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Blog Posts by Subject: Musical theatre

Musical of the Month: The Body Beautiful

Spoiler alert: The following blog reveals details about the plot of Rocky. If you’ve seen the movie, there are no surprises here, but if you haven’t seen it yet, go buy a ticket to the musical, and come back soon.Read More ›

Jerry Bock's FIORELLO! Demos

Original Cast of Fiorello! / Photo by Joseph AbelesWhen Jerry Bock died in 2010, his papers (drafts, correspondence, business records, etc.) came to the library as he had planned. A year or so later, his friend and lawyer, Richard Ticktin, compiled many of Bock's personal audio recordings onto a hard drive and passed a copy to the library. While we are still in the process of processing and preserving this material, I'm very excited today to share with you a preview of the treasures in this collection. Using the library's player below, you can listen to three tapes Bock made while 

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Musical of the Month: Fiorello!

There’s a new mayor in town—a man from a party locked out of the Gracie Mansion for over a decade who ran on a platform opposing the establishment and promising to improve the lot of the city's poor and disenfranchised. Thus ends Fiorello!, the hit 1959 musical with a score by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick. Read More ›

Announcing LIBRETTO!

I am very pleased to announce the first release of Libretto, a prototype open source, ebook reader for reading musicals on Android devices!Read More ›

Those Mysterious Shadowy Dancers

This post answers a question about the image that the Library’s web page has been using when it highlights the Vandamm exhibition, Pioneering Poet of Light. I was thrilled when the web editors selected it, since it illustrates the title so well. So, here’s an extended caption, with musical accompaniment.

Three’s a Crowd was a revue, presented in the 1930-1931 season. Like The Band Wagon in last week's post, it was choreographed by the brilliantly innovative Albertina Rasch and paired a young Broadway/vaudeville veteran with a European ballet 

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Musical of the Month: Are You With It?

A guest post by Ben West of UnsungMusicalsCo.

The cast of Are You With It? (Photo by The Graphic House)November 1945. The New York Post calls it "a long-awaited musical comedy hit;" Universal purchases the film rights for more than $100,000; and The New York Times urges its readers to "hurry, hurry folks and get your tickets. On second thought, it probably isn't necessary to break a neck: this carnival should be hereabouts for a long time to come."

If you've never heard of this raucous entertainment 

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"What Do You Say Up There?" Shooting the Set from Above

The most recent post looked at Vandamm photographs of dance rehearsals from footholds on the catwalks, ladders and rigging stations of Broadway theaters. This one focuses on their photographs of the stage crew setting up for those rehearsals.

Like all theater photographers, they depended on the crews to set scenes, move furniture and props, and adapt lighting. But, as you can see from the portraits and action shots, the Vandamms esteemed their IATSE colleagues and photographed them with the same respect as the performers. There are portraits of individuals or 

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"Hey Up There" Looking Down on Dancers

“Hey up there”

Broadway precision chorus lines were a staple of musical comedies and revues. A straight line of precision tappers, kickers or steppers could excite the audience in the orchestra, looking slightly up, or balcony, from which they were looking slightly down. But Broadway-trained Hollywood dance directors were giving audiences a multitude of angled points-of-view thanks to cameras and booms.

In the 1930s, the Vandamms went all out to give 

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Treasures, Oddities and Ephemera: 3-D Objects from Billy Rose Theatre Division’s Theatre Cabinets

The Theatre Cabinets (or T-Cabinets as we call them) of the Billy Rose Theatre Division are packed full of objects large and small. The cabinets are a repository for all the three-dimensional items that have accompanied our larger collections or have been given to the division separately as a gift. I absolutely love the T-cabinets. Being hidden in the back of a locked cage and full of mysterious items is only part of the allure. The other part is the extreme variety of the items themselves.

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Beyond the Jersey Shore: 1920s Snapshots From a Chorus Girl's Scrapbook

Today's guest blog is by Suzanne Lipkin, who processed the Marion Lichtman Setlowe papers for the Billy Rose Theatre Division at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.

Marion Lichtman, 1920'sFriday April 9, 1926 I left Atlantic City to go on the road. I was in Second Year High School. I was 16 years of age on March 25, 1926. I joined the Dancing Debs. at Levoy Theatre, Milville, 

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Across A Crowded Room Meetup

UPDATED: September 25, 2013

The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts is excited to announce the first ever meetup for participants in the musical theater writing game, Across A Crowded Room

Participants have been placed into nine groups, each with a composer, a lyricist, a book-writers, and a singer, and given 10 days to a plot a synopsis with song titles and at least one complete song (with music and lyrics) in response to the prompt:  

Write a musical set during the 2013 NYC mayoral 

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Classroom Connections: Lists for Lesson Planning (Gr. 6-12)

Aguilar Library, 1938 - Librarian w/ students. Want to know more about our current educational initiatives? See The ABC of Education: Why Libraries Matter by Maggie Jacobs, Director of Educational ProgramsWe have just shuttered the doors on our first Education Innovation @ NYPL Summer Institute. During this three week Institute, master teachers from NYC (and further afar) met curators from our Research 

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Musical of the Month: Bless You All

A guest post by Ben West of UnsungMusicalsCo.

Between March 1946 and December 1948, six highly successful musical revues opened on Broadway, playing a combined total of 2,653 performances and marking a brief resurgence of the once fashionable form. The rapturous response to these half-dozen hits was quite likely the driving force behind the pack of ten new entries that stormed the scene in the three years that followed (1949-1951).

However, with the exception of the Bert Lahr-Dolores Gray vehicle

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Three Songs From Barefoot Boy With Cheek

Photo by The Graphic House (Theater Photo Collection B)A guest post by Ben West of UnsungMusicalsCo.

When I was approached about recording Barefoot Boy With Cheek, I jumped at the opportunity. Based on the best-selling novel by Tony Award nominee Max Shulman, the zany 1947 romp has quickly become one of my favorite musicals. Sidney Lippman and Sylvia Dee's score is top-drawer Broadway brass and Mr. Shulman's book is both endlessly witty and brilliantly constructed. Yet, the original George Abbott production never received a cast album. Barefoot Boy is truly an unsung musical. As 

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Matinee Memories: Annie

In my "real" life, I work here at the Morningside Heights Library, but outside of work, theater is my "thing." And, everyone says if you are going to write a blog, it should be about something you feel passionately about. So, every other Wednesday (hopefully) I plan to share some of my favorite theater-going memories and experiences, and point you towards some library materials that relate to those experiences. It will be interesting to see if readers share my tastes, and hopefully I can introduce you to new plays, musicals, 

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Life is a Cabaret! A Study Guide to a Great American Musical

If you're interested in doing research on a musical, the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts has an embarrassment of riches. To find all the information we have, you may have to look in many different places. Of course, your first move should be to consult with the knowledgeable staff at the 2nd Floor Drama Desk, who'll be able to guide your research.

As a way of providing a guide to doing research in general, I'll take a case in point, one of the great musicals, which NYPL has covered from every angle; John Kander and Fred Ebb's 1966 masterpiece, Cabaret. 

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Musical of the Month: The Fig Leaves Are Falling

A guest post by Ben West.

The Company (Photo by Dixie Sheridan)Strange as it may seem given its frank narrative and its traditional sound, The Fig Leaves Are Falling is not a conventional musical. This colorful, vivacious and disarmingly sweet 1969 confection is—at its core and in its construction—a unique and exciting entertainment that marvelously straddles the worlds of 1960s musical comedy and 1940s revue. It was, in fact, Fig Leaves' 

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Musical of the Month: Listen to Very Good Eddie

I'll be posting a April's Musical of the Month later this week, but before I do, I wanted to share the results of a little experiment.

I recently discovered a new music streaming subscription called Rdio which, for a monthly subscription fee (currently about $5), allows one unlimited access to all of the songs in their catalog. It's more or less the same idea as Spotify, but with one really cool feature for programmers: an open and easy to use API (application programming interface) for playing music within 

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Dorothy Loudon's Luv Letters

Life on the road was a hard-knock life for Dorothy Loudon, who spent much of the sixties traveling to far flung locations all over North America to perform in her cabaret act and, later, in the touring companies of Luv and The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds. A guarded person whenever she wasn't "on," Loudon hated leaving her beloved Manhattan, but—in the days before Annie made her a Broadway star—it was the most lucrative way to ply her trade.

A breakdown of the Luv tour shows just how grueling those ten months of Loudon's life 

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When They Trod the Boards: Christopher Walken, Song and Dance Man

How do we love Christopher Walken? On his 70th birthday, let us count the ways. Star of film, TV, and NYPL's own iBook Point, somehow everyone has a favorite film that stars him, be it The Deer Hunter, True Romance, or Pulp Fiction. The consummate villain, he faced off

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