Comment on three musicals from the period 1960 - Present Day

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Choose and Comment on Three Musicals from the Period 1960-Present Day

This period is categorised by the dominant influences from pop and rock styles on the numbers from musicals, and also development of technology which allowed for body mics, synthesisers, and greater amplification; all of which aided the largest productions known as ‘Megamusicals’, such as the 1980 musical, ‘Les Miserables’.

‘Les Miserables’ is a book-based musical set against a war background; and was such a successful ‘megamusical’ it was released as a film. The show’s prologue alone contains the seven dominant themes and leitmotifs present throughout, thus acting as a typical Broadway overture. One of the opening themes is ‘Look Down’ number which is in a noticeable march style rhythm to represent the working, down-trodden folk who sing it. This bass theme returns whenever these folk are on stage or alluded to and is developed via the use of contrafactum as the urchin, Gavroche sings over the music with altered lyrics. This number along with, ‘Do You Hear the People Sing?’, features large scale orchestration and staging; they are both chorus numbers sang by the down-trodden folk to portray their togetherness, as well as their message; a wish for freedom.

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Arguably, the most dominant theme within the entire production is Fantine’s ‘I Dreamed a Dream’; first heard at the docks, it is the most moving piece. It is the rising third at the climax of each line in the verse that is associated with Fantine and is reprised during her death in an extremely flat key with seven flats. This theme is harmonically identical to Valjean’s, ‘Who am I?’ theme which is mostly pentatonic and played in the violins, wind, and percussion. The similarities in the two characters’ themes symbolise their connection and most significantly; it is played whenever Cosette, ...

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