Chapter

Musical Theater of War

Jeffrey Magee

in Irving Berlin's American Musical Theater

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780195398267
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199933358 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195398267.003.0006

Series: Broadway Legacies

                   Musical Theater of War

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When America went to war again, Berlin responded by turning his revue-writing impulse again to patriotic ends. Invited to revise Yip Yip Yaphank for a new era, Berlin created This Is the Army (1942) and succeeded by avoiding direct expressions of patriotism and focusing instead on the ordinary complaints and wishes of the common soldier. More than that, Berlin’s songs had a way of reflecting the common preoccupations that soldiers and citizens shared, and thus it could be argued, his work helped to normalize the war experience in an unstable period of American history. This Is the Army takes center stage in Berlin’s work for several reasons: its tour of the U.S. and war zones, its performances for more than a million civilian and soldier spectators, and its status as “the best thing I’ve ever been connected with,” as Berlin called it.

Keywords: World War II; revue; film; U.S. Army; patriotic

Chapter.  10925 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: American Music ; Popular Music

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