New York University / Steinhardt
Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions
Program in Vocal Performance

Music Theatre History I: Antiquity to 1943

MPAVP-UE1351-001/GE 2351-001

Professor John Kenrick

Place: 7 East 12th - Room LL23


Time: Friday 9:30-11:35

Office Hours: by appointment


Through lectures, video clips, recordings, and assigned readings, we will trace the evolution of musical theatre from antiquity to 1930, discussing the development of operetta, variety, burlesque, musical comedy, revues and other genres. Music Theatre History Part I will provide students with:


Grading will be based on two written exams (50% of grade), a brief research paper (20% of grade) as well as quizzes and classroom participation (30%). The mid-term is a take home, and the final exam will be given in class during finals week. Because brief quizzes can be given at any time, students are required to have a pen and loose-leaf or blank paper with them for all classes.

The research paper is to be 5-6 pages in length, focusing on any creative talent or performer that we cover this semester. You are required to submit your topic for approval at midterm, and must reference at least two books other than our textbook.


Class participation is a major component of your final grade, so you are expected to attend ALL lectures, and be on time. You must make sure to sign the attendance sheet even if you arrive late; otherwise, you may be counted absent. Every class will include rare video clips that may not be available to you elsewhere.

An unexcused absence will lower your final term grade by one full grade level. Inexcusable absences include oversleeping, auditions, vacation plans, etc. Excusable absences include medical, family emergency, etc. When possible, send me an email with the appropriate information prior to your absence, and I will let you know if it can be excused.

Electronic devices are permitted in class for note taking. Web browsing, emails, texting, phone calls, checking phone messages and any other extraneous use of such devices during class are strictly prohibited, and can result in deductions from your class participation grade for the semester – 10 points per infraction. After a third infraction, further disciplinary action may be taken. In other words: surf, text & check messages on your own time.



Weekly reading assignments are posted at and on the NYU website.


You must have an active NYU email account that you check on a regular basis. This is the most reliable way for me to communicate with you regarding last minute changes, and for you to reach me regarding questions, etc. If you wish to meet with me, please email me via for an appointment. Because I commute, the best times to meet are before or after class.

Special needs: I want to make the course as inclusive as possible, so please let me know if there is anything I should be aware of regarding you, such as a particular medical condition, a sensory or hidden disability, etc. that might affect your participation in the course or your personal well-being. This disclosure is of course optional, or if you wish, only for selected individuals. Any student attending NYU who needs an accommodation due to a chronic, psychological, visual, mobility and/or learning disability, or is Deaf or Hard of Hearing should register with the Moses Center for Students with Disabilities. It provides comprehensive services and programs for NYU undergraduate and graduate students with hearing and visual impairments, mobility impairments, learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders, chronic illnesses, and psychological impairments. The Moses Center functions to determine qualified disability status and to assist students in obtaining appropriate accommodations and services. Services provided are designed to encourage independence and self-advocacy, backed by a comprehensive system of supports. The Center is located at 726 Broadway, 2nd Floor, New York, New York 10003. Phone and TTY: 212-998-4980; Fax: 212-995-4114; Web:

Academic Honesty: You are responsible for knowing the University’s issued standards of academic honesty outlines in the student handbook. It is your responsibility to uphold these policies and actively avoid any behavior that is or that may be construed by any instructor as academic dishonesty. This means that you must write your own papers and see assigned performances in their entirety, and must not pass on information regarding them to other students who have not seen those performances. You must also be careful with your behavior during exams administered in class. If you are ever unsure about this policy, please meet with me or a teaching assistant of further clarification. The standard penalty for academic dishonesty, including plagiarism (presenting someone else’s ideas or writing as your own) consists of an automatic “F” for the course and notification of campus authorities.

Open Door Policy: It is my intention to maintain a safe and comfortable learning environment for everyone in the class. If at any time you feel unsafe or uncomfortable, please feel free to address this issue with me or your teaching assistant. I would suggest emailing to set up a mutually convenient time when we can meet.


Week 1 (9/4): Definitions & Beginnings - Antiquity to Ballad Opera

Week 2 (9/11): Continental Operetta - Offenbach & Strauss

Week 3 (9/18): Minstrelsy

Week 4 (9/25): Early American Musicals

Week 5 (10/2): Gilbert & Sullivan

Week 6 (10/9): Anatomy of a Hit - The Merry Widow

Week 7 (10/16): Vaudeville & Burlesque
                       MID-TERM EXAM due IN CLASS

Week 8 (10/23): George M. Cohan

Week 9 (10/30): Victor Herbert & Irving Berlin

Week 10 (11/6): Revues - Ziegfeld’s Follies
                            RESEARCH PAPER due IN CLASS

Week 11 (11/13): Kern - The Princess Musicals and Beyond

Week 12 (11/20): Career in Profile - Al Jolson


Week 13 (12/54): 1920s - Hot Times, Great Talents & Show Boat

Week 14: (12/13) 1930-40s - Something is Stirring
                          FINAL EXAM IN CLASS