Mid-Century Musical Theatre

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 Julie Kurzava who holds a Masters Degree in Voice and Opera from Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University held a three-part lecture series in Bel Air, MD.  A woman of many talents, she is a singer, actor, voice teacher, lecturer and teaching artist. She is also Founder and Director of New Moon Theatre Company. She shares her love for musical theatre through many platforms!

The attendees were given insight into three of the most beloved mid-century musicals ever written – the King and I, My Fair Lady and Music Man. Much of the information Julie related only an individual who is well-studied in this genre of performance art would know because she’s so well-researched the subject. Her background information on the songwriters and anecdotal stories of having performed some of these roles, live on stage, added a personal touch to the lecture as did her small lilts of the show tunes in her own, gorgeous well-trained voice.

We explored the difference between mid-century musical theatre and the shows that are on Broadway in this day and age. What has kept the mid-century musicals on stages, regionally and in communities, over the ages when their runs on Broadway were so short compared to Broadway hits of today? She informed us of some of those reasons. As she pointed out “when the dialogue from songwriters become cliché, you know the lyricist has arrived!” Yes! Lerner & Lowe, Meredith Willson and Rodgers and Hammerstein have left their mark on theatre stages everywhere for many decades.

At the end of the third lecture, Julie asked if anyone had any comments. One of the attendees said, “Musicals make you think you can sing!”  If you are one who grew up in the golden age of musical theatre, consider how many times you may have sung in your head or aloud “Pick-A-Little, Talk a Little,”  “Shall We Dance“, “To Dream the Impossible Dream” or “Wouldn’t it Be Loverly?” 

Thanks to the support of the Bel Air Arts & Entertainment District and the Maryland State Arts Council we were fortunate to have this very worthwhile lecture series brought to our town. I do hope Julie can return and speak about some of the other most beloved musicals from the same era.


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