Theatrical Music Essay

Submitted By blueflowerlove
Words: 942
Pages: 4

The Theatre Musicals
For this assessment I was asked to choose two musicals and discuss some of the musical differences found in each. I have chosen the play of My Fair Lady and West Side Story. Below follows a brief over view of both the plays:

My Fair Lady:

The plot:
My Fair Lady is about a chance meeting between two linguists, Professor Henry Higgins and Colonel Hugh Pickering, which leads into a wager that will test Higgins skill. When they hear a dirty Cockney flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, Higgins proposes to transform the girl into a lady, and fool everyone into thinking she really is one as well. Professor Higgins accomplishes the task and young aristocrat Freddy Eynsford-Hill falls madly in love with her. But when Higgins takes all the credit and forgets to acknowledge her efforts, Eliza walks out on him leaving him mystified by her ingratitude.

When she is gone however, he comes to the horrified realization that he has "grown accustomed to her face." Putting aside his resentment about the intrusion on his life and toward women in general, Higgins finds Eliza the next day and attempts to talk her into coming back to him. During a testy exchange, Higgins's ego gets the better of him, and Eliza rejects him.

Higgins makes his way home, stubbornly predicting that Eliza will be ruined without him and come crawling back. However, his bravado collapses and he is reduced to playing old phonograph recordings of her voice lessons. To Higgins' great delight, Eliza chooses that moment to return to him.

The Production:
My Fair Lady is Lerner and Loewe's creation, based on Bernard Shaw's 1912 play Pygmalion. My Fair Lady is as much as classical play as well as a classical musical. The musical's 1956 Broadway production was a smash hit, setting a new record for the longest run of any major musical theatre production in history. It was followed by a hit London production, a popular film version, and numerous revivals. It has been called "the perfect musical." Actor Rex Harrison plays Professor Higgins and Eliza Doolittle is played by Julie Andrews. In 1964 a film adaptation of My Fair Lady was produced casting Harrison as Higgins and Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Doolittle.

West Side Story:

The Plot:

West Side Story was produced in 1957. West Side Story deals with the conflict between gang rivalry and youthful love. This musical can be seen as a modern version of the Shakespearean play Romeo and Juliet. The feud between the lovers’ family in Romeo and Juliet is transformed into warfare between two teenage street gangs: the Jets, Native born Americans led by Riff; and the Sharks, Puerto Ricans, led by Bernado. The plot revolves around a fight and the forbidden love between Tony, a former Jet and Maria, Bernado’s sister. In the course of the story, Tony kills Bernado in a vain attempt to break up a fight and later he is shot by one of the Sharks and he dies in Maria’s arms.

Although this musical uses street language and ends unhappily, West Side Story was a tremendously popular success and became an Oscar winning musical film (1961). It has an exceptional combination of song and drama with a thrilling and violent choreography by Jerome Robbins and Peter Gennaro. Compared to an average Broadway show, West Side Story contains music that is more complex and unconventional, from vaudeville (Gee, Officer Krupke) and Latin rhythm to bebop fugue

The Production:

The original 1957 Broadway production was directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins and produced by Robert E. Griffith and Harold Prince. It ran for 732 performances