Much speculation has been made about “The Contemporary Golden Age” prior to the pandemic (or “The Great Before,” as we like to call it). Were we in a new golden age of musical theatre? Certainly, the creation of mega hits like Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen, and others might suggest that is so. We remain optimistic that Broadway will be able to pick up the thread of where we left off over the Summer or, at the very latest, by the Fall.
But when we talk about “Contemporary Golden Age,” we mean something different. We personally use this term to reference contemporary musical theatre pieces that harken back to a Golden Age sensibility, either through the craft of the song or in how it was written for the voice.
Given how much today’s musical theatre scores are influenced by pop/rock, it would be fairly easy to dismiss the notion of contemporary golden age musical theatre. And yet, there are many writers who are expressing something beautiful in this style of theatre writing. And their choice to use the structures and harmonic language reminiscent of Golden Age musicals are in lockstep with the stories they choose to tell.
We often use Light in the Piazza as the quintessential example, though a quick Google search has reminded us this reference is now (gulp) 17 years old! But what about Death Takes a Holiday (2011), A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder (2016), or the forthcoming Flying Over Sunset (2021)? There is still room (and appetite) for musicals that combine Golden Age singing and style through the lens of contemporary musical theatre writers.
Laura Josepher and I are currently teaching artists in residence at Long Island High School for the Arts, co-teaching a Musical Theatre Classics class with our colleague, Chris Brick. We are swiftly working our way from the Pre-Golden Age songs of Berlin, Kern, and Porter, through the Rodgers & Hammerstein cannon with a detour through obscure Golden Age musicals, to (you guessed it) Contemporary Golden Age songs. We want to highlight just four our favorites – one per voice type – for you here (though there are loads more to explore on our website).
I Don’t Know My Heart (Pride & Prejudice: The Musical) Music & Lyrics: Lawrence Rush
One White Dress (A Catered Affair) Music & Lyrics by: John Bucchino
You Make Me Feel So French (Sorta Love Songs) Music by: Paul Loesel Lyrics by: Scott Burkell
And I Face East (Chairs) Music & Lyrics by: Josh Kight
We hope you’ll spend some time getting to know the many other songs and shows we are proud to represent on ContemporaryMusicalTheatre.com that fall under the moniker, “Contemporary Golden Age.”
Visit www.contemporarymusicaltheatre.com for more information on over 600+ songs by 180+ writers, all searchable by voice and song type. Annual, Monthly, 3-Day and institutional memberships are available.
We are proud to have our updated edition of “Mastering College Musical Theatre Auditions: Sound Advice for the Student, Teacher, and Parent” available for purchase at Bravo’s Book Nook!
Please subscribe to our blog. Enter your email address on the top right side of the page and click “Follow” and sign up for our email list.