Twenty-First Century Musicals stakes a place for the musical in today’s cinematic landscape, taking a look at leading contemporary shows from their stage origins to their big-screen adaptations. Each chapter offers a new perspective on a single musical, challenging populist narratives and exploring underlying narratives and sub-texts in depth. Themes of national identity; race, class and gender; the ‘voice’ and ‘singing live’ on film; authenticity; camp sensibilities; and the celebration of failure are addressed in a series of questions including:

  • How does the film adaptation provide a different viewing experience from the stage version?

  • What themes are highlighted in the film adaptation?
  • What does the new casting bring to the work?
  • Do camera angles dictate a different reading from the stage version?
  • What is lost/gained in the process of adaptation to film?

Re-interpreting the contemporary film musical as a compelling art form, Twenty-First Century Musicals is a must-read for any student or scholar keen to broaden their understanding of musical performance.

chapter |17 pages


chapter 1|16 pages

Drag, Rock, Authenticity and In-Betweenness

Hedwig and the Angry Inch

chapter 2|19 pages

All That Jazz

The difficult journey of Chicago from stage to screen

chapter 3|13 pages

Ready for His Close-Up

From horror to romance in The Phantom of the Opera

chapter 4|14 pages

‘Bohemia is Dead’

Rent celebrating life in the face of death

chapter 5|14 pages

Where Did We Go Right (And Wrong)?

Success and failure in the adaptations of The Producers from and to the screen

chapter 6|16 pages

‘Big, as in Large, as in Huge’

Dreamgirls and difference in the performance of gender, blackness, and popular music history

chapter 7|11 pages

At the Intersection of Music, Sexuality and Race

Hairspray's generic and aesthetic variances

chapter 8|14 pages

‘With a Bit of Rock Music, Everything is Fine’

Mamma Mia! and the camp sensibility on screen

chapter 9|14 pages

8½ to Nine to Nine

Evolutions of a cinema classic

chapter 10|15 pages

‘You Wanna Hear the Real Story?’

(Mis)remembering masculinity in Clint Eastwood's adaptation of Jersey Boys

chapter 11|17 pages

The Ethical Exculpation of Moral Turpitude

Representations of violence and death in Sweeney Todd and Into the Woods

chapter 12|15 pages

The Last Five Years

Medium, mode and the making of Cathy

chapter 13|16 pages

The Trouble with ‘Little Girls’

Annie on the big (and small) screen

chapter 14|18 pages

London Road

The ‘irruption of the real’ and haunting utopias in the verbatim musical

chapter |3 pages