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a primarily light play in which the resources of the stage, popular music, choreography, drama, and opera are used. The musical was developed in the USA in the late 19th century.

Bicknell’s play, The Black Crook, which combined melodrama, song, and “showgirls,” was first presented in 1866 and played for 25 years. In New York in the early 20th century the Negro actors B. Williams and G. Walker presented several musical comedies distinguished for their originality and striking theatricality. (The composer of these comedies was W. M. Cook.) The musical comedy became the most popular form of American theater, particularly after World War I. The best of the later musicals include Kern’s Show Boat (1929), Gershwin’s Of Thee I Sing (1931), Weill’s Johnny Johnson (1936), Rodgers’ Oklahoma! (1943), Porter’s Kiss Me, Kate (1948), Loewe’s My Fair Lady (1956), and Herman’s Hello, Dolly! (1964). They were distinguished by their content, fine directorial skill, brilliant visual impact, and melodious, catchy music.

Dance is a major component of musicals. At first primarily tap dancing and chorus-line numbers were used, but in Bernstein’s West Side Story, one of the best American musicals (choreographer Jerome Robbins, 1957), the dance attained outstanding dramatic expressiveness.

The popularity and accessibility of musicals are often exploited by impresarios who form touring companies of the most successful shows and present them in other countries. Often, movies are based on musicals: Oliver! (Bart, Great Britain, 1970); Funny Girl (Styne, USA, 1969); The Girls From Rochefort (Legrand, France, 1966); and The Old Folks at the Hops Harvest (Bažant, Malásek, and Hála, Czechoslovakia, 1964).

The musicals West Side Story, My Fair Lady, and Kiss Me, Kate have been presented in theaters in the USSR. Among the shows presented as musicals are My Brother Plays The Clarinet (Fel’tsman, 1968, at the Moscow Theater for Young Audiences), the cartoon The Bremen Musicians (Gladkov, 1970), and the film Shel’menko the Batman (Solov’ev-Sedoi, 1971).


Volyntsev, A. “Azbuka zhanra.” Teatr, 1967, no. 9.
Ewen, D. The Story of America’s Musical Theater. Philadelphia, 1961.
Osolsobĕ, Y. Muzikál je, když Prague, 1967.


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