Conference Proceeding: The Great White Way

The racial conflicts and religious persecution will be identified in three plays: Porgy and Bess (revival) with music by George Gershwin (1953), West Side Story with music by Leonard Bernstein (1957), and Fiddler on the Roof with music by Jerry Block (1964). The analysis will come largely from a chapter in the book American Musical and the Formation of National Identity by Raymond Knapp. Of particular interest is that all the composers of these musicals were Jewish, along with many of the creators, choreographers, directors, lyricist, etc. Ellen will examine the origins of Fiddler on the Roof as a groundbreaking musical on Broadway with its portrayal of Jewish characters in a shtetl setting and the adaption of the stories of Shalom Aleichem as a musical. She will recommend book titles and suggest library programs (that she has used) for adults and children that are about musicals and their composers.

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