American Treasures of the Library of Congress: Memory, Exhibit Object Focus

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Costume for Show Boat

Costume design for dancer
Lucinda Ballard
Costume design for dancer
Show Boat, 1946 revival
Music Division
Gift of Dorothy Hammerstein, 1960s (163.3)

Show Boat is often characterized in terms of superlatives: the first modern American musical, the most influential Broadway musical, and even the greatest American musical. Written at a time when most shows consisted of little more than thin plots and catchy tunes,Show Boat became a touchstone for the musical as we now know it -- a cohesive dramatic presentation in which the music becomes a vehicle for the development of character and action. During its seventy-year history, it has been filmed three times and given several major New York revivals, including the one in 1946 for which Lucinda Ballard designed the costumes.

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