Show Boat

"Show Boat" was the first musical to include show-within-a-show numbers. Based on a novel by Edna Ferber, "Show Boat" deals with ongoing romantic problems between main characters Magnolia Hawks and Gaylord Ravenal. Magnolia as a stage star, and a show boat as the prominent setting allow for many of these numbers. When "Show Boat" opened in 1927, the norm for musicals on Broadway were characterized by musical extravaganzas, revues, and the operettas of Sigmund Romber, Rudolf Friml, and Victor Herbert. This type of musical, the operetta, characteristically was fairy-tale like, and coexisted rather well with the other new Maerican shows of the twenties, mostly light musical comedies with unrealistic characters. However, "Show Boat" concerns adult issues, and was the first musical to have not-so-happyendings. Oscar Hammerstein II wrote the book and lyrics, while Jerome Kern composed the music. A difficult task, the two had to work closely together to create a musical in which melodies had to match characters and fit into particular parts of the story. This was the first step toward integrating songs with story in a musical - a singular contribution to the development of Broadway musicals.

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