In some ways, the musical theater's history resembles the history of other forms of theater in reverse. At the start of the 20th century, the spoken play had reached the taut, tightly structured form, perfected by Ibsen, that was to prevail in the commercial theater through the early 1950s; from Strindberg on, most innovative playwrights struggled to pull its tight structure apart. The musical, in contrast, started the century as a loose, free-form style with a basis in variety entertainment, which each succeeding generation of musical-theater writers tried to... More >>>