Dissertation: Technology in Musicals Musical Theatre

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[. . .] However the insertion of the new technology into theatres actually created jobs for people such as theatrical technicians. Each of the areas of production including lighting, sound and scenery were components in the computer controlled revolution that took place in theatres through America and Britain. The author explains that

"With scenery being the environment in the modern theatre, then the ultimate objective of the designer of musicals must be to service the moving forms that characterize the musical theatre. Everything moves in an effective musical: musical notes, lyrics, actors, dancers, scenes, and scenery (Kislan 239) This revolution was all-encompassing within Broadway productions, straight drama and musical alike, but it was the musicals and their need for spectacle that really took advantage of it (Adlaf )."

In fact the musical Cats was amongst the first to utilize computer controlled technology . Cats was an important musical in terms of spectacle because of the success of the play.

In addition Cats was significant because the entire musical was spectacle-oriented art which incorporated new technology. More specifically Cats used effective design to ensure that the musical could contain numerous scene changes while also providing fluid transitions as well. Cats was able to achieve this balance with the assistance of technology. For instance the first scene of the musical takes "place entirely in a Junkyard seen from a Cats-eye perspective -- but with different elements for each particular moment. Aside from the overall junkyard, a part of the stage raised to carry one of the singers to cat heaven (Berkowitz 209). While having people flown above the stage floor is an effect that was begin back in Aristotle's Greece, it was great spectacle for a dues ex-machine to be incorporated into the show's finale (Ostrow 140). The junkyard effects and flying tire finale added to Cats title as a high-tech musical -- and audiences responded to the spectacle wildly (Rosenberg and Harburg 47)."

The impact and power of Cats was made obvious through audience attendance and the general success of the show. In addition critics such as Frank Rich (reported that the musical was a "glitzy, spectacular and plotless musical that had by 1989 broken all prior net profit records (Rosenberg and Harburg 200). A supposed lack of plot did not seem to hurt Cats." Prior to its closing there were well over seven thousand performances and the show made more than a billion dollars. The monetary success of Cats made it the highest grossing musical during its time on Broadway. Additionally "After the spectacle of Cats, Broadway was considered to be now into theme park entertainment, following Michael Eisner's Disney dictum that "business" is the operative word in the phrase "show business (Ostrow 140)." Broadway was simply doing what it had to in order to survive as a business (Rosenberg and Harburg 47)."

This finding concerning the musical Cats and the Phantom of the Opera illustrate the impact of technology on musical theatre and the manner in which technology drew people to musical theatre. Both of these musicals are amongst the most popular in history and received critical acclaim. The success of these shows demonstrate the ways in which technology had a profound impact upon the way in which the producers of these two shows demonstrated the artistic vision of the shows. There use of technology was also important because it served as an example of how technology could be used to express the themes and sentiments of the shows in a new way and in a manner that attracted an audience.

Overall the research indicates that Carte contributed greatly to modern musical theatre through the introduction of electricity into theatres. Prior to Carte the presence of theatres that were powered solely by electricity were unheard of. Today, all major theatres that produce musicals are powered by electricity and depend heavily on electricity to ensure that the production runs smoothly. Although musical theatre existed prior to Carte's introduction of the electric theatre, it is difficult to imagine musical theatre today if electricity were not being utilized.

Chapter II

There are several musical theatre productions that have forever changed the manner in which musical theatre is produced. Show Boat, produced by Florenz Ziegfeld, is an important musical because it was the "first Broadway score ever to have a coherent plot and integrated songs." Show Boat was also important for its role in musical theatre because it created a new art form in the realm of American musical theatre because the production marked the first time that a musical play was distinguished from musical comedy. That is Show Boat placed into the proper context

" a rich, colourful, nostalgic chapter from the American past filled with humour, gentle pathos, tenderness and high drama. It bewitched the eye, ear and heart. It was a revelation; and it was a revolution. Here was something unique for the musical stage of that day: an American musical comedy with dramatic truth; a plot with a logical, believable line; a love story that rang true. Here were three-dimensional characters in place of the cardboard images previously populating the musical stage. Here were authenticity of background and atmosphere. Here were dialogue and lyrics that were supple, fresh and imaginative -- capable of soaring to poetic heights without abandoning the vernacular and the idiomatic. And, finally, here was a musical score which was an extravagant outpouring of the most wonderful melodies. Though it was a pioneer in creating a new genre in the musical theatre -- and though many remarkable productions since 1927 have developed the musical play into a genuine art form -- Show Boat still remains one of the best of the species. In its frequent revivals, whether on stage or screen, Show Boat still never fails to cast a spell on audiences (Show Boat)."

In 1927 when Show Boat opened there were rave reviews about the production. For instance, in December of 1927 The New York Times reported that Show Boat was unique and dynamic as it pertained to its colourful sets and the realistic portrayal of the historic show boats that once existed.

Show Boat is also an important musical because of the manner in which the show utilized technology. The production contained a gloating stage that brought to life the energy and purpose of the production in a manner that was unprecedented. Additionally the play's use of lighting and sound allowed the audience to see and understand the emotion portrayed throughout the musical. Show Boat's use of technology on the stage was also vitally important because of the nature of the play and some of the subject matter explored particularly as it related to race and cultural norms at the time.

Show Boat was indeed a groundbreaking type of show that has been revived on Broadway several times. The musical set the stage for establishing the desire of audiences to see certain stories on the stage. Show Boat also proved that a novel could be brought to life through a musical and garner a great deal of acclaim and success. In these respects Show Boat forever changed the landscape for future musicals.

Overall Show Boat demonstrated that technology, if properly utilized could serve as an enhancement to a show. However, the significance of Show Boat was that it was coherent. That is, the production was well written as it pertained to the narrative and the musical aspects of the musical. As such technology served simply as a conduit through which Show Boat could articulate the well-written narrative. This particular production set a standard for the use of stage technology that forever changed the use of technology in musical theatre productions.

Chapter III Advertising

Advertising and marketing are vitally important aspects of musical theatre because they inform the public of what can be expected from a theatrical performance. Advertising allows the public to determine whether or not a particular performance might be appealing or entertaining. Mick and Buhl (1992) explain that the theory of semiotics is essential to understanding advertising within the context of musical theatre. The authors report that semiotics maintains "that advertising is a quasi-fictional, culturally constituted system of symbols in which products are strategically synchronized with scenes, props, people, and actions (Douglas and Isherwood 1979; Mick 1986). Accordingly, consumers interpret ads as a principal way to understanding their world and themselves and, in the end, they become the final arbitrators of advertising meanings (Mick and Buhl, 1992)."

At the current time technology is not only vitally important to theatrical production. Sound effects, movement, and lighting all play an important role in establishing an ambience in the theatre and ensuring that a story can be properly told. Technology is also vitally important in the realm of theatre as it pertains to the business aspects of operating a theatre. That is, technology is used to advertise plays and musicals and to sale theatre tickets. As it relates to advertisement, theatres use television and the internet to advertise shows. For instance… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Technology in Musicals Musical Theatre.  (2011, April 20).  Retrieved March 26, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/technology-musicals-musical-theatre/3666379

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"Technology in Musicals Musical Theatre."  20 April 2011.  Web.  26 March 2019. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/technology-musicals-musical-theatre/3666379>.

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"Technology in Musicals Musical Theatre."  Essaytown.com.  April 20, 2011.  Accessed March 26, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/technology-musicals-musical-theatre/3666379.