Queen's University

Musical Theatre [MUTH 231]


MUTH 231/3.0


Instructors: Tim Fort & Melissa Morris


No audition is required.


Taught Remotely during Fall 2020 with a synchronous session THU 10:00-11:20 am



An examination of the major trends in musical theatre production and theory since the 19th century, exploring the work of important composers and lyricists and the structure of musical theatre works.


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This course starts in America's mid-19th century where it will focus on the questions which this era raises about what had come before (opera, opera bouffe, variety, operetta, melodrama) and what was to distinguish the newly emerging musical theatre forms from past models. We will study important composers, lyricists, and librettists such as William S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan, George and Ira Gershwin, Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II, Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, Stephen Sondheim, Jeanine Tesori, Leslie Arden, and Lin-Manuel Miranda. We will also examine both the structure of the contemporary "musical" and its production methodology – with a particular focus on what it means to "musicalize" a story or an idea. Larger issues of musical style, genre, theme, and social relevance will inform later examinations of specific musical theatre pieces. 


WK1    Defining Musical Theatre / The Black Crook/ Roots of the Modern Musical

WK2    Carmen / Opera / Libretti / H.M.S. Pinafore/ Gilbert and Sullivan 

WK3    Songwriting and Musical Structure / Variety /Threepenny Opera

WK4   Integrated Musicals /ShowboatPorgy and Bess

WK5   America's Golden Age / Rodgers and Hammerstein / Oklahoma!

WK6    Jerome Robbins / West Side Story /Stephen Sondheim         essay due

WK7   Canadian Musicals / Leslie Arden 

WK8   Choreography / A Chorus Line / Bob Fosse / Chicago

WK9    Rock Musicals / Hair / Jonathan Larson / Rent / Juke Box Musicals

WK10 Mega-musicals / Les Mis / Andrew Lloyd Webber / Stephen Schwartz / Wicked

WK11 Contemporary Storytelling /Fun Home / Lin-Manuel Miranda /Hamilton

WK12 Recent Forms / Presentations due and discussed



40% - Essay of approximately 1200 words - due Oct. 16   (Choose one of the followings topics)

Explore the process of transforming a film or work of literature into a musical theatre piece


 Examine the career and techniques of a major musical theatre practitioner


  Discuss the evolution of a major musical theatre work from inception to first production

40% - Online presentation viewable on Dec 1, written submission due by Dec. 9

Prepare a director's approach to a musical theatre work         


With no more than 2 other people, create a brief musical theatre piece in the form of a backer’s audition.


20% - Participation in weekly forums and feedback on class presentations

LEARNING HOURS    120 (36S;84P)

PREREQUISITE    Level 2 and registration in a DRAM; MUSC; or MUTH Plan or permission of the School.



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