Her Turn on Stage

The Role of Women in Musical Theatre

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About the Book

Audiences for musical theater are predominantly women, yet shows are frequently created and produced by men. Onstage, female characters are depicted as victims or sex objects and lack the complexity of their male counterparts. Offstage, women are under-represented among writers, directors, composers and choreographers. While other areas of the arts rally behind gender equality, musical theater demonstrates a disregard for women and an authentic female voice.

If musical theater reflects prevailing societal attitudes, what does the modern musical tell us about the place of women in contemporary America, the UK and Australia? Are women deliberately kept out of musical theater by men jealously guarding their territory or is the absence of women a result of the modernization of the genre? Based on interviews with successful female performers, writers, directors, choreographers and executives, this book offers a unique female viewpoint on musical theater today.

About the Author(s)

Grace Barnes is a director/playwright who has worked as an associate or resident director on productions of My Fair Lady, Fiddler on the Roof, The Threepenny Opera, Into the Woods, Sunset Boulevard, The Witches of Eastwick, Martin Guerre, West Side Story, and Guys and Dolls in the UK, Germany and Australia. She lives in Sydney, Australia.

Bibliographic Details

Grace Barnes
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 220
Bibliographic Info: bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2015
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9861-1
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2045-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments  vii
Preface  1
The Interviewees  3
Introduction: How to Handle a Woman  7
1. Superboy and the Invisible Girl: The Lack of Women in Creative Positions  15
2. Loving You Is Not a Choice: Women as Martyrs to Heterosexual Love  41
3. He’s No Good, but I’m No Good Without Him: Great Roles for Women?  63
4. If a Girl Isn’t Pretty: Male Gaze and the Musical  85
5. It’s Not Just for Gays Anymore! The Influence of Gay Culture on Musical Theatre  109
6. Why Can’t a Woman Be More Like a Man? Difference and the Musical  130
7. A Secretary Is Not a Toy: Revivals and the Contemporary Audience  150
8. New Ways to Dream  179
Selected Bibliography  203
Index  205