Article

After the “Golden Age”

Jessica Sternfeld and Elizabeth L. Wollman

in The Oxford Handbook of The American Musical

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780195385946
Published online September 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195385946.013.0009

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 After the “Golden Age”

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The article focuses on some of the more important developments that have affected the American musical over the years. The amount of money needed to produce a musical has increased since the onset of the depression, but especially since the 1960s. The cost of production, coupled with the introduction of several cheaper, more widely accessible entertainment forms, has forced the musical to struggle financially and aesthetically at various periods during the postwar era. Periods of high inflation, such as during the 1930s, affected the criteria for hit status, for example shows had to run for longer stretches to be profitable. The marketing for the show at that time was particularly intense, and the spectacle aspect was strongly promoted by producer Garth Drabinsky, under the auspices of his Canadian production company, Livent. The longer average runs of Broadway musicals depended in part on an increasingly international audience, which was seen as transitory and ever renewing. Since the advent of rock, amplification has become increasingly common and this was for several reasons. Many actors needed microphones to protect their voices and to be heard above the electric instruments that accompanied them. Film and sound recording technologies exerted significant influence on the stage musical and advances in sound design have allowed theatrical productions to offer cleaner, more balanced sound from the orchestra pit and stage.

Keywords: entertainment forms; golden age; American musical; Broadway musicals; musical theater; amplification

Article.  6286 words. 

Subjects: Music ; Musicology and Music History

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