The Impact Of American Musical Theatre

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“Art, freedom and creativity will change society faster than politics” (Victor Pinchuk). Musical theatre may not be the first thing that comes to mind when concerning American culture, however, the theater has greatly shaped America into what it is today. Portraying a story through song and dance allows for an expression of emotion that cannot be replicated. With this method of storytelling, artists have been able to integrate social and political issues in a way that makes the audience not only want to listen, but enjoy. Musical theatre is able to address important and controversial topics such as racism, women’s rights, and violence in an entertaining and fresh way. Audiences can relate to characters who embody American life and values. American musical theatre positively affected and reflected the culture of 20th century America by addressing the social issues of each generation. One of the most pivotal musicals of the 20th century was Show Boat which helped make theatre what it is today. Show Boat, composed by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II, opened December 27, 1927, and was the first musical to be based off of a novel (Show Boat Introduces American Musical Theater). It was difficult to convince Edna Ferber, the author of Show Boat, to allow her book to be turned into a musical, since most musicals of the early 20th century were focused on comedy. The typical show around this time was centered around funny situations and catchy songs; often, the plot was
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