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date: 17 July 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Musical comedy in London’s West End theatres during and on either side of the Edwardian period is reassessed against the traditional narrative of period obsolescence and Americanization. This is done through close readings of audience capacity and demographics, musical economics, musical topics, script and lyric writing (including humour), standard plots, performance practice, and opulent production values. The genre’s celebration of modernity and investment not only in the British Empire but also in its own merchandise and afterlife of amateur productions is analysed. Special reference is made to the producer George Edwardes; the composers Lionel Monckton, Paul Rubens, and Howard Talbot; the lyricist Adrian Ross; the stars Gertie Millar and George Grossmith; and the shows The Arcadians, To-Night’s the Night, The Quaker Girl, and A Country Girl. The genre’s particular appeal during the First World War is also covered. Research questions for the future are raised.

Keywords: Americanization, The Arcadians, British Empire, A Country Girl, Edwardian, modernity, musical comedy, performance practice, West End theatres, First World War

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