Studies in Musical Theatre 12.3 is now available
Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Studies in Musical Theatre 12.3 is now available

Intellect is delighted to announce that Studies in Musical Theatre 12.3 is now available! For more information about the issue, click here >>,id=3689/

Studies in Musical Theatre considers areas of live performance that use vocal and instrumental music in conjunction with theatrical performance as a principal part of their expressive language. The journal is double-blind peer-reviewed in order to maintain the highest standards of scholastic integrity.

12.3 Contents

Authors: Dominic Symonds And George Burrows 


Girl talk: Feminist phonocentrism as an act of resistance in the musical Hair
Authors: Sarah Browne 

In response to Wollman’s assertion that ‘despite its left-leaning approach to the many social and political issues it tackles, Hair is jarringly old-fashioned in its depictions of women’, this article instead proposes that Hair’s sung moments function as acts of resistance against the hegemonic, patriarchal values of musical theatre in both form and content. By adopting Annette Schlichter’s proposition of a ‘feminist phonocentrism’ which positions the voice as a ‘metaphor of agency and self-representation […] thereby allowing for an authentic self-presence’, the analysis presented illustrates a rejection of historical discourses that persistently link the female voice to an absence of social and cultural authority. With specific reference to songs from the score and their interpretations, this article celebrates ‘girl talk’ forming at the margins.

Say there’s no future: The queer potential of Wicked’s Fiyero
Authors: Steven Greenwood 

This article demonstrates the queer potential and pleasure produced by the character Fiyero in Stephen Schwartz and Winnie Holzman’s Wicked (2003). I mobilize two primary frameworks to examine Fiyero’s queerness; the first half of the article views Fiyero in the context of queer theories of temporality and utopia, while the second half is interested in the deep cultural history of gay men’s relationships with Broadway musicals. This analysis produces both theoretical and historical implications of Fiyero’s character as I explore how his representation disrupts heteronormative rituals and aspects of the social order, as well as how he produces a valuable figure for the communities of gay men that have historically developed around musical theatre. The queer possibility of Wicked’s women has been examined extensively in past scholarship – particularly through the insights of Stacy Wolf – and this article expands upon this previous work to account for the role of Fiyero in the musical and the queer possibilities he produces.

Bible, religion and Catholicism in Sting’s album and musical The Last Ship
Authors: Evyatar Marienberg 

Sting, aka Gordon Sumner (b. 1951 in Wallsend, close to Newcastle upon Tyne), is a famous songwriter and performer who grew up in a Catholic environment. Although he does not identify as Catholic anymore, the religious images and notions he grew up with appear rather frequently in his work. This article explores examples of religious imagery in his album The Last Ship (2013), and in the musical of the same name based on the album. To date, the musical has been produced from two very different books: a US version by John Logan and Brian Yorkey (2014), and a UK one by Lorne Campbell (2018). The US version includes many religious notions, and in particular, includes a priest as one of its central figures. The UK version has little to no religion in it. The article suggests that each of these versions reflects a certain historical moment in the life of Wallsend, from where, supposedly, the ‘last ship’ was launched.

Introduction to the 2018 Bruce Kirle Memorial Debut Panel in Music Theatre/Dance
Authors: Barbara Wallace Grossman 

In 2007, the distinguished musical theatre scholar Bruce Kirle died unexpectedly in Manhattan. As a tribute to his contribution to this field of scholarship, the Music-Theatre-Dance Focus Group of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) renamed its competitive scholarly debut panel for him. This is now the tenth season in which three prize-winning entries to the competition have been presented both as conference papers (at the 2018 ATHE Conference in Boston) and as articles in Studies in Musical Theatre. Barbara Wallace Grossman, respondent to the papers at the ATHE conference, provides a brief introduction.

Queering Brechtian feminism: Breaking down gender binaries in musical theatre pedagogical performance practices
Authors: Sherrill Gow 

This article explores how musical theatre pedagogy might begin to dismantle modes of practice that perpetuate exclusion and a dualistic, gendered perspective. I draw on my experience of directing postgraduate musical theatre students at Mountview in a production of Pippin (1972). Casting a trans man as Pippin – in many respects an archetypal male hero role – set in motion a process of queering and subverting norms. However, casting is only one element of creating an inclusive practice: in this work, I developed a hybrid approach that honoured students’ identities and experiences and took a critical, political view of the material being presented. My approach brings together Elin Diamond’s feminist theoretical framing of Brecht with queer concepts including heteronormativity and chrononormativity, which are then applied to David Barnett’s practical explanation of a Brechtian process. I argue that feminist and queer approaches can work together to meaningfully critique hegemonic forces influencing musical theatre training and production processes.

The Radio City Rockettes and the making of a sisterhood
Authors: Adrienne Gibbons Oehlers 

Since their origins in 1925, the Radio City Rockettes have been a self-proclaimed sisterhood that has long been viewed as wholesome family entertainment. Although dancers for the Rockettes have had to submit to stringent guidelines of physicality, personality and uniformity, most alumnae are quick to wax poetic on their years in the line. This article investigates the meaning and the making of such sisterhood by looking at how a ‘community of practice’ is created through the structure of the company and the shared labour involved in precision dance. Their group dynamic and joint performance goals, along with the stable workplace and practices of Radio City Music Hall, shaped how the Rockettes’ identity was formed and propagated, in a way that differed from other more sexualized dance companies, which existed in the same era.

Four Hairsprays, one Baltimore: The city in trans-medial adaptation
Authors: Curtis Russell 

By comparing John Waters’ 1988 film Hairspray with its adaptations narratologically, previous studies of the film have treated the process of adaptation as a zero-sum game that diminishes the political stakes with each iteration. With this article, I suggest that generic tools such as mise-en-scène and choreography have the capacity to transform discourses instead of merely supplanting them. To better understand the discursive spaces opened up by the trans-medial adaptation process, I read the opening scene of Waters’ film and its three subsequent adaptations as a discourse of the city, following Annette Insdorf’s assertion that a narrative’s first moments reflect significant thematic and aesthetic moves on the part of its creators.

The Last Ship from Broadway to Newcastle: A feminist political musical for the Brexit era
Authors: Sarah Browne 

Sting’s musical, The Last Ship premiered on Broadway in 2014. Four years later, following a series of workshops at Northern Stage, the musical embarked on its UK tour featuring a number of revisions to its narrative and structure. What emerges from the revised production is a narrative, which places women at the centre through affording them agency and allowing them to occupy powerful, liminal spaces. Whilst The Last Ship remains a tale for the working classes, its UK revisions do well to reposition the central role of the women in this community. Through removing principal characters, which previously served to reinforce a patriarchal hierarchy, the fictional women of Wallsend now drive the plot, allowing for The Last Ship to communicate a morality tale, which echoes the ideologies of a feminist, post-Brexit era.


Musical direction in theatre: Interpreting, composing and singing the ‘real’ – An interview with David Shrubsole
Authors: George Rodosthenous 

David Shrubsole is best known for his extensive theatre work as composer, lyricist, arranger/ orchestrator and musical director. He studied music at Trinity College of Music and regularly composes for the National Theatre. Shrubsole talks to George Rodosthenous about his experiences in the theatre, musical direction as interpretation and how the musical director is the ‘heartbeat of the show’, giving examples from his practice. Composing for theatre is contextualized here, and analysed within the practicalities, opportunities and challenges of each genre. The interview finishes with Shrubsole’s creative contribution to the revolutionary London Road (2011) and includes a detailed account of the innovative process of learning a score backwards.

Performance Review

Frozen, book by Jennifer Lee, music and lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, directed by Michael Grandage
Authors: Amy S. Osatinski 

Book Reviews

Authors: Warren Hoffman And Kelsey Blair And Martha Shearer And William A. Everett 
  • Historians on Hamilton: How a Blockbuster Musical Is Restaging America’s Past, Renee C. Romano and Claire Bond Potter (eds) (2018)
  • Studying Musical Theatre: Theory and Practice, Millie Taylor and Dominic Symonds (eds) (2014)
  • Twenty-First Century Musicals: From Stage to Screen, George Rodosthenous (ed.) (2018)
  • Chadwick: The Padrone, Marianne Betz (ed.) (2017)