David Savran, "Tell It to the World: The Broadway Musical Abroad" (Oxford UP, 2024)


Tell It to the World: The Broadway Musical Abroad (Oxford UP, 2024) offers a look at how the Broadway musical travels the world, influencing and even transforming local practices and traditions. It traces especially how the musical has been indigenized in South Korea and Germany, the commercial centers for Broadway musicals in East Asia and continental Europe. Both countries were occupied after World War II by the United States, which disseminated U.S. American popular music, jazz, movies, and musical theatre in the belief that these nations needed to rebuild their cultures in accordance with U.S. guidelines. By the 1990s, Broadway imports had become phenomenally popular in Seoul and Hamburg while home-grown musicals proliferated that adapted and transformed the prototypes that had been disseminated by the U.S.

Although this book focuses on recent musicals, it also looks back through the twentieth century to plot the evolution of musical theatre in South Korea and Germany. Part One considers the key questions: What is a musical? Why is it the great success story of U.S. theatre? How has it been assimilated to musical theatre traditions around the world? Part Two focuses on musical theatre in South Korea, studying the import/export business in large-scale musicals about Korean history and innovative hybrid experiments that mix local performance traditions with the Broadway vernacular. Part Three moves to Europe to analyze the conflicted attitudes toward musicals in the German-speaking world. Its three chapters survey the history of musicals in Germany from 1945 until the fall of the Berlin Wall, the reconfiguration of musical theatre conventions by experimental directors, and finally the ground-breaking German-language productions of Broadway classics by Barrie Kosky and other innovative directors.

In the twenty-first century, Broadway-style musical theatre has succeeded in becoming a lingua franca, the template for musical theatre around the world. This book shows how some of the most innovative, beautiful, and exciting musical theatre is being made outside the United States.

Peter C. Kunze is a visiting assistant professor of communication at Tulane University.

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Pete Kunze

Peter C. Kunze is a visiting assistant professor of communication at Tulane University.

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