‘A brief history of Broadway’

Lycoming College’s community seminar course

One doesn’t have to be a historian, but it may be beneficial to be a bit of a theater buff to be both entertained and enlightened by “A Brief History of Broadway.”

Beginning later this month, Lycoming College will present a four part community seminar course with Gary Boerckel, professor emeritus of music. As part of openLYCOMING, “A Brief History of Broadway” are non-credit, educational courses taught by an emeritus member of the college’s faculty.

Boerckel has been the music director of about 30 musicals, operas and operettas on the hilltop campus, including four productions since his retirement in 2012.

“The Brief History of Broadway” seminars will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Jan. 30, Feb. 6, 13 and 20 in the Mary L. Welch Honors Hall, corner of Franklin and East Fourth streets.

From its beginnings in the 19th century to the 21st century, Broadway musicals have dazzled audiences and lit up the Great White Way.

In the 1900s, George M. Cohan, known as “the man who owned Broadway,” and Victor Herbert are generally credited with giving the Broadway musical its distinctive style.

Boerckel emphasizes that the “Brief History” will focus upon dozens of shows from the early “The Black Crook” to the blockbuster “Hamilton,” while discussing the several shows’ music, lyrics and books.

The course will be chronological with a lecture format, but as an extra benefit, attendees will also listen to historic performances, some from the original cast recordings. Questions and comments from the audience will be welcome.

Recommended but not required reading is Larry Stempel’s “Showtime: A History of Broadway’s Musical Theater.” Stempel’s narrative traces the history of musicals from vaudeville shows and burlesque, through the golden age of “Showboat” and “Oklahoma,” to the groundbreaking musicals “Company” and “Rent.”

For more information call (570) 321-4376.

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