Publication Date

April 2016

Advisor(s)

Katherine Brewer Ball

Major

Theater

Language

English (United States)

Abstract

Musical theatre is often considered synonymous with male homosexuality. Between the 'disproportionate numbers' of gay men that work in the theatre as playwrights, directors, choreographers, and actors, as so put by D.A. Miller, and the musicals that explicitly chronicle gay male experience such as Rent, La Cage Aux Folles, or Hedwig and the Angry Inch, musical theatre is deftly intertwined with gay culture. If it is not read as gay, musical theatre is, at face value at least, overwhelmingly heterosexual, with most musicals focusing on romance and relying on gender for drama or humor (Guys and Dolls, West Side Story, Oklahoma!, etc). However, lesbians are essentially invisible on the musical stage, excepting a small handful of side parts and character roles, and, most recently, the musical adaptation of Alison Bechdel's memoir Fun Home. In this thesis, I will explore how Fun Home serves as a loud, messy, and unrefined rupture in the conventional structure and content of a Broadway musical, an action I term the “lesbian interruption.” Through analysis of its in-the-round staging, composition style, and formal structure, alongside theories from scholars such as Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Jack Halberstam, David Halperin, Jill Dolan, and Elizabeth Freeman, I will argue that Fun Home is a queer refusal of what makes an acceptable Broadway musical.

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