Ballad Opera (1700s to early 1800s)
A ballad opera is a type of comic opera that uses satire and songs interspersed with dialogue. The Beggar's Opera by dramatist John Gay is an example of early ballad opera. It was produced by theater manager John Rich at Lincoln’s Inn Fields Theatre on January 29, 1728. The Beggar's Opera is about thieves and supposedly "honorable" people with self-serving motives. It satirizes the morals of society as well as the style of opera of that period.
Music Hall (1800s)
Music halls pertain to either small or large venues that emerged in London after the Licensing Act of 1737 limited the production of plays to Drury Lane and Covent Garden. Music halls typically has a bar, a stage for performers, plus seats and tables for the audience (belonging to the lower and middle class). It featured singers, dancers, comedians, magicians and other performers. Matilda Alice Victoria Wood, famously known as Marie Lloyd, was one of the prominent music hall performers of the late 19th century.
An operetta is a type of comic musical that has spoken dialogue and sentimental themes mixed with music, dance and songs. Works by Jacques Offenbach, particularly Orpheus in the Underworld (1858) and The Beautiful Helen (1864), are examples of French operettas. Orpheus in the Underworld was first performed on October 21, 1858 at the Théâtre des Bouffes Parisiens in Paris. It spoofs the legend of Orpheus and his quest to save his wife Eurydice who was taken to Hades by Pluto.
American Variety (mid 1800s)
In America, variety shows became popular in the mid-1800s. These shows can be held anywhere, even at a tatty space, which led performers to refer to it as "dumps." Performances include singing, dancing, comic and circus acts. Variety shows mostly attracted male audiences, which is why some shows included chorus girls and waitresses.
Minstrel Shows (early to mid-19th century)
Also known as minstrelsy, it featured performances that were racial in nature, aimed to mimic and criticize black people. Early performances were by white male minstrels who painted their faces black. Dan Emmett's Virginia Minstrels was one of the minstrel groups at that time, composing of all white males. Their hit song includes "Polly Wolly Doodle." Later on, black minstrel companies, such as The Hicks and Sawyer Minstrels, were also formed. Although they also had to paint their faces black and ridicule their own race, these shows became a medium for black performers to showcase their talents. By the 20th century, minstrel shows evolved and women performers were welcomed. Vocalists like Bessie Smith started out in minstrel shows.
Vaudeville (mid-1890s to early 1930s)
Vaudeville is America's version of England's music hall; it was invented by the entertainer Tony Pastor. Vaudeville consists of multiple performances, from acrobats, to jugglers and magicians. Performers are expected to keep their material clean and family-friendly. Due to its popularity, other producers such as Benjamin Franklin Keith (established the Boston Bijou Theatre), Oscar Hammerstein I (built Victoria in New York) and Martin Beck (built the Palace Theatre in New York), soon followed.
Burlesque (1840 to 1960s)
The early forms of burlesque consists of songs, comic sketches and monologues, variety acts such as singers and instrumentalists and chorus numbers. At times it also has a take off or making fun of ("burlesquing") plays, politics, famous people and other subjects. Later on, burlesque started featuring women performers wearing less than what was deemed respectable at the time. The British theater manager, Lydia Thompson, brought her troupe called the "British Blondes" to New York in the late 1860s. These women performers who wore tights, portrayed male roles and spoofed popular tales such as Robin Hood, became a hit.
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what is a musical? (2010). In Musicals 101. Retrieved from http://www.musicals101.com/musical.htm