Chapter

Show Boat: In the Beginning

Geoffrey Block

in Enchanted Evenings

Published in print February 2004 | ISBN: 9780195167306
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199849840 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195167306.003.0002
Show Boat: In the Beginning

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Show Boat is perhaps the most successful and influential Broadway musical play ever written. For the many who judge a show by how many songs they can hum or whistle when they leave (or enter) the theater, Show Boat offered “at least” an unprecedented six song hits for the ages; moreover, nearly all of these songs are integral to the characterization and story. And the many who place opera on a more elevated plane than Broadway musicals could be impressed by the knowledge that Show Boat, when it entered the repertory of the New York City Opera in 1954, was the first Broadway show to attain operatic stature. By virtually any criteria, Show Boat marks a major milestone in the history of the American musical and has long since become the first Broadway show to be enshrined in the musical theater museum.

Keywords: Broadway musicals; musical theater; opera; operatic stature

Chapter.  7630 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Popular Music

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