A History of Musicals Course Description and Video



A History of Musical Theater

Total classes: 13
Class dates: Tuesdays, Jan. 16 through April 17.  No class on March 27 for Holy Week.
Starting time: 1:00 PM Eastern (Noon Central; 11:00 Mountain; 10:00 Pacific)
Duration: 55 minutes
Prerequisite: None
Suggested grade level: 7th to 12th grade
Suggested high school credit: 1 full semester Psychology
Fee: $175 if you register on or before November 15, 2017. $195 if you register after Nov. 15 for all 13 classes ($215 after Jan. 8).
Instructor: Kevin O’Brien
Course description: Musical theater!  Is anything more fun?!  This class will look at the history of musicals, from their origins in comedies and light opera all the way to modern musicals like Hamilton.  We will compare musicals to other forms of drama, look at the basic structures of the stories and songs in musicals, determine what makes some musicals better than others, and also look scenes from the most famous movie musicals.  For a Final Project each student will create an outline of a music they’d like to write.
Course outline (week by week):
  1. Origins of Musicals - The Beggar’s Opera, pantomime, commedia
  2. Light Opera - Gilbert & Sullivan
  3. Revues and Vaudeville vs. Musicals
  4. Early American Musicals - George M. Cohan, Irving Berlin and the Princess Theater Musicals
  5. Of Thee I Sing and Pre-Golden Age Musicals
  6. The Golden Age Begins: Showboat and Oklahoma!
  7. Rodgers and Hammerstein
  8. Lerner & Lowe
  9. Dance and Musicals: Jerome Robbins and Bob Fosse and Dancers on Film
  10. Social Themes in Musicals: Fiddler on the Roof, West Side Story, etc.
  11. Rock and Rap Musicals: Godspell, Hamilton, etc.
  12. Show Biz Musicals: The Producers, Something Rotten, etc.
  13. Review and Conclusion
Course materials: Musicals: The Definitive Illustrated Story by DK Publishing, plus video clips, audio clips and PDF’s provided by the instructor.
Homework: Assignments and readings.  Expect to average two hours per week on homework outside of the classroom.