Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II - a newly formed songwriting team due to Lorenz Hart's ill health - ushered in a new era of the Broadway musical with the revolutionary production of "Oklahoma!", in what was called the first integrated musical where the songs, musical score and choreography were all in support of moving the story forward. For Hammerstein, stories previously thought of as taboo were now ripe for transformation into Broadway musicals. Rodgers and Hammerstein were the premier songwriters of this form. What they also pioneered was the first act conditional ballad, where the romantic leads could sing about the scenario "what if we were in love". New teams were taking up the integrated musical form, including composer Leonard Bernstein, lyricists Betty Comden and Adolph Green and choreographer Jerome Robbins with their show "On the Town", and Frank Loesser/Abe Burrows' show "Guys and Dolls" (with choreography by Michael Kidd), which was renowned for its use of everyday language in its songs. Established composers also took up the form. Even Irving Berlin, who initially dismissed the storybook musical, entered the fray with "Annie Get Your Gun", which was produced by Rodgers and Hammerstein and which contained what has become the unofficial anthem of musical theater: 'There's No Business Like Show Business'. The notion of the required romantic pairing in musicals changed with composer Frederick Loewe and lyricist Alan Jay Lerner's production of "My Fair Lady". One of the most acclaimed musicals of the era came to pass when actress Mary Martin asked, solely by chance, Rodgers and Hammerstein to write a single song for a play in which she was working. That play and song were eventually transformed into "The Sound of Music". This would become Rodgers and Hammerstein's last collaboration before Hammerstein's passing.- Written by Huggo
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