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When was Broadway's golden age?

Someone in a Tree2 Profile Photo
Someone in a Tree2
Broadway Star
joined:10/9/12
When was Broadway's golden age?
Posted: 12/6/12 at 07:46pm
To threadjack the conversation back to the more fruitful topic of comparing golden ages, I'm siding with EricMontreal-- My favorite decade of great musical theater works is probably the 70's heyday of the Prince/Sondheim partnership. But since I was actually seeing shows on Broadway for much of that decade, my mind irrevocably insists that any Golden Age must have happened earlier than I could remember. Makes no sense empirically, but Golden Ages are always always in the past, aren't they?

And what constitutes an Age? For me, it's a period when the very nature of how a show works changes for all time. Once changed, the history of Broadway moves forward (though individual shows will lag behind the curve). OKLAHOMA announced the integrated musical was here to stay, and Broadway never looked back.

The difficulty is that ages are constantly overlapping. CABARET and COMPANY proclaimed a musical could be built on concept rather than plot, but LOVE LIFE had flirted with the concept musical back in the 40's. I'd say that PASSION (a show I didn't like) showed a new way to build musicals in which songs weren't songs so much as arias. THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA and maybe NEXT TO NORMAL are heirs to this kind of writing. HAIR (and YOUR OWN THING) are credited with kicking off the age of the Rock Musical, an age which I guess is still going strong with AMERICAN IDIOT et al. But these shows live side by side with all those classically integrated shows in the R&H tradition like RAGTIME and (God help us) NEWSIES.

Inevitably the so-called ages all overlap and contradict each other. Maybe we have to leave it to the historians another decade or two from now to break the last 30 years into coherent ages. :)

Updated On: 12/6/12 at 07:46 PM
GavestonPS Profile Photo
GavestonPS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/10/12
When was Broadway's golden age?
Posted: 12/6/12 at 08:20pm
Exactly, Someone, which is why I think the only productive answer is that each person define her terms when she uses the phrase "Golden Age".
JoeKv99 Profile Photo
JoeKv99
Broadway Legend
joined:12/27/04
When was Broadway's golden age?
Posted: 12/6/12 at 08:54pm
Just as long as well ALL agree: Broadway being more popular than ever is a HORRIBLE thing.
No good can possibly come from using this vast wasteland of error and deliberate deceit. You should get off of it and warn others away. You should make sure your children and grandchildren know what a corrupt and morally bankrupt institution it truly is.
Someone in a Tree2 Profile Photo
Someone in a Tree2
Broadway Star
joined:10/9/12
When was Broadway's golden age?
Posted: 12/6/12 at 10:19pm
Sorry Joe-- for me Golden Age means artistically golden, not financially. You say Golden Age and I picture CAROUSEL and FINIAN'S RAINBOW, regardless of their middling runs. Cherry picking a little from among the top 10 longest-running shows, does anyone consider the years that produced CATS, OH CALCUTTA!, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, or MAMMA MIA candidates for a Golden Age?
EricMontreal22 Profile Photo
EricMontreal22
Broadway Legend
joined:10/31/11
When was Broadway's golden age?
Posted: 12/6/12 at 10:55pm
Joe, I don't think most of us going off on this tangent disagree with your original post.

Someone in a tree--that's very true, it's entirely relative. Growing up, just pre-internet, so many of the musical theatre books I would read were about how the 70s was the death of Broadway. In some ways I can see what they meant (and I think the lack of it playing a big part in nationwide mainstream pop culture is a part there), but... Didn't someone say that people often pine for the decade that they either were born in or the one immediately before as somewhat ideal? I think that may play a part with how most people (I'm sure there are exceptions) view golden ages in general.

So I guess I don't mean commercial, but I do think for such a general term as Golden Age that mainstream relevence plays a part. Carousel certainly was something many people in other major cities of the US, and who weren't massive theatre fans, would know of. Hollywood thought enough of it (and of course the R&H brand) to adapt it, people covered If I Love You, etc. That's why I think it's hard, for me, to justify using the term for a past mid 60s Broadway era. If it was justified as *artistic* Golden Age it would be an entirely different ballgame.

(and I'm jealous you got to experience so much of my fave Broadway decade :P )
Caring Soul Profile Photo
Caring Soul
Understudy
joined:10/4/12
When was Broadway's golden age?
Posted: 12/6/12 at 11:04pm
Generally speaking, it is considered to be around 1944 (Laurette Taylor, Glass Menagerie) to 1960ish (Ethel Merman, Gypsy).
PalJoey Profile Photo
PalJoey
Broadway Legend
joined:3/11/04
When was Broadway's golden age?
Posted: 12/6/12 at 11:33pm
Whenever a loud girl holds a long note--that's Broadway's golden age.

Whenever a cute boy in tight pants jumps up in the air and kicks out a leg--that's Broadway's golden age.

Whenever two lovers love each other so much that they have to sing it--or dance it!--that's Broadway's golden age.

Whenever a short chubby man or a tall skinny man or a short chubby woman or a tall skinny woman makes you laugh or makes you cry--that's Broadway's golden age.

And whenever an old lady struts and shouts and lets you know she's still here--that Broadway's golden age.
yr pal,
joey




Blocked so far: suestorm, Master Bates
Caring Soul Profile Photo
Caring Soul
Understudy
joined:10/4/12
When was Broadway's golden age?
Posted: 12/7/12 at 12:17am
And before the anal-retentive trolls strike, the previous examples are for illustrative purposes only. No claim as to exact dates or lack of outlying examples is made. If you're talking Golden Age, it usually refers to the preponderance of greats in a particular field at the height of their powers.
Idiot Profile Photo
Idiot
Broadway Star
joined:10/9/10
When was Broadway's golden age?
Posted: 12/7/12 at 02:25am
"Just as long as well ALL agree: Broadway being more popular than ever is a HORRIBLE thing."

Like a high school girl who suddenly blossoms and sleeps with the entire football team, popularity for being cheap eventually destroys itself.
JoeKv99 Profile Photo
JoeKv99
Broadway Legend
joined:12/27/04
When was Broadway's golden age?
Posted: 12/7/12 at 10:05am
Pal Joey for once I agree whole heartedly.
No good can possibly come from using this vast wasteland of error and deliberate deceit. You should get off of it and warn others away. You should make sure your children and grandchildren know what a corrupt and morally bankrupt institution it truly is.
newintown Profile Photo
newintown
Broadway Legend
joined:3/3/10
When was Broadway's golden age?
Posted: 12/7/12 at 11:16am
"Whenever a loud girl holds a long note--that's Broadway's golden age."

Like Carolee in Scandalous?

"Whenever a cute boy in tight pants jumps up in the air and kicks out a leg--that's Broadway's golden age."

Like Matthew Risch in Pal Joey?

"Whenever two lovers love each other so much that they have to sing it--or dance it!--that's Broadway's golden age."

Like Hanke & Boevers in In My Life?

"Whenever a short chubby man or a tall skinny man or a short chubby woman or a tall skinny woman makes you laugh or makes you cry--that's Broadway's golden age."

I'll give you that one.

"And whenever an old lady struts and shouts and lets you know she's still here--that Broadway's golden age."

Like Suzanne Somers in The Blonde in the Thunderbird?

Sometimes "GOLD" means just a little more than tinsel...
Kad Profile Photo
Kad
Broadway Legend
joined:11/5/05
When was Broadway's golden age?
Posted: 12/7/12 at 12:26pm
"And whenever an old lady struts and shouts and lets you know she's still here--that Broadway's golden age."

...as long as she's performing on a stage and not an audience member, yeah.
broadwaybabywannabe2 Profile Photo
broadwaybabywannabe2
Leading Actor
joined:11/9/11
When was Broadway's golden age?
Posted: 12/7/12 at 05:32pm
...as long as STEPHEN SONDHEIM is alive and hopefully still writing musicals Broadway will be in a continuing GOLDEN AGE!

THE SONDHEIMMANIAC
Wynbish Profile Photo
Wynbish
Broadway Legend
joined:4/27/12
When was Broadway's golden age?
Posted: 12/7/12 at 06:41pm
^ So, ouch to many composers like Rodgers and Porter. The not-Sondheim hacks
JoeKv99 Profile Photo
JoeKv99
Broadway Legend
joined:12/27/04
When was Broadway's golden age?
Posted: 12/7/12 at 08:13pm
I should just let this thread die- but do you REALLY think theater fans in 1948 were saying "Truly, this is a GOLDEN AGE of the Broadway stage!"

No, they were bitching about crap like Call me Mister and Barefoot Boy With Cheek and that awful calypso revue that ran a couple weeks and bemoaning that surely, this art form was doomed!
No good can possibly come from using this vast wasteland of error and deliberate deceit. You should get off of it and warn others away. You should make sure your children and grandchildren know what a corrupt and morally bankrupt institution it truly is.

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