Print Version

Effective: Summer 2015

Advisory: Advisory: Not open to students with credit in THTR 2F.
Grade Type: Letter Grade, the student may select Pass/No Pass
Not Repeatable.
FHGE: Humanities Transferable: CSU/UC
4 hours lecture, 1 hour laboratory. (60 hours total per quarter)

Student Learning Outcomes -
  • Demonstrate an understanding of musical theatre styles beginning in the early twentieth century to present day as a reflection of its societal/historical context.
  • Discriminate--via an understanding of between various musical styles (e.g., early twentieth century and the decade of he 1930s, the Golden Age of musicals in mid-century, influence Sondheim, transition to rock musicals and commercial musicals, multi-media influence of the twenty-first century.)
  • Discriminate -via an understanding of theatrical elements involved in the production of musicals (score, lyrics, book, directors, staging, actors, dance, and design)
Description -
An introductory survey of the history of the American musical theatre genre. Includes roots in British music halls, Viennese operetta and African American jazz through the golden age of the musical and up to the contemporary Broadway stage. Emphasis will be placed on genres and styles, as well as the key composers, lyricists, librettists, directors, producers, designers, choreographers and performers. Examines how the musical mirrors contemporary social and political events.

Course Objectives -
The student will be able to:
  1. identify various musical theatre styles; use this knowledge to extend and enrich music comprehension and enjoyment.
  2. apply knowledge of musical theatre style to identify various pieces of musical theatre by historical period, genre and literary source material.
  3. trace and describe the historical development of American musical theatre style in relation to the political, economic, social, religious developments and values of the time.
  4. compare and contrast repertoire of musicals through familiarity with a broad sampling of works, composers, styles and genres, and literary roots.
  5. think critically to analyze and critique good performance from bad from the perspectives of artistic quality and appropriate historical performance practice.
  6. use this knowledge to deepen their appreciation of the ways in which music and theatre can be a powerful took for communicating our common humanity within the diverse cultural, social and economic content studied.
Special Facilities and/or Equipment -
When taught via Foothill Global Access: On-going access to computer with Email software and capabilities; Email address; Java-script enabled internet browsing software.

Course Content (Body of knowledge) -
  1. Elements of the musical (score, lyrics, book, directors, staging, dance, actors, design)
  2. Roots: Operetta, Minstrel shows and Revues, Ziegfield, Jolson, Cohan
  3. Musicals in the 1920s and 30s: Broadway and the radio, political satire and the Depression, Showboat, the Gershwins, Cole Porter, Federal Theater Project, musical films
  4. 1940s and 50s: WWII and the rise of Rodgers and Hammerstein, Agnes DeMille
  5. 1950's: Rodgers and Hammerstein, Gypsy, Guys and Dolls, West Side Story
  6. 1960s: Hello Dolly, My Fair Lady and transition to rock and roll on stage: Hair, Pippin.
  7. 1970s: Sondheim transforms the genre
  8. 1970s and 80s: Kander & Ebb, Cabaret, Chorus Line, Evita
  9. 1980s: the rise of commercial musicals: Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserable
  10. 1990s: Rent, Disney transforms 42nd Street, Ragtime / multi-cultural casting
  11. 2000 and beyond: Juke Box musicals, Wicked, multi-media musicals, translating films to the Broadway stage
Methods of Evaluation -
  1. Quizzes on each of the topic areas
  2. Online discussion Forums
  3. Two 1000 words essays for each part of the course (Roots to WWII and The Golden Age to the contemporary stage)
  4. Exams (module exams and final)
Representative Text(s) -
Kantor, Michael and Laurence Maslon. Broadway: The American Musical. paperback ed. NY: Bulfinch Press, 2010.

When taught via Foothill Global Access: Supplemental lectures, handouts, tests and assignments delivered via Etudes; feedback on tests and assignments delivered via Etudes; class discussion may be delivered in chat rooms, list-serves and newsgroups.

Disciplines -
Music and Theater Arts
Method of Instruction -
  1. Lecture presentations and classroom discussions.
  2. In-class review of video or music excerpts followed by guided discussion.
  3. Group presentations of major projects followed by in-class discussion and evaluation.
Lab Content -
Laboratory activities include:
  1. Observation of assigned excerpts, video and audio, covering stylistic categories, musical characteristics, dramatic genre and key figures, evaluated in weekly quizzes.
  2. Critical analysis of live musical theatre performances.
  3. Exploration and group discussion of contemporary musical theatre content via online Discussion Forums.
Types and/or Examples of Required Reading, Writing and Outside of Class Assignments -
Reading and writing assignments will include:
  1. Weekly readings from the textbook and other outside sources such as historical reviews of musical studied.
  2. Writing musical theatre performance reports, individual research projects, historical/analytical papers
  3. Answering synthesis questions based on the readings and lectures