Music Musical
by
Kent Conrad
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 May 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199757824-0092

Introduction

The musical is a genre of musical theater that combines singing, spoken dialogue, and dance, with the three elements more or less equal. In the early half of the 20th century, the term could reference a number of genres, including operetta, light opera, musical revue, and musical comedy. Musical comedy is the term that is associated with the genre of stage entertainment that was stylistically derived from Tin Pan Alley song, burlesque, and vaudeville shows. Due to anti-German sentiment in America during World War I, as well as shifts in public taste, operetta declined as a form of musical entertainment and the original American musical comedy took its place. A collaborative process, the creation of a musical relies on a composer, lyricist, director, and choreographer. “Book musical” is the term used to describe the majority of musicals written between 1930 and the early 1960s. The “book” of a musical contains the structure and dialogue that serves to develop a dramatic narrative. Musical numbers (solo songs, duets, and ensembles) are inserted at various points in the narrative to explicate or heighten the narrative. The term “concept musical” is used currently to describe musicals created in the early 1960s that broke away from the “book musical” format and instead used a thematic idea or metaphor as a unifying device for the work. The Fantasticks (1960) is usually credited as the first example of a “concept musical.” Since the late 1960s various subgenres of musicals have arisen including “rock musicals” (e.g., Hair, 1967; Godspell, 1971), “technomusicals,” or “megamusicals” (e.g., Phantom of the Opera, 1986), and musical monologues (e.g., Whida Peru: Resurrection Tangle, 2010).

General Overviews

There are numerous works that exist as introductory guides to the history and traditions of musical theater. New works constantly update the ever growing and expanding repertoire of each new Broadway season. Everett and Laird 2008 provides an overview of not only stage musicals, but also film musicals and recordings, while Bloom 2006 and Kantor and Maslon 2004 are excellent introductions for the student. Stempel 2010 covers the history of the American musical in depth and places the genre in the context of social issues, while Vlastnik and Bloom 2010 offers detailed discussion of particular musicals. Morely 1987 serves as a companion overview, tracing the history of the British musical from the beginning of the 20th century. Block 2009 focuses on the history of fourteen musicals, from Showboat to works by Sondheim and Lloyd Webber, and Swain 2002 examines twenty musicals to demonstrate the relationship between music and plot development. Sternfeld 2006 is an excellent source for the megamusicals of the 1980s.

  • Block, Geoffrey. Enchanted Evenings: The Broadway Musical from “Show Boat” to Sondheim and Lloyd Webber. 2d ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.

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    Provides a complete discography, plot synopses and scenic outlines for fourteen musicals. The focus of the book is on how the creative team of the librettist, lyricist, composer, and director create and shape the production. The current edition, updated from 2004, features an expanded chapter on Sondheim, a new chapter on Lloyd Webber, and chapters on film adaptations of musicals.

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  • Bloom, Ken. The Routledge Guide to Broadway. London: Routledge, 2006.

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    This introductory book covers the history of musical theater from the beginning of the 20th century. Chapters focus on key performers, composers, and directors, while incorporating accounts of the traditions and stories of Broadway productions.

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  • Everett, William A., and Paul R. Laird, eds. The Cambridge Companion to the Musical. 2d ed. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

    DOI: 10.1017/CCOL9780521862387Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Broadly divided in three parts, fourteen chapters by various writers cover the development of American musical theater before 1940, the golden era of musical theater, and the rise of British productions in the late 1970s, as well as the contributions of Sondheim and recent directions at the beginning of the 21st century. Revised and expanded from the 2002 edition.

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  • Kantor, Michael, and Laurence Maslon. Broadway: The American Musical. New York: Bulfinch, 2004.

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    Written as a companion to the PBS series, this reference work provides a historical treatment of American musical theater, with detailed information on performers and significant shows.

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  • Morley, Sheridan. Spread a Little Happiness: The First Hundred Years of the British Musical. London: Thames and Hudson, 1987.

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    Traces the history of the British musical from its burlesque and musical hall origins in the early 20th century. Several chapters dwell on Britain’s fascination with American musical theater, beginning with the London production of Oklahoma in 1947. The concluding chapters focus on current British musicals that have successfully asserted an English identity.

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  • Stempel, Larry. Showtime: A History of the Broadway Musical Theater. New York: W. W. Norton, 2010.

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    Using primary resources and archival holdings, Stempel presents a history of musical theater, with an emphasis on the major themes as well as the social and stylistic influences. Several chapters focus on Off-Broadway, “concept” musicals, and anti-musicals.

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  • Sternfeld, Jessica. The Megamusical. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006.

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    Focusing on the trend in the 1980s to produce musicals with lavish sets and often elaborate stage effects, Sternfeld highlights three “megamusicals” from this period: Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats and The Phantom of the Opera, and Schoenberg and Boublil’s Les Misérables. In addition to covering the production history and analyzing the staging and musical scores, Sternfeld also explores the dichotomy between the commercial success of these musicals and the general negative response of critics.

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  • Swain, Joseph P. The Broadway Musical: A Critical and Musical Survey. 2d ed. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, 2002.

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    Analyzing twenty musicals, Swain highlights how musical drama achieves plot momentum, character development and conflict by the careful placement of the music. Swain incorporates research and commentary from contemporary critics. First edition of this book was published in 1990 (New York: Oxford University Press).

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  • Vlastnik, Frank, and Ken Bloom. Broadway Musicals: The 101 Greatest Shows of All Time. Rev. ed. New York: Black Dog and Leventhal, 2010.

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    Seminal musicals from the history of Broadway are discussed in detail, with numerous photos. Information is given on the creators and performers, plot synopses, song lists, and production details. First edition published in 2004.

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Reference Works

Several works have been published since 1990 (and some earlier) that are encyclopedic in scope, providing detailed information on every aspect of musical theater. Bordman and Norton 2010 and Norton 2002 are chronologically arranged reference works that trace the development of musical theater from the 18th century. Knapp, et al. 2011 contains essays that address and define particular terms associated with musicals. Green 1980 and Hischak 1993 are both comprehensive encyclopedias with multiple entries. Also somewhat dated, but still thorough in its treatment, Gänzl 1994 covers American musical theater. Everett 2011 is an exhaustive research guide with over a thousand annotated entries. An in-depth look at Broadway composers is found in Suskin 2010. Green and Green 2008 covers three hundred Broadway musicals, with coverage of cast and song lists, as well as production history.

  • Bordman, Gerald, and Richard Norton. American Musical Theatre: A Chronicle. 4th ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.

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    One of the best reference books on musical theater, this work traces over 250 years of works, beginning with a 1735 South Carolina production of Flora, or Hob in the Well, up to The Addams Family in 2010. The book is arranged chronologically and fully indexed according to the names of shows, songs, and performers.

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  • Everett, William A. The Musical: A Research and Information Guide. 2d. ed. London: Routledge, 2011.

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    Contains over fourteen hundred annotated entries related to musical theater. It includes reference works, articles, anthologies, and websites. Separate sections are devoted to subgenres such as operetta and megamusical, as well as musical theater traditions outside of the United States.

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  • Gänzl, Kurt. Encyclopedia of the Musical Theatre. New York: Schirmer, 1994.

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    This mammoth encyclopedia contains over twenty-seven hundred entries on performers, composers, writers, and specific shows. Plot summaries and international performance history is provided for the musicals. The lack of an index and cross-references detracts from the utility of the reference.

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  • Green, Stanley. Encyclopedia of the Musical Theatre. New York: Da Capo, 1980.

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    With over two thousand entries, Green covers the history of musical theater from the late 19th century up to Evita. Numerous biographies and detailed plot synopses make this an essential reference guide.

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  • Green, Stanley, and Kay Green. Broadway Musicals, Show by Show. 6th ed. New York: Applause, 2008.

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    A useful comprehensive reference of over three hundred productions, including revivals, this book contains cast lists, producers, opening dates, number of performances, composers, lyricists, book authors, synopses, major songs, and historical details.

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  • Hischak, Thomas S. Stage It with Music: An Encyclopedic Guide to the American Musical Theatre. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1993.

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    An extensively cross-referenced and thoroughly indexed work, this guide provides succinct entries on not only individuals and musicals, but also on other subjects and genres related to musical theater. Also includes a chronology of the musicals covered, as well as a bibliography of musical-theater works.

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  • Knapp, Raymond, Mitchell Morris, and Stacy Wolf, eds. The Oxford Handbook of the American Musical. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

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    Contains essays written by leading experts in the field of musical theater on the concepts and terms that define musical theater as a genre. The entries represent the most current research, with an emphasis on critical perspectives. Additional information may be accessed through links to the handbook’s companion website.

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  • Norton, Richard C. A Chronology of American Musical Theater. 3 vols. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

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    Tracing the history of musical theater back to The Beggar’s Opera in 1728 this chronology offers comprehensive performance coverage of Broadway musicals from 1850 to 2001. With over five thousand entries, this reference includes not only “book musicals” but also revivals, revues, burlesques, rock operas, and other musical works that have appeared on Broadway stages.

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  • Suskin, Steven. Show Tunes: The Songs, Shows, and Careers of Broadway’s Major Composers. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.

    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195314076.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This book covers the evolution of musical theater composition from the works of Jerome Kern to the latest Broadway productions. Nearly one thousand shows are discussed, and commentary is provided for nine thousand songs. There is a chronological index and a comprehensive song index.

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Databases

Several websites offer comprehensive databases of information relating to musical theatre and Broadway. The Broadway League and American Theatre Wing provide exhaustive information on Broadway musicals and theatre and the Tony awards, respectively. Musicals101.com is a comprehensive website devoted the musical theatre history.

Historical Studies

A number of works address in detail the evolution of the musical theater genre, tracing its origins from various points in history. Three significant works trace the origins of musical theater from different points in theater history. Gänzl 1997 begins with the development of musicals in the late 19th century, Miller 2007 starts with the early decades of the 20th century, and Kenrick 2010 goes back to the ancient Greeks.

  • Gänzl, Kurt. The Musical: A Concise History. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1997.

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    The first third of the book is devoted to the development of musical theater in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The remainder of the book traces the evolution of the genre through discussion of representative works.

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  • Kenrick, John. Musical Theatre: A History. London and New York: Continuum, 2010.

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    This survey of musical theatre begins with the ancient Greeks, and then traces the origins of the Broadway musical from operetta. An annotated bibliography of additional readings is included.

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  • Miller, Scott. Strike Up the Band: A New History of Musical Theatre. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2007.

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    Organized by decade, this history of musical theater explores how various composers, lyricists, and directors have shaped the evolution of the genre. Analyses of individual productions are placed within social and historical contexts.

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Surveys by Decade

Several publications focus on the history of musical theater by decade. The majority of these publications has been written by Ethan Mordden, who combines exhaustive research with critical engagement and personal experience. The transition from vaudeville to more unified dramatic productions in the 1920s is treated in Mordden 1997. Both Green 1971 and Mordden 2005 discuss the reaction of Broadway musicals to the Great Depression in the 1930s. The Golden Age of the Broadway musical, the 1940s, is treated in Mordden 1999, and the social changes of the 1950s and 1960s as they were reflected in the musicals of the era are the subjects of Mordden 2000 and Mordden 2002. Mordden 2003 and Mordden 2004 cover the history of the Broadway musical from the 1970s through the 1980s.

  • Green, Stanley. Ring Bells! Sing Songs! Broadway Musicals of the 1930’s. New Rochelle, NY: Arlington House, 1971.

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    A chronological survey, Green addresses 175 musicals in detail, with information on production history, London productions, and film versions. Incorporated into the text are production stills, sheet music covers, and newspaper clippings.

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  • Mordden, Ethan. Make Believe: The Broadway Musical in the 1920s. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.

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    Paints in great detail the important changes of the decade as musical theater emerged from vaudeville to more elaborate and dramatically unified productions. Critical attention is given to the major composers of the period: Cole Porter, Jerome Kern, and George Gershwin. The book concludes with a chapter devoted to Show Boat.

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  • Mordden, Ethan. Beautiful Mornin’: The Broadway Musical in the 1940s. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

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    Mordden asserts that musical theater found its “soul” in the 1940s with productions that were built on strong characters and atmosphere. Covering the decade, Mordden focuses on the classics, from Oklahoma! to Brigadoon, while also acknowledging lesser known productions such as The Lady Comes Across and Lute Song.

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  • Mordden, Ethan. Coming up Roses: The Broadway Musical in the 1950s. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195140583.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Combining industry gossip with meticulous research, Mordden discusses the conflicts, rewrites, and cast replacements of the major productions of the 1950s, from Guys and Dolls to the Sound of Music. Highlighting the shift in attitude from musicals that were merely star vehicles to productions that were more plot and character-driven, Mordden carefully sketches out the maturation of musical theater during this pivotal decade. First published in 1998.

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  • Mordden, Ethan. Open a New Window: The Broadway Musical in the 1960s. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002.

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    The 1960s was a pivotal decade in the evolution of musical theater, with a shift away from the classic musical theater composers (Lerner and Loewe ) to a new wave of talent, as exemplified by Stephen Sondheim and Bob Fosse. Mordden covers all aspects of the decade, from the Broadway productions to the off-Broadway experimental theater.

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  • Mordden, Ethan. One More Kiss: The Broadway Musical in the 1970s. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003.

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    For Mordden, the 1970s marks the end of the golden age of musical theater, a decade that ran the gamut from reality musicals such as Chorus Line and Follies to crowd-pleasing productions like Annie and No, No, Nanette.

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  • Mordden, Ethan. The Happiest Corpse I’ve Ever Seen: The Last Twenty-Five Years of the Broadway Musical. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.

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    For Mordden, the golden age of musical theater is the period between 1920 and 1970. This book focuses on modern musicals and contains the sharpest examples of Mordden’s criticism. While there is meticulous research, the book at times suffers from a lack of chronological order.

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  • Mordden, Ethan. Sing for Your Supper: The Broadway Musical in the 1930s. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.

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    In response to the Great Depression, Broadway musicals were less innovative during the 1930s, leading many producers to back musical revues and star vehicles. Mordden examines the notable exceptions in this decade, such as Cole Porter’s Anything Goes and Marc Blitzstein’s The Cradle Will Rock. As with his other books on musical theater, Mordden skillfully combines expert research with a conversational writing style.

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Editions of Song Lyrics

Two general reference works provide the lyrics for hundreds of musicals: Hal Leonard Corporation 2002 and Hischak 1995.

  • Hal Leonard Corporation. The Lyric Library: Broadway. Vol. 1, Complete Lyrics for 200 Songs from 109 Musicals. Milwaukee, WI: Hal Leonard, 2002.

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    First of two volumes, each containing the lyrics for over two hundred songs from a wide range of Broadway musicals. Volume 2 also published in 2002.

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  • Hischak, Thomas. The American Musical Theatre Song Encyclopedia. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1995.

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    This encyclopedia contains the lyrics for over eighteen hundred songs from over five hundred musicals, from The Black Crook (1866) to Stephen Sondheim’s Passion (1994). The work is thoroughly indexed by song title, show, authors, and performers.

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Individual Lyricists

Complete collections of lyrics are found in Herman and Bloom 2003, Lerner 1987, and Porter 1992. Asch 2008 is devoted to the lyrics of Oscar Hammerstein II. Robert Kimball has edited several collections of lyrics, including those devoted to Irving Berlin (Kimball and Emmett 2005), Frank Loesser (Kimball and Nelson 2003) and Lorenz Hart (Kimball and Hart 1995). Two volumes containing the lyrics of Stephen Sondheim from 1954 to 2011 are Sondheim 2010 and Sondheim 2011.

  • Asch, Amy, ed. The Complete Lyrics of Oscar Hammerstein II. New York: Knopf, 2008.

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    Arranged chronologically, this book begins with a 1916 song for a Columbia University student show and concludes with lyrics for The Sound of Music (1959).

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  • Herman, Jerry, and Ken Bloom. Jerry Herman: The Lyrics; A Celebration. New York and London: Routledge, 2003.

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    As one of the most successful Broadway composers and lyricists, this books contains the lyrics to all of Herman’s songs from his earliest Broadway revues to his critical successes, such as Mame and Hello Dolly!. Also included are the lyrics to songs cut from his shows as well as personal recollections and comments by Herman.

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  • Kimball, Robert, and Linda Emmett, eds. The Complete Lyrics of Irving Berlin. New York: Applause, 2005.

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    This book contains lyrics for more than twelve hundred songs, four hundred of which were never previously printed. Songs are grouped either by individual chapters if part of a musical revue or movie or by chronological order by copyright date.

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  • Kimball, Robert, and Dorothy Hart, eds. The Complete Lyrics of Lorenz Hart. Expanded ed. New York: Da Capo, 1995.

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    This book was expanded from the original 1986 edition to include forty additional songs that were previously uncollected, as well as newly discovered lyrics.

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  • Kimball, Robert, and Steve Nelson, eds. The Complete Lyrics of Frank Loesser. New York: Knopf, 2003.

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    One of the most versatile Broadway composer-lyricists, Loesser’s five Broadway musicals were all critical and financial successes. The editors have gathered lyrics from personal files, rare private recordings, and archives of film studios to present the full range of Loesser’s abilities as a lyricist.

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  • Lerner, Alan Jay. A Hymn to Him: The Lyrics of Alan Jay Lerner. Edited by Benny Green. New York: Limelight Editions, 1987.

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    This book contains the lyrics to all the songs from Lerner’s sixteen Broadway musicals, most of which were written in collaboration with Fritz Loewe. Of particular interest are the lyrics to lesser-known works.

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  • Porter, Cole. The Complete Lyrics of Cole Porter. Edited by Robert Kimball. New York: Da Capo, 1992.

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    This compendium contains the complete lyrics of Porter’s nearly one thousand songs.

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  • Sondheim, Stephen. Finishing the Hat: Collected Lyrics (1954–1981) with Attendant Comments, Principles, Heresies, Grudges, Whines, and Anecdotes. New York: Knopf, 2010.

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    This collection contains lyrics from all of Sondheim’s musicals from 1954 to 1981. In addition, Sondheim includes never before published songs from each show that were cut from the original productions. Discussions of the lyrics are set against a background of recollections of Sondheim’s artistic collaborations and friendships.

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  • Sondheim, Stephen. Look, I Made a Hat: Collected Lyrics (1981–2011) with Attendant Comments, Amplifications, Dogmas, Harangues, Digressions, Anecdotes, and Miscellany. New York: Knopf, 2011.

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    This second volume of collected lyrics focuses on Sondheim’s musicals from the years 1891 to 2011, including Sunday in the Park with George and Passion. In addition, Sondheim discusses his contributions to television and film productions.

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Biographies and Overviews

There are innumerable publications that are in-depth biographies of the creative forces and performers of Broadway musicals.

Choreographers

With dance as a major element in many musicals, choreographers for the Broadway stage have exerted a strong influence in shaping the evolution of the genre. Two books focus on the life of Bob Fosse, with Gottfried 2003 devoted more to his personal life and Beddow 1996 analyzing his choreography. The career of Jerome Robbins is treated in Vaill 2006, and de Mille 2011 is currently the only source of many of Agnes de Mille’s writings. The creator of A Chorus Line, Michael Bennett, is the subject of Mandelbaum 1990.

Composers

Multiple resources are available that are either surveys of the careers of major Broadway composers or in depth biographies of individual composers.

Early Broadway

Several biographies are devoted to the lives of musical theater composers from the 1920s to the 1940s. The composer of Show Boat, Jerome Kern, is the subject of Banfield 2006. Everett 2007 and Everett 2008 analyze the contributions of 1920s operetta composers Sigmund Romberg and Rudolf Friml. The first modern biography of Victor Herbert is Gould 2011. Magee 2012 focuses on the life and career of Irving Berlin, with an emphasis on the influence of his songs on the American stage. The life and work of George Gershwin is the subject of Pollack 2007 and Starr 2010, while Rosenberg 1997 treats the relationship between Gershwin and his brother Ira. Finally, the life of Cole Porter is the focus of McBrien 2000.

The Golden Age (1940–1970)

The maturation of the Broadway musical during the “golden age” was the result of several major composers. , respectively Richard Adler and Meredith Wilson are musical composers who penned autobiographies: Adler and Davis 1990 and Wilson 2009. The songwriting teams of Bock and Harnick, Lerner and Loewe, and Kander and Ebb are addressed in Lambert 2011, Lees 2005, and Leve 2009, respectively. Biographies devoted to individual composers include Citron 2004 (on Jerry Herman), Jablonski 1996 (on Harold Arlen) and Riis 2008 (on Frank Loesser).

  • Adler, Richard, with Lee Davis. You Gotta Have Heart. New York: Dutton Adult, 1990.

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    An autobiography of the composer of The Pajama Game and Damn Yankees, who turned away from the Broadway musical after the death of his lyricist partner Jerry Ross to become a composer of commercial jingles and concert music.

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  • Citron, Stephen. Jerry Herman: Poet of the Showtune. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2004.

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    This comprehensive biography covers Herman’s career from his early work in cabaret to his recent compositions for film and television. Numerous examples from his musicals are included.

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  • Jablonski, Edward. Harold Arlen: Rhythm, Rainbows, and Blues. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1996.

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    Known primarily for his film scores for A Star is Born and The Wizard of Oz, Arlen wrote thirty musicals for the Broadway stage, working with several lyricists throughout his career.

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  • Lambert, Philip. To Broadway, To Life!: The Musical Theater of Bock and Harnick. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

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    This is the first complete book to address the creative interaction of this important Broadway songwriting team. The book includes discussions of songs from their hit musicals, such as Fiddler on the Roof and Fiorello! Biographical material is included that focuses on their collaborations after the dissolution of their partnership.

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  • Lees, Gene. The Musical Worlds of Lerner and Loewe. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2005.

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    Lees provides an in-depth portrait of one of the most successful songwriting teams in musical theater history. In addition to discussions of their most famous works, Lees discusses how events in their personal lives affected their collaboration. First published in 1990 (New York: St. Martin’s).

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  • Leve, James. Kander and Ebb. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2009.

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    Based on personal interviews and access to personal papers, Leve presents a comprehensive portrait of this famous songwriting team that produced such Broadway hits as Chicago and Cabaret.

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  • Riis, Thomas L. Frank Loesser. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2008.

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    Covers the life and career of the creator of Guys and Dolls and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Also discusses Loesser’s song contributions to Hollywood films.

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  • Wilson, Meredith. And There I Stood with My Piccolo. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2009.

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    This memoir by the composer of The Music Man begins with his childhood in Iowa, his early years playing in the John Philip Sousa band and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, to his successful career in composing for the radio and film in Hollywood. First published in 1948 by Doubleday.

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Contemporary Composers

Books devoted to musical composers working in the last thirty years include Brocken 2003 (on Burt Bacharach), de Giere 2008 (on Stephen Schwartz), and Snelson 2009 (on Andrew Lloyd Webber). Though dated, Marvin Hamlisch’s memoir (Hamlisch and Gardner 1992) is of interest. Citron 2001 is a musical analysis of the stage works of Sondheim and Lloyd Webber.

  • Brocken, Michael. Bacharach: Maestro! The Life of a Pop Genius. New Malden, UK: Chrome Dreams, 2003.

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    With a career spanning fifty years, Burt Bacharach, the composer of the Broadway musical Promises! Promises!, is analyzed not only in terms of his contributions to musical theater, but also his successful career as a songwriter.

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  • Citron, Stephen. Stephen Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber: The New Musical. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.

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    Provides an in-depth exploration of the two composers’ working methods through score analysis, drawn both from early works and works currently in progress. Citron underscores the influence of their formative years and personal lives on their compositional process.

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  • de Giere, Carol. Defying Gravity: The Creative Career of Stephen Schwartz, from Godspell to Wicked. New York: Applause, 2008.

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    This first authorized biography draws on personal interviews with Schwartz, as well as with his friends, family and colleagues. The book also includes notes about Schwartz’s creative process.

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  • Hamlisch, Marvin, and Gerald C. Gardner. The Way I Was. New York: Scribner, 1992.

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    This memoir covers Hamlisch’s career as a Broadway and film composer, with discussion of his successful and unsuccessful productions.

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  • Snelson, John. Andrew Lloyd Webber. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2009.

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    A comprehensive analysis of Webber’s three decades as a musical composer, with a discussion of his influences from film, rock, and pop music.

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Richard Rodgers

One of the most successful Broadway composers, Rodgers has been the subject of many biographies. Two books by Geoffrey Block (Block 2002 and Block 2003) are extensive treatments of Rodgers’s collaborations. Hyland 1998, Nolan 2002, and Secrest 2001 are biographies that, to varying degrees, focus on the collaborations with Lorenz Hart and with Oscar Hammerstein. Marx and Clayton 1976 focuses entirely on the Rodgers and Hart years, while Hischak 2007 and Mordden 1999 are concerned with Rodgers’s creative relationship with Hammerstein.

  • Block, Geoffrey. The Richard Rodgers Reader. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

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    Organized into four sections to reflect Rodgers’s collaborations throughout his life, beginning with Lorenz Hart, and then focusing on his nearly twenty-year professional relationship with Oscar Hammerstein. The last two chapters focus on Rodgers creative life after working with Hammerstein and Rodger’s reminiscences. Extracts from personal letters and from personal interviews enrich the text.

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  • Block, Geoffrey. Richard Rodgers. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2003.

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    A thorough treatment of Rodgers’s musical education and influences, with analysis of his musical and dramatic language. Several musicals are highlighted to underscore his working relationship with Lorenz Hart and Oscar Hammerstein. Also of interest is a discussion of the five musicals that Rodgers wrote in the 1960s and 1970s after Hammerstein’s death.

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  • Hischak, Thomas S., ed. The Rodgers and Hammerstein Encyclopedia. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2007.

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    This reference book contains hundreds of entries that cover the lives and careers of Rodgers and Hammerstein. In addition to discussions of their collaborations, works that each one did with other collaborators are also discussed. There are, in addition, many entries on the actors, directors, and creative artists with whom they worked.

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  • Hyland, William. Richard Rodgers. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1998.

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    This detailed biography also discusses Rodgers’s collaborations with Sheldon Harnick and Stephen Sondheim.

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  • Marx, Samuel, and Jan Clayton. Rodgers and Hart: Bewitched, Bothered, and Bedeviled; An Anecdotal Account. New York: Putnam, 1976.

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    A detailed biography of the collaboration between Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart.

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  • Mordden, Ethan. Rodgers and Hammerstein. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1999.

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    In addition to the extensively researched information on the musical collaborations, the highlight of this book is the extensive illustrations of backdrop designs, album covers, and production photos.

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  • Nolan, Frederick. The Sound of Their Music: The Story of Rodgers and Hammerstein. New York: Applause, 2002.

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    This new edition, substantially expanded and rewritten from the 1980 book, includes material on Rodgers’s early career with Lorenz Hart, and it includes recollections from Sheldon Harnick and Arthur Laurents.

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  • Secrest, Meryle. Somewhere for Me: A Biography of Richard Rodgers. New York: Knopf, 2001.

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    A discussion of the collaborations between Rodgers and Hart and Rodgers and Hammerstein. The effects of Rodgers’s alcoholism and marital tensions on his career are also treated.

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Stephen Sondheim

Stephen Sondheim has shaped and pushed the evolution of modern American musical theater since the 1940s. Several works address his long and varied career. Secrest 2011 is currently the most comprehensive biography. Gordon 1992 and Horowitz 2010 focus on Sondheim’s creative work as a lyricist and composer.

Directors and Orchestrators

Two books focus on the career of Harold Prince: Hirsch 2005 and Ilson 2000. Also of interest is Prince’s memoir (Prince 1974). Suskin 2009 is the first book to look at the contributions of orchestrators, and the career of the Broadway arranger Robert Russell Bennett is the focus of Ferencz 1990.

Lyricists and Librettists

Several biographies are available that focus on the contributions of lyricists to American musical theater. Two general works that focus on the careers of librettists and lyricists are Hischak 1991 and Hischak 2002. The life of Oscar Hammerstein is treated in Fordin 1995, and in a biography by Hammerstein’s grandson, Hammerstein 2010. Biographies of Ira Gershwin, Lorenz Hart, and Dorothy Fields are found in Furia 1997, Nolan 1995, and Greenspan 2010, respectively.

Performers

Several references document the lives of the actors, singers, and dancers that have given life to musical theater. Viagas 2009, Mordden 1988, and Filichia 2011 provide detailed biographies on performers, producers, directors, and choreographers. Benjamin and Rosenblatt 2005 provides comprehensive listings of every performer who sang on Broadway in a named role. McGovern and Winer 1993 is a collection of reflections from Broadway performers.

Theater Histories

Several works have been published that document the history of the theater district in Manhattan, and that mark the distinction between Broadway and Off-Broadway productions. Jacobs 2008 and Botto and Viagas 2002 document the history of Broadway through photographs and documenting of active theaters. Frommer and Frommer 2004 is a collection of oral history. Hischak 2011 documents the four hundred musicals that had Off-Broadway premieres, and the production history of a musical is documented in Isenberg 2004. The rise of the Shubert dynasty is the focus of Hirsch 1998.

Critical Studies

Recent academic research has focused on musical theater, combining the disciplines of theater history and musicology. Several books analyze the American musical in the context of social change (Jones 2004, Knapp 2005, and Salzman and Desi 2008). Both McMillin 2006 and Bauch 2003 discuss musicals in terms of dramatic and historical context. Knapp 2006 explores themes in Broadway musicals, while Grant 2004 sketches a history of the American musical by viewing its evolution in three distinct stages. Groundbreaking musicals are the focus of Miller 2001. Jewish contributions to musical theatre are discussed in Most 2004.

  • Bauch, Marc. The American Musical: A Literary Study within the Context of American Drama and American Theater with References to Selected American Musicals by Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II, Arthur Laurents, Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine. Marburg, Germany: Tectum Verlag, 2003.

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    Bauch analyzes three musicals: South Pacific, West Side Story, and Sunday in the Park with George. The analysis focuses on themes and topics and the dramatic devices used to construct the works, set against a larger historical overview of American musical theater.

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  • Grant, Mark N. The Rise and Fall of the Broadway Musical. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 2004.

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    Grant traces the history of musicals through three distinct phases: the formative period (1866–1927), the golden age (1927–1966) and what he calls “the fall” (1967 to the present). Grant blames the emphasis on spectacle and visual entertainment for the decline of the American musical.

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  • Jones, John Bush. Our Musicals, Ourselves: A Social History of the American Musical Theatre. Lebanon, NH: Brandeis University Press, 2004.

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    The first social history of musical theater, from the American productions of Gilbert and Sullivan to the most recent musicals. Jones examines major musicals within the context of the broader social and cultural themes of the times, drawing links between what was playing on Broadway and headlines in the newspapers.

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  • Knapp, Raymond. The American Musical and the Formation of National Identity. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005.

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    Focuses on fifteen musicals from the 20th century, grouping them according to themes that include defining America, race and ethnicity, and exoticism. An extensive appendix contains plot summaries and song lists as well as important films, audio recordings, published scores, and libretti of each musical.

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  • Knapp, Raymond: The American Musical and the Performance of Personal Identity. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006.

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    Exploring specific themes in musicals, such as gender and sexuality, fantasy and fairy tales, and idealism and inspiration, Knapp shows how composers, librettists and performers use these themes to express personal identity. Knapp also devotes attention to three genres: operetta, movie musicals, and operatic musicals.

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  • McMillin, Scott. The Musical as Drama. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006.

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    Tracing the roots of musical theater to vaudeville, burlesque, revue, and operetta, McMillin argues for a critical and theoretical regard that is accorded to theater and opera.

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  • Miller, Scott. Rebels with Applause: Broadway’s Groundbreaking Musicals. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2001.

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    Miller analyzes musicals that were groundbreaking in musical theater history, from The Cradle Will Rock (1937) to Rent (1996). [ISBN: 9780325003573]

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  • Most, Andrea. Making Americans: Jews and the Broadway Musical. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004.

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    Through the use of memoirs, correspondence, production designs, and photographs, Most links the acculturation of Jews in America with the development of the musical.

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  • Salzman, Eric, and Thomas Desi. The New Music Theater: Seeing the Voice, Hearing the Body. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.

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    This comprehensive overview of musical theater attempts to analyze it not only from a social point of view, but from an artistic one as well.

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Early Broadway Works

Kreuger 1990 is devoted to what is considered the first major American musical, Show Boat, as is a forthcoming text from Todd Decker.

  • Kreuger, Miles. Show Boat: The Story of a Classic American Musical. New York: Da Capo, 1990.

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    Kruger traces the history of Show Boat from its source material, Edna Ferber’s 1926 novel, and outlines the production history of the original 1927 opening. Kruger also discusses the three film adaptations and recent revivals. First published in 1977 (New York: Oxford University Press).

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“Golden Age” Works

West Side Story is the focus of three studies: Berson 2011, Simeone 2009, and Wells 2010. Kurt Weill’s Lady in the Dark is the subject of McClung 2009. Oklahoma and My Fair Lady are treated in Carter 2007 and McHugh 2012, respectively.

Later Works

Two of the first rock musicals, Hair and Godspell, are analyzed in Miller 2003 and Martin 2011, respectively. A more contemporary jukebox musical, Mamma Mia!, is the focus of Craymer, et al. 2006. The production history of Cabaret is found in Garebian 2011, and the contemporary musical Wicked is treated in Laird 2011. A director’s perspective on The Lion King is found in Taymor 1998. Vermette 2007 treats the works of Boublil and Schönberg.

Gender and Sexuality

Issues of gender and sexuality in the American musical are treated from a feminist perspective by Wolf 2002 and Wolf 2011, and from within the context of gay culture by Clum 1999.

  • Clum, John M. Something for the Boys: Musical Theater and Gay Culture. New York: St. Martin’s, 1999.

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    This book links gay culture with musical theater through an analysis of music, lyrics, and plot. Discussion is given to composers such as Noel Coward, Cole Porter, and Stephen Sondheim and to performers such as Judy Garland and Ethel Merman.

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  • Wolf, Stacy. A Problem Like Maria: Gender and Sexuality in the American Musical. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2002.

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    By documenting the careers of four major female musical-theater performers, Wolf shows how their roles as strong woman characters challenged the gender stereotypes of the times.

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  • Wolf, Stacy. Changed for Good: A Feminist History of the Broadway Musical. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

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    A feminist perspective on the history of the American musical. Wolf focuses on the performers, characters, and creators to demonstrate the role of women in American musical theater since 1950. Particular discussion is given to the musical Wicked.

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Staging Manuals

Miller 1996, Miller 1999, and White 1999 are geared to stage directors of musicals, but they also have a broader appeal.

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