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

Fall 2005

T C 357 • Musical Theatre in American Culture-W

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
42660 TTh
12:30 PM-2:00 PM
WIN 1.164

Course Description

This seminar will explore one of the most quintessentially American forms of performancethe Broadway musical theatrein the context of mid-to-late 20th-century U.S. culture. How do the different elements of the musicalscript, blocking (stage movement), casting, acting (characterization, gesture, voice), music, lyrics, choreography, and designwork 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 audiences 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 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 Something Better Than This: Sweet Charity and the Feminist Utopia of Broadway Musicals in Modern Drama (Summer 2004). In addition to her work on the musical, 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. She was also editor of Theatre Topics, a journal of performance studies and pedagogy. Professor Wolf teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in performance theory and dramaturgy. She directed J.M. Barries Peter Pan on the UT Mainstage in Spring 2002 and recently dramaturged Whos Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Cabaret at the Zachary Scott Theatre Center. She is an avid runner, swimmer, schnauzer-owner, and movie-goer.

Grading Policy

This course contains a substantial writing component. Participation, including several 1 to 2-page response papers: 10% Creative response and 1-page paper: 10% Analysis of a musical (6 pages): 10% Precis and critique of a scholarly article (3 pages): 10% Research presentation: 10% Group project and class facilitation: 20% Final project (10-12 pages), to be completed in parts: Proposal; First Draft; Final draft; Presentation of Research: 30%


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 students 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 Directors 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, Susan Douglas, David Savran, Timothy Donovan, and Stacy Wolf


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