"Include Women in the Sequel": Representation and Women of Color in the Second Golden Age of Broadway

Young, Hannah, Music - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Will, Richard

This dissertation aims to read race back into colorblind cast musicals. Colorblind casting gained en vogue during the late 90s and early aughts, but it became more acceptable for Broadway productions following the success of Hamilton: An American Musical, which featured actors of color as America’s Founding Fathers. Musical theater scholarship tends to celebrate colorblind casts as representative of progress on the Great White Way. There remains a lack of critical analysis about the function of colorblind casts beyond ‘diversity,’ or what work (for good or ill) might happen in contexts where race is elided. Drawing on critical race theorists and feminists of color, I consider the performances of Black and Brown women in recent Broadway productions. At the intersect of race and gender, these women face major scrutiny when they play leading roles. I argue that their positioning allows them the chance to subvert racialized and gendered expectations, a subversion that in turn works as a metatextual critique of the institution in which they work. I take five modern musicals as my case studies, all of which have myth in common, and I consider how the nonwhite female leads expose the limits and contradictions of the myths their musicals represent.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
musical theater, gender, critical race theory, colorblind, Broadway, women
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