They both are similar in a way and are intend to entertain however are very different.
When ones main purpose is to an enlighten the other is simply to entertain and nothing else. It was about the audience connecting with each other and bringing people together. Make them forget about there struggles for a little bit and just to enjoy a performance together.
Musical comedy began in early 1900’s and normally had political themes. Plays were normally focus was on the average working class person and therefore had more working characters in it. Back in those days personality was way more important then technicality.
Musical play is where the songs and dances are combined and put together into a story with dramatic goals that are able to get the real emotions out of the audience and not just laughter.
Social norms at the time dictated that women especially must fill their gender stereotypes, her place was in the kitchen, her role to birth and nurture babies, cook and provide a clean home. If a man and a women wed, the only socially acceptable next step was to build a respectable house, preferably away from the big cities, ideally in a small town or the countryside. The Golden Age musicals, a source of aspiration to many young people and new families, reinforced this mindset.
From the early 1900’s musical comedies really cemented their place on Broadway, with many travelling and spending hard saved money to be able to see them. Many of these were written by the pioneer of composition songs George M Cohen, in the infamous Tin Pan Alley. These performances, the equivalent of modern day blockbusters in the cinema, were widely distributed, with the most popular ones even being part of the Grand National tours.
In comedy musical the element of comedy is being used to it’s maximum when in musical play it is used quite slightly within the limits of character.
Musical plays are normally set in the past and tend to express emotional and physical struggle compare to musical comedy which usually have contemporary settings. This will obviously affect the characters, the way they dress and also behave. Musical plays tend to have much more emotional content then musical comedies, all the dance moves were choreographed.
Musical plays were more sentimental than musical comedy and had moral struggle as the main element of a conflict. Musical comedy was quite informal and so as it’s characters. It rejected Victorian values. Authorities and politicians were laughed at, compare to musical play where characters often were close to authorities and were supporting each other.
In Musical comedy flapper girls were more playful. They had short and sleek hair, shorter then average dress, flat chest and quite a lot of make up, a lot more compare to musical plays. They applied it in public and smoked with a long cigarets holder. You could clearly see a spirit of a reckless rebel and their behaviour. From 1913 the dress begun to show a little bit of ankle and in 1918 skirt lengths were just below calf length and then the year after that in 1919 skirt length got a little bit shorter and were calf lengthened and for the next five years until 1924 skirts remained that way.
After first world war women’s dresses started to look more manly. Females dresses became looser and shapeless. The waist disappeared and chest was visibly suppressed. Hairstyles were getting shorter and shorter almost boyish kind of style. The silhouette that defined and showed of chest and curves disappeared completely. The desired perfect silhouette was slender flat chested body.
Most of females bra’s had no support for the chest and were worn
in order to suppress the size in order to fit into that category of a slender flat chest kind of girl.
Girls were bandaging their breasts in order to make sure that they look as flat as possible. The rule was as boyish you look as fashionable you are.
Between 1920 and 1928 corsets sales reduced by two thirds because flappers refused to wear corsets and rolled up their stockings to the knee just so they were able to move and dance more easily.
Women preferred to wear elastic webbing latex girdles that made the abdomen look flat.
As I have already mentioned in this era usage of make up increased a lot. It was quite popular to apply make up in public instead of going to the bathroom or somewhere else where they could be alone.
It was very popular for them just to get their little make up set and apply it right in the restaurant or in the street or anywhere else in public. Red lipstick was especially popular. Coats and all the other outwear used to be long until 1926. Wrap over coats were the most popular thing in that era.
Hollywood film stars became fashion icons. All women wanted to look like their fashion idol. Wear same hairstyles, make up, clothes. Those famous film icons were Louise Brooks, Katharine Hepburn, Claudette Colbert, Mariene Dietrich.
Mariene Dietrich and Katharine Hepburn wore trousers and therefore particularly them two influenced women to do so.
The males were influenced by Clark Gable who loved to wear his moustache and therefore that made other people who loved his movies copy him.
During Golden age looking prestige considered more important and social obligation. It was common to visit hairdresser at least once a week. Clothes were accompanied with gloves and hats. Women were paying way more attention to details.
Louise Brooks is one the most famous icons of 1920s. She was famous flapper of her era and also was a model as well as an actress. She had short hair, a short skirt and wore make up, she had a perfect flapper look and is a great example. She had a distinctive black helmet bob cut hairstyle worn with bangs or fringe. She was a film star of silent movies. Just by her looks able to convey everything without any words. She was very talented and appeared in 24 movies between 1925 and 1938 staring alone side some very famous actors of that era such as Jean Arthur, William Powel and W.C. Fields. Her best role was as Lulu in Pandora’s Box in 1929.
Another example of a flapper girl is Greta Garbo. She was one of the best loved stars during 1920 and 1930. Her look was quite different to Louise but due to having a great smooth seductive voice she was offered to act in spoken role which eded up being her biggest success.
Mauritc Stiller big Swedish director gave her a role in Gosta Berling Saga as he thought she could really act very well using her instinctive playing to the camera. She continued to make successful films until 1941.
As a result of war women stoped wearing any jewellery and lavish clothes. Dress Code was simple and relaxed. Women began taking part in voluntary work which changed their outlook completely. That meant that all women became to look similar even despite social barriers. Military braiding, belts with buckles and shorter skirts were seen everywhere and became very common.
Fashion history shows that the clothes got shorter during the first world war as it was more practical. Bright colours disappeared and only monotone colours were worn as the war was going on. Everyone was affected by the death of loved ones or friends. So soft and restrained dresses were worn just to show respect and patriotism to the country.
Many women stoped gave up siting at home and started to work different jobs which were normally done by males.
They did administrative tasks, drove trams, did postal work and even worked as a chimney sweeps and did farm work working as land girls.
However when the war ended all the women have already changed completely and the conception of what is normal has changed too. Women no longer stayed at home to look after the household.
They simply did not want to go back to being an ordinary traditional women and be maids for other people. They gained freedom. They carried on working outside the house. However only jobs of bus conductresses remained open to them to carry on working.
So these are the differences. A lot of stuff happened during these two eras which has affected a number of things as well as the theatre. The fashion, social ideals and values, relationships between people, concepts of plays and many other important things that playwright wanted their audience to see.