year 2000 in that category). Rodgers and Hammerstein followed Oklahoma! with Carousel (1945) and South Pacific (1949; Pulitzer Prize, 1950). Irving Berlin, who had been writing hit songs since 1911, produced the popular but somewhat old-fashioned Annie Get Your Gun (1946). Frank Loesser provided both words and music for Guys and Dolls (1950), with its raffish Damon Runyon characters. Brigadoon (1947) was the first successful collaboration of the composer Frederick Loewe and book-and-lyric writer Alan Jay Lerner, who were later to contribute My Fair Lady (1956), based on the British dramatist George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion, and Camelot (1960), derived from The Once and Future King by the British author T. H. White.

The 1950s saw a number of composers gain prominence. Leonard Bernstein wrote the scores for Candide (1956) and West Side Story (1957). The latter, a modern adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, mostly danced and heavily underscored, was greatly influential. Jule Styne (1905-94) wrote the music for Bells Are Ringing (1956) and Gypsy (1959). In the 1960s and '70s the composer John Kander and the lyricist Fred Ebb (1928-2004) collaborated on Cabaret (1966); composer Sheldon Harnick and lyricist Jerry Bock produced Fiddler on the Roof (1964); and Stephen Sondheim, who wrote the lyrics for West Side Story and Gypsy, did the entire scores for a series of musicals, including Company (1970), Follies (1971), A Little Night Music (1973), and Sweeney Todd (1979).

A show that opened on Broadway in 1968 and went on to affect world theater was Hair (score by Galt MacDermott). Called a folk-rock musical, it had a situation rather than a plot. Its youthful exuberance, ingenious theatricality, and concentration on rock music produced many imitators-notably Godspell with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and Jesus Christ Superstar, both 1971-and rock was eventually integrated into what had been called "show music" in most productions. The score for the latter was the work of the British composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, who went on to write the hits Evita (1978), based on the life of the Argentine political figure Eva Pern, and Cats (1981), adapted from poems by the British writer T. S. Eliot (which by 1997, with more than 7000 performances, had surpassed the previous longest-running Broadway musical in history-A Chorus Line). On Jan. 10, 2006, Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera (1988; Tony Award, 1988), with performance number 7468, became the new longest-running Broadway musical, eclipsing Cats, which closed on Sept. 10, 2000, after 7485 performances.

The innovative Sunday in the Park with George (1984) by Sondheim to a book by James Lapine was a dramatization of the life of the French painter Georges Seurat, for which Sondheim and Lapine shared the 1985 Pulitzer Prize for drama.

With the soaring costs of Broadway musicals that began in the early 1970s, potential investors were increasingly timid about risking money on a production that was not a certain box office hit. Through the '80s and '90s, Broadway musicals continued to be drawn from five basic sources. The first was works that had been successes in Europe, principally in London, including those by Lloyd Webber and the acclaimed Les Misrables (1985), an adaptation of the French writer Victor Hugo's novel, by the French composer Claude-Michel Schnberg and the French lyricist Alain Boublil. In addition, the rock opera Tommy, first performed in London in 1969 by the rock group The Who, was successfully staged in New York in 1993.

Revivals of works that had been long-running hits when first presented, such as Show Boat (1927; revived 1994), Rodgers and Hammerstein's The King and I (1951; revived 1996), Sondheim's A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1962; revived 1996), and 1776 (1969, revived 1997) composed by Sherman Edwards, were also produced. Critically acclaimed works were revived as well, including Candide (1956; revived 1997) and Chicago (1975; revived 1996), with songs by Kander and Ebb. Another source was such popular films as Sunset Boulevard (film, 1950; stage version, 1994), Beauty and the Beast (animated film, 1991; stage version, 1994), Victor/Victoria (film, 1982; stage version, 1995), Big (film, 1988; stage version, 1996), and The Lion King (animated film, 1994; stage verison, 1997). Finally, opera was the basis for musicals such as Miss Saigon (1991) composed by Schnberg with lyrics by Boublil and Richard Maltby, Jr. - a rewrite of the Italian composer Giacomo Puccini's 1904 work Madama Butterfly-and the popular Rent (1996; Pulitzer Prize, 1996), by composer Jonathan Larson (1960-96), an updated version of Puccini's 1896 work La Bohème.  Illustrative of the evolution of the musical genre toward the end of the 20th century was the Tony-awarded musical Contact (2000). Essentially a dance show performed to recorded music, with no original score or live singing, and little dialogue, this "musical" was everything that, by definition , the American musical is not.  

III.             Famous Musicals




Cats is a musical composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber based on Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot. It introduced the song standard, 'Memory'.

The musical first opened in the West End in 1981 and then on Broadway in 1982, in each case directed by Trevor Nunn and choreographed by Gillian Lynne. It won numerous awards, including both the Laurence Olivier Award and the Tony Award for Best Musical. The London production ran for 21 years and the Broadway production for eighteen years, in both cases setting historical long-run records. Actresses Elaine Paige and Betty Buckley became particularly associated with the musical.

Cats has been performed around the world in numerous productions and has been translated into more than 20 languages. It was also made into a 1998 video that has been broadcast on television.

Production history

Cats was first shown in London's West End, at the New London Theatre, on May 11, 1981. It had a troubled beginning as Judi Dench, cast in the role of Grizabella, snapped a tendon during rehearsals prior to the London opening. The role of Grizabella was subsequently taken over by Elaine Paige; the role was beefed up for Paige and the song 'Memory' (originally to be sung by Geraldine Gardner in the role of the red cat Bombalurina) was given to Paige. It was originally produced onstage by Cameron Mackintosh and Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Group. It was directed by Trevor Nunn, associate director and choreographer Gillian Lynne, designed by John Napier with lighting by David Hersey. It played a total of 8,949 performances in London. Its final performance in London's West End was on its 21st birthday, May 11, 2002, and broadcast on a large screen in Covent Garden to the delight of fans who could not acquire a ticket for the final performance. It held the record as London's longest running musical until October 8, 2006, when it was surpassed by Les Misrables.

The show made its debut on Broadway on October 7, 1982, at the Winter Garden Theatre with the same production team. On June 19, 1997, Cats became the longest-running musical in Broadway history with 6,138 performances. It played a total of 7,586 performances in New York. Its New York record was surpassed on January 9, 2006, by The Phantom of the Opera, which was also composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Cats' final performance on Broadway was on September 10, 2000. It remains Broadway's second longest-running show in history.

In 1998, Andrew Lloyd Webber produced a video version of Cats, based upon the stage version, starring Elaine Paige, who originated the role of Grizabella in London; Ken Page, who originated Old Deuteronomy on Broadway; Sir John Mills as Gus; Michael Gruber as Munkustrap; John Partridge as The Rum Tum Tugger; and many other dancers and singers drawn largely from stage productions of the show.[1] It was directed by David Mallet, with choreography and musical staging by the show's respected original creator Gillian Lynne in London's Adelphi Theatre, and was released on VHS and DVD, as well as broadcast on television worldwide.

The Phantom of the Opera

The Phantom of the Opera is a musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber, based on the French novel Le Fantme de l'Opra by Gaston Leroux. The music was composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber, with lyrics by Charles Hart and additional lyrics by Richard Stilgoe. The musical focuses on a beautiful soprano, Christine Daa, who becomes the obsession of a mysterious, disfigured musical genius known as 'The Phantom of the Opera.'

The Phantom of the Opera opened in London's West End in 1986. The production was directed by Hal Prince, choreographed by Gillian Lynne, designed by Maria Bjornson, with lighting by Andrew Bridge. In 2008 the West End production surpassed its 9,000th performance. It is the second longest-running West End musical in history and the longest-running Broadway musical. According to its official website, it is the most successful entertainment project in history, grossing more than $5 billion worldwide by 2007. Now, a musical sequel is in the making entitled Phantom: Love Never Dies, which plans to open in November 2009. The first act was staged at Andrew Lloyd Webber's country home, Sydmonton.

In 2004, the musical was made into a film, directed by Joel Schumacher, and produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber.


The story begins at the time of the first meeting of Erik (the Phantom) and a street singer named Christine. Erik was born and raised in the catacombs under the Paris Opera House and needs beautiful music - he cannot exist without it. He accepts Christine as his pupil, training her for the opera, but forbids her to see his face. Complications arise when Grard Carrière loses his position as head of the Opera house and therefore cannot protect Erik any longer.

Furthermore, Carlotta, the new diva and owner of the Opera, has such a terrible voice that the Phantom is in torment. His salvation must eventually come through Christine, whose voice is so beautiful that he falls in love with her. Later, it is revealed that Carrière, the previous owner of the Opera house, is actually Erik's father. Erik fears that he will be captured and treated like a circus freak because of his horrendous face (which is never seen). The police surround him and the chief of police tells his men not to shoot because they 'can take him alive!' Erik shouts out to his father for help. Carrière understands; he grabs a policeman's gun and aims at his son. After a struggle with himself, he fires, and the Phantom falls, calling out Christine's name.




Chicago is a Kander and Ebb musical set in prohibition era Chicago. The music is by John Kander with lyrics by Fred Ebb and a book by Ebb and Bob Fosse. The story is a satire on corruption in the administration of criminal justice, and the concept of the 'celebrity criminal.' The musical is based on a 1926 play of the same name by reporter Maurine Dallas Watkins about actual criminals and crimes she had reported on.

The original Broadway production opened June 3, 1975 at the 46th Street Theatre and ran for a total of 936 performances. Bob Fosse choreographed the original production, and his style is strongly identified with the show. Chicago's 1996 Broadway revival holds the record for the longest-running musical revival on Broadway (not counting the revue Oh! Calcutta!) and, is Broadway's eighth longest-running show in history. As of November 15, 2008, it has played for more than 5,000 performances. The revival was followed by a production on London's West End and several tours and international productions. An Academy Award-winning film version of the musical was released in 2002.


West Side Story



West Side Story is a musical with a book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein, and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. The musical is based on William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.

Set in New York in the mid-1950s, the musical explores the rivalry between two teenage gangs of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. The young protagonist, Tony, who belongs to the American gang, falls in love with Maria, the sister of the rival Puerto Rican gang's leader. The dark theme, sophisticated music, extended dance scenes, and focus on social problems marked a turning point in American musical theatre. Bernstein's score for the musical has become extremely popular.

The original 1957 Broadway production, directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins and produced by Robert E. Griffith and Harold Prince, marked Stephen Sondheim's Broadway debut. It ran for 732 performances (a successful run for the time), before going on tour. The production garnered a Tony Award nomination for Best Musical in 1957, but the award went to Meredith Willson's The Music Man. It won a Tony Award in 1957 for Robbins' choreography. The show had an even longer-running London production, a number of revivals and international success, and spawned an innovative, award-winning 1961 musical film of the same name. West Side Story is produced frequently by schools, regional theatres and, occasionally, by opera companies.

Les Miserables



Les Misrables is a musical composed in 1980 by the French composer Claude-Michel Schnberg with a libretto by Alain Boublil. Sung through, it is perhaps the most famous of all French musicals and one of the most performed musicals worldwide. On October 8, 2006, the show celebrated its 21st anniversary and became the longest-running West End musical in history the following performance, and is still running.

The musical is based on the 1862 novel Les Misrables by Victor Hugo. Set in early 19th-century France, it follows the intertwining stories of a cast of characters as they struggle for redemption and revolution. The characters include a paroled convict named Jean Valjean who, failing attempts to find work as an honest man with his yellow ticket of leave, breaks his parole and conceals his identity; the police inspector Javert who becomes obsessed with finding Valjean; Fantine, the single mother who is forced to become a prostitute to support her daughter Cosette; Cosette, who, after her mother's death, becomes Jean Valjean's adopted daughter and who eventually falls in love with a revolutionary student named Marius Pontmercy; the Thnardiers, the unscrupulous innkeepers who initially foster Cosette, and who thrive on cheating and stealing; ponine, their young daughter who is hopelessly in love with Marius; Gavroche, a young beggar boy and the young son of the Thnardiers; and a student leader Enjolras who plans the revolt to free the oppressed lower classes of France. The main characters are joined by an ensemble that includes prostitutes, student revolutionaries, factory workers, and others.




The Producers


The Producers is a comedy-musical adapted by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan from Brooks' 1968 film of the same name, with lyrics by Brooks and music by Brooks and Glen Kelly. As in the film, the story concerns two theatrical producers who scheme to get rich by overselling interests in a Broadway flop. Complications arise when the show unexpectedly turns out to be successful. The humor of the show is accessible to a wide range of audiences, and draws on ridiculous accents, caricatures of homosexuals and Nazis, and many show business in-jokes. The musical was a hit in New York, spawning national tours and successful productions in London and internationally.

The musical opened on April 19, 2001 and ran for 2,502 performances, winning a record-breaking 12 Tony Awards. It spawned a successful London production, running for three years, and a 2005 film. The film reunited original stars Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick.

The original Broadway production of The Producers opened at the St. James Theatre on April 19, 2001 and ran for 2,502 performances, closing on April 22, 2007. The director and choreographer was Susan Stroman. The show originally starred Nathan Lane as Max Bialystock (who reprised that role during the show's first few months on London's West End) and Matthew Broderick as Leo Bloom. It won 12 Tony Awards, breaking the record held for 37 years by Hello, Dolly! which had won 10.

After the opening, The Producers broke the record for the largest single day box-office gross in theatre history, taking in more than $3 million. It then broke its own record in 2003 when Broderick and Lane's return went on sale, with over $3.5 million in single day ticket sales.

Sound of Music


The Sound of Music is a musical with music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II and a book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse. It is based on the memoir of Maria von Trapp, The Story of the Trapp Family Singers. Many songs from the musical have become standards, including the title song ('The Sound of Music'), 'Edelweiss', 'My Favorite Things', 'Climb Ev'ry Mountain' and 'Do-Re-Mi'.

The original Broadway production, starring Mary Martin and Theodore Bikel, opened in November 1959, and the show has enjoyed numerous productions and revivals since then. It has also been made into an Academy Award-winning 1965 film musical. The Sound of Music was the final musical written by Rodgers and Hammerstein; Hammerstein died of cancer nine months after the Broadway premiere.

The final collaboration between composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II who passed away nine months after the opening, The Sound of Music is based on Maria Von Trapp's autobiography The Story of the Trapp Family Singers. Originally, the musical was to contain only actual music that had been sung by the Trapps in their concerts, plus one original song by Rodgers and Hammerstein. The talented songwriting duo balked at this, however, and eventually they were allowed to contribute the entire score.

Set in 1938, The Sound of Music tells the story of Maria Rainer, a free-spirited nun who is hired by Captain George Von Trapp to care for his seven children. Although Captain Trapp is engaged to a wealthy socialite, he and Maria eventually fall in love and marry--but their happiness is soon shattered when the Nazis invade Austria.

The Sound of Music opened at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on November 16, 1959 and would eventually become the second longest running Broadway musical of the Fifties. The original production featured Mary Martin and Theodore Bikel. The 1965 film version co-starred Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer.




Ewen, David. American Musical Theatre. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1970


Green, Stanley. Encyclopedia of the Musical. London: Cassell & Company, 1976

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