The Institutional Structure of the American Musical Theater

David Sanjek

in The Oxford Handbook of The American Musical

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780195385946
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 The Institutional Structure of the American Musical Theater

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The article gives an introduction to the important agencies supporting and maintaining the musical theater. One of these agencies is the producer who manages all the finances, and the logistics required to run a musical theater. Another category is the publisher who solicits and merchandizes the songs featured in those productions. The theatrical songwriters for a considerable period of time after the premiere of The Black Crook focused mainly on producing their material and left its promotion and legal protection to others. Working out a contractual obligation to a publishing firm allowed them to be single-minded about their craft. These obligations differed from individual to individual, although during the early years of the genre, most negotiations tended to be short and direct. Many would not even pursue a long-term association, selling their songs outright, while others recognized the benefits of a regular paycheck and worked out a system of advances. Most theatrical songwriters have been beholden to publishers in order to maintain their presence in the musical theater and were treated much like workers on an assembly line. The public fascination with American musical theater increased significantly between the 1920s and the 1960s. The musical theater requires all the technologies provided by a well-equipped stage. The principal location of the stages in New York City has shifted corresponding to the gravitation of both population centers and centers of public influence from the lower portion of Manhattan to midtown and thence the precinct surrounding Times Square.

Keywords: musical theater; producers; publicity; publishers; physical property; theatrical songwriters

Article.  6260 words. 

Subjects: Music ; Musicology and Music History

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