Game Changers: The Broadway Musicals That Shaped the Art Form

By Ben Rimalower
29 Mar 2014

Show Boat (1927)

Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II's classic musical broke new ground in at least two major ways. First of all, it was a serious musical, marking the first time a musical was something akin to a play, where there were actual characters and plot, rather than the vaudevillian revues that were the norm on Broadway at the time. Even more significantly, Show Boat, an adaptation of Edna Ferber's bestselling novel of the same name concerning racism and social evolution, was the first time an integrated cast of black and white performers appeared together in a Broadway musical.