BEEHIVE THE ‘60’S MUSICAL and Musical Revues
The Minstrel show, America’s first original, native-born theatrical entertainment was a revue. It started in the 1830s-1840s, evolved into a formal structure, and remained popular throughout the 19th century. It was replaced by vaudeville, but continued in various forms until the 1960s. I remember Silas Green from New Orleans coming to my hometown in Tennessee in the mid-1950s. The boat come up the Mississippi, turned into the Cumberland River and played towns along the way. The boat landed, unloaded its equipment, paraded through town to the location where the tent was erected. It was not a true minstrel show in that it had stock characters and a slight story line, but it included minstrelsy elements in the performance. The Kiwanis Civic Club in Springfield presented an annual production of a minstrel show until the mid-1960s.
Most of the productions in Branson are a form of a musical revue.
The great heyday of Broadway revues was from the late 19th century until the 1930s. They were called such names as Follies, Scandals, Gaities or just Revue, such as Music Box Revue. These were usually in editions, newly created every year or two. Most of them were highly extravagant with hundreds of costumes, many sets and top talent. The material was created afresh for the particular edition. Many of the musical composers of the early half of the 20th century received their start writing songs for one of these revues. The top comedians from vaudeville and other circuit shows made their way into one of these Broadway revues, then musicals; eventually to radio, Hollywood films and early television. The depression finished off these kinds of theatrical productions.
Non-narrative musical productions continue to be popular down to the present. These days they are usually organized around some kind of a theme, the songs of a particular composer or the musical of a particular era. One of the more unusual revues was Jerome Robbins’ Broadway (1989), consisting of productions numbers from musicals that Robbins had either directed and/or choreographed. It won the Tony that year as the Best Musical.
In the past 22 seasons Springfield Contemporary Theatre has presented the following revues:
2016 Jerry’s Girls (Songs of Jerry Herman)
2015 The Marvelous Wonderettes (Songs from Girl Groups of the 1950s-60s)
2014 Ain’t Misbehaving (Songs of Fats Waller)
2013 Rodgers & Hart, A Celebration
Holiday Carol (Christmas music)
2008 Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris
Tintypes (Songs and sketches from the turn of the 19th-20th century)
2006 Swing Time Canteen (Songs from the World War II era)
2005 I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change (Sketches and songs about marital relationships; original material and lyrics, Joe DiPietro; music, Jimmy Roberts)
2004 Showtunes (Songs of Jerry Herman)
2003 From Berlin to Broadway with Kurt Weill
Stephen Sondheim’s Putting It Together
2002 All Night Strut (blues, bebop, jazz music from 1930s-40s)
1999 Starting Here, Starting Now (Songs of Richard Maltby and David Shire)
1998 The World Goes Round (Songs of Kander and Ebb)
1997 Broadway Montage (Songs from the golden age of musical comedy)
1996 A Grand Night for Singing (Songs of Rodgers and Hammerstein)
A later blog will deal with jukebox musicals and what is the difference.