The Routledge Companion to the Contemporary Musical is dedicated to the musical’s evolving relationship to American culture in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. In the past decade-and-a-half, international scholars from an ever-widening number of disciplines and specializations have been actively contributing to the interdisciplinary field of musical theater studies. Musicals have served not only to mirror the sociopolitical, economic, and cultural tenor of the times, but have helped shape and influence it, in America and across the globe: a genre that may seem, at first glance, light-hearted and escapist serves also as a bold commentary on society.

Forty-four essays examine the contemporary musical as an ever-shifting product of an ever-changing culture. This volume sheds new light on the American musical as a thriving, contemporary performing arts genre, one that could have died out in the post-Tin Pan Alley era but instead has managed to remain culturally viable and influential, in part by newly embracing a series of complex contradictions. At present, the American musical is a live, localized, old-fashioned genre that has simultaneously developed into an increasingly globalized, tech-savvy, intensely mediated mass entertainment form. Similarly, as it has become increasingly international in its scope and appeal, the stage musical has also become more firmly rooted to Broadway—the idea, if not the place—and thus branded as a quintessentially American entertainment.

part 1|21 pages

Setting the Stage

part 2|40 pages

Starting with the ‘70s

chapter 3|10 pages

They’re Playing My Song

The American Musical in the Me-Decade

chapter 4|9 pages

“My Corner of the Sky”

Adolescence and Coming of Age in the Musicals of Stephen Schwartz

chapter 5|10 pages

Style as Star

Bob Fosse and Sixty Seconds That Changed Broadway

chapter 6|9 pages

Recreating the Ephemeral

Broadway Revivals since 1971

part 3|73 pages

Aesthetic Transformations

chapter 7|9 pages


Musical Theater Voices from Superstar to Hamilton

chapter 9|10 pages

Starlight Expression and Phantom Operatics

Technology, Performance, and the Megamusical’s Aesthetic of the Voice

chapter 11|14 pages

The New “Sounds of Broadway”

Orchestrating Electronic Instruments in Contemporary Musicals

chapter 12|10 pages

Chart-Toppers to Showstoppers

Pop Artists Scoring the Broadway Stage

part 4|41 pages

Reading the Musical through Gender

chapter 14|9 pages


Women, Work, and Representation in the Broadway Musical

chapter 15|11 pages

It’s Still Working

Collaborating to Perform the Stories of Everyday Americans, Then and Now

chapter 16|10 pages

The Pink Elephant in the Room

chapter 17|9 pages

“A Little More Mascara”

Drag and the Broadway Musical from La Cage aux Folles to Kinky Boots

part 5|52 pages

Reading the Musical through Race and Ethnicity

chapter 18|11 pages

The Multiracial Musical Metropolis

Casting and Race after A Chorus Line

chapter 19|10 pages

“Before the Parade Passes By”

All-Black and All-Asian Hello, Dolly! as Celebration of Difference

chapter 20|10 pages

Race and the City

Racial Formation in Avenue Q

chapter 21|10 pages

Can We “Leave Behind the World We Know”?

Exploring Race and Ethnicity in the Musicals of Lin-Manuel Miranda

chapter 22|9 pages

Falsettos and Indecent in the Shadow of Fiddler on the Roof

Reconsidering Jewish Identity on Broadway in the New Millennium

part 6|28 pages

Reading the Musical through Dance

chapter 23|10 pages

What Makes a Musical?

Contact (2000) and Debates About Genre at the Dawn of the Twenty-First Century

chapter 24|9 pages

Dance in Musical Theater Revival and Adaptation

Engaging with the Past While Creating Dances for the Present

part 7|59 pages

Reading the Musical through Interdisciplinary Lenses

chapter 27|10 pages

Let’s Do the Time Warp Again

Performing Time, Genre, and Spectatorship

chapter 28|11 pages

The Eye of the Storm

Reading Next to Normal with Psychoanalysis

chapter 30|10 pages

John Kander

The First Ninety-Two Years

chapter 31|10 pages

Unlikely Subjects

The Critical Reception of History Musicals

part 8|71 pages

Beyond Broadway

chapter 32|10 pages

Worshipping Lin-Manuel Miranda

Fans and Totems in the Digital Age

chapter 33|10 pages

“Trash Talk and Virtual Protests”

The Musical Genre’s Personal and Political Interactivity in the Age of Social Media

chapter 34|10 pages

The Great Generational Divide

Stage-to-Screen Hollywood Musical Adaptations and the Enactment of Fandom

chapter 35|9 pages

Play It Again (and Again, and Again)

The Superfan and Musical Theater 1

chapter 36|10 pages

Joss Whedon and the Geek Musical

chapter 37|10 pages

“YouTube! Musicals! YouTubesicals!”

Cultivating Theater Fandom through New Media

chapter 38|10 pages

Dual-Focus Strategy in a Serial Narrative

Smash, Nashville, and the Television Musical Series

part 9|59 pages

Growth and Expansion

chapter 40|10 pages

Musicals in the Regional Theater

chapter 41|9 pages

Big River

A New Road to Broadway

chapter 42|10 pages

The Third Biggest Market

Musical Theater in Germany since 1990

chapter 43|8 pages

The Korean Self/American Other

Korean Musical Theater in the Context of National Cultural Development

chapter 44|9 pages

The Lion King

An International History