Ethel Merman's Role In American Musical Theater

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The production Gypsy, swept the nation, as it was nothing anyone had ever seen before. Arthur Laurents wrote the plot for the musical Gypsy, which was based on the best selling book “The Memoirs of ‘Gypsy Rose Lee’”. Producer David Merrick decided to take this story and transform it into a spectacular musical comedy. Its characters defined the burlesque era and were the most talked about people of the time. With an extremely talented cast and crew, including the infamous Ethel Merman, Gypsy’s ranking surpassed many, and it is remembered as one of the most influential musicals of the time period. With its crowd-pleasing story and delightful music, Gypsy transformed American Musical Theatre by creating a musical comedy that portrayed an underlying…show more content…
It was said that she had the best health and was the most dependent out of all of the actresses in American musical theater (Music Guide, McKinley). Ethel Merman’s career lased over fifty years. Her final appearance was a benefit concert at the Carnegie Hall in 1982. Sadly, Ethel Merman underwent brain surgery and had severe complications. Merman had a heart attack and passed away ten months later in 1984. Although Merman is no longer physically a part in American Musical Theatre, her remembrance will always touch the viewers, as she was one of the most talked-about performers of the time. She continues to be acknowledged through her performance in…show more content…
Her trademark ‘belt’ was nothing less than a declaration of independence written by such masters of the musical theater” (The Musical Theater Project, 2008). Although Ethel Merman is not here today to perform on Broadway, there are many acknowledgments to make certain she is never forgotten. Today, Flinn stated she is remembered as, “a woman who lived a long life, lived it loudly, and possessed an unquestioned sense of self and place in that world” (C. Flinn, 2007, p. 416). It is no secret that Ethel Merman is undoubtedly one of the most influential women to hit Broadway musical theater. Along with Merman, Gypsy’s spectacular cast and production team worked well together to create a show unlike the ones of the time. Gypsy included meaning and purpose, which thrilled the audience. The Broadway fanatics needed a change and Gypsy was the answer. This successful production ran a lengthy amount of time and was a favorite of many theatergoers. This staple of Broadway Theater became so popular that there were many revivals to express the enjoyment for this production. Gypsy has become known as one of the most powerful and influential productions to hit Broadway and it is very clear why. Gypsy will forever be known as the musical comedy with a dramatic

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