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Broadway Musical The Book Chapter 10. 段馨君 Iris Hsin-chun Tuan Associate Professor Department of Humanities and Social Sciences NCTU. Philosophy.

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broadway musical the book chapter 10

Broadway MusicalThe BookChapter 10

段馨君 Iris Hsin-chun Tuan

Associate Professor

Department of Humanities and Social Sciences


  • The book comes first. Alan Jay Lerner wrote in the preface to Brigadoon ,”I can tell you the book is all essential. It is the fountain from which all water spring.”
  • The book is the show.

A good book is an outline of highly compressed dramatic development that provides a working umbrella for the songs and dances that distinguish an effective production.


A good book prospers in proportion to the credible opportunities it offers music, dance, design, and performance to do on the stage what words alone are inadequate to do.

Green Grow the Lilacs Original Dances by Agnes de Mille


Everything in the musical book must set up and show off the songs.

  • The superior musical book allows for a variety of musical expression.

The era is the first to detect the basic difference between a play and a musical book.

  • This adaptation of play values to book values occurred when Oscar Hammerstein II transformed Lynn Rigg’s play Green Grow the Lilacs into the book Oklahoma!

green grow the lilacs


Unfortunately, the play limits the dramatic function of its images to whatever mood values it can communicate to the cast or production staff.

  • The book writer pursue the simple and obvious in a stage.

Marilyn Miller (Santini) 155 Willis Avenue Hawthorne, NY 10532 914-769-1092


When the term musical comedy was being used to distinguish native musical book show entertainment from comic opera and operetta.

  • The musical book served only to string together the songs and dances that appeal ed most to the audience.

1930 Sunny Marilyn Miller The Hunt Dance

  • The modern American musical theater offers many types of book musicals: musical comedy, musical play, play with music, modern operetta, and popular opera.

Today the word musical comedy applies only to a book show with motivated songs and dances in which comedy dominates an altogether light and frivolous world of entertainment.

MFMN - "Annie Get Your Gun" (1/5) - "You Can't Get a Man with a Gun"


The music play envelops the audience while it entertains, goes deep where others remain on the surface.

  • The use of “ Sunrise, Sunset” during the Tzeitle-Motel wedding scene of Fiddler on the Roof illustrates this paradox.



What distinguishes the song in its musical play is context, universal sentiment particularized in the specific dramatic situation of the pogrom.

Hayley Mills in THE KING AND I

The King and I /Yul Brynner Deborah Kerr 1956


The book in popular opera must be music-oriented throughout.

  • The style of music for popular opera varies according to period or popular taste, the conventions of the book remain fixed.

The difference between music and musical play involves critical judgment.

  • Lyric about an antique scandal set to 3/4 time, and ripe with the images of operetta.

Friday Night Retro: Fiddler on the Roof.

  • Five major dramatic elements combine within the musical book: character, plot, situation, dialogue, and the theme.

The Merry Widow (Photo: Catherine Ashmore) With its new production.

  • Character is the soul of drama.
  • A successful character, one who is one-of-a-kind and fleshed out in the nuances of a living being, that character becomes in action some part of us.

The Los Angeles Opera's production of 'The Merry Widow' at the Dorothy.


(1) Introduce simple character immediately.

(2)Recognizable to the audience as principals.

(3)Whom conflicts will develop.

(4)Who make the audience care enough to anticipate a satisfying resolution.

production of Fiddler on the Roof.

  • The musical book turns to plot- a sequence of actions designed to bring out the drama in character, idea, or situation.
  • Plot implies a specific chart of events.

South Pacific - HD STEREO - HAPPY TALK


The vital, energetic activities of song and dance cannot thrive sandwiched in between a plot that cannot move the show along.

  • The plot must reveal the drama, not tell about it.

South Pacific

  • Situation operates within plot as any moment that generates drama, sustains audience attention, and begs for a final resolution.

Romeo and Juliet


Romeo and Juliet has had a long history of successful adaptations in opera, ballet, and musical play because the sequence of melodramatic situation eliminates the need for words and encourages the substiution of sound and movement.

Romeo and Juliet

  • Dialogue is talk , the fourth essential element of the musical book.
  • In the mature musical theater, the songs is the purpose of the scene.
  • Where songs succeed as the scene, dialogue must be subject to economy of expression.

Flower Drum Song was released in 1961 and it is a film based on the 1957

  • The theme of a musical show is its main idea.
  • Writers build the theme of a show into content where character, plot, and dialogue project it to the audience.
  • American musical theater suggests that a good musical book combines the qualities of romance, emotion, lyricism, and comedy.
  • Song and dance prosper in the service of romantic love.

Westside story


Sexual love promotes repetition; romantic love promotes growth and development.

  • Romantic love can embrace children, dance, and noble ideas.
  • Romance and feeling cannot be realized in the musical book without the accompanying quality of lyricism.

I am 16, going on 17


Comedy is the attribute of a musical book that is always suitable to it.

  • The popular musical theater embraces the vision of life as it should be, the life filled with song, dance, and laughter.

The sound of music


Comes been has always been the hallmark of the popular American musical theater.

  • Comedy can relieve the mounting drama of the serious musical play and still not intrude on audience credibility.

Sound of the music

  • The musical book is a splendid engine that pulls all the elements of a musical show to a desires destination.
  • Like any machine, it is subject to principles of dynamics.

The mechanical problem is this: how do you invent a rich, dramatic stage world people with round characters comparable in credibility with the theater with less time and fewer tools?

  • To particular each character, lyricist Stephen Sondhemi has each call Robert by a different nickname.

My Fair Lady - The Rain In Spain

  • The structure of the musical book refers to the unique organization of all the elements of a musical .
  • One principle dominates all musical book structure: content dictates form.

West Side Story (1961) at the Egyptian Theatre.


The writer of the musical can:

(1)Introduction the principle character and other vital elements in the opening scene song.

(2)Establish the conflict that generates dramatic tension.

(3)Cultivate in the audience a sincere desire for a resolution to the problem.

West Side Story-Tonight


The era of the primacy of the musical book marks a recent phenomenon in the popular American musical theater.

Westside story.

fiddler on the roof
Fiddler on the Roof
  • Fiddler on the Roof is a musical with music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, and book by Joseph Stein, set in Tsarist Russiain 1905.
  • It is based on Tevye and his Daughters (or Tevye the Milkman and Other Tales) by Sholem Aleichem.

Jerry Bock

Sheldon Harnick

Joseph Stein


The story centers on Tevye, the father of five daughters, and his attempts to maintain his family and Jewish religious traditions while outside influences encroach upon their lives.

Tevye and His Seven Daughters is a 1968 Israeli drama film directed by Menahem Golan. 


He must cope with both the strong-willed actions of his three older daughters—each one's choice of husband moves further away from the customs of his faith—and with the edict of the Tsar that evicts the Jews from their village.

Matchmaker - Fiddler on the Roof (1971)


Fiddler held the record for the lonfifteenth longest-running show in history. gest-running Broadway musical for almost 10 years until Grease surpassed its run. It remains Broadway's 

Fiddler on the Roof Comes to Orlando

If I Were a Rich Man - Fiddler on the Roof (1971)