DSpace Repository

Musicals at the Stratford Festival of Canada: The Economics, Aesthetics and Entertainment Value of Musicals Produced at a Classical Theatre Festival

Musicals at the Stratford Festival of Canada: The Economics, Aesthetics and Entertainment Value of Musicals Produced at a Classical Theatre Festival

Show full item record

Title: Musicals at the Stratford Festival of Canada: The Economics, Aesthetics and Entertainment Value of Musicals Produced at a Classical Theatre Festival
Author: Acton, Lauren Elizabeth
Abstract: This dissertation explores the place of musicals at the Stratford Festival of Canada—with specific attention focused on the function, and the value of an American art form in a classical theatre company devoted to the works of Shakespeare. I trace the history of music theatre at the Festival, including opera and operetta, and argue that the Festival’s commitment to music in its early history led to the organic inclusion of musicals in its seasons. I also give a more nuanced reading of the place of musicals at the Stratford Festival in analyzing the physical places where they are produced, and how they are valued within the company.
Theatre critics commonly view musicals as money makers for the Festival to finance its real goal of producing Shakespeare and the classics. The economic value of musicals is undoubtedly important, and I examine it in detail, but it is only one facet of their purpose at Stratford. I problematize the role of musicals at Stratford, arguing that reducing the value of musicals to economic value alone is rooted in a historical construction of highbrow/lowbrow taste hierarchies that align musicals to bourgeois aesthetics and commercial theatre. I unpack the history of the way musicals have been trivialized as middlebrow entertainment within theatre communities and academia. I contend that their role cannot be fully understood by examining their economic value alone, but must be understood by analyzing their aesthetic value and entertainment value.
Assessing the entertainment value of musicals means analyzing and valuing the pleasures that audience members derive from theatre that entertains them, even when its aesthetic value might be questionable. Musicals should also be assessed aesthetically, and that allows for the values—the tastes—of the critics to be heard. Studying the economic/commercial, aesthetic, entertainment value and socio-political factors present in musicals allows for a well-rounded analysis of the musicals and the many roles they fulfill at Stratford. It is an approach that attempts to balance text and context(s) by acknowledging the hierarchies of genre within the musical and theatrical worlds and highbrow/lowbrow considerations within the canon of musical theatre.
Subject: Music
Theater
Performing arts
Keywords: Musicals
Musical theatre
Music theatre
Entertainment
Entertainment value
Stratford Festival
Canadian theatre
Thrust stage
Type: Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Rights: Author owns copyright, except where explicitly noted. Please contact the author directly with licensing requests.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10315/29988
Supervisor: de Val, Dorothy
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Program: Music
Exam date: 2014-12-08
Publish on: 2015-08-28

Files in this item



This item appears in the following Collection(s)