Shakespeare and Musical Theatre

Fran Teague

in The Edinburgh Companion to Shakespeare and the Arts

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780748635238
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652297 | DOI:
Shakespeare and Musical Theatre

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This chapter concentrates on one narrow branch of musical theatre — the Broadway musical. It addresses what a musical is and why musicals have an especial affinity for Shakespeare. It describes The Boys from Syracuse, Kiss Me, Kate and West Side Story. Yet these three do not stand alone: The Shakespeare Music Catalogue offers many other instances of generative Shakespeare texts and their musical theatre derivatives, and that catalogue is by no means complete. Shakespeare became a mainstay of American theatre in the twenty-five years leading up to the American Revolution, as an increased concern with England sparked interest in his plays. A musical that attends to Shakespeare is likely to attend to gender, class and race as well, but not in any solemn or profound way. The jokes are suggestive or vulgar, the music and dancing energetic and the principal barrier to success is too much respect for the original work.

Keywords: Shakespeare; musical theatre; Broadway musical; The Boys from Syracuse; West Side Story; The Shakespeare Music Catalogue

Chapter.  8838 words. 

Subjects: Shakespeare Studies and Criticism

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