Changed for Good: A Feminist History of the Broadway Musical by Stacy Wolf

By Stacy Wolf

From Adelaide in "Guys and Dolls" to Nina in "In the Heights" and Elphaba in "Wicked," woman characters in Broadway musicals have belted and crooned their method into the yank psyche. during this vigorous e-book, Stacy Wolf illuminates the ladies of yank musical theatre - performers, creators, and characters -- from the beginning of the chilly conflict to the current day, making a new, feminist heritage of the style. relocating from decade to decade, Wolf first highlights the assumptions that circulated approximately gender and sexuality on the time. She then seems on the major musicals to emphasize the major features of the performs as they relate to girls, and sometimes unearths neglected moments of empowerment for woman viewers individuals. The musicals mentioned listed below are one of the so much liked within the canon--"West facet Story," "Cabaret," "A refrain Line," "Phantom of the Opera," and lots of others--with particular emphasis at the blockbuster "Wicked." alongside the best way, Wolf demonstrates how the musical because the mid-1940s has really been ruled via women--women onstage, ladies within the wings, and ladies offstage as spectators and fans.

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Extra info for Changed for Good: A Feminist History of the Broadway Musical

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Eliza’s fi rst number, “Loverly,” introduces her smart and willful character in a fantasy about warmth and chocolate that she gains when she learns to speak properly. The Eliza who sings the fi rst song is musically consistent with the one who sings “I Could Have Danced All Night” in celebration of her achievement. “The Rain in Spain” begins as Eliza still struggles to form words properly, then she succeeds, and fi nally the three—Higgins, Eliza, and Pickering—sing and dance a celebratory tango, perfectly fulfi lling the expectations for a formally integrated musical, moving directly from speech into song and including dance in the most natural and 25 26 Changed for Good organic way.

26 In the shift from opera to musical theatre, though, the typically triangulated relationships in which two women vie for the attention of one man are replaced by a quadrangle—the double plots of heterosexual romance that appear in many midcentury musicals from Rodgers and Hammerstein on. The four-way character configuration, especially in the intensely homosocial worlds of musicals, renders the two women a female couple, which they perform in a duet. 27 Although women characters are invariably constructed in opposites—virgin/whore, princess/evil stepsister, smart/gullible, worldly/innocent—they sing within an aurally unified range.

Female duets in musicals from the 1950s might seem merely to provide a diversion from the musical’s narrative trajectory. Like rousing chorus numbers, self-defi ning and self-expressive solos, and incidental charm songs, the female duet no doubt functions in part as an expected musical variation on the male-female romantic duos that organize the musical’s purpose. But the intimacy created by two women singing together also troubles the formally integrated musical’s heterosexual closure, at the very least offering a different kind of affective connection or possibly undoing the musical’s heterosexual presumption altogether.

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