Theater 235 - History of Theater: Off-Off-Off Broadway – Professor S. Ho Toone
Monday/Wednesday/Friday - 2:00-2:50
Bernheim Hall Room 341
In this new course offering, we will study the lesser-known theater movement of Off-Off-Off Broadway. Between the years 1968 and 1991, there was a considerable grouping of musicals that did not make it to Broadway or Off Broadway. They did not even make the cut for Off-Off Broadway. However, the shows relegated to this seemingly inferior ranking of thrice “Offs” still had a large impact on the musical and theater landscape that we see today. Our studies will include:
-Sing Me Your Love in A Flat – Failed because it was the same as every other Broadway play. Also, having every song in the same key got boring very quickly.
-Lend Me an Alto – For some reason, they’re just not in as high demand as other types of singers. Its close resemblance to another musical at the time (which was successful) did not help either.
-Spoken Word – The titular genre just did not translate well into the musical landscape.
-The Hit – No one knew if this show was about a fight, predicting its own success (which never came), or a planned murder. Confusion tanked this play down past the other levels of “Off” straight to the bottom.
-Two Little Birds – There were not any human performers in this play. Just two little birds. The play took the title very seriously. The audiences did not.
-Radio – This musical about the history of the radio consisted of a radio playing back popular songs from the past. Great music? Yes. A cop-out? Definitely.
-We Never Get the Good Parts – Written, directed, and acted by the ensemble singers and dancers from true Broadway shows, this musical never made the cut. The few people who actually saw it said the moping and whining was unbearable. Most repeated line: “Why not me?” Second most common line: “I’m good, too.”
-Napoleon, Part 1 – The first in what was supposed to be a five-part epic, this show followed Napoleon from birth through the fifth grade. Apparently the next installments were supposed to contain the interesting parts of his life. Sadly (or maybe not), they were never produced.
Examinations will consist of three performances of musical excerpts from one of the studied plays. Students will also write their own song as an addition to one of the Off-Off-Off Broadway plays. Extra credit will be offered for students who can find and attend revivals of any of the aforementioned shows.
Pre-Requisite: Theater 145 - History of Theater: Musicals that Actually Mattered