Comment on three different musicals from the Exploration and Expansion period.
The Exploration and Expansion period ranged from 1943-1959; and was the successor to the Broadway Musical. This era contained many important features such as use of popular singing styles like the female belt voice and male baritone, and dance scenes which advance the plot of the musical.
‘Oklahoma’ was seen as the pivotal work from the Broadway Musical to this new era. It reached new heights in terms of the degree of integration it incorporated into the show. There are only 12 musical numbers in the show however, they are reprised and developed in such a way to further the flow of the drama and to connect and portray character relationships. For example, when Laurey appears on stage, she sings material from Curley’s ‘Oh What a Beautiful Morning’ to convey her relationship with him. Also, in order to show his villainous nature, Jud’s song ‘Lonely Room’ is in a minor key; the only piece in the show not in a major key. Music in ‘Oklahoma’ is also integrated in such a way that it reflects the context in which the musical is set; ‘Farmer and Cowman’ has a folk-like element to it and uses folk-dance to accompany the music illustrating the country setting of ‘Oklahoma’. This was the first show to expand its degree of integration past musical techniques and incorporate costumes into the show also. Rodgers stated that ‘the orchestrations sound the way the costumes look.’ This musical also features ballet; a popular dance style of this time. This dance routine was employed to reveal the plot without the need for speech.