Broadway musicals: The Portrayal of Women through the Decades

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Broadway was one of the first forms of entertainment. Before there were television programs, or movies, there was Broadway. Broadway originated in New York in 1750, when actor-manager Walter Murray built a theatre company at the Theatre on Nassau Street. A musical would show about once every weekend. The shows were very male based, and would commonly show a relationship between young boys and their fathers. Women were slowly integrated into Broadway, and as society changed its point of view on women, so did theatre.
The first strictly female-based shows were released in the 1950’s. These musicals attracted more female-based audience members and ticket sales rose exponentially. Musicals such as The Sound of Music and My Fair Lady showed
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It is already showing how women and men were “supposed” to act in that time period. It showed that men were superior and that a young woman was supposed to be aloof, and not bold.
Males have a significantly easier time training and controlling their voices than women do, which is part of the reason that female-based musicals became so popular. “On Broadway, although some female roles are narrow, demeaning, passive, or long-suffering and convey weakness, the performer sings with incredible strength. Listening to the female singing voice is a more complicated phenomenon. Visually, the character singing is the passive object of our gaze. But aurally, she is resonant; her musical speech drowns out everything in range. A singer, more than any other musical performer, stands before us having wrested the composing voice away from the lyricist and composer who wrote the score.” Said Musicologist Carolyn Abbate (Wolf, p.31)
Furthermore, the complexity of the female voices both alone, in duet, and group, has influenced the creation and production of numerous female-based musicals over the decades. When thinking of musical theatre, the most common idea is “boy meets girl, boy loses girl, and boy eventually gets the girl in the end.” This situation is most commonly referred to as, “The original story” The main reasons for this stereotype are the musicals produced and shown in the 1950’s- 70’s. When looking at the story line of more than

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