A critical theory of the musical theatre : with specific reference to shows from the period 1957-1989

Phillips, Nicholas Lloyd

Literature; Mass media; Performing arts; Musical theatre
June 1990

Thesis or dissertation

© 1990 Nicholas Lloyd Phillips. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

Placing the musical theatre in the context of its most recent developments, between 1957 and 1989, the study begins by aiming to define the term, 'musical theatre',and notes the lack of serious critical attention paid to it. In the succeeding four chapters, the author constructs a basic model for critical analysis of musicals, rooted firmly in dramatic principles, not musical ones. He also examines:

a) the inherent expressive qualities of its four basic media and their dramatic functions;
b) the traditions and conventions which have developed to give theatrical life and dramatic significance to the form;
c) questions of style as related to the musical,and, most importantly;
d) the principles and process of synthesis,which, he argues, creates a new language of the musical and gives it its place as art.

In the second part of the thesis, the author examines shows from the set period in relation to the four variables of his analytical model:

i) the ideas artists want to express
ii) the discovered devices of creation
iii) the mechanics of presentation
iv) public and critical response.

By this means he explores the expressive range of the musical's recent history and its potential which continues to attract artists and audiences alike.

Department of Drama, The University of Hull
Walton, J. Michael, 1939-
Sponsor (Organisation)
University of Hull
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Qualification name
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