Studies in Musical Theatre

'There's gotta be something better than this': Challenging the role of big emotion in the transition from speech to song
Studies in Musical Theatre (2016) Vol. 10, No. 1, pp. 133-142

In musical theatre, the idea that a character sings because speech cannot capture the heightened emotion of a particular moment or situation is broadly accepted. As a director working regularly in training contexts, I see a fundamental problem with describing ...

'A Rainbow in Ev'ry Pot': Southern excess, racial liberalism, and living large in Harburg and Lane's "Finian's Rainbow"
Studies in Musical Theatre (2016) Vol. 10, No. 1, pp. 117-132

When Yip Harburg and Burton Lane wrote their 1947 musical Finian's Rainbow, they imagined the piece as a vehicle for a host of social justice concerns. Specifically, Harburg created the fictional place of Missitucky and its inhabitants to directly comment ...

Little steps: The absurdity of "A Chorus Line"
Studies in Musical Theatre (2016) Vol. 10, No. 1, pp. 105-116

By tracing some of the ways that Michael Bennett's choreographic dramaturgy telescoped, refracted and collapsed the presumed dimensions of musical theatrical space, identity and emotion, this critical rumination listens for the experimental echoes in "A Chorus Line." Explicating how "A ...

Embracing excess: The queer feminist power of musical theatre diva roles
Studies in Musical Theatre (2016) Vol. 10, No. 1, pp. 93-104

Diva musicals: shows built around roles designed to be played by exceptionally charismatic performers, larger-than-life female characters who, like them or hate them (but almost always love them), drive the action and dominate the stage. Sometimes, as in "Hairspray" (2002), ...

'Only the last song if we let it be': "Dancer in the Dark," "The Sound of Music" and song and dance as traumatic container
Studies in Musical Theatre (2016) Vol. 10, No. 1, pp. 81-92

Lars von Trier's homage to and critique of musical theatre and film in "Dancer in the Dark" (2000) uses the big musical theatre song and dance number as a place where the unfathomability of traumatic emotion is expressed. Trauma's unfathomability ...

Too big for Broadway?: The limits of historical and theatrical empathy in "Parade" and "The Scottsboro Boys"
Studies in Musical Theatre (2016) Vol. 10, No. 1, pp. 69-80

This article examines the concept of historical empathy through a case study of two factually based musicals: "Parade" (1998), about the murder trial and subsequent lynching of Jewish factory manager Leo Frank in 1915, and "The Scottsboro Boys" (2010), a ...

Broomsticks and barricades: Performance, empowerment, and feeling in "Wicked" and "Les Misérables"
Studies in Musical Theatre (2016) Vol. 10, No. 1, pp. 55-68

In this article, I examine the act one finales of two Broadway megamusicals--"Defying Gravity" from "Wicked" (2003) and "One Day More" from "Les Misérables" (1987)--to query the relationship between the performance of these numbers and the generation and circulation of ...

'What's bigger than a standing ovation?': Intimacy and spectacle at the Tony Awards
Studies in Musical Theatre (2016) Vol. 10, No. 1, pp. 37-54

In 1963, J. S. Siegels described two opposing methods by which artists could affect their audiences. The first was an aesthetic of grandeur: 'a principle of force, based on the sheer size and power of the impression'. The second was ...

The rock star figure: Authenticity, satire and legacy in "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson" (2006)
Studies in Musical Theatre (2016) Vol. 10, No. 1, pp. 19-36

This article argues that the rock star figure trope found in some rock musicals illustrates bigness by mirroring mechanisms of rock star construction and projecting a connection to the musical audience. In doing so, the article discusses the rock star ...

What a crescendo--not to be missed: Loudness on the musical stage
Studies in Musical Theatre (2016) Vol. 10, No. 1, pp. 7-18

Recent research suggests that loudness, as an isolated aural quality, has an enormous ability to affect a listener's emotional response to a musical performance--but loudness is far more complex than simply cranking the volume up or down. This article traces ...