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Four talented writers of song and story who currently make their living in the theatre decided in the New Lecture Hall last night that the musical is not permanently replacing the serious drama on the American stage. The discussion was the third in this year's series of Law Forums.
John Chapman, drama critic of the New York Daily News, Marc Connelly, author of "The Green Pastures," and Lillian Hellman, author of "The Little Foxes," agreed with Richard Rodgers, composer and producer of "The King and I" that musicals "have, for the moment, taken the place of the serious drama on our stages, but not for good."
Rodgers said, "The dramatic theatre is at rest. There is therefore an emotional void on the stage that the present serious plays have not been able to fill. Musicals happened along with emotion to fill this void at just the right time."
According to Chapman, musicals and serious plays have alternated in cycles. Drama is "just in a bad way now." He put much of the blame on colleges and universities, which are "falling down on the job" of teaching and inspiring new writers.
Connelly held that the theatre is "a healthy animal." He said that the musical play is part of the theatre, and its current popularity does not indicate current tastes.
"We are just lucky to live at a time when a group of marvelous craftsmen, such as Mr. Rodgers, have come up with such original, fresh, healthy stuff. The theatre is in a dandy position," he added.
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