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Title: Selling what people need : how the modern Broadway musical capitalized on economic, social and political change
Author: MacDonald, Laura Emily
ISNI:       0000 0004 2722 3220
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2011
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This project investigates how the American musical reflected and engaged with key economic, social and political events and trends in order to sustain itself as a profitable, commercial form, from the late 1950s through to the late 1980s. Beginning with an examination of West Side Story (1957) as a reaction to a changing post-war American society and an entertainment industry in transition, this project positions the musical as an enduring form of popular culture which found continual success by embedding itself in the conditions of its production. The Civil Rights movement, Vietnam War, feminism and globalization are just some of the issues and events which the Broadway musical engaged with to create emotional moments for audiences to experience. This project explores the complexities of these relationships between the musical and its social and political context, to suggest it was by pursuing and navigating the events and issues dominating the United States in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s that the musical was able to maintain its commerciality, continuing to be manufactured for consumption today. Drawing on analysis of songs, libretti, media coverage and advertising, each chapter in this thesis contextualizes a set of landmark musicals within a particular social or political issue to ask how authors, producers and audiences sustained this commercial form. It will conclude with a discussion of the British invasion of Broadway, in particular of the last major musical of the invasion period, Miss Saigon (1991). With its opening and immediate success, the making and marketing of the Broadway musical had clearly shifted into being a global rather than exclusively American commercial venture.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available