Teaching Guide: Exploring the Golden Age of Broadway

This teaching guide helps instructors use a specific primary source set, The Golden Age of Broadway, in the classroom. It offers discussion questions, classroom activities, and primary source analysis tools. It is intended to spark pedagogical creativity by giving a sample approach to the material. Please feel free to share, reuse, and adapt the resources in this guide for your teaching purposes.

Discussion questions

  1. In what ways are the societal roles of women reflected throughout this set? Cite specific textual evidence from at least three different sources that support your claim.
  2. Compare the “About Tonight’s Play” excerpts. What parallels do you see in the storylines and role of women in Kiss Me Kate and Gypsy?
  3. Look at the photograph and recording of My Fair Lady, a “rags to riches” story that has been revived several times on Broadway. Why do you think this is the case? What is it about this story that continues to captivate audiences even today?
  4. Describe the value of a revival. In looking at the photographs and items specifically from revival performances, identify what seems to make a show worthy of reviving. Do you think that social conditions in the 1970s, for instance, mirrored those of the 1940s and 50s?

Classroom activities

Ask students to research modern musicals and revivals to determine what aspects of “golden age” musical are echoed in more recent shows. Each student should choose a recent show: Cats, Wicked, Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, or another musical. Each student should create a flowchart that shows how musicals of the 1940s and 1950s influenced the more recent musical they have chosen. Use the following sources as a springboard for this activity:

*Theatre Development Foundation – Education Resources

*Internet Broadway Database

*NYU Libguide on Theatre and Drama Databases

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