Changed for good A feminist history of the Broadway musical

Stacy Ellen Wolf

Book - 2011

From Adelaide in "Guys and Dolls" to Nina in "In the Heights" and Elphaba in "Wicked," female characters in Broadway musicals have belted and crooned their way into the American psyche. In this lively book, Stacy Wolf illuminates the women of American musical theatre--performers, creators, and characters--from the start of the Cold War to the present day, creating a new, feminist history of the genre. The musicals discussed here are among the most beloved in the can...on--"West Side Story," "Cabaret," "A Chorus Line," "Phantom of the Opera," and many others--with special emphasis on the blockbuster "Wicked." Along the way, Wolf demonstrates how the musical since the mid-1940s has actually been dominated by women--women onstage, women in the wings, and women offstage as spectators and fans.

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Subjects
Published
New York : Oxford University Press c2011.
Language
English
Physical Description
xii, 306 p. : ill. ; 24 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references (p. 287-290) and index.
ISBN
9780195378245
0195378245
9780195378238
0195378237
Main Author
Stacy Ellen Wolf (-)
  • The 1950s: "Marry the man today"
  • The 1960s: "If my friends could see me now"
  • The 1970s: "Everything was beautiful at the ballet"
  • The 1980s: "The Phantom of the opera is there inside my mind"
  • The 1990s-2000s: "I'm beautiful and I'm here"
  • "Changed for the better": queer conventions in Wicked (2003)
  • "It's all about popular": Wicked divas and internet girl fans
  • Epilogue: "Changed for good."
Review by Library Journal Reviews

In this perceptive study of women and Broadway musicals from the 1950s through the present, Wolf (theater, Princeton Univ.) illustrates how the shows reflect and challenge societal norms and, in the process, resonate with audiences and impact the art form itself. She provides in-depth analyses of productions such as Wonderful Town, West Side Story, A Chorus Line, In the Heights, and The Phantom of the Opera, perceptively dissecting critical components—plot, character, dialog, music, staging, costuming—within a framework of gender, historical, and cultural considerations and offering incisive commentary on interwoven themes. Wolf's observations on the power and function of women's duets (as sung by such contrasting characters as Sarah and Adelaide in Guys and Dolls and, 50 years later, by Elphaba and Glinda in Wicked), for example, are particularly impressive. Her penetrating views on fans and their identification with shows and characters place the core values of the theatrical experience within a larger context. VERDICT This is a valuable work with a strong and captivating feminist point of view. Scholars and serious fans of theater as well as those concerned with women's issues and studies will especially enjoy its detail-filled and imaginative perspective.—Carol J. Binkowski, Bloomfield, NJ [Page 88]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Highlights the women of American theater from the beginning of the Cold War to the present, addressing assumptions about gender that were held to be true in each decade as well as key aspects of popular plays as they related to women.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

From Adelaide in "Guys and Dolls" to Nina in "In the Heights" and Elphaba in "Wicked," female characters in Broadway musicals have belted and crooned their way into the American psyche. In this lively book, Stacy Wolf illuminates the women of American musical theatre - performers, creators,and characters -- from the start of the cold war to the present day, creating a new, feminist history of the genre. Moving from decade to decade, Wolf first highlights the assumptions that circulated about gender and sexuality at the time. She then looks at the leading musicals to stress the keyaspects of the plays as they relate to women, and often finds overlooked moments of empowerment for female audience members. The musicals discussed here are among the most beloved in the canon--"West Side Story," "Cabaret," "A Chorus Line," "Phantom of the Opera," and many others--with specialemphasis on the blockbuster "Wicked." Along the way, Wolf demonstrates how the musical since the mid-1940s has actually been dominated by women--women onstage, women in the wings, and women offstage as spectators and fans.