Special Issue "Broadway Then and Now: Musicals in the 21st Century"

A special issue of Arts (ISSN 2076-0752). This special issue belongs to the section "Musical Arts and Theatre".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 May 2020).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. George Rodosthenous
Website
Guest Editor
Associate Professor in Theatre Directing, Programme Leader for BA(Hons) Theatre and Performance, Discovery Theme Leader for Media, Culture and Creativity, School of Performance and Cultural Industries, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK
Interests: directing; theatre as voyeurism; the body in performance; contemporary approaches to Greek tragedy; devised pieces with live musical soundscape(s) as interdisciplinary process: the interfaces between music, movement and text; defining improvisational techniques and compositional practices for performance; musicals of the 21st century; contemporary British drama since the 1990s

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In what ways have musicals developed in the 21st century to reflect current socio-political changes? These revolutions in narrative, sexual and racial politics, linear representation and thematic content give us the opportunity to see the musical in a different light. The musical’s structural revolutions are intimately connected to the thematic considerations and politics of musical theatre performance, including the politics of its reception. New Broadway musicals are shaped by the current political climate and absorb recent events, deal with teenage mental health and sexuality, adapt Greek myths, revisit gender politics, address gender-blind casting and also deal with failure. This Special Issue aims to present a range of Broadway musicals that shape our understanding of how the genre has evolved in the 21st century. Ranging from Fun Home to Dear Evan Hansen and Hadestown, this promises to be a unique cutting-edge volume of exciting new research by well-established and emerging music-theatre specialist academics edited by George Rodosthenous.

The articles should be 6000–7000 words each and submitted by 31 December 2019.

Dr. George Rodosthenous
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Arts is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • musicals
  • twenty-first century
  • Broadway musicals
  • performance

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial
“It’s All about Working with the Story!”: On Movement Direction in Musicals. An Interview with Lucy Hind
Arts 2020, 9(2), 56; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts9020056 - 30 Apr 2020
Abstract
Lucy Hind is a South African choreographer and movement director who lives in the UK. Her training was in choreography, mime and physical theatre at Rhodes University, South Africa. After her studies, Hind performed with the celebrated First Physical Theatre Company. In the [...] Read more.
Lucy Hind is a South African choreographer and movement director who lives in the UK. Her training was in choreography, mime and physical theatre at Rhodes University, South Africa. After her studies, Hind performed with the celebrated First Physical Theatre Company. In the UK, she has worked as movement director and performer in theatres including the Almeida, Barbican, Bath Theatre Royal, Leeds Playhouse Lowry, Sheffield Crucible, The Old Vic and The Royal Exchange. Lucy is also an associate artist of the award-winning Slung Low theatre company, which specializes in making epic theatre in non-theatre spaces. Here, Lucy talks to George Rodosthenous about her movement direction on the award-winning musical Girl from the North Country (The Old Vic/West End/Toronto and recently seen on Broadway), which was described by New York Times critic Ben Brantley as “superb”. The conversation delves into Lucy’s working methods: the ways she works with actors, the importance of collaborative work and her approach to characterization. Hind believes that her work affects the overall “tone, the atmosphere and the shape of the show”. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Broadway Then and Now: Musicals in the 21st Century)

Research

Jump to: Editorial

Open AccessArticle
Disrupting Heteronormative Temporality through Queer Dramaturgies: Fun Home, Hadestown and A Strange Loop
Arts 2020, 9(2), 69; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts9020069 - 15 Jun 2020
Abstract
This article considers how André De Shields performance in Hadestown (2019), and the musicals Fun Home (2015) and A Strange Loop (2019) can be seen to respond to the present moment and argues that they disrupt heteronormative temporality through queer dramaturgy. It explores [...] Read more.
This article considers how André De Shields performance in Hadestown (2019), and the musicals Fun Home (2015) and A Strange Loop (2019) can be seen to respond to the present moment and argues that they disrupt heteronormative temporality through queer dramaturgy. It explores musicals that present queer performativity and/or queer dramaturgies, and addresses how they enact queer strategies of resistance through historical materialist critiques of personal biographies. It suggests that to do this, they disrupt the heteronormative dramaturgical time of the musical, and considers how they may enact structural change to the form of the musical. The article carries out a close reading of De Shields’ performance practice, and analyses the dramaturgy of Fun Home and A Strange Loop through drawing on the methodologies of José Muñoz and Elizabeth Freeman. It considers how they make queer labour visible by drawing on post-dramatic strategies, ultimately suggesting that to varying extents, these musicals offer resistance to the heteronormative musical form. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Broadway Then and Now: Musicals in the 21st Century)
Open AccessArticle
“Tap, Tap, Tapping on the Glass”: Generation Z, Social Media and Dear Evan Hansen
Arts 2020, 9(2), 68; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts9020068 - 11 Jun 2020
Abstract
21st century audiences are finding new methods of engaging with the Broadway musical, and fandoms are beginning to establish a visible online presence. In turn, this is creating a shift in paratexts surrounding the musical. Using social media to cultivate relationships, communities and [...] Read more.
21st century audiences are finding new methods of engaging with the Broadway musical, and fandoms are beginning to establish a visible online presence. In turn, this is creating a shift in paratexts surrounding the musical. Using social media to cultivate relationships, communities and fandoms, Generation Z are responding to the musical in new and innovative ways. Fan-created paratexts are becoming more popular, as fans become more intent on establishing connections to the production. Younger audiences’ tendency to engage with these interactions has allowed them to become the most active audiences on social media, both critically engaged and creative. The access to online interactive platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr bring new opportunities for paratextual creations. Examples of this “next stage of engagement” can be seen through the production Dear Evan Hansen (2015), which is now pushing the limits of social media and successfully utilising Dolan’s utopian performatives to draw in audiences and engage its fandom, or, as they call themselves, the Dear Evan “Fansens”. The fandom is using these paratexts in establishing one-to-one connections with its fans, allowing the fan-created material to “speak back” to the performance moment itself, and it is this which validates a transactional relationship between fan and production. This work ultimately sets out the fandom’s desire to “be found”. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Broadway Then and Now: Musicals in the 21st Century)
Show Figures

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Open AccessArticle
How to Dismantle a [Theatric] Bomb: Broadway Flops, Broadway Money, and Musical Theater Historiography
Arts 2020, 9(2), 66; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts9020066 - 29 May 2020
Abstract
The Broadway musical, balancing as it does artistic expression and commerce, is regularly said to reflect its sociocultural surroundings. Its historiography, however, tends for the most part to emphasize art over commerce, and exceptional productions over all else. Broadway histories tend to prioritize [...] Read more.
The Broadway musical, balancing as it does artistic expression and commerce, is regularly said to reflect its sociocultural surroundings. Its historiography, however, tends for the most part to emphasize art over commerce, and exceptional productions over all else. Broadway histories tend to prioritize the most artistically valued musicals; occasional lip service, too, is paid to extraordinary commercial successes on the one hand, and lesser productions by creators who are collectively deemed great artists on the other. However, such a historiography provides less a reflection of reality than an idealized and thus somewhat warped portrait of the ways the commercial theater, its gatekeepers, and its chroniclers prioritize certain works and artists over others. Using as examples Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death (1971), Merrily We Roll Along (1981), Carrie (1988), and Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark (2011), I will suggest that a money-minded approach to the study of musicals may help paint a clearer picture of what kinds of shows have been collectively deemed successful enough to remember, and what gets dismissed as worthy of forgetting. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Broadway Then and Now: Musicals in the 21st Century)
Open AccessArticle
21st-Century Broadway Musicals and the ‘Best Musical’ Tony Award: Trends and Impact
Arts 2020, 9(2), 58; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts9020058 - 10 May 2020
Abstract
Recent Broadway theatre seasons consistently saw record-breaking numbers of admissions and grosses, with musicals’ ticket sales making up 78–89% of annual Broadway grosses. The annual Tony Awards continue to serve as an influential theatre industry establishment that helps define a Broadway musical as [...] Read more.
Recent Broadway theatre seasons consistently saw record-breaking numbers of admissions and grosses, with musicals’ ticket sales making up 78–89% of annual Broadway grosses. The annual Tony Awards continue to serve as an influential theatre industry establishment that helps define a Broadway musical as exceptional and worthy of audiences, especially the awarding of the ‘Best Musical’ category (which can statistically have a profound impact on a production’s longevity). This article offers comprehensive surveying and discussions of significant components of a musical’s initial Broadway success in the 21st century. All 82 musicals that were nominated for or won the ‘Best Musical’ Tony Award between the years 2000 and 2019 are assessed for their source material and original Broadway run length. Subsequent discussions center on diversity and genres of musicals recognized by the Tony Awards, followed by conclusions and predictions of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on Broadway’s future and the influence of the ‘Best Musical’ Tony Award. The results of this study display observable patterns among the musicals surveyed, including screen (film/tv) being the most prominent source material and at least a 10–12 month run after the Tony Awards ceremonies for all ‘Best Musical’ winners. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Broadway Then and Now: Musicals in the 21st Century)
Open AccessArticle
“I Can’t Be What You Expect of Me”: Power, Palatability, and Shame in Frozen: The Broadway Musical
Arts 2020, 9(1), 39; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts9010039 - 20 Mar 2020
Abstract
This article combines critical, cultural, and musical analysis to situate Frozen: The Broadway Musical as a distinct work within Disney’s wider franchise. In this article, I consider the evolution of Elsa’s character on stage and the role of additional songs in the Frozen [...] Read more.
This article combines critical, cultural, and musical analysis to situate Frozen: The Broadway Musical as a distinct work within Disney’s wider franchise. In this article, I consider the evolution of Elsa’s character on stage and the role of additional songs in the Frozen score. In so doing, I demonstrate how the stage adaptation distances itself from the feminist potential in the original animation. Using the lenses of palatability and gendered shame, I argue that Frozen: The Broadway Musical forces patriarchal modes of behaviour onto its heroines. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Broadway Then and Now: Musicals in the 21st Century)
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