What is a concept musical?  | Definition, History, Examples

What is a concept musical?

Most musicals are just a series of songs strung together on the same plot. But not all shows have to be like that! 

If you’ve been thinking about producing a concept musical instead of another run-of-the-mill Broadway-style production, then keep reading! We’ll tell you everything we know about how these shows work so that you can decide if this is right for your next project.

What is a concept musical?

A concept musical (or show) is an original play or musical that tells the story of one central idea. The main theme drives the narrative and everything in it, including characters, dialogue, music, and dance. Concept shows are often developed by writers who also direct them; this gives them more control over how they tell their stories visually and musically. 

Every song contributes to the main story and creates more layers of depth for your audience. The songs in this type of production aren’t just there to move the plot along, but also help you explore deeper themes and emotions. This type of show can also be easier for audiences to understand than traditional musicals.

 What is a concept musical?

What is a concept musical?

 

The history of concept music?

In the early 1960s, concept musicals became a significant form. Their disjointed approach to storytelling helped to breathe new life into a genre that had become conventional. The Fantasticks and Stop the World – I Want to Get Off were both released in 1961.

There are two main contenders for the title of the first concept musical: Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Allegro (1947) and Weill and Lerner’s Love Life (1948).

Despite this, it wasn’t until A Chorus Line, widely regarded as the classic concept musical, that the term “conception” was employed in a show’s description. The concept of music was a done deal by the mid-1970s.

Regardless of its exact origins, musical theatre’s maturing allowed it to become “a medium for social criticism and form innovation,” with the concept musical at the vanguard of this movement. 

Some of the most renowned concept music shows

The 1960s

 Cabaret- Some of the most renowned concept music shows
Cabaret- Some of the most renowned concept music shows

Cabaret – as a Political Manifesto

The roots of this musical are the combination of a play named ” I Am a Camera”-, John Masteroff, and the book named “The Berlin Stories “- Christopher Isherwood.  They are sources of inspiration for his playwork to create concept music named  “Cabaret”. 

The concept of music was made in 1931 Germany when the Nazi party tightens its grip on the country. It depicts the seedy underbelly of life at the Kit Kat Klub. And the love story between American Cliff Bradshaw and  British cabaret singer Sally Bowles.

Hair– The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical 

This is one of the first rock musicals, premiered at The Public Theater off-Broadway in 1967 and then on Broadway in 1968.  The lyrics are composed by Gerome Ragni and James Rado and music by Galt MacDermot. 

Several of the songs became anti-Vietnam War peace movement anthems, and the work reflects the creators’ perceptions of the late 1960s hippie counterculture and sexual revolution.

The 1970s

A Chorus Line 

The first time the word “conception” was used in relation to musical theatre was in A Chorus Line. The concept music is based on interviews with real dancers, the show exploits the notion of an audition to reveal the complicated lives of hitherto nameless chorus members. 

A Chorus Line- Some of the most renowned concept music shows
A Chorus Line- Some of the most renowned concept music shows

The 1980s

Cats- The spirit of the 1980s

 Despite the fact that the play is centered on an idea rather than a chronological plot, author Andrew Lloyd Webber wanted for it to “reflect [or] remark on the world, even in an oblique, metaphorical way.” 

This was a significant departure from the metaphors that had previously defined the notion of musical. The musical’s tremendous yet divisive impact changed the medium’s aesthetic, technology, and marketing. In 1998, Cats was converted as a direct-to-video film, and in 2019, it was made into a feature picture directed by Tom Hooper.

Cats- Some of the most renowned concept music shows
Cats- Some of the most renowned concept music shows

F.A.Q

What is the purpose of a concept musical?

A concept musical is a show where every song contributes to the main story and creates more layers of depth for your audience. The songs in this type of production aren’t just there to move the plot along, but also help you explore deeper themes and emotions. This type of show can also be easier for audiences to understand than traditional musicals because they’re often simpler, shorter, and focus on one central idea or theme rather than several different ones at once.

What is the first concept musical?

This style of plot-based “integrated” show represented the image of the modern musical by the 1940s. Then, in 1947, Rodgers and Hammerstein created another historic show, Allegro, which is widely regarded as the first “concept musical.”

Who invented the concept musical?

In 1970, Stephen Sondheim, the most prolific author of concept musicals, released Company, which catapulted the genre into the mainstream of popular culture. Bob Fosse, the director-choreographer, and Harold Prince, the producer-director, both made significant contributions to the concept musical.

The concept of music is a theatrical genre that has been gaining popularity in recent years. It’s difficult to define, but it generally features an original story and often includes the use of multimedia elements such as projections or puppetry. There are many different types of concept musicals, with some being more popular than others. We’ll explore how you can create your own idea for this new form of theater below!

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