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Michael Stoff, Director 305 East 23rd St, CLA 2.102, (G3600) Austin, TX 78712-1250 • 512-471-1442

Spring 2007

T C 357 • Musical Theatre in American Culture

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
43400 TTh
12:30 PM-2:00 PM
MEZ 1.210

Course Description

This seminar will explore one of the most quintessentially "American" forms of performance, the Broadway musical theatre, in the context of mid-to-late 20th-century U.S. culture. How do the different elements of the musical: script, blocking (stage movement), casting, acting (characterization, gesture, voice), music, lyrics, choreography, and design, work together to create a performance? What are the conventions of the musical, and how did they develop over the course of the later 20th century? Why have musicals been an important part of U.S. culture? What is their relationship to other entertainment media? What kinds of messages about gender, race and ethnicity, sexuality, and the meaning of America have musicals conveyed? Why do musicals continue to be popular, and what is significant about their popularity? How do they function as a form of art, culture, and entertainment today? Which musicals should be revived and how should they be performed? How can a critical approach to musicals both make them more pleasurable and increase the audience's awareness of their meanings? To consider these and other questions, we will begin with 1943 and the Golden Age of the Broadway musical, move through the so-called death of the musical in the later 1960s, and end with contemporary musicals. In addition to the musicals librettos and cast albums, we will examine historical and analytical studies of musicals, cultural history, and reception theory. We will visit the HRC to learn about UTs extensive archival resources on musical theatre. We will also view film versions and perform (if desired) excerpts from musicals.

About the Professor

Stacy Wolf is the author of A Problem Like Maria: Gender and Sexuality in the American Musical (University of Michigan Press, 2002). Most recently, she published We'll Always Be Bosom Buddies: Female Duets and the Queering of Broadway Musical Theatre, which focuses on female duets in West Side Story and Guys and Dolls. In addition to her work on musical theatre, she has published numerous essays on theatre audiences and reception theory in journals such as Theatre Survey, New Theatre Quarterly, and the Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism. Professor Wolf was also editor of Theatre Topics, a journal of performance studies and pedagogy. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in performance theory, dramatic literature, and dramaturgy. She also has experience as a director and dramaturg, and she advises student dramaturgs on productions at UT and in Austin. She is an avid runner, swimmer, schnauzer-owner, and movie-goer.


Musicals include: Oklahoma!; South Pacific; My Fair Lady; West Side Story; Gypsy; Cabaret; Sweeney Todd; Phantom of the Opera; Rent; Caroline, or Change; and others according to student interests

Criticism and History include selections from:

John Bush Jones; Our Musicals, Ourselves: A Social History of the American Musical Theatre

Gerald Mast, Cant Stop Singin: The American Musical of Stage and Screen

Geoffrey Block, Enchanted Evenings: The Broadway Musical from Show Boat to Sondheim

Ethan Mordden, Coming Up Roses: The Broadway Musical in the 1950s

Scott Miller, From Assassins to West Side Story: A Director's Guide to the Musical

Keith Garebian, The Making of Cabaret

Mary E. Williams, ed., Readings on West Side Story

William A. Everett and Paul R. Laird, eds., The Cambridge Companion to the Musical

Essays by Andrea Most, Ray Knapp, Susan Douglas, David Savran, Timothy Donovan, Michael Eigtved, and Stacy Wolf


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