Lavatories, loo roll and love ballads: risking the traditional model in Urinetown

Rush, Adam (2015) Lavatories, loo roll and love ballads: risking the traditional model in Urinetown. In: TaPRA Annual Conference 2015, 8th-10th September 2015, University of Worcester.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Paper)
Item Status:Live Archive


Producing musical theatre has always been a venture of great financial risk. In the twenty-first century, this has caused high profile, ‘safe bet’ adaptations to dominate the musical stage. That said, the 2001 hit, Urinetown: The Musical, seemed to reclaim the form from the depths of familiarity and revive the ghostly figure of an ‘original’ musical. It did not feature the back catalogue of a legendary pop group, adapt a celebrated film or even claim to utilise any source material at all. Instead, the musical exploited the recognisable conventions of musical theatre, whether idealised myths or stock characters, and re-energised the ‘traditional model’ established in the 1940s and 50s. Accordingly, this paper argues that musical theatre is as much influenced by its own legacy and artistic heritage, as it is familiar sources from other mediums. In considering the way this musical metatheatricalises wider perceptions of the form, I advocate for a more inclusive use of the term intertextuality within musical theatre scholarship. In challenging the use of popular source material, Urinetown shifts the target of intertextual references from specific texts to broader conceptual ideas. Whilst this musical may seem a precarious idea financially, it is bound by convention, tradition and conformity within its construction.

Keywords:Musical Theatre, Intertextuality, Urinetown the Musical
Subjects:W Creative Arts and Design > W400 Drama
W Creative Arts and Design > W300 Music
Divisions:College of Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts (Performing Arts)
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ID Code:19984
Deposited On:11 Jan 2016 21:49

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