Revisiting the glorious and problematic legacy of the jazz age and depression musical
Studies in Musical Theatre
In this essay I will argue that the main obstacle to the preservation of the musical comedy species circa 192040 is not the absence of source material or even the difficulties in gaining access to them. The fault lies not in the sources but in ourselves. What should we do with them, and how do we come to grips with the strengths and limitations of these works? How do we reconcile the competing agendas of authenticity (what was actually said and sung) and accessibility (what works for commercial audiences in a later era)? What can we do about the expectations, tastes and the social and aesthetic sensibilities we bring to them? To particularize these issues, I will explore the source legacy of Rodgers and Hart's Jumbo (1935), including the exciting discovery of contemporary live Texaco radio programmes. I will also use Jumbo to represent the many forgotten shows of this era in which the songs, generally treated by historians and performers as autonomous and self-contained, originally served characters and contexts and were often chosen and crafted with care.
Block, Geoffrey. 2008. "Revisiting the glorious and problematic legacy of the jazz age and depression musical". Studies in Musical Theatre. 2 (2): 127-146.