The American Musical and the Formation of National Identity
by Raymond Knapp

The American Musical and the Formation of National Identity




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The American Musical and the Formation of National Identity

Contrasting Formations of National Identity

This collage presents a quartet of American quartets:

1. the four American presidents carved into Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln (background);
2. the recently deputized school board from the 1962 film version of The Music Man (the "Buffalo Bills": Al Shea, Vern Reed, Wayne Ward, and Bill Spangenberg, in the top "snapshot");
3. the quartet of successful and would-be assassins who sing "The Gun Song" from the original production of Assassins: Sara Jane Moore, Charles Guiteau, John Wilkes Booth, and Leon Czolgosz (Debra Monk, Jonathan Hadary, Victor Garber, and Terrence Mann, in the middle "snapshot"); and
4. the performers of "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man" from the 1936 film version of Show Boat: Joe, Magnolia, Queenie, and Julie (Paul Robeson, Irene Dunne, Hattie McDaniel, and Helen Morgan, in the bottom "snapshot").

(Movie stills courtesy of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.  Assassins photograph copyright Martha Swope; used by permission. Collage design by Jonathan Hofferman.)