MUSICAL THEATER

What is musical theater? Well, from the title of the genre, one can say that it is theater with music in it, or you can say that it is music with theater in it. However, most people will go with the first option. It started out in the early 20th century as has been recognized ever since then. Black musical theater focused on the production of plays that were by and for black people. The music that we created as black people was for the accompaniment of scenes on stage. For example, some favorite and classic black musical theaters works include The Wiz (starring Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Richard Pryor and more) was a black twist on The Wizard of Oz. Dreamgirls is another favorite about a girl group and their journey trying to become know. It also follows their personal lives. This production starred vocal powerhouses Jennifer Hudson and Beyonce. The play, The Color Purple is a play that is based on a book by Alice Walker. It is a black coming of age artwork that explores race, gender, and sexuality through the lens of everyday black folk. In the past, the theater version has included Fantasia and Jennifer Holiday as leading and supporting roles. Lastly, I cannot talk about black musical theater without mentioning The Lion King, which celebrated its 25th anniversary this year in 2019. It came out in 1994 and it is also a coming of age movie that was added to broadway. The setting is Africa, and because the movie is animated using personification of animals, the play is the only way we can see black people fulfill those roles. Recently, the remake of the original movie came out with Donald Glover (Childish Gambino) and Beyonce playing the lead roles as Simba and Nala. Theater is sometimes seen as a more sophisticated genre that black people may not have tremendous access or interest in, but looking deeper and finding the shows that are dedicated to our blackness makes it easier to recognize how this genre has influence black popular culture.

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faithshannon

faithshannon

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