Theatre through the years
The twenties were considered the boom years for Broadway. In 1927 alone over 250 shows debuted on Broadway over 50 of which were musicals. Theatre was one of the most popular forms of entertainment and included songs that were already popular and actors who were already the stars of the time. Musicals showed women in flapper dress, drinking and smoking with men. For the first time musicals were integrated, beginning in 1927 with the musical Showboat. Theatre was the main way for people to listen to music and be entertained. Over 2000 community theatres were created in the twenties and registered with the Drama League of America. Most musicals were "Cinderella" musicals, meaning they had a happy ending and not a full plot line.
Theatre was still widely used for entertainment and had become a form of escape from the hardships of real world issues such as the war and the Great Depression. Comedy became the most important aspect of a production as opposed to artistic forms, as they moved away from the "Cinderella" form of shows. Near the end of the forties theatre became much less crucial as television and movies replaced theatrical strongholds across the country. Drama education in colleges became accepted throughout America and American playwrights get was strongly encouraged. In 1942 the first entirely African American theatre was created in Harlem.
The seventies were considered one of the most innovative and artistic decades the stage ever saw. Rock musicals were introduced and plays became much more avant garde. Hair was the first of the Rock musicals and portrayed the overall personalities and lifestyles of hippies. This musical was very controversial since it included the first nude scene on stage and had many drug references. It became widely accepted for women to write and direct plays in the seventies. Musicals shifted from stage the screen as movie musicals were made. It quickly became popular as it was an inexpensive way of seeing adaptations of what was on the stage being put onto the screen. Theatre moved away from traditional plot lines and became more realistic leading to the development of still popular musicals such as A Chorus Line, and West Side Story.
In the nineties, studies broadened their discipline to multiple genres of popular performance. Theatre borrowed from cinema resulting in the production of musicals such as Lion King, Little Mermaid, Mary Poppins, Beauty and the Beast, Billy Elliot, The Producers, Young Frankenstein, and many more. Theatre began to be taught in middle schools and high schools as more theatres became professional, paying their actors. Many actors became equity through the equity actors association as we saw the disappearance of vaudeville and minstrel shows.
Theatre was impacted society as a whole as it is now taught in grade schools and in college. It is still a major form of entertainment and is used as an escape from reality.