Gretchen Cryer and Nancy Ford: Elevating the Female Voice in American Musical Theater

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2018-12
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Kerns, Nancy Jane
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McQuiston, Katherine
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Music
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ABSTRACT Gretchen Cryer and Nancy Ford, along with most other female creators of musicals, remain in the shadows, in spite of an increased focus by the media on women’s contributions to society. The messages of Cryer and Ford’s dramatic themes and songs have not been fully understood by many critics and audience members. Scholarly and popular writings on women in theater remain scarce, and literature on Cryer and Ford contains errors and promotes misunderstandings. In this thesis, I argue that Gretchen Cryer and Nancy Ford, a writer and composer of musical theater respectively, tackled contemporary issues in their Broadway and off Broadway musicals, introduced new theatrical forms and musical genres to the stage, and have built a distinguished collaborative career and earned a meritorious position in musical theater heritage by incorporating these issues, in particular, those which pertain to women or those which affect women, into their works. I seek to correct and build upon extant writings and information from media resources. My thesis is the first monograph to detail the lives and works of Cryer and Ford, and to assess their contributions to the musical theater genre. My detailed case studies dissect several Cryer and Ford musicals, which speak directly to prominent images and ideas of the time, and reveal how their works emphasize the importance of interpersonal communication, and endorse humanism and, in particular, feminism. Cryer and Ford are trailblazers for other female musical writers, for whom they have advocated, and for whom I provide a comprehensive overview.
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Music history
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233 pages
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