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A Million Miles from Broadway

Author(s): Mel Atkey

Journal: The Brock Review
ISSN 1188-9071

Volume: 12;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 1;
Date: 2012;
Original page

Keywords: lyric theatre | musicals

Musical theatre can take root anywhere. The future of the musical may very well lie beyond Broadway and the West End. In recent years, successful musicals have been developed in Canada, Australia and the German speaking countries. Some, like Elisabeth, have travelled internationally without ever playing in English. Companies in Korea, Japan and China are investing in new works, both domestically and internationally. These different countries can learn from each other. In South Africa, people do literally burst into song on the streets. During the apartheid era, some of the freedom fighters were known to have gone to the gallows singing. Both there and in Argentina, musical theatre played an active role in the struggle against oppression. Shows like Sarafina weren’t just about the struggle against apartheid, they were part of it. This is nothing new – the cabarets of Weimar Berlin were also struggling against oppression. In fact, the birth of the musical coincided with the birth of democracy. On the other hand, during World War II, the all-female Takarazuka Revue was co-opted by the Japanese government for propaganda purposes.The real point of my book A Million Miles from Broadway is not just to tell a history of the musical. It’s what you do with that history after you’ve learned it that is important. Firstly to learn about our own musical theatre heritage, but also to learn about each other’s. We may find that people in other countries have found solutions to problems that we are struggling with.
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