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Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll, and Musicals

Scott Miller

Publication Year: 2011

Eager to respond to the concerns and tastes of the increasingly influential baby-boomer generation, musical theater in the late 1960s began to embrace formerly taboo subjects--including the triumvirate of postwar social change: sex, drugs, and rock & roll.

Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll, and Musicals shows how American culture has changed over the twentieth century, from the Roaring Twenties (The Wild Party) to the cultural chaos of the '50s (Grease) and the sexual revolution of the '60s (Hair) and '70s (Rocky Horror), to the rebirth of the art form in the '90s (Bat Boy), and up to the present, exploring where we've been and where we might be heading. This is a celebration of the counter-culture taking center stage in the most American of performing arts, and changing it forever.

Published by: Northeastern University Press


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pp. Cover-ii

Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll, and Musicals

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pp. iii-iv


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pp. v-vi

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pp. 1-3

"The American musical theatre as an art form has never been more vigorous or more adventurous than it is right now, and sex, drugs, and rock and roll have collectively become the lifeblood of this new postmodern golden age, an era rejecting the mid-century morality and modernism of Rodgers and Hammerstein..." an era that began in the mid-1990s with rule-shattering

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The Wild Party

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pp. 4-24

"It was the age of bootleggers, flappers, and talkies; the hardwon vote for women; widespread social upheaval; and the birth of organized crime. As unprecedented prosperity and sweeping social change dazzled the American public, the restrictions of the Victorian nineteenth century seemed to vanish, and many of the institutions, ideas, and preoccupations of our own age emerged. America became, for the first time, thoroughly modern."

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pp. 25-59

"The year is 1959, a pivotal moment in American cultural history, when rock and roll was giving birth to the sexual revolution and much in American culture was about to be turned upside down. Record companies were releasing more than a hundred singles every week and the country was about to explode. Grease, today often considered a trivial little musical,..."

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pp. 60-83

"On February 2, 1962, the moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn all aligned in the constellation Aquarius. All seven of these heavenly bodies had not come together for 2,500 years. Many people believed it was the dawning of a new age, the age of Aquarius, symbolizing a pooling of everyone’s creativity, an age of communalism."

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Jesus Christ Superstar

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pp. 84-111

"Here’s the truth: Jesus Christ Superstar is about politics, not religion, about a political activist, not the son of God. And it’s about the 1960s, not the Roman Empire. If Tim Rice’s searing, smartass lyrics and Tom O’Horgan’s trippy original production weren’t enough proof of that, just read the lyric of the title song—sung from the point of view of ‘today' and of ‘mass communication.’ Rice’s story..."

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The Rocky Horror Show

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pp. 112-139

"The Rocky Horror Show, that unlikely cult phenomenon with music and lyrics by Richard O’Brien, and a script by O’Brien and (uncredited) director Jim Sharman and the original cast, hit the London stage in 1973, and it was certainly an animal like no other. At its core it tells a tale we’ve heard many times before, back even before Shakespeare,..."

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The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas

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pp. 140-158

"Part of the reason The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas works so well as a musical—the reason it had to be a musical—is that it deals with people and events for which emotions cannot be openly expressed. And because music is an abstract language, it can convey emotion much more fully and effectively than the more earthbound language of spoken words can."

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I Love My Wife

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pp. 159-174

"I Love My Wife completes an unofficial trilogy of musicals about America’s sexual revolution. This is a show about the mainstream rejection of the sexual revolution in the late 1970s, which in turn jumpstarted the ‘Culture War’ waged by the Moral Majority, Christian Coalition, and others,..."

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Bat Boy

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pp. 175-203

"On the surface, Bat Boy: The Musical seems to be a wacky, bighearted satire about American prejudice. But dig a little deeper, venture down into the dark caves and chambers of human emotion, and you’ll find a bigger, more interesting idea that underpins everything else in the show: we all have an animal..."

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Hedwig and the Angry Inch

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pp. 204-223

"That’s how Rolling Stone described the first moments of the monumentally innovative, ‘neo-glam, post-punk, rock musical’ Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Real rock and roll—glam, heavy metal, a little punk—had come to the American musical theatre without being diluted. And if there was any question about its intentions, the show stated its musical manifesto in its first moments, as the lead guitar wailed a heavily distorted..."

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High Fidelity

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pp. 224-246

"At the climax of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, the musical about the healing power of pop music, Hedwig sings ‘Midnight Radio,’ a reassuring power anthem about community and connection for those who love rock and roll. And the three central characters of High Fidelity, Rob, Dick, and Barry, are the guys..."

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The Rock Musical Now and Forever

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pp. 247-282

"Some old-school musical theatre scholars and commentators are convinced that the golden age of musical theatre lasted from 1943 (Oklahoma!) to 1964 (Fiddler on the Roof), and that musical theatre has been careening downhill ever since. They talk about the 'rise and fall’ of musical theatre, as if the art..."

E-ISBN-13: 9781555537616
E-ISBN-10: 1555537618

Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 2011