As we move into the present day in our examination of the musical, we see an increase in the reliance on visual spectacle. Like we saw last time in our discussion of Hair’s use of rock, many productions incorporate a variety of musical genres including hip hop and opera. Many theatrical productions during this modern era rely on old forms of entertainment such as recordings, films, etc. You may have noticed the abundance of Disney films re-produced on Broadway during the last few decades. One of my favorites just traveled to Cincinnati this past year, The Lion King:
As in previous generations, theater still often draws from literary sources such as Wicked, originally a book by Gregory Maguire that tells an alternative story about the witches of Oz. Some productions tell new tales such as Avenue Q, a story created by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx that addresses the stresses that many young adults encounter as they grow up and gain responsibility. The show is known for its use of puppets controlled by unconcealed puppeteers alongside human performers.
What is your favorite modern musical? Next time we’ll take a look at one of this period’s most famous productions: Rent.