Omnibus

Season 5 Episode 1

The American Musical Comedy

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Aired Sunday 4:00 PM Oct 07, 1956 on CBS
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Episode Summary

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The American Musical Comedy
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A 90 minute essay on the development of American musical comedy from "The Black Crook" in 1896 to "My Fair Lady" written and narrated by Leonard Bernstein. The program thru narration and staging shows how musical comedy in this country grew from a bunch of unintegrated almost irrelevant songs, which had no connection with the plot into such highly organized musical plays as "South Pacific" where the songs tell the story or "On Your Toes" where the ballet "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue" is very much part of the plot.moreless

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  • NOTES (3)

    • To show how Gershwin used operetta technique in "Of Thee I Sing", Bernstein will present simultaneously the finales of that show and of Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Mikado" the two scores almost playing counterpoint to each other and the plotlines being almost identical. Bernstein makes a clear distinction between musical comedy and operetta, listing as the latter: "Showboat", "The King and I", "Fanny" and "Carousel" - "all written, it is true, in the most up-to-date Broadway manner, utilizing all the advances in taste and technique, but operettas none the less."

    • The 90 minute program has 18 song and dance productions and a cast of 50. Bernstein draws freely from the 2,000 musical productions in this country in the last 100 years.

    • "The Black Crook" (1796) was a combination of melodrama with ballet and music in a five-and-a-half hour undigested lump that was pretty terrible and yet preposterously successful.

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