Backstage musical

A backstage musical is a genre of musical with a plot set in a theatrical context that revolves around the production of a play or musical revue. The film's narrative trajectory often comes to a halt one or more times to allow a performance. The songs performed in this context are considered diegetic numbers in that they occur literally in the plot, though they do not necessarily move the story forward.

The backstage musical was typified in the early films by director and choreographer, Busby Berkeley, including 42nd Street (1933), Footlight Parade (1933), Dames (1934) and the Gold Diggers series (1933, 1935 and 1937).[1][2][3] Other stage musicals that have elements of backstage musicals include Show Boat (1927), Kiss Me, Kate (1948), The Band Wagon (1953), Gypsy (1959), Cabaret (1966), Follies (1971), A Chorus Line (1975) and The Phantom of the Opera (1986).[4]


  1. ^ "The Rise of the Film Musical" on
  2. ^ "Musicals/Dance" on Filmsite
  3. ^ Altman, Rick. The American Film Musical. Bloomington, Indiana, Indiana University Press, 1989. p.206
  4. ^ McMillin, Scott (2006). The Musical as Drama. Princeton: Princeton University. p. 102. ISBN 978-0691127309.
42nd Street (film)

42nd Street is a 1933 American pre-Code musical film, directed by Lloyd Bacon, and starring Warner Baxter, Bebe Daniels, George Brent, Ruby Keeler, Dick Powell and Ginger Rogers. The choreography was staged by Busby Berkeley. The songs were written by Harry Warren (music) and Al Dubin (lyrics). The script was written by Rian James and James Seymour, with Whitney Bolton, who was not credited, from the 1932 novel of the same name by Bradford Ropes.

This backstage musical was very successful at the box office and is now considered a classic by many. The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. In 1998, it was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". In 2006, it ranked 13th on the American Film Institute's list of best musicals.

42nd Street (song)

"42nd Street" is the title song from the 1933 Warner Bros. backstage musical film 42nd Street, with music by Harry Warren and lyrics by Al Dubin. The song was published in 1932. It is the finale of the film, where it was sung by Ruby Keeler, Dick Powell and ensemble. It was used again in 1980 when the film was adapted as a long-running Broadway musical. In 2004 the song placed #97 in AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs survey of the top tunes in American cinema.

Applause (1929 film)

Applause is a 1929 black-and-white backstage musical talkie, shot at Paramount's Astoria Studios in Astoria, New York, during the early years of sound films. The film is notable as one of the few films of its time to break free from the restrictions of bulky sound technology equipment in order to shoot on location around Manhattan.

Betty Grable filmography

This is a complete filmography of Betty Grable, an American actress, dancer, and singer. As a major contract star for 20th Century-Fox during the 1940s and 1950s, she starred in a succession of musicals and romantic comedies.

Grable began her career in 1929 at age twelve, after which she was fired from a contract when it was learned she signed up under false identification. She made her film debut in Happy Days (1929) as an unbilled extra appearing in blackface. Grable had contracts with RKO Radio Pictures and Paramount Pictures during the 1930s, and she starred in roles as college students in a string of B-movies. In the campus musical Pigskin Parade (1936), she received positive reviews, but her performance was overshadowed by newcomer Judy Garland.

She eventually came to prominence in the Broadway musical Du Barry Was a Lady (1939) and signed an exclusive long-term contract with 20th Century-Fox. After replacing Alice Faye in Down Argentine Way (1940), she became the studio's biggest asset throughout the following decade, starring in a series of commercially successful musicals and comedies, often co-starring with renowned leading men, including Victor Mature, Don Ameche, John Payne, Tyrone Power, and Dan Dailey. Between 1941 and 1951, she was consistently listed in the "Top Ten Moneymaking Stars Poll", sometimes as the only female on the list. In 1943 and 1944, she was the number one box office draw in the United States. Her famous 1943 pin-up became one of the most-identified photographs of World War II.

The majority of Grable's films followed the traditional backstage musical point-by-point genre. Plot point one: boy meets girl; plot point two: boy teams up with girl; plot point three: girl dumps boy; and plot point four: boy and girl reunite in time for the finale. Despite the often similar storylines, her films remained immensely popularity for over a decade, some of them becoming the year's highest-grossing films, including Springtime in the Rockies (1942), Coney Island (1943), The Dolly Sisters (1945), and When My Baby Smiles at Me (1948). Two of her greatest successes were Pin Up Girl (1944) (which showcased her famous pin-up) and Mother Wore Tights (1947). The 1949 western comedy The Beautiful Blonde from Bashful Bend was Grable's first film in nine years to lose money financially.

The changing tastes of the public and the declining popularity of the musical genre in the early 1950s contributed to Grable's career decline. Although Wabash Avenue and My Blue Avenue (both 1950) were successes, some of her films thereafter failed to live up to their hype. How to Marry a Millionaire (1953), a comedy about three models scheming to marry wealthy husbands, was one of her last big successes for Fox. She co-starred with newcomer Marilyn Monroe and Lauren Bacall, and while tabloids publicized a rivalry between the three women, they nevertheless became close friends. In 1953, she declined to renew her contract with Fox, hoping to revitalize her stage career. On the other hand, after falling into bankruptcy, Grable returned to the studio for what would be her final film: the satirical comedy How to Be Very, Very Popular (1955) that semi-parodied her earlier films.

Broadway Melody of 1938

Broadway Melody of 1938 is a 1937 American musical film produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and directed by Roy Del Ruth. The film is essentially a backstage musical revue, featuring high-budget sets and cinematography in the MGM musical tradition. The film stars Eleanor Powell and Robert Taylor and features Buddy Ebsen, George Murphy, Judy Garland, Sophie Tucker, Raymond Walburn, Robert Benchley and Binnie Barnes.

The film is most notable for young Garland's performance of "You Made Me Love You (I Didn't Want to Do It)", a tribute to Clark Gable which turned the teenage singer, who had been toiling in obscurity for a couple of years, into an overnight sensation, leading eventually to her being cast in The Wizard of Oz (1939) as Dorothy.

Burlesque (2010 American film)

Burlesque is a 2010 American backstage musical film written and directed by Steven Antin and starring Cher and Christina Aguilera along with Eric Dane, Cam Gigandet, Julianne Hough, Alan Cumming, Peter Gallagher, Kristen Bell, Stanley Tucci, Dianna Agron, and Tyne Stecklein. The film was released on November 24, 2010 in North America.

Cher and Aguilera contributed to the soundtrack album, with Aguilera contributing eight out of the 10 songs and Cher taking the remaining two. The album was released in the USA on November 22, 2010 and received two nominations at the 54th Grammy Awards. The song "You Haven't Seen the Last of Me", penned by Diane Warren and sung by Cher, won the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song in 2011, while the film was nominated for the Golden Globe Award in the Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy category. The film has grossed about $90 million worldwide.

Don Stitt

Don Stitt (born January 25, 1956) is an American actor and playwright who has been featured in four Broadway musicals, appeared 20 times on the Late Show with David Letterman, and starred in countless commercials.

Stitt graduated from Carlmont High (1973) and attended San Francisco State University (1977), in 2007 he received his MFA in professional writing from Western Connecticut State University.

Born January 25, 1956 in Stamford, Connecticut, Stitt had an early fascination with magic and magicians. A visit to the Society of American Magicians convention in 1965 resulted in his first paid, professional booking as a Dutch boy doll in The Magical Spirit of Christmas, a musical presented by The Manhattan Savings Bank, which starred legendary magician and author, Milbourne Christopher.

In 1968, he did a radio commercial for Teen magazine, for which he also wrote the ad copy.

At San Francisco State University, Stitt wrote, directed, choreographed, and scored several full-length musicals. One of them, A Kid's Summer Night's Dream, was produced professionally in New York in 1979 and was revived in Minnesota in 2006, where it won 6 awards.

When he was 20, Stitt became the first full-time replacement in the long-running musical, Beach Blanket Babylon.

A year later, he became a member of Actors' Equity Association as a cast member of The Great American Backstage Musical.

In 1978, Stitt created, coauthored, codirected, and choreographed "Irving Berlin in Revue" which would run for two years at the Chi Chi Theatre Club in San Francisco's North Beach district, and which was revived in 1993.

Stitt was featured in the original Broadway casts of Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?, Late Nite Comic, and Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story. He also appeared as Marcus Lycus in the 1996 Broadway revival of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, replacing Ernie Sabella.

He toured nationally in Cole Porter's Can-Can with Chita Rivera and The Rockettes for over a year.

In 2007, Stitt received an MFA in playwriting from Western Connecticut State University.

The same year, he presented his autobiographical solo-piece, The Voices in my Head Have Formed a Choir and Somebody's Singing Flat! at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

He won an AWP award for his poem, "Ode to Bobby", in 2005. He was also honored by Musicals Online for his book and lyrics for Roscoe: A Slapstick Tragedy.

He is married to television scenic designer Elizabeth Popiel.

Enter Mr. DiMaggio

"Enter Mr. DiMaggio" is the third episode of the American television series, Smash. The episode aired on February 20, 2012.

Eve Arden

Eve Arden (born Eunice Mary Quedens, April 30, 1908 – November 12, 1990) was an American film, radio, stage, and television actress, and comedienne. She performed in leading and supporting roles for nearly six decades.

Beginning her film career in 1929 and on Broadway in the early 1930s, Arden's first major role was in the RKO Radio Pictures drama Stage Door (1937) opposite Katharine Hepburn, followed by roles in the comedies Having Wonderful Time (1938) and the Marx Brothers' At the Circus (1939). Arden would go on to earn an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Mildred Pierce (1945).

In the latter part of her career, she played the sardonic but engaging title character of a high school teacher in Our Miss Brooks, winning the first Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, and as the school principal in the musicals Grease (1978) and Grease 2 (1982).

Love Me (1942 film)

Love Me or Make Love to Me (German: Hab mich lieb) is a 1942 German musical comedy film directed by Harald Braun and starring Marika Rökk, Viktor Staal and Hans Brausewetter. A Backstage musical about a showgirl aspiring to greater things while sorting out her financial and romantic problems, it was a major commercial success on its release.

It was shot at the Tempelhof Studios in Berlin. The films sets were designed by the art director Ernst H. Albrecht .

Murder at the Vanities

Murder at the Vanities is a 1934 American Pre-Code musical film based on the 1933 Broadway show with music by Victor Young. It was released by Paramount Pictures. It was directed by Mitchell Leisen, stars Victor McLaglen, Carl Brisson, Jack Oakie, Kitty Carlisle, Gertrude Michael, Toby Wing, and Jessie Ralph. Duke Ellington and his Orchestra are featured in the elaborate finale number.

The film is primarily a musical, based on Earl Carroll's long-running Broadway revue Earl Carroll's Vanities, combined with a murder mystery. Songs featured in the film by Arthur Johnston and Sam Coslow include "Cocktails for Two" sung by Brisson, "Sweet Marijuana" sung by Michael, "Where Do They Come From (and Where Do They Go)" sung by Carlisle, and "Ebony Rhapsody" by Ellington. In the film, Lucille Ball, Ann Sheridan, and Virginia Davis had small roles as chorines. It was released on DVD (as part of a six disc set entitled "Pre-Code Hollywood Collection") on April 7, 2009.

On the Riviera

On the Riviera is a 1951 musical comedy film made by 20th Century Fox. It was directed by Walter Lang, produced by Sol C. Siegel from a screenplay by Valentine Davies and Phoebe and Henry Ephron, based on the play The Red Cat by Rudolph Lothar and Hans Adler. This version stars Danny Kaye, Gene Tierney and Corinne Calvet with Marcel Dalio, Henri Letondal and Sig Ruman, and with uncredited featured dancer Gwen Verdon in dance sequences choreographed and staged by Jack Cole.

Having extensive production value, this is a "backstage" musical, where all songs occur as stage performances and many of the characters are stage performers. The film served as a vehicle for multi-talented Broadway veteran Danny Kaye.

This was the third film version of the same story. The original was entitled Folies Bergère (1935) and starred Maurice Chevalier, Merle Oberon and Ann Sothern. The remake in 1941 was That Night in Rio and starred Don Ameche, Alice Faye and Carmen Miranda.

It was nominated for two Academy Awards; for Best Music and Best Art Direction (Lyle R. Wheeler, Leland Fuller, Joseph C. Wright, Thomas Little, and Walter M. Scott).

On with the Show! (1929 film)

On with the Show! is a 1929 American Pre-Code musical film released by Warner Bros. Filmed in Two-strip Technicolor, the film is noted as the first all-talking, all-color feature length movie, and the second color movie released by Warner Bros.; the first was the partly color, black-and-white musical The Desert Song (1929).

The Callback

"The Callback" is the second episode of the American television series Smash. The episode aired on February 13, 2012. It was written by series creator Theresa Rebeck and directed by Michael Mayer, who also directed the pilot.

The Good Companions (1933 film)

The Good Companions is a 1933 British comedy film directed by Victor Saville starring Jessie Matthews and John Gielgud. It was based on the novel of the same name by J.B. Priestley.

The Turning Point (1977 film)

The Turning Point is a 1977 American drama film centered on the world of ballet in New York City, written by Arthur Laurents and directed by Herbert Ross. The film stars Shirley MacLaine and Anne Bancroft, along with Leslie Browne, Mikhail Baryshnikov, and Tom Skerritt. The film was nominated for eleven Academy Awards, including Best Picture. The script is a fictionalized version of the real-life Brown family and the friendship between ballerinas Isabel Mirrow Brown (whose daughter, Leslie Browne, stars in the film) and Nora Kaye.

To Be or Not to Be (1983 film)

To Be or Not to Be is a 1983 American war comedy film directed by Alan Johnson, produced by Mel Brooks, and starring Mel Brooks, Anne Bancroft, Tim Matheson, Charles Durning, Christopher Lloyd, and José Ferrer. The screenplay was written by Ronny Graham and Thomas Meehan, based on the original story by Melchior Lengyel, Ernst Lubitsch and Edwin Justus Mayer. The film is a remake of the 1942 film of the same name.

We Danced Around the World

We Danced Around the World (German: Wir tanzen um die Welt) is a 1939 German musical film directed by Karl Anton and starring Charlotte Thiele, Irene von Meyendorff and Carola Höhn. It is a backstage musical. The film's sets were designed by Paul Markwitz and Fritz Maurischat.

Willard Mack

Willard Mack (September 18, 1873 – November 18, 1934) was a Canadian-born actor, director, and playwright.

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