"The police, the rent collector, the bailiffs,
mothers-in-law, the drunken husband and the shrewish wife, the spendthrift who
had gambled away his pay before he got home Friday night such were the
dragons slain by these seedy St. Georges. Patriotism and the more chauvinistic
aspects of Victoriana were pandered to and at the same time subtly ridiculed; the
rednecks were kept happy and, for those with the wit to see it, the satire was
- Peter Leslie, A Hard Act to Follow: A Music Hall Review (London: Paddington Press, 1978), p. 47.
Yet, still, the elements that constitute the musical don’t end there. The production of the musical is an art form itself. Complicated and often inflammatory, the craft of producing a Broadway show involves knowing the public’s tastes (and usually challenging it), raising capital, battling societal trends — all on the most expensive real estate in the most fractious city in the world. And, finally, there is the dissemination of the musical, which encompasses a vast narrative of communications and the media. Through sheet music, over the radio, in movies, on television, on gramophones, hi-fis, and CDs, through word-of-mouth, through visiting tourists, servicemen, grandmothers and their grandchildren, the world of the Broadway musical has been brought to every corner of this country and, by extension, the world. The musical is as powerful an image-maker of America as Hollywood has been and the shaping and shifting of that image is another cultural marker.