The New American Musical
In the ’90s, a group of hot, young musical theatre composers emerged, creating what many critics referred to as New Theater Music – complex music coupled with “serious-minded” stories. I was in high school at the time, and I distinctly remember taking a class field trip to the Fox Theater in Detroit to see Jonathan Larsen’s groundbreaking rock musical about the AIDS crisis. The next year, I learned of Leo Frank’s story of anti-Semitism and racism in turn-of-the-century South, but would never have guessed that Jason Robert Brown’s work would lead me to other startlingly innovative composers (nor that a decade later his gorgeous musical would become the subject of my Master’s thesis). More in the company of Sondheim than Schwartz, these artists – Larsen, Brown, Guettel, LaChiusa – adapted a form of musical theatre that is bold, highly personal and demanding. In our current Broadway culture where movies become today’s newest musicals, the works collected in The New American Musical
are bright, shining examples of what the form can, has and will one day once again, accomplish.
— Julie Haverkate, marketing associate (former)