Rodgers and Hammerstein – the dynamic, game-changing musical theater duo
If you fancy reliving the golden age of musical theater on your next visit to New York then a trip to Rodgers and Hammerstein Row is a must. Named after the influential musical theater writing duo, this block can be found between Broadway and Eighth Avenue. Haven’t heard of Rodgers and Hammerstein? Well, chances are you know a song or two from their many award-winning musicals. ‘Oklahoma!’, ‘The King and I’, ‘Carousel’, ‘South Pacific’ and ‘The Sound of Music’ are just a few of the incredible Broadway shows for which the team are most famous.
Rodgers and Hammerstein’s early works
Rodgers and Hammerstein not only contributed in mass to the musical theater genre – they completely reworked it. When ‘Oklahoma!’ came on the scene in 1943 it was the first of its kind, combining Rodgers’ sophisticated style of musical comedy with Hammerstein’s innovative lyricism. This “blockbuster” Broadway show was unique in that it didn’t rely on scantily clad women to entertain the crowds, rather it showcased the incredible acting talents and hauntingly beautiful voices of its stars – so much so that one New York Times’ reporter commented, “After a verse like that, sung to a buoyant melody, the banalities of the old musical theatre became intolerable”.
Themes and topics
The talented duo inspired others to follow their lead and start creating plots with mature themes, where all aspects of play, dance, song and drama were integrated. Their works include cheerful, uplifting tunes, but also touch on issues such as racism, sexism and classism. In this way, Rodgers and Hammerstein really set the standard for producers and writers coming after them.
Awards and acknowledgements
It’s only natural that the two received countless accolades for their shows (and film adaptations), including 34 Tony Awards, 15 Academy Awards, the Pulitzer Prize and two Grammy Awards – wow! Their talents served them well financially – Forbes recently named Rodgers and Hammerstein second on its list of top-earning dead celebrities. Now there’s a fact to impress your musical theater buddies with on your excursion to Rodgers and Hammerstein Row!
Fancy exploring Rodgers and Hammerstein Row and discovering the history of Broadway for yourself? Book your place on our special Disney on Broadway tour today.