History on stage.


Hamilton and the Value of a Really Good Villain

How do we treat those on the losing side of history?

Hamilton is remarkable. Last week, the Broadway show that has captured international attention received sixteen Tony Award nominations—more than any other production in history. Heap onto these a Grammy Award and a Pulitzer Prize (as well as the MacArthur Genius grant awarded to creator Lin-Manuel Miranda), and it seems set to be the most awarded show ever created.

To paraphrase the presumptive Republican nominee, its cast may get bored of all the winning. (more…)

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Everyman Has His Daydreams: Pippin, a Shockingly Medieval Musical

There are hundreds of films which depict the Middle Ages.

There are also a fair few operas set during a that period— especially a mythological version of it as well (Wagner’s Ring Cycle and Tristan und Isolde spring immediately to mind). In spite of this, so far as I am aware there are only, depending on how you count, four to six Broadway/West End musicals set during an actual or fantastical version of the Middle Ages. In 1947, Brigadoon was brought to the stage, though its relationship to the medieval is very fuzzy indeed (and the subject of another article). Similarly, whether you want to class 1965’s Man of La Mancha (based, of course, on Cervantes’ Don Quixote) as a medieval musical depends on your perspective of whether its references to a chivalric past constitute the label ‘medieval’.* Camelot in 1960 is more obviously medieval, and gave rise—sort of— to Spamalot in 2004. In 2006 The Lord of the Rings was adapted into a West End musical (surely following on the heels of the successful film franchise).

The final musical on the list is unique, in that it is the only one of these which actually purports to depict real historical figures. And perhaps that alone goes some way toward explaining why there have been so few. (more…)

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