Historians credit the 1866 production of The Black Crook as the birth of the American musical theatre. Since then (like numerous politicians), the art form has continued to evolve. From George Gershwin and Cole Porter to Cy Coleman and Stephen Sondheim; from Rodgers & Hammerstein and Jule Styne to Kander and Ebb, Jerry Herman, and Andrew Lloyd Webber, songwriters and their creative teams have built a literature -- and a legacy -- of musical theatre over the course of nearly 150 years.
I'm often amused by the random juxtaposition of shows I attend from one night to the next. One could hardly position two American musicals that differ quite as much in their performance history, style, and appeal than the two I saw in back-to-back performances a few months ago.