An examination of the female lead roles in Show boat as a model for gender based performance practice

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Anne Lewis (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
William Carroll

Abstract: " The purpose of this study is to formulate a critical, gendered approach to research for informed character preparation in classic musical theatre. Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II's Show Boat provides a framework for an examination of performance practice based on stereotypes of contemporaneous gender roles. As a model for research, four areas are explored to prepare context for an original, informed interpretation of the female lead roles in Show Boat. The first area is the context of the early twentieth-century musical. American musical theatre is a fusion of European operetta, melodrama, minstrel shows, vaudeville, musical revue, musical comedy, and popular songs. Characteristic elements of each of these are found in Show Boat (1927), yet it established a marked departure from these trends. The second area is an examination of the socio-historical trends relevant to the historical era of Show Boat (1890-1927). Specific gender roles are introduced through the debate of the "Woman Question" and the stereotypes of traditional versus progressive moral values. Four societal gender stereotypes that are represented in Show Boat are the New England Victorian, the Southern Belle, the Ethnic Other, and the New Woman. The third area is a discussion of the implicit audience assumptions and stereotypes of professional women in the theatre as sexually promiscuous. These societal and theatrical gender stereotypes are then examined in relevance to the female characters of Show Boat. The fourth area is an exploration of performance practice in musical theatre. A synthesis of gender-based preparation is modeled through a method outline of character development and song analysis for "Make Believe" and "Can't Help Lovin' 'dat Man."--Abstract from author supplied metadata.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2005
critical, gendered, character preparation, classic musical theatre, Show Boat, stereotypes, gender roles, female lead roles, socio-historical trends
Musical theater--United States--History--20th century
Musical theater--United States--History--Social aspects
Acting in musical theater

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