Based on Edna Ferber’s 1926 romantic novel about life on the Mississippi, Show Boat is considered to be the first great American musical. It was one of the first musicals to deviate from the typical “fluff” comedy of its time and tackle serious topics such as racism, alcoholism, and integration. By combining serious topics with grand spectacle, Show Boat forever changed the landscape of American musical theatre. Show Boat focused on plot and character development, rather than catchy melodies, and was the first musical on Broadway to ever feature both black and white performers.
Show Boat guide sections