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British Musical Theatre ( operetta )

British Musical Theatre

musical theatre

Musical theatre, although containing many of the same ingredients as Music Hall, is more closely related to opera and it's lighter cousin operetta, as pioneered by Gilbert & Sullivan. But whereas operetta contains a storyline, this aspect is often reduced to a minimum in musical theatre in favour of dance routines, songs, or a combination of the two. Sometimes it is dispensed with altogether.
Edwardian Britain produced few if any songwriters of note for this genre ( see operetta link ), and by the 1920's, with Broadway entering a long Golden Age, British musicals were homely, charming and nostalgic, the product of writers like Noel Coward, Ivor Novello and Noel Gay.
Noel Coward was not a great songwriter by any stretch of the imagination, but was a fine playwright and a renowned wit. His most well-known songs include "Mad Dogs And Englishmen" - written in 1930 and first heard on the stage in the 1932 revue "WORDS AND MUSIC" - "Don't Put Your Daughter On The Stage, Mrs. Worthington" written in 1933, and the war-time favourite "London Pride" from 1941.
Ivor Novello produced a huge body of much-loved music between the wars, but is best remembered for the First World War favourite "Keep The Home Fires Burning", written in 1915 with Lena Guilbert Ford.
Noel Gay's cockney musical "ME AND MY GIRL" of 1937, written with lyricists L. Arthur Rose and Douglas Furber, contains two old favourites in "The Lambeth Walk" and the jaunty "The Sun Has Got His Hat On" as well as the excellent title number. Gay also wrote George Formby's signature tune "Leaning On A Lamppost" .
After 1950, talented and original songwriters are even harder to find, notable exceptions being Lionel Bart , whose 1960 success "OLIVER" contains songs such as "As Long As He Needs Me" and "I'd Do Anything".
Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse's early 1960's collaborations for the stage yielded "Once In A Lifetime", "What Kind Of Fool Am I ?" and "Who Can I Turn To ?" amongst others. But it was the partnership of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber which, following the success of "HAIR" in 1968 and Pete Townshend's 1969 rock musical "TOMMY", led a 1970's and 1980's revival of the genre with their mega-musicals and pop operas.

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Prominent composers

Noel Coward
Ivor Novello
Vivian Ellis
Noel Gay
Lionel Bart
Anthony Newley
Leslie Bricusse
Pete Townshend
Andrew Lloyd-Webber
Tim Rice


audio : Musicals
             Magic of British Musicals

books : on British Musical Theatre


audio : Musicals
The Magic of British Musicals

books : on British Musical Theatre