5 Benchmark Musicals in Broadway History

Broadway History

Broadway musicals are events that have been popular for several decades now, and there seems to exist some unique feature to it that entices the audience. All people attending the musical get lost in that world of music and melts into each beat of the day. A form of art that has witnessed a lot in its 150-year history of entertaining New York is still one of the most crowd-pulling events in the country. Here are some of the benchmark titles in the history of Broadway, which has evolved through the years to bring about special features to the contemporary performances.

1. The Black Crook

Black Crook was Broadway’s first musical which started off in 1866 as a piece that was a collaboration of talents. When discussing the Black Crook, it isn’t the content of the musical that is brought under light each time but its significance in the history of Broadway. There have been debates in the past about the actuality of Black Crook being the first musical. Scholars have stated that it isn’t a fact and that the musical is one of the first big phenomena to have been conducted in the theatre. It was the establishing piece in the huge structure of modern musicals. The show had its massive run with 474 performances followed by the tours in the country.

Black Crook

2. Show Boat

The show was an adaptation of Edna Ferber’s novel of the same name. It was in 1927 that the musical was first performed with Oscar Hammerstein’s lyrics and Jerome Kern’s music. The book, which was also written by Hammerstein, dealt with miscegenation and racism. Show Boat is considered as the first serious step towards evolution. Integrated musicals became a trend since Show Boat, making the music and lyrics outgrowing the theme and plot.

3. Of Thee I Sing

Of Thee I Sing, a satire of American politics, was both a musical by George and Ira Gershwin and a book by Morrie Ryskind and George S. Kaufman. It was first performed in 1931 and won the Pulitzer Prize of Drama after a few years. Only after this reward was the American musical theater came more into popularity.

4. Porgy & Bess

One of the most revered Broadway shows, Porgy & Bess, was a musical that was introduced in 1935 with the music by George Gershwin, lyrics by Ira Gershwin, and the book by DuBose Heyward. People loved this show for the sheer brilliance it possesses in its portrayal of the African American stories. Americans seem to resonate with the musical about a crippled man falling in love with a beautiful drug-addicted woman, even today. This simply indicates how emotions overpower lifestyle and race.


5. Oklahoma!

Lynn Rigg’s play Green Grow the Lilacs was reintroduced in the form of musical by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein in 1943. Oklahoma! has become the template for musical theater since then due to its radical approach. Although the plat revolved around three characters to narrate a love triangle, the plot had more nuances to it with the music and lyrics. The choreography by Agnes de Mille was a great adorning factor to the musical.


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